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.

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.

 

 

Will it cost more to license AX2012 than earlier versions?

Will it cost more to license AX2012 than earlier versions? If it does cost more, should you be preoccupied with a figure that comprises just one part of your overall ERP budget?

AX2012 
That is the question we’re all asking at the moment. We won’t have a definitive answer until later in July when Microsoft release their new pricing information. Anyone claiming to know the answer is either speculating, or breaking an NDA they've signed- both of which are ill advised.

Yet it would be reasonable to assume that the most powerful and usable release of AX to date (with over 1,200 new features) will come at a premium over previous releases.

However licensing only comprises a portion of the overall cost of an ERP system and one should consider the total costs of ownership when comparing AX2012 with AX2009- or the upper mid-market competition.

Microsoft have invested a significant amount of their vast R&D budget into scrutinising and simplifying business processes, overhauling the installation process and lowering development costs and risk- thereby reducing the “time to value”- i.e. the time when your investment in Microsoft Dynamics AX starts to pay for itself. With this in mind Dynamics AX2012 will be more cost effective than ever- despite our predictions about increasing licence cost.

However some of the wiliest customers may wish to have their cake and eat it: Taking advantage of a late deal on an AX2009 license, with a view to making an “upgrade” to AX2012 may prove to be a very shrewd decision.

 

Our top ten new features in Dynamics AX2012: #10 Date effectivity.

With approximately ten weeks to go until Dynamics AX 2012 becomes generally available, we’ll countdown our top 10 new features from the 1,200 exciting enhancements available in AX 2012. We’ve had some difficulty in boiling down such a huge list of features to the ones we think will benefit our customers the most, but I’ll kick things off at number 10 with a very powerful feature known as date effectivity.

Wouldn’t it be great to travel backwards (and forwards) in time through your business data? Tracking revisions and corrections to pricing, customer information, machine capacity, safety stock, emergency contact information and almost anything you can think of?

 Back-to-the-future

Great Scott!

Although there were isolated examples of date effective tables and forms in AX2009 and earlier versions, AX developers didn’t have the facility of a consistent, system wide approach when modelling date effectivity. Dynamics AX2012 now allows almost any table and form to be configured with date effective properties; whether this results in the tracking of a single piece of reference data, a collection of data, or a changing relationship between two data entities, for example an employee’s promotion history through various positions in your organisation.

In summary, date effectivity provides a powerful new framework for modelling changes to your data through time.

Continued 
 

 

Take a free test drive with Dynamics AX

Test drive Microsoft Dynamics AX today from your own desk…

When choosing a new car, most of us welcome the opportunity to take an unaccompanied test drive.

Cbopenroad Without a salesperson in the passenger seat, you feel more able to check the car meets your specific functional needs and performance requirements. Essentially, you can review the product on your own terms.

The same principles hold true when selecting an ERP system. In recognition of this fact, Microsoft have placed an entire fleet of high-powered Dynamics AX machines at your disposal. You can either follow the guided demonstrations or you can go "off-road" and explore Microsoft Dynamics AX in depth.

There are no further obligations and it only takes a minute or two to register, so where's the catch? Well Microsoft will only give you an hour to play, as demand is high. However if you like what you see, Technology Management can offer you an extended test drive on our own hosted Microsoft Dynamics AX platform.

So click here to fire up Dynamics AX and hit the open road.