Deliver intelligent customer service for improved loyalty, revenue & efficiency

Is your business, like most these days, customer driven?

Have your customers suddenly taken control and started to radicalise the way you do business?

With the explosion of new sales channels, social platforms and networks, customers now have much more information about the pricing, features and the competitive positioning of your products and even about your service levels…

The age of the customer is upon us, and now delivering exceptional customer service will be key to maintaining your competitive advantage.

Service excellence means every interaction matters – across each part of your organisation – and that means you need information available to all!

Bring together all your customer information in a single solution with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It allows your customer service, sales, marketing and operational teams to easily collaborate and share information in one business system, eliminating endless emails and complicated spreadsheets.

See it in action at our CRM event, Delivering intelligent customer service for improved loyalty, revenue & efficiency on Tuesday 27th September 2016.

Putting accurate information in, first time

Ensuring accurate data goes in to your ERP system is something we talk about constantly; if you put rubbish in, you will get rubbish out – being able to guarantee accurate address information when you and your staff are inputting data is essential.

And we think that process should be easier, so we have a new Dynamics Addition – Address Validation. Our Addition makes it as easy as pie for you to check addresses instantly and have them populate directly in to Dynamics NAV, from over 240 countries.

Simple and straightforward, this Addition cuts time keying in information and ensures that the address information, which is especially important for deliveries, is correct.

See it in action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG4cksYdUMg

New research underlines the power of the pen in learning

Picture a university; rows of classmates in lecture theatres, each with their own laptop, frantically taking notes as lecturers offer up their wisdom. Gone are the days of frayed notebooks and cheap, chewed-up pens. But before the humble pen is bid goodbye, it’s important to pause and consider if it still has a role to play in today’s technology based learning environment?

Since its inception, the pen has allowed some of human kind’s most creative minds – from William Shakespeare to Leonardo da Vinci – to contribute their best, to spread their brilliance and to leave a legacy. We must not forget that the pen itself was once a technological marvel to Ancient Egyptians writing on papyrus and, even over thousands of years, it has endured. And it continues to play a role today, albeit increasingly in a digital context.

Understanding how technology and learning intersect is a fascinating area for many, including cognitive neuropsychologists Audrey van der Meer and Ruud van der Weel from the renowned Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU). Experts in their field, the researchers have dedicated years to studying the differences between using a pen and using a keyboard and how it impacts learning.

Inspired by previous studies that suggested long-hand note taking using a pen deepens the mind’s ability to retain and process information, van der Meer and van der Weel carried out a two-month research project with students in a university. Their project aimed to find out whether note taking by typing versus note taking with a pen would bring about differences in brain activity, thereby affecting a student’s ability to learn.

Looking like something from a science-fiction movie, the researchers hooked students up to more than 250 sensors that monitored their brain signals, as the students completed tasks involving typing and note-taking by hand.

We do learn differently when using a pen and keyboard

The results found that when writing or drawing by hand, different parts of the brain were active and in different ways. This pioneering research provided the first electrophysiological evidence that the brain behaves differently when writing or drawing using a pen compared with typing on a keyboard.

The researchers conclude that rich sensory-motor experiences seem to facilitate learning, or put simply, it is the physical movement of the pen that makes the difference. The movement is picked up by the senses and, due to their involvement, results in different neural activity that governs all higher levels of cognitive processing and learning.

Explaining the importance of the results, van der Meer says that,

“This difference in activity is really significant, it tells us that using a pen to take notes means that the brain is able to process learning in a much more effective way.”

Traditional note-taking with 21st century technology

At a time when so many students are using laptops exclusively for their work, the research underlines the power of the pen in learning. This has implications for students looking to get the most out of their education, with van der Meer adding, “I really hope this research will help bring note taking with a pen back into classrooms.”

As the research findings outline, the pen has significant potential to enrich our learning and therefore has a place in education today, but not necessarily at the expense of our digital devices. Van der Meer suggests there are many tablet and hybrid devices currently available that allow the use of a pen or stylus, helping students to get the most out of ancient and modern technology.

“Stylus technology – like the Surface Pen – provides a means to have an electronic record of one’s notes all in one place, while also having the benefit of integrating sensorimotor information as it comes in via the senses and is subsequently processed in the various parts of the brain through hand movement,” noted van der Meer.

