New Schedule of Free NAV workshops at TecMan announced

The popular free monthly workshops that have run for several years, are now scheduled for the 1st quarter of 2012.

We are covering VAT settlement returns and reconciliation, Jet Reports and Fixed Assets.  These run at our offices in Wolverhampton and hosted by our support team which means its a guaranteed sales person free event! 

If you have a support contract or are interested in moving your support across to Technology Management, book on, meet the team and maximise your investment in Dynamics NAV by finding out what’s possible with the software.

Book on at www.tecman.co.uk/events

Liam

Microsoft Certification Gold in CRM and ERP for 2012

Pleased to confirm that we continue to hold Gold Certification with Microsoft for Dynamics ERP and CRM for the next 12 months.

This certification is the highest available from Microsoft, and requires a minimum of 6 certified employees in each competency. A number of case studies plus the completion of a customer satisfaction survey was also required to be successful.

The CRM team now stands at 10 dedicated people while our Dynamics ERP teams number 16. The investment in quality people all trained and certified to the highest level in implementation, consultancy, development. training and dedicated support is recognised by this certification. competencies 2012

What do we still manufacture in the UK?

Pop stars? Possibly. But Technology Management’s long list of Manufacturing customers is testament to the fact that Manufacturing in the UK is still big business. In fact Manufacturing output accounted for nearly 12% of GDP according to the office for national statistics in 2010, making it the third largest sector in the UK economy.

Manufacturing is of course a global enterprise but Technology Management’s home, the West Midlands was once known as “the Workshop of the World.” In the late 18th century the industrial revolution began in the UK and subsequently spread through Western Europe, North America, Japan and eventually the globe.

But just because we were there first doesn’t mean we’re the most successful. In 2011, the UN ranked the UK’s manufacturing output at number six, behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and Italy. As new economies grow, this position will slip and the UK won’t hold back the tide forever.

To compete on a global scale we have to do more with less, using finite resources intelligently and economically. Technology Management share this goal with our customers throughout the project lifecycle. The product I work with, Dynamics AX, has expanded its industry focus in recent years, but it has always had a deserved solid reputation in Manufacturing. Manufacturing capability was woven into the DNA of Dynamics AX from the beginning, but customers (and indeed consultants!) are often daunted by the breadth and depth of functionality on offer.

Over the coming weeks and months I will help the readers of this blog understand Dynamics AX manufacturing from end to end, covering the various approaches- Discrete, Process and LEAN and, the depth of functionality that is available with Dynamics AX2012. We’ll start with the basics, but I’ll move on to advanced setup pretty quickly- as that’s where Dynamics AX can help you manage your finite resources most effectively.

The aim of this series of posts is to show our customers the power and agility of AX and stimulate an informed conversation on applying AX to your business. Every manufacturing customer shares a few common processes, but all customers (and Dynamics implementations) are unique.  With this in mind you can always discuss specific applications by contacting us directly- where we can help you do more with less, using Dynamics AX.

Next week we’ll start with the fundamental building blocks (literally) of manufacturing- Bills of Materials, or BoMs.

Microsoft launch Give Me 5 with 80% off NAV

Microsoft have announced a new promotion called ‘Give Me 5’ to make Dynamics NAV even more affordable for businesses. Under the terms of this offer new customers will be able to license an initial Foundation Pack, including the first user, plus four (4) additional users, for the suggested retail price of  just £1800. Valid for either Business Essentials or Advanced Management options it enables smaller companies to get the power and sophistication of NAV at a price below the competition.

This is a great way for customers to get on premise NAV for a remarkably low price, saving a cool £8000 or 80% off the £9000 a five user advanced management licence would normally cost. In that they get advanced features such as production order control and multi-site inventory planning for instance. This will allow them to use the system to fully management their business without the compromises that other systems impose.

The offer is valid from now until next June 22nd 2012 so they still have time to make a considered decision that NAV is right for their business.

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Dynamics NAV 7 ERP in the browser

In just over 12 months time NAV 7 will be available, and it marks a fundamental change in the way companies and end users can access the software.

We have been talking about cloud or hosted system for sometime now, in fact Technology Management can run NAV 2009 in the cloud for you already. However NAV 7 has been written from the ground up to run in the cloud. In fact NAV 7 will be available to run in a web browser, with the back end database being stored in the cloud.

