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Posts Tagged ‘Dynamics NAV’

tipsERP blogger Eric Kimberling of Panorama Consulting recently posted some advice about selecting an ERP system, along with a few comments about specific systems, which we thought we’d share today (while adding a couple of our own).

We know that most clients think (or hope) an implementation can be accomplished in a few short months.  We usually try to let them down gently when we will tell them that a year or more is the norm – with large and comprehensive systems often taking considerably longer.

Kimberling, who owns an ERP consulting firm on Colorado, notes that his firm’s experience is indeed the same: about 18-24 months for the “average implementation.”  And that’s regardless of whether the system chosen was SAP, Infor, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics.

Among those particular choices (SAP, Infor, Dynamics, Oracle, Dynamics), his firm’s experience showed that Microsoft Dynamics was the lowest cost on average to implement, but generally took longer too.

Some of Kimberling’s advice to shoppers includes:

  • Define and prioritize your highest priority business requirements to quickly arrive at a short-list
  • Leverage independent experts who can help you quickly narrow the field
  • Don’t forget to consider implementation while evaluating ERP systems (Don’t just focus on the software: understand how it will be implemented.)

And we would add one that’s maybe a bit of a surprise: the software is not what matters, at least not entirely.  There’s lots of good software: it’s the team you work with, and their understanding of how to apply the software to your business processes, that will yield the most superior results in the end.  We know it from years of experience.

He reminds us that 50-70% of all the implementations his firm sees experience significant operational disruption.  The industry average, he notes, has hovered just above 50% for many years.  So… expect some disruption.  Just emember, ERP is a strategic investment.  It takes time, and it’s not turn-key.  Work with your consultants and providers as a team – and we can assure you, you’ll get there.  Patience on both sides goes a long, long ways.

According to some statistics Kimberling shares at his website, payback tends to come in greatest at years 3 and 4 after purchase.  But we would add: after that, the ROI and savings are permanent.

Finally, Kimberling advises that you can quickly narrow the field down to the top ten or twenty percent by prioritizing those that meet two key requirements:

1) they are critical to your business, and

2) they are differentiating functions of various ERP systems in the market

Only those that meet both criteria should be used to narrow down your short-list.

 

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nav17Yesterday, Microsoft was slated to release the newest version of its flagship Dynamics NAV ERP suite.  Several of us just returned from the annual “Directions” partner/reseller conference in Phoenix, so we thought we’d share a few of the things we learned there about the latest in NAV.

  • On-Premise vs. Cloud: In a keynote address, Microsoft GM Paul White acknowledged that a lot of clients still want their ERP systems (i.e., NAV) to be “on-prem.” No surprise there, as we find the vast majority of our clients feeling that way as well.  The new cloud NAV version seems to be getting positioned as a lower cost, lower function alternative, aimed at folks coming off a low-end system like, say, QuickBooks, and looking for what is predominantly a ‘financial’ solution.
  • And to that point, expect to hear a lot more about Dynamics 365 (formerly codenamed Madeira). Debuting in November, the “Business Edition” of the new cloud product will be a low priced offering with NAV roots that provides financials and, in later editions, sales and marketing capabilities as well.  It promises to be well integrated with Office 365.  The “Enterprise” edition will be a mash-up of Microsoft CRM and Dynamics AX.
  • Microsoft aims, especially for cloud installations, to move developers away from pure code modifications into the world of “extensions,” whereby code objects are largely rendered outside of core NAV, lending themselves to easier upgrades and better interoperability with 3rd party applications. It’s a “goal” for now, and very much a work in progress.
  • Those extensions will then be available as “apps” in the new APPSOURCE store. So, expect in time to see lots of add-on extensions courtesy of NAV developers.  Microsoft will allegedly not “endorse” any of these; rather, they will vet them for inclusion by ensuring certain standards are upheld, and then let the marketplace decide (5 stars, anyone?) what are the best apps.
  • Also in the development arena, it will now be “Visual Studio Code,” utilizing NAV’s current CA/L language running V.S. code. There will be on the-the-fly screen and form modifications via the Visual Designer, and they’ll be available for PCs, tablets and phones as they are published to the app store.
  • The Power BI (business intelligence) tool will be embedded in NAV 2017, giving more advanced users a powerful tool for advanced data analysis and deeper insights into your business details.
  • Also coming is the first integration of Microsoft’s Cortana intelligent assistant, an early foray into the realm of artificial intelligence, a hot topic for tech firms today from Amazon and Google to Apple and Microsoft. Expect to see a long evolution of AI development in the versions and years to come.