While we may have been forgiven for believing the pen would soon be retired in our increasingly digital world, it is in fact as important and relevant now as it has been throughout the ages. Instead of seeing the pen as part of an analogue world, it can be embraced as a component of our digital learning experiences.

  Surface-pro-4

Research carried out by Audrey van der Meer & F.R. (Ruud) van der Weel, Department of Psychology, Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory, Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway

Define promotions on your products and even create reusable promotion codes for limited time offers in Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Promotions can mean your company hits its targets in the slower months of the year. They give you something to talk to your customers about, often mean you can sell in higher volumes and even make your customer feel loved as they are getting something for nothing… an easy way to set these up in Dynamics NAV would be really useful, right?

The Promotions Addition from Technology Management allows you to define your promotional offers, the customers to whom the offers apply, the qualifying criteria for that offer and the benefit (e.g. free item lines, discount amount). It includes the ability to create single or multiple-use promotion codes, e.g. quote “JAN2016SALE” during January to receive 10% off the order value, extending the basic functions of Microsoft Dynamics NAV far beyond its ‘out of the box’ capabilities.

So whether it’s by one get one free, buy one get one half price, campaign pricing, invoice pricing, or any other type of offer you deem fit – you can set it up in Dynamins NAV and avoid the panicked sound of your sales staff, who will thank you got no longer needing to calculate the discount at the end of their phone calls!

Sound good? Have a look at it in action http://bit.ly/29OsUj2

And… Check out Dynamics Additions Promotions and our range of Additions at https://www.tecman.co.uk/Software/Dynamics-Additions

Accurate landed costs calculations

Studying and understanding the true cost of the product you are buying or selling means keeping a very close eye on import taxes. Nobody wants to go through the trouble of importing to then find out you spent more than you can sell it for…

That’s why we have designed Dynamics Additions Landed Costs. Our new Addition is part of a collection of software add-ons which will enhance your use of Microsoft Dynamics NAV without the need for costly, bespoke development.

Dynamics Additions Landed Costs allows you to calculate expected costs and automatically accrue for them during the goods journey, correctly reflecting them in your Dynamics NAV cash flow projections.

Designed to create financial accruals so your finance team have visibility of expected costs and assign further costs to the item so the item card reflects the true cost. In essence, this can hugely simplify the process of imports…

Check out Dynamics Additions Landed Costs and our range of new Additions at tecman.co.uk/landedcosts or get in touch.

Give a Boost to your Credit Control Team…

Credit control is a demanding task, one which constantly rests on the shoulders of your Finance Team – and sometimes, a small improvement that can make their lives far easier is a godsend…

One of our newest Dynamics Additions is Credit Management, a specially designed product which will better control the overdue balances and approaching credit limits of your customers and suppliers.

This new Addition helps to remove some of the manual tasks from your Credit Control team, by automatically putting sales orders on hold if a customer has overdue balances or a particular sales order would put them over their agreed credit limit.

Great for your larger customers, Credit Management can also be used bespoke your controls. For example, certain accounts can be excluded from the credit rules you have in place, to ensure their account never gets credit held if they are over their limit…

Sound like one less headache?

Check out Dynamics Additions Credit Management and our range of new Additions at tecman.co.uk/Credit-Management OR jump on to our YouTube Channel and see the Addition in action at youtube.com/playlistCreditManagement

A supported version of Visual Studio cannot be found (NAV 2013)

We all love NAV right?? Well my patience with it was stretched to breaking point over the last day or so.

One of our customers has upgraded their hardware but didn't want to upgrade NAV from 2013. In itself this is strange, be we cant force people to upgrade can we ?!? Anyhow, having performed the database migration to the shiny new, superfast server, they trashed their original server. All good so far and no issues for the users, as close to a seamless go live as possible, all were happy, until……we logged on to perform a simple report change.

To my horror we got the error stating "a supported version of Visual Studio could not be found"… Visual Studio was not installed, they did not own a copy of VS and were not prepared to pay for one. The battle commenced….Many hours of "fun" later…. We have a NAV2013 install that can design reports…

In summary this MSDN page led me to the Microsoft Web Platform Installer which allowed me to install the required software

  • Visual Web Developer 2010 Express
  • Visual Studio 2010 Shell (Integrated)

This cured the initial error message but then presented me with a new one.

The Application Data for Visual Studio could not be created. (ARGHHH!!!)

To resolve this you have to manually create a folder (yes in this day an age you have to manually create a folder!!!)

