At a glance guide to Technology Management

As we are about to enter our 21st year in business, still growing and evolving, it’s difficult to give customers or prospects a summary about Technology Management’s services and our ethos. With this in mind we designed some infographics that make up an “at a glance guide to Technology Management”

It gives some numbers around our hosting services, (although they continue to grow each month!) re-enforces our technical bias with 86% of the workforce being IT professionals and hopefully gives a snap shot of where we are at after 2 decades.

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20 Lessons From 20 Years Of Project Implementations

As Technology Management clocks up 20 years in business, we have created a planning guide for ERP software to help companies avoid some of the common pitfalls that software planners encounter.

The planning guide helps you reduce risk, deliver on time and on budget, and provides invaluable insight into:

· Defining what you want technology to deliver for your business and agreeing on clear objectives

· The importance of working with experienced consultants and how the dynamics of your working relationship can affect the project outcome

· Making the most efficient use of your budget

· The most common causes for projects going off track.

 

Click here to download the planning guide

 

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Can you forecast inventory demand in AX2012?

The weather forecast for summer 2012 is pretty miserable, but the outlook for forecasting in Dynamics AX is very bright, with Demand Forecasting- available now from Technology Management.

It’s a simple question, but the answer is surprisingly complex.

Standard Microsoft Dynamics AX includes industry-leading MRP functionality, which includes the ability to enter forecasts.

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Microsoft plugged this functionality gap in 2004 with "Demand Planner"- a powerful demand planning and forecasting tool. However this power came at a cost:  Demand Planner required a separate SQL
database, dedicated clients and careful configuration and licensing, meaning only the most determined customers with the deepest pockets could createforecasts in Dynamics AX. Unsurprisingly, customer adoption was low and in 2009 Microsoft discontinued the product.

Technology management have now taken up the reins and Demand Forecasting for Microsoft Dynamics AX is a fully integrated Dynamics AX module (no separate installs/integration required) that calculates forecasts of future demand for items based on demand from sales orders, sales invoices, projects or production orders- allowing our customers to plan ahead for peaks and troughs in demand.

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Demand Forecasting enables users to generate sales forecasts using advanced industry-standard forecasting algorithms without the need to integrate with a third party product. Built upon the Forecast Pro forecasting engine from Business Forecast Systems, Inc., Belmont, Massachusetts, Demand forecaster provides customers with the power of an industry-leading forecasting engine and the ease of use of Dynamics AX.

Features:

  • Automatic generation of forecasts using
    multiple formulae
  • Optional grouping of customers and
    items with similar demand characteristics to increase the accuracy of forecasts
  • Adjustments to forecasts to allow for
    sales promotions
  • Ability to manually adjust sales
    history to remove abnormal demand
  • Optional documentation of reasons for
    manual changes
  • Graphical presentation of monthly
    forecasts alongside history, with
    promotional forecasts clearly visible
  • Forecast accuracy measurement

Available for Microsoft Dynamics AX2009 and Microsoft Dynamics AX2012, Technology Management can install, configure and support Demand Forecasting for Dynamics AX for a fraction of the cost of the old Demand Planner solution. For more information, contact craig.brown@tecman.co.uk

Keyboard Shortcuts AX 2012

Using keyboard shortcuts in AX 2012 can increase productivity, also some users prefer using the keyboard rather than using the mouse.

With FastTabs being introduced in AX 2012 there are some really useful shortcuts such as CTRL+SHIFT and then press + to expand all FastTabs on a form and then CTRL+SHIFT and then press –  to collapse all FastTabs.

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Some of these shortcuts will work for earlier versions, please contact us if you would like a list from an earlier version in AX.

From Ashes to The Cloud – Carvers Re-Opens

On the 29th February 2012 Carvers Builders Merchants was engulfed in a fire that completely destroyed their premises, office space and all IT equipment.

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The days after the fire the priority was how quickly they could begin to trade again at their 2nd site, and from our perspective how we could get Microsoft NAV and their other key systems up and running.

With an offsite backup being taken on a nightly basis, we took the data that was available and loaded the virtual servers in our data centre. This enabled Carvers employees to access the systems from the various locations they were based at over the coming weeks. The fire started on Wednesday 29th and NAV was available again 48 hours later on the Friday, while Mail and other data was available over the weekend.  We had around 10 members of Carvers sales and admin team based at our offices in Wolverhampton while other staff were based at their 2nd site. The ability to connect to their systems no matter where they were and not have to wait for new servers to be ordered/configured (which would have taken over a week with the complexity of Carvers systems) allowed them to start trading. This also allowed the Carvers Website to come back online and begin to process orders taken through the site.