One thing’s for certain: when it comes to business, technology and ERP – things never stand still for very long.

 

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supply chainOne of the reasons clients (and we) prefer systems like Dynamics NAV over what are sometimes called “best-of-breed” systems (a financial system, linked to a warehouse and inventory management application, linked to a sales/contact application, etc.), or to a “bespoke” (i.e., custom-developed) solution is that all the data typically lies within a single database repository as part of a fully integrated system.

As a recent article from MS Dynamics World that makes this point also points out, distributors (including of course manufacturers who distribute their own products) face some common pressures.  Analysis of global supply chain businesses indicate that key among those pressures are some of the following…

(We’ll quote Marty Kemp, a UK Dynamics salesperson in an article found here):

  • Global supply chains generate longer lead times and therefore greater variability of supply
  • Supply chain efficiencies and data accuracy need to be increased
  • Knowledge of shipment data, both inbound and outbound, is more critical
  • The pressure to lower supply chain costs that erode precious margin is constant
  • There is pressure to efficiently manage inventory at various points along the supply chain
  • They need the capability to work with a limited number of partners within the supply chain more effectively

As Kemp notes, with a single-database solution such as NAV, a user can track the demand from sales and sales forecasts, view stock replenishment and production demand, and utilize its MRP capabilities to create and review suggested purchase orders.  With its intrinsic visibility of inventory over time (viewed graphically), orders can be manipulated to dynamically reflect any changes in order or delivery dates.  Inventories can be managed at their leanest levels without needing to compromise customer satisfaction.

And with built-in BI (business intelligence) capabilities and analysis built into the core solution, managers can make timely decisions across a range of business requirements.  Dashboards and KPI indicators allow nearly instant, on-demand views of key business criteria.  This is above and beyond the various Excel and other reporting capabilities inherent in the solution.

Warehouse management is yet another daunting and expensive task best handled by an integrated solution.  By taking advantage of precise inventory management, SKUs can generally be better managed, and reduced, thus optimizing overhead, space and costs.  Real-time status capabilities make it possible to keep customers apprised of availability on the fly.

These are just a few of the key supply chain advantages accruing to users of today’s modern, integrated, unified data repository types of systems, like NAV.  Taken together, they account for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars (depending on company size) of annual cost reductions – not to mention real-time analysis and improved customer service that will help a company stand out from its peers.

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dynamics erpAs a Microsoft Dynamics NAV reseller of many years specializing almost exclusively in companies that engage in manufacturing and distribution, we frequently find ourselves describing what Dynamics is and, right after that, why there are four different “versions.”  While those “versions” are the result of separate Microsoft acquisitions of different, unrelated firms over the years, over time Microsoft has folded its offerings under the single umbrella named “Dynamics” and offered four entirely different ERP products.

Today’s post comes from a site called OnWindows, which, according to its website: “provides news and industry thought leadership on Microsoft and partner technology in the enterprise.”  We thought they did a pretty good job of describing the products and their target markets – and give confirmation to why we chose one of the only two Dynamics products (AX and NAV) focused on manufacturing firms.  Here’s what they had to say in a post you can find here.

