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Transform Compliance Challenges into Business Benefits

For many organizations, simply meeting compliance requirements is no longer enough. Yes, a major concern in board rooms today is the cost of compliance. Performance expectations, increasing stakeholder demands, and changing market conditions are forcing business leaders to search for cost-effective ways to enforce compliance adoption without jeopardizing organizational agility and business growth. But some organizations are beginning to recognize the benefits of compliance and are turning it to their advantage – bringing their operations under better control while driving down compliance costs.

Compliance Management requires capturing information, accurately, organizing and retaining the information and quickly and efficiently analyzing and presenting it. This requires processes and procedures that are an integrated part of a company’s way of doing business. Having a compliance strategy helps companies gain better control over their business processes, improve customer service, and can even increase brand awareness among customers and stakeholders.

But a compliance strategy isn’t enough if you don’t have the right systems in place to support the strategy.

Information Technology plays a key role in helping companies manage an effective compliance program and enforce compliance requirements internally and externally. Technology enables the collection, analysis and control of enterprise-wide data, delivering the crucial information needed for intelligent business decisions.

Microsoft Dynamics AX can help organizations enforce compliance in a consistent, cost-effective way while streamlining business processes and improving efficiency across the organization. The compliance features in Microsoft Dynamics AX deliver:

  • Improved visibility into compliance status and activities
  • Better consistency in complying with corporate policies
  • Greater control by making it easier to track and manage compliance
  • Segregation of duties to comply with regulations
  • A lower cost of compliance with streamlined and automated processes
  • Improved governance by enabling the tracking of internal controls automatically
  • Enable global compliance

Microsoft Dynamics AX delivers an integrated and automated solution designed to help you manage the risks and costs associated with meeting compliance requirements. Furthermore, it extends your investment in Microsoft products and technologies, and gives you deeper visibility into and control of business practices that you can use to generate a competitive advantage.

Learn more about Compliance Management in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

Respond to Changes with Agile ERP

Inflexible ERP systems hamper process change. In addition, implementation often involves large, multi-year projects that carry the risk that business processes and supporting IT systems will be obsolete by the time they come on stream. Expand business opportunities, modify processes, and differentiate your business with an ERP solution that provides unprecedented agility.

Here’s how Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 provides business agility:

  1. Adapt to changing process and regulatory requirements with model-driven methods: First, improve business visibility with virtually unlimited views on the business via financial dimensions that let you earmark transactions based on system and custom entities. When your business needs changes to business processes, you can configure these with a graphical workflow editor without heavy dependency of IT. In addition, improve product planning and execution flexibility by unifying process, discrete and lean manufacturing operations. And, foster innovation with a unified business process repository. Configure the capabilities supporting generic or industry-specific business processes that you need from a single repository. Lastly, the organizational model help you change your organization structure more easily. For example: a manufacturing organization can implement lean manufacturing for one of the product lines by simply configuring these processes while running the same solution for more classic process or discrete operations.
  2. Improve responsiveness to demand: The manufacturing capabilities include a range of capabilities that improve responsiveness to demand. For example: manage customer demand spikes by rapidly onboarding vendors. Or, increase utilization and responsiveness through flexible resource deployments across multiple routings. Fulfill customer demand with the constraints-based product configurator.
  3. Enable a green and efficient enterprise: Track waste, water usage, energy consumption, carbon footprint, and related costs with the Environmental Sustainability Dashboard. Gain efficiencies through the “5 R’s” (reduce, recover, reuse, recycle, and renew). Reduce waste and streamline production using lean manufacturing techniques.

Expand business opportunities, modify processes, and differentiate your business with comprehensive ERP software that provides unprecedented agility.