I’m pleased to say that Carvers opened a new temporary trade counter at the site of the fire last week, which has resulted in new terminals being installed on the counter and business returning to normal. The critical systems are still running from our hosting facility and Carvers are considering keeping them there as they review their IT strategy for the rebirth of the business.

 

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Having visited the site the day before they re-opened It was fantastic to see how Carvers had regrouped and come back fighting after such adversity. Although a small part of the recovery, the flexibility of cloud computing and the speed at which we could get everything back up and running was no doubt beneficial. Having spoken about these advantages many times, it was fantastic to see it in action.

If you are interested in how cloud computing can help your business please feel free to contact us on 01902 578300 or at liam.walton@tecman.co.uk

24/7 Business Critical Support

From April 2nd Technology Management will be offering 24/7 support throughout the year for business critical support.

Most importantly it is our internal support team that will be picking up the call, rather than it being pushed through to an external agency or to an off shore company, who would have limited ability to resolve the issue.

With our growth into organisations that work around the clock, the need to respond to critical issues at any time has resulted in us offering this service for our Dynamics ERP (NAV/AX)  customers.

Many companies are reliant on processes such as EDI to kick off their working day and although these systems work 99% of the time, the comfort to know there is assistance should they require it. This is now becoming essential to meeting deadlines and SLA’s that our clients have in place with suppliers and customers.

If this is something that is of interest to you, contact jason.tromans@tecman.co.uk or via phone on  01902 578300

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Postcode Lookups

For years you have had the ability to use postcodes to accurately retrieve addresses in the UK.  For most companies the  high cost to licence and pain to install and update was such that it was not viable however given that licence costs per annum per user where anything up to £300+. Unless a large proportion of your time was spent entering addresses the return on the cost was simply not there. 

Now however a company called World Address have changed that. First point is that you pay per query as as the pricing table shows below even for small usage its not so expensive.  At between 8p each for less than a thousand per to 7p for ten thousand plus its justifiable to make sure you get accurate addresses entered rapidly.

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Secondly there are no installation or maintenance costs, its a service over the web that your systems can just call when they need it. This means that you don’t have to install it on each computer and get and distribute update files from the provider, much better.

Finally the interface we have to link it seamlessly to your existing systems is very good, From CRM, NAV, AX or Pegasus you can just enter a postcode in the normal box and a new window comes up to display the alternatives i.e the house numbers and names in that postcode, you select the one you want and it updates the relevant fields, simple and easy.

Technology Management have been using it both internally and with clients for a while now, it gets our clear recommendation. If you think it could help your business let us know. 

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.

Process Documentation Tool

Technology Management provides software that controls and drives business processes. Whether its from the basics of enquiry through sales order to delivery and then payment or a much more industry or even customer specific getting all the steps right and clearly understood can be the key to rapidly and reliably implementing changes.

Documenting how it will work before you do the development in a way that’s clear and easy to understand but no the less comprehensive has always proved a challenge. When you write a specification in word its too open to interpretation but trying to diagram anything but the most basic flowchart in Visio can take an immense and lead to frustration the first time an amendment is needed and all those lines have to be reconnected.

So we are delighted to have recently found and trained up in a new tool called Engage Modeller. Engage is a cloud based tool that easy and rapid enough to be be able to ‘build while you talk’ negating the need to take copious notes and then try to understand them later. As you identify the actions and questions you can drop them into the schematic there and then complete with as many notes about each stage as you need. The connections are created automatically or by drag and drop and you can drill through to sub-processes.

Putting responsibilities and probabilities against each stage and you can calculate your capacity and reliability for each process as well. 

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So next time your talking to one of our consultants about a process change don’t be surprised if they fire up Engage. We believe its going to serious improve our quality by not just enabling us to create solutions ‘right first time’ but by shorter solution delivery times via easier communication and making handover to support and understanding of how it works in years to come much easier.

DO MORE WITH LESS with Dynamics AX2012

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For those of you who haven't yet had the chance to see Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 in action, we're holding a "Do more with Less" event at our offices on Wednesday 14th December.

The session will cover the most significant new features in Dynamics AX2012 that will help you simplify your processes, manage compliance and boost your profits.

We'll squeeze in the following topics for this half-day event, but you'll also have the opportunity to ask us anything relating to Dynamics AX:

  • AX2012 – what's new?
  • Order processing
  • Suply chain management
  • Business intelligence & Reporting
  • Discussion topics:
    •  Upgrading to AX2012
    •  The new AX2012 licensing model

To register for the event, click here to be taken to our events website.