This will be the first Microsoft Dynamics ERP product available to run this way, showing the innovation and commitment to NAV. It also shows the emphasis that Microsoft have for it to be the product of choice for many organisations in the SMB sector. The cloud option will lower the cost of entry to the product in terms of software, pay per user per month, and no longer requiring a powerful server for it to run on. It also removes many of the risks of managing your own ERP system, by losing the responsibility of the hardware and the ability for users to access the system from any PC with an internet connection will again save cost and add great functionality . I have included a screenshot (apologies for the poor quality) of NAV 7 being run in the browser.  Notice it looks identical to the NAV 2009 role tailored client even though its running in Internet Explorer. 

As always feel free to contact us if you wish to discuss this further.

liam.walton@tecman.co.uk

NAV7 in the browser

NAV 7 running in the browser

Our AX2012 top ten features #4: Case Management

With Dynamics AX2012, Microsoft are unveiling a simple and powerful new feature known as Case Management. Read about this in entry #4 of our top 10 features in AX2012.

AX2012

Now we’re down to the last four in our Dynamics AX top 10 and although AX2012 is now available, our countdown will coincide the AX2012 virtual launch on the 8th September.

With AX2012, Microsoft are unveiling a new feature known as Case Management.

A “Case” can be thought of as an issue that requires a resolution and almost all businesses can benefit from using Case Management in one way or another. Off the top of my head, here’s a few ideas:

  • Customer product inquiries
  • An internal IT support desk, where employees log issues with IT admin.
  • Customer’s reporting issues with your website
  • Expense audits
  • HRM processes such as onboarding, grievances and discipline
  • Health and Safety- accident reporting
  • Product quality control

Cases can be linked to customers, vendors and employees and are therefore located in the Home ‘module’ although they can also be created in the Enterprise portal. Once a case is created, a service level agreement (SLA) can be assigned. The case creator can then search through a list of existing knowledge articles to see if a similar case has already occurred. Each of the similar knowledge articles can be marked as helpful in resolving a problem.

Cases can be elevated to other employees and activities can be automatically created to follow up on the case until the case is resolved and closed. Before doing this however, a new knowledge article can be created to help with the resolution of future cases.

Using case management strategically in your business will help drive down costs through faster, simpler processes and will help you manage compliance and you may have notice that these are becoming central themes with Dynamics AX2012.

To see Case management in action, or to discuss how Case management can be used in your business please contact us via www.tecman.co.uk

 

Our AX2012 top ten features: #5 – Workflow

As part of Microsoft’s continued push to integrate Dynamics AX with other Microsoft products, AX2012 now includes a fully integrated, graphical workflow tool based on .NET Windows Workflow foundation.

AX2012 
 

As part of Microsoft's continued push to integrate Dynamics AX with their other products, AX2012 now includes a fully integrated, graphical workflow tool based on  Microsoft's .NET Windows Workflow foundation.  

At first glance, the main improvement users will notice is the incorporation of the workflow Designer.

Wf4 
 
  

This Visio- style workflow designer provides the user with a canvas onto which the workflow elements from a pre-defined template can be dragged and dropped. The properties of these elements can then be modified by business users to reflect the requirements of your real-world business process. For example, automatic actions, conditional and manual decisions, escalations, delegations, sub-workflows and much more can be defined in this simple, user-friendly interface.

Each user modification creates a new workflow version that can be activated and deactivated as required. These workflows can be copied, imported, exported and applied with different rules to different parts of the organisation.

 

So what's the business benefit?

Business processes evolve and change over time, and users can now make changes to workflows without requiring a developer. Workflow enables your users to prioritise their work and follow more consistent business processes.

The ability to model and apply consistent processes while prioritising work with lower development costs enables your business do more- with less. 

To learn more about AX2012 workflow, its technical capabilities and how we can help you build these for your business, click here to contact us.

 

 

 

Our AX2012 top ten features: #6 Excel data upload

A significant portion of Microsoft’s annual $9bn R&D spend goes into integrating their products. In post number 6 of our AX2012 top ten, see how easy it is to import data directly into Microsoft Dynamics AX using Microsoft Office Excel.

So what's new about using Excel to import data into AX? Haven't we had this option since the Axapta days?

Yes, but this involved the creation of templates in AX first, and importing anything remotely sizeable or complex typically required the writing of scripts.