  • Natural modeling to continuously plan, visualize, and change your processes.
  • Flexible deployment options (such as two-tier ERP, or cloud deployment) that can change as you grow.
  • Agile technology that makes it easy to change and differentiate your business.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012: Powerful Manufacturing ERP

Manufacturers are struggling to close the gap between their business requirements and the capabilities of their current business systems. In addition, many organizations lack the insight into their global operations due to the wide variety of legacy systems across the organization. The lack of a single system that grows with the business is evident. In addition, they’re challenged to give their people access to relevant information.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 will help you gain more value quickly with a single, powerful solution that supports industry-specific and operational demands across your global enterprise. Let me explain how:

  • Purposely built for the manufacturing industry: Meet your manufacturing business requirements with a solution purposely built for these needs. For example: improve production control through a variety of systems: make-to-order, make-to-stock, or engineer-to-order or enhance customer and vendor agreements with flexible contract structures. In addition you can support your organization end-to-end with rich core ERP capabilities, including finance, HR, and compliance management to streamline operations and increase efficiency across your global organizations. All with a single solution!
  • Scale your organization quickly with a global manufacturing solution: Run your organization and expand into new geographies using 36 country localizations built into one solution. Packaged localizations to meet local financial regulations in about 36 countries are included and maintained in Microsoft Dynamics AX helping organization meet the changing regulations in specific markets. In addition, it enables entities in your multisite organization to share data, business rules and processes in order to harmonize and streamline business processes. For example, Microsoft Dynamics AX enables global manufacturing planning with a unified operations resources models, or enhance operational efficiency with shared data for general ledger, relationships, and products; and common processes for intercompany trade and shared services. 
  • Gain immediate insight and unlock greater productivity with RoleTailored user experiences: Boost productivity with RoleTailored enhancements including new Role Centers, fact boxes, and enriched previews. Provide ad hoc, self-service business intelligence and reporting for key manufacturing operations, including pre-built reports from Microsoft SQL Server® Reporting Services. Provide business process context via notifications and alerts initiated by embedded workflows.

Reduce time to market and respond quickly to changing customer demands with Microsoft Dynamics AX Manufacturing. Real-time insight into business and supply chain information—including inventory, warehouse, and production—helps you optimize production flow by planning effectively, maximizing resource utilization, driving accurate delivery performance, and streamlining business processes.

Benefits of Micrsoft Sure Step Online

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is a customer lifecycle methodology for all Microsoft Dynamics solutions (AX, GP, NAV, SL, CRM and CRM Online). Besides delivering guidance, project management discipline and field-driven best practices, Sure Step also contains a huge collection of tools and templates to be used in all phases of a Microsoft Dynamics customer engagement.

Last autumn Microsoft announced Sure Step Online, which enables you to:

  • View the complete Sure Step methodology, including all tools and templates.
  • Create and manage customer projects based on the Sure Step deliverables on SharePoint.
  • Link to online marketing, training, and other resources on PartnerSource and CustomerSource

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online is a new approach to using the Sure Step methodology. Instead of having a client application with a set of content language packs, Microsoft developed a Silverlight application available on Partner Source and Customer Source. As the Sure Step Online is cloud-based, you no longer have to regularly download and install client or content updates (around 400MB for each language) to have the latest tools and templates, Sure Step Online will always contain the most recent content, and be available from anywhere, always.

Some of the advantages of the Sure Step Online include:

  • Using the latest guidance and content available online without downloading and installing the client.
  • Ability to access and share content quickly from anywhere. All you need to have is an internet connection, a browser with a Silverlight plugin and access to Partner or Customer source.
  • All supported languages are also available. Besides English, Sure Step Online offers (partial) methodology and templates in Chinese, Danish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
  • Ability to point users to a specific guidance page or template, which will eliminate the need for them to download the whole methodology to locate the specific content/guidance.
  • Ability to create customer projects on your local SharePoint instance, partner hosted SharePoint or SharePoint Online. Projects created using Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online Project Wizard will always contain the latest templates.
Of course, if your prefer to do so, you can still download and use the “on-premise” Sure Step 2012 client with the latest language packs.

Sure Step Online is available for partners and customers on the following location

For more details, please refer to the Sure Step Online User Guide.

TFS – Exporting Data From Multiple Team Projects

Team Foundation Server (TFS) brings us a lot of improvements for Application Life Cycle Management and work item tracking.

For development teams following an Agile methodology (Scrum), working on a couple of projects and covering a wide set of technologies like ours, it’s fairly common to have a number of team projects for each project we are working on. However, there are a couple of drawbacks when using multiple team projects as described in Good Reasons to not create a new Team Project.