Microsoft Dynamics AX

  • Company size: emerging and mid-sized
  • Target industries: wholesale distribution, manufacturing, public sector, non-profit, retail, professional services, software, transportation
  • Target market: company revenue of US$50 million-US$2 billion
  • Strengths: industry-specific solution templates for distribution, retail, professional services, manufacturing, lean and public sector; enterprise functionality – share data across companies, e-banking, supports a shared services model; agile business enabling technology; integration tools support legacy and newest technology; integrated document control; automates procedures; enterprise reporting and analysis.

Microsoft Dynamics GP

  • Company size: small to large and everything in between
  • Target industries: healthcare, distribution, education, government agencies, non-profit, retail, consumer packaged goods
  • Target market: US$5 million-US$1 billion
  • Strengths: integrates with Microsoft Dynamics CRM; business alerts, routines, wizards and help; easy to customize; field service suite; collections management; extensive third-party offerings; integrated fixed asset module; integrated HR and payroll; integration with office.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

  • Company size: small to mid-sized
  • Target industries: consumer packaged goods, wholesale distribution, manufacturing, retail, professional services, high tech, oil and gas
  • Target market: US$10 million-US$500 million
  • Strengths: highly flexible and customizable; strong multi-company and consolidation support for unlimited companies in one database; localized in multi-country and multi-language; strong financial and cash management; supply chain management; three-tier architecture; job costing; Microsoft Office integration; basic HR.

Microsoft Dynamics SL

  • Company size: small to mid-sized
  • Target industries: contracting and government contracting, professional services, oil and gas, field services, construction, distribution
  • Target market: US$10 million-US$500 million
  • Strengths: strong multi-company support; easily customizable; time and expense for employees; professional services functionality; architectural, engineering and construction functionality; web-enabled project management functions; web services; integrated payroll module; government contract compliance capabilities; standard Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration.

 

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nav-warehouse-mgmtA recent post at MSDynamicsWorld.com makes note of the specialized needs that a growing distribution firm faces as business quickly evolves.  The needs of the SMB (small to medium size business) distributor may be even more specialized.  As ERP evolves from the manufacturing sector into wholesale, the author points out of a range of new features in Dynamics NAV meant to help distribution companies grow.

In this and our following post, we’ll look specifically at what they had to say about the new features in three key areas especially critical to wholesale distributors: receivables, warehouse management and inventory control.  (We’ll cover half the features in each of our two posts.)

Sales & Receivables

  • Sales Order Management: Manage sales quotes, blanket sales orders, EDI orders and sales order processes in NAV. Realize shipping and invoicing independently of each other, control partial shipments, manage prepayment invoices, etc.
  • Sales Invoice Discounting: Set up flexible discount terms (percentage, minimum levels, etc.) at line or total order value in multiple currencies. Once set up, discount calculations are carried out automatically.
  • Campaign Pricing: After setting up a price/discount campaign, customers or contacts associated with the campaign will automatically receive the campaign level prices and discounts.
  • Alternative Shipping Addresses: Multiple ship-to addresses accommodate and manage customers that have more than one site to which orders can be shipped. The delivery location can be selected when generating a sales order or invoice.

Warehouse Management

  • Automated Data Capture: Hand held bar code devices can assist in streamlining the receipt and put away of items and subsequent picking for dispatch.
  • Set Up Bins: Creation of a warehouse layout within NAV enables optimization of put away and picking processes, allows restrictions for size, weight, volume, etc. to be assigned to specific bins and certain areas of the warehouse to be utilized for quality control procedures and the generation of picked orders.

 

We’ll look at more wholesaler-friendly improvements to NAV 2015 in our next post.  Stay tuned…

 

 

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nav2015 imageAn article just published on April 9th by Linda Rosencrance, a freelance tech writer who writes often about Microsoft and Dynamics, highlights the importance Microsoft has placed on the Small to Midsize Business (SMB) marketplace in its future growth plans for the Dynamics NAV product line.