Now this process is much simpler and definitely warrants an entry in our top ten.

As mentioned in entry number 9, of our AX2012 top ten, it is possible to pull AX data directly into Excel.

To push data back the other way- it's as simple as this:

1.    Open up Excel and click on the Microsoft Dynamics AX tab. Click "Connection" and check the legal entity you are connected to. Use the dropdown to change this if you wish.

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2.    Click Add Data, select Tables and in the filter box, type the name of the table you want to populate. In this example we'll add a couple of customer groups by selecting the CustGroup table.

Image 3 

3. Drag and drop any other Customer group fields you wish to populate.

Image 4 

 4. Click the Design Mode button, to exit the design mode. Then click refresh if you wish to view existing data.

5. Enter data into the table, optionally using the Field Lookup button to view existing data in lookup tables. In this example, I've added customer group 50 and 60.

6. Click Publish Data to send this data to Dynamics AX.

Image 5 

 

 

 Image 6 

 

7. Let's switch over to AX to view the results

Image 7 
 

 Simples!

 

 

   

Our AX2012 top ten features: #7 Mutli-mode manufacturing

We continue the rundown of our favourite features in AX2012 with an overview of Manufacturing functionality.

AX2012 
 

Dynamics AX has always provided a powerful and flexible set of manufacturing features for customers who run a discrete manufacturing operation.

Manufacturing could be configured to manage something as simple as kitting a BoM with no routes, right through to advanced setups such as creating route networks and selecting work centres based on finite capacity, finite properties (e.g. red paint, blue paint) and even requirement based capabilities (e.g the CNC machine can perform a basic milling operation, but preferably use a lathe as it's cheaper).

These kind of features have always been great for Discrete manaufacturers. However Dynamics AX wasn't especially well regarded for its out of the box Process manufacturing capabilities. It is true that many "process type" manufacturing operations could be managed in a discrete solution by running a manufacturing process as a large batch, but customers with fairly simple requirements such as Catch weights, Reverse BoMs and a requirement to manage co- and by-products always had to find workarounds. 

In recent years, an excellent process manufacturing add-on solution came to market which solved many of these problems, but this came with additional costs, complexities and an increased time to ROI. In addition, if the company had adopted LEAN principles and wanted to use Dynamics AX to manage Kanbans for example, then a further add-on solution would be required.

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AX2012 Kanban scheduling 

In Dynamics AX2012 it is now possible to run discrete and process manufacturing in a single installation and in combination with LEAN manufacturing. Customers won't find themselves having to compromise on functionality and shoehorn themselves into a manufacturing ERP solution that provides most, but not all of their needs.

So regardless of the products you manufacture (or however you make them), you now have a solution in the form of the powerful simplicity of Dynamics AX and the Manufacturing knowledge and experience of Technology management.

 

 

 

Our AX2012 top ten new features: #8 AX via the web

We continue the tour of our favourite features in Dynamics  AX2012 with the Enterprise Portal.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Dynamics AX, Enterprise portal allows business data and logic to be accessed by users via a web browser.

For those of you that are familiar with AX, you may be thinking: "Hang on- is this really new? Hasn't this funcationality been a part of in AX in various guises since the year 2000?"

Well, yes- but now this funcationality has come of age, and definitely merits a mention in our AX2012 top 10

In ealier versions of AX, the enterprise portal only provided a lighweight method of accessing business data. The look and feel of the web interface was at odds with the user experience on the rich client. The benefit of mobile and remote access to AX had corresponding cost in terms of speed and usability.

Now with the Model driven layered architecture (MDLA) in AX2012, list pages of data (e.g. the Customer form) have an almost seamless look and feel whether the user is at their desk in the rich client or working with AX on the road via the web on a tablet.

To demonstrate this, view the two screenshots below- one is a view of the customer form in the rich client, the other is via the web.

So_ep 

So_rc 

I deliberately didn't label the images above- you can work out which is which for yourselves. You'll notice that the UI is amost the same. Users who work in the rich client can work with the web version in the same way (and vice-versa) without any additional training.

Any new list pages a can be built declaratively without writing new code, with the same model allowing the rendering of those pages via the rich client or the enterprise portal.

This means that any custom forms created forthe rich client can be deployed to the web with just a single click.