In order to enable managers to analyze and plan our engagement, we needed to find a way to export data from all team projects we are currently working on. Unfortunately, TFS doesn’t support this fairly reasonable request. TFS provides a great integration with Excel, which enables easy exporting, modifying the data and publishing it back to TFS. However, if the query contains work item data from multiple team projects, an error TF208015 is thrown and no data will be exported.

This is a known issue and it in the TFS backlog. Suggested workaround is to create separate workbooks bound to different team projects and then to aggregate the data from tables. This means that you will still need to do a refresh in multiple workbooks.

We managed to find a more elegant way of retrieving the needed data using TFS Power tools. This add-on contains Team Foundation Power Tool (tfpt.exe) – a command line tool that enables you to work with files and directories under version control, team projects, and work items queries.

So, what you need to do is to create a Query in Visual Studio Team Explorer that displays the data you need and then export the data using the following commands. These will generate the TSV(tab separated values) and XML file.

c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools>tfpt query /format:xml "Engineering Team\Team Queries\Team Sprint Backlog - All Projects" /collection:http://tfs:8080/tfs/tfs%20projects > d:\allprojects.xml

c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools>tfpt query /include:header,data "Engineering Team\My Queries\AllProducts" /collection:http://tfs:8080/tfs/tfs%20projects > d:\allprojects.txt

Data from this generated TSV (or XML) can easily be imported in Excel and analyzed further, to the great satisfaction of your managers.

Microsoft keeps an open channel and listens to new feature requests from the users, so if you would like to have this feature in a next version of the TFS, go to feature request, register and vote.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010: The Business Collaboration Platform

The capabilities of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 work together to help your company quickly respond to changing business needs. Using SharePoint 2010, your people can share ideas and expertise, create custom solutions for specific needs, and find the right business information to make better decisions. For IT, SharePoint 2010 helps you cut training and maintenance costs, save time and effort, and focus on higher business priorities.

Whether you deploy the platform on-premises or as a hosted service, the capabilities of SharePoint 2010 work together to help you quickly respond to business needs using data-driven insights and solutions that are faster to develop and deploy.

Deliver the Best Productivity Experience

SharePoint 2010 helps your people be more productive. It offers a familiar Microsoft Office experience so that people can easily access the business information they need to get their jobs done.

  • Faster adoption with a familiar user interface:SharePoint 2010 gives your people a familiar experience with the Microsoft Office Fluent™ user interface and a set of capabilities that works across the SharePoint and Office product families. With this familiar and intuitive user experience, your people can use their PCs, browsers, and mobile devices to become more productive and efficient.
  • Continued productivity regardless of location: Mobile work isn’t just for the sales force anymore. Today, most companies expect their people to be “always on, always connected,” even when they’re away from the office. SharePoint 2010 offers a full set of capabilities that can help to increase productivity by giving people access to resources, regardless of the tools or devices they have available.
  • Rapid results with ready-to-use capabilities: SharePoint 2010 helps your people work together better with out-of-the-box personal SharePoint sites—My Sites—and pre-defined site templates (such as team sites and enterprise wikis). Everyone can easily customize their sites with SharePoint Web Parts and the new theming engine, making everyday tasks easier to accomplish.

Cut Costs with a Unified Infrastructure

SharePoint 2010 helps you reduce costs by consolidating intranet, extranet, and Internet sites on a single platform, on-premises or in the cloud.

  • Reduced costs through platform consolidation: SharePoint 2010 offers a rich set of integrated capabilities and a single, scalable platform, helping your company and customers reduce costs in several ways. As people begin to work together better and faster, IT can focus on higher business priorities. Plus, by consolidating solutions on SharePoint, you can be sure that everyone is using the same resources and the right information to make better business decisions.
  • More choice with on-premises and hosted options: Your collaboration platform must be able to scale up and out quickly as your company changes and grows. With SharePoint 2010, you can deploy your environment on-premises or in the cloud, letting you make the decision based on business needs, not technology constraints.
  • Proactive platform management: SharePoint 2010 can help IT save time, effort, and cost. A full set of rich administrative tools makes it easier and faster to manage your platform, freeing you to focus on other critical business needs.