In Microsoft’s view, the SMB market includes clients in a wide range of sizes and types and includes, according to Rosencrance, companies of one to four employees, and companies of 250 or more employees, according to Marko Perisic, Director of Program Management, Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

Quoting Perisic further from the article…

“This market segment of SMBs is extremely varied. There are so many different layers, so many different requirements, so many different solutions,” he said. “We’re not limiting ourselves and the product to a specific industry or vertical. If we want to win in SMB, we have to win all up and all down.”

Perisic said Microsoft has to ensure that the companies that start with Dynamics NAV when they’re small can grow up with NAV. Additionally, Microsoft has to ensure that companies that deploy NAV in multiple countries in large hub-and-spoke deployments also have the capabilities to deploy Dynamics NAV in their startup offices.

“So we are building this platform with a focus on SMB. But within that market segment there is such a variety of scenarios and company sizes that we don’t want to limit the NAV platform and the product itself as a whole not to be able to satisfy this very, very large number of addressable business entities worldwide.”

The article goes on to note that Microsoft recognizes the importance of using mobile as a part of its BI (Business Intelligence) strategy.  As Jonathan Davis, a Microsoft Program Manager noted:

“We are very mindful of the fact that mobile is central to our ability to deliver our BI services and almost all of the investments we are making in the BI space are mindful of the fact that we need to have some kind of mobile capability,” Davis said. “As you’ve already seen with our tablet client, they represent the some of the operational BI features like the Enhanced Cues very beautifully in the mobile client.”

Power BI “will be our path forward,” Davis added, noting that when it comes to integrations with other parts of the Microsoft BI stack and other BI features that Microsoft will be shipping, they will also be fully mobile compliant.

And finally, Perisic adds these comments about “shared solutions” to fill some product gaps which are sometimes fulfilled by Microsoft and sometimes by partners, pointing to a future, yet-to-be-announced sharing strategy:

“These gaps are incrementally filled by us, incrementally filled by our partners, and I don’t think there is an opportunity there to differentiate based on filling commodity gaps – something that’s just expected to be in the solution,” he said. “I don’t know exactly how we’re going to achieve that. I have some ideas, which I’m not yet ready to share. . . . There’s a very good [case] around having that built once and shared with everybody in some sort of economic model that’s attractive to the customers, partners, and Microsoft.  That’s one of the key things that we should accomplish in the next few years.”

We’ve excerpted most of the key comments from Rosencrance’s article, which can be found here.

 

 

 

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dynamics NAVWe’re narrowing our blog scope a bit today to address an issue often of interest specifically to users of the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP software system.

On the NAV platform, Microsoft offers two general kinds of “users”: the “full user” has access to all the functionality and screens of the entire NAV system to which their license entitles them.  The limited user, as the name implies, has less ability when it comes to the ability to write back to tables (i.e., perform day-to-day transactions) in NAV.  As you might expect, the limited users cost considerably less than the full users, thus meriting the attention of system buyers, who can save quite a bit of money if they are able to use limited users in some cases.

Typically, system purchasers of NAV will initially acquire one of two levels of NAV: either the “Starter Pack” or the “Extended Pack.”  The starter pack offers less functionality for a lower overall cost.  It is within your chosen “pack” that the distinction is then made between full and limited users.

With that as a backdrop, here’s a little more on the distinctions between and limited.

Both Full and Limited users have full “read” abilities.  The Limited users, however, have limited “write” abilities.  And since full users run around $3,000 apiece and limited users run around $600, it’s an important distinction: if a limited user is right for you, the savings can be substantial.

Limited users have read access to any data contained in NAV but they can only write to a maximum of three table objects – although there are certain tables they are not allowed to write directly.

A CEO might be a good example of a limited user.  They probably want to see all that data but don’t necessarily need to post transactions within the system.  If you can get away with limited users, you’ll save money.

Just be sure you know what your limited users are going to need to post to before you purchase them because sometimes that three-table limit is somewhat confining.  Consult your reseller for details, as always.

 

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