Having manually created the folder (with no content) C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0

We can then design a report layout in NAV 2013….. simples!

Hope this helps someone….

(Big shout out to Claus Lundstrom's blog and Stack Overflow for this)

 

Improving traceability, insight & control with a single business software solution for the food industry at Marcantonio Foods & Caterlink

The need for a single, comprehensive ERP solution for both Caterlink and Marcantonio Foods came as a result of their merger under the international ORKLA group.

Multi-site cooperation was now vital for the two companies and their existing disparate systems were causing a major headache for both parties – traceability and forecasting tasks were virtually impossible.

To work together to grow and expand their operations, more insight and control over processes and reporting possibilities were essential.

Caterlink and Marcantonio Foods turned to Technology Management and subsequently implemented Dynamics Food (Microsoft Dynamics NAV tailored specifically for food industry) – successfully joining up their sites and systems, giving the flexibility they needed to grow.

Working with Technology Management was very easy. They helped us all the way”, Falak Waheed, IT Manager at Marcantonio & Caterlink

Caterlink and Marcantnio Foods are now able to:

  • produce management reports very quickly
  • identify trends and improve customer service
  • increase flexibility between companies in the group to support and manufacture products almost on a just-in-time principle
  • streamline traceability across the organisation

Watch the full story at here…

Is it a Budget That SMBs Can Feel Good About?

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer completes the delivery of his March 2016 Budget, and the business community take time to digest and understand the implications, James Crowter, Managing Director of Technology Management has a few initial thoughts himself on whether it’s a good or weak budget for firms.

“This budget largely gives the stability to mid-sized businesses that they really need. The cuts in corporation and capital gains tax will enable the quicker reinvestment needed to transform to the digital businesses that will thrive in or out of Europe and even on a global stage.

“UK business needs investment to improve productivity rather than just employing more people. Tax breaks will go some way to improve cashflow but are only one part of the solution. Investing in business processes as well as developing the skill sets of current employees and changing a mindset will prove invaluable in a volatile economy which awaits the outcome of Brexit and all the possible hurdles that will or won’t create.

“The corporation tax reduction is especially important as competing with European companies, especially from Ireland and the Netherlands at the moment puts us at a disadvantage currently.  It does tempt you to start up in those countries rather than export from the UK. The currency fluctuations in recent weeks have made that especially appealing so this redresses that somewhat.

“I’m sure though that our food and beverage customers will not be paying a lot in ‘sugar tax’. Reward always drives behaviour and they will adapt quickly to preserve their market share while avoiding price hikes by revising their recipes to fit around the new legislation when the detail becomes clear.  It’s great that this will benefit our children (and a lot of adults) but I hope George Osborne has not counted on it for his deficit reduction plans.  

“The personal tax free allowances increasing at the basic and start of higher rate are nice as most employees tend to look at what they get to take home. There are an increasing number of senior professionals above £100k that lose their personal allowance completely by £120k that won’t be impressed by this however – that threshold has not changed since Gordon Brown introduced it and is starting to bite with more and more. If he’s not careful we will see some of those most skilled moving abroad because of the effective 66% tax rate on anything extra they earn. Overall though the tax system is too complex and one day he should simplify it but happy with what we got today.   

“Businesses need confidence back in the economic arena. There’s always more that can be done to support businesses through the rough times but one has to be realistic that the Government’s purse can only stretch so far. Innovation and research and development need to score higher up the pecking order if growth is to be achieved. Technology enhancements to improve business processes need to be encouraged or even incentivised so firms invest but hopefully with the tax breaks, there will have a little more cash in the bank to enable them to do this.

“We await the EU Referendum and fingers crossed whatever the outcome, Britain’s prosperity regains momentum.”

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 User Training

New to Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016?

We know it can be a struggle to find the time and get the basics nailed down when you are using a new software system and that’s why we are creating FREE training videos – through which you can easily and quickly explore the key features, in bite sized chunks.

Our first series is dedicated to the new look and feel of Dynamics NAV 2016 and should help you get stuck in…

Watch the entire video playlist at http://bit.ly/1N5XfZx

Here's the list of the videos in the series (Links open in a new window):

And while you are there… why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and make sure you don’t miss out on any of our upcoming FREE training videos, all about Dynamics NAV 2016 https://www.youtube.com/user/TecmanOnline/featured