Rapidly Respond to Business Needs

SharePoint 2010 gives you the best of both worlds: out-of-the-box applications and a platform for customized solutions. You can use the features of SharePoint 2010 just as they are or quickly create secure and easy-to-use solutions for specific business needs.

  • More value with existing tools and skills: Connections between SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Visual Studio® 2010 mean that your development team can create and deploy custom solutions on the fly. Using familiar tools and interfaces, developers can apply their current programming skills to a specific business need and help to solve it, quickly and effectively.
  • Two-way interaction with line-of-business data: SharePoint 2010 allows everyone, regardless of their technical expertise, to interact with information from databases, reports, and business applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. What’s more, people can surface the data in their SharePoint sites, analyze it, and make updates to be reflected in the external source itself.
  • No-code custom solutions for specific business needs: With SharePoint 2010, you can quickly create no-code solutions and deploy them in an easy and secure way. From simple sites to complex applications, there’s a code-free solution for almost every business need.

Learn more about Microsoft SharePoint 2010!

Welding Different Companies into a Business Powerhouse

The need to upgrade systems because of company mergers and acquisitions is a common purchasing trigger among many customers looking at new ERP systems. The combination of once separate companies and their particular applications of IT to business processes can result in a patchwork of disparate systems that cannot communicate effectively. The information needed to make good business decisions is there, but there’s no practical or timely way to assemble it in usable form.

The specific challenges involved in growth via M&A are as varied as the companies involved, but our research reveals that they can generally be categorized under one of four closely-related primary pain points:

  • Non-integrated, overlapping systems
  • Inability to scale to support growth
  • Lack of functionality (e.g., compliance issues)
  • Lack of operational insight

These pain points are not independent of each other. For instance, relying on non-integrated systems that cannot communicate effectively is likely to result in both poor scalability and a lack of operational insight. If you’re facing one of these pains, the chances are that you’re suffering to some degree with one or more of the others. Microsoft Dynamics AX gives organizations the ability to modernize their financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes to meet the challenges abve - along with the numerous other challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. The wide range of capabilities offered by Microsoft Dynamics AX gives you the tools to overcome many of the problems caused by growth via mergers and acquisitions.

You may be faced with the operational inefficiencies imposed by duplicate systems and processes inherited from multiple companies. Integrating critical systems such as ERP is a necessity if your company is to realize the economies of scale and other benefits of a merger or acquisition, but implementing, scaling, and maintaining such systems can require a significant amount of IT resources and impose a high total cost of ownership. Microsoft Dynamics AX offers tremendous flexibility, an easier implementation, a more rapid time to value, and a familiar user interface that drives adoption throughout the organization. With Microsoft Dynamics AX, you get increased efficiency, higher productivity, and lower IT costs without sacrificing the functionality you need to weld formerly different companies into a single business powerhouse.

Or perhaps the problem is one of scalability. Your current system may present costly customization, support, and integration issues that hobble your company’s growth. Microsoft Dynamics AX is designed to scale to support the largest enterprises with comprehensive core functionality, and deep industry-specific capabilities, so you can cost-effectively meet your current needs while remaining flexible to adapt and grow with change - no matter how large your company becomes.

You’re also likely to need more functionality than your current system delivers, not just because your company is growing, but to support the geographic dispersion that usually accompanies growth. If you’re a public company, there will likely be increased compliance demands, such as consolidated financial reporting across all the divisions that were once separate companies. Furthermore, to realize maximum value from your acquisitions, you’ll want to preserve unique business processes, rather than forcing every division into a common mold. Microsoft Dynamics AX offers hundreds of modules to cover virtually every functional need. And it is designed to integrate easily with third-party solutions for even more specialized operations.

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of the integration and automation that Microsoft Dynamics AX can deliver is unlocking the business data you already possess—in disparate IT systems or the experience of managers and staff—but can’t access in a timely or practical fashion. With Microsoft Dynamics AX, the information you need to make better decisions and respond to competitive challenges is at your fingertips. Hundreds of customized reports make up-to-date business data easily available to users—no more complex reporting processes that only experts can use. Reduced staffing costs and faster access to data both help your company grow.

Is your organization considering growth through mergers and acquisitions this year? If so, discover the ROI Microsoft Dynamics AX can bring to you!