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Your Decision Making Tool is Your ERP System

Decision making requires that we recognize a need, analyze appropriate data, and select the best alternative and take the right action. There is psychology in action here. The right action for one business will be the wrong action elsewhere. The people who will need to take action must be comfortable taking suggestions from a machine. They also must be confident that the rules we set up in the machine are almost always the right action to take. And users should understand where the suggestion might not be best.

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Improve Responsiveness and Exceed Customer Expectations by Transforming Your Business

While most companies that have been in business for any length of time have an ERP system, not all the ERP systems in use include modern, up to date business processes and best practices. Companies that have grown through acquisition may have multiple ERP systems in use at different facilities, making business processes and financial reporting needlessly cumbersome. Some companies may have interfaced their ERP system to other business systems, such as PLM or CRM, or they may have modified the system’s code, while other companies may have merely chosen not to upgrade for so long that the systems in place are hopelessly obsolete. Whatever the case, these companies are hampering their profitability and their ability to please their customers because their business systems simply cannot keep up with the current pace and expectations of business.

Working with an outdated ERP systems wastes resources as people spend time searching for the information they need, reentering data into multiple systems or compensating for lack of functionality with manual side systems. Upgrading to a new ERP system improves efficiency, reduces costs and helps improve responsiveness, leading to better customer service in multiple ways.

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Financial Reporting in Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 offers organizations with complex organizational structures a flexible financial reporting solution. Management Reporter supports the creation of statutory and operational reports based on general ledger data and is the recommended solution for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. Management Reporter is used for the creation, distribution and analysis of financial statements and other financial reports and is included in the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 solution.

Management Reporter empowers decision makers to provide real-time insights into organizational results allowing business users to take action and align employee behavior with overall goals. 

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Microsoft Dynamics AX Looks Forward, Not Backward

Thanks for following along with our series “Top Reasons to Invest in Microsoft Dynamics AX and Merit Solutions” blog series. We’re now up to reason three exploring how a business transformation with Merit Solutions delivers more than just ERP. If you are just joining or perhaps missed our previous two posts - here are links to the first two reasons: It’s More Than Just ERP and Helps You Work Better, Faster, and Smarter.

This week’s reason is that Microsoft Dynamics AX looks forward, not backward.

Is your business software hindering your ability to make sound business decisions? Is it limiting your potential for growth? In today’s competitive environment, you need more than a backward-looking system of record to be successful.

However, many executives we talk to are unable to view business critical data in real-time. Instead, they have a mixture of disparate business systems - for financial management, CRM, shop floor, etc... I'm guessing this quote from Roger Mills, Executive Vice President of Finance for Trading Technologies International, Inc., will sound familiar to many: “It became apparent that our old IT platform did not have the functional capability, scalability, or data visibility we needed to maintain aggressive, profitable growth for the company. We were dealing with multiple systems that were not integrated across global entities. Many processes were being done in spreadsheets, including corporate consolidation. And we lacked the ability to perform robust analytics and reporting on real-time data, which slowed down corporate decision making.”

The problem with this approach is that it takes quite a bit of time (up to a month!) for information to make it from one system to another, hindering their ability to react and make informed business decisions. And by the time decisions are made, the chances are it’s already too late!

Microsoft Dynamics AX can address those challenges. It gives you a solution that’s proactive and predictive, with built-in workflows that guide your employees forward through their work. It also provides your people with powerful embedded business intelligence tools that help transform data into insight. With those tools at their fingertips, your teams not only can solve problems, but they also can prevent them from occurring in the first place.

As an example, Microsoft Dynamics AX, combined with the powerful features of Microsoft Excel, can transform transactional data into predictive reports. These reports include shopping cart analysis that helps your people identify future cross-sell and up-sell opportunities as well as recommend items that are the most profitable for your business. And drill-down capabilities provide deeper visibility into transactions and more detailed audit trails.

Microsoft Dynamics AX gives you higher confidence that the right people are making the right decisions to grow your business.

Just listen to Roger now: "More accurate reporting and more immediate analysis is now possible through the business intelligence cube functionality that exists within Dynamics AX. The cube reporting capability allows us to view various details on the business in real time. The Dynamics AX dimension capabilities then allow us to slice and view the data from various perspectives. This enables us to make more informed decisions."

See their full story: Trading Technologies' Microsoft Dynamics AX Case Study

Innovative and Proactive Applications - Better, Faster, Smarter

Traditional business applications evolved as passive, backward-looking systems of record.

Microsoft Dynamics AX already changes that model today, introducing embedded, declarative workflow that brings an understanding of business process optimization into the application and helps guide users forward through their work. When this is combined with pervasive embedded business intelligence that transforms the data captured in the system into insight empowering better decisions, the system becomes a more active, forward looking partner for the people who drive a business toward success.

Microsoft Dynamics AX also delivers innovative application scenarios today. These include, for example, a solution in retail that offers out-of-the-box connection from point of sale to the headquarters business system, and that unifies web and brick and mortar commerce in a single view of customer and transactions; as well as a system for manufacturers that supports discrete, process and lean manufacturing models in a single system instance, with planning and costing capabilities that work across all three models.

This is only the beginning. Microsoft Dynamics AX will evolve to embed constraint optimization and machine learning to deliver even more advanced, forward-looking capability to Dynamic Businesses. For example, Microsoft is currently developing systems that combine transaction history with information about key factors like weather, traffic, local event calendars and demographics to optimize daily order quantities for a retailer, minimizing out of stock and waste to drive greater profitability.

The four IT megatrends of the next decade - “Big data,” social connectedness, cloud computing, and mobility - will present new opportunities for business applications insight, and open up a whole new range of possibilities for business. Modern business applications won’t just make individuals and organizations smarter, but will go beyond this to new directions and new levels of impact we are just beginning to imagine.

Driving impact has always required insight but most systems today only focus on retrospective views and data. They are passive, reactive, and backward looking. Modern business applications will at the onset be proactive. They will inform with insights and possible actions while constantly evolving to point to what comes next.

Data continues to grow exponentially as does the ability to derive meaning from it. Social commentary has accelerated the pace of the review cycle, with likes, links and tweets providing instant clues to success or failure. Capturing this data and being able to tap into its rich and valuable insight is a new requirement.

Microsoft Dynamics AX helps people not only integrate and understand these new data sets, but also get to better answers with suggested actions so they can continually improve business performance. It achieves this by enabling people to calculate and/or recalculate business possibilities in real time. By focusing on connected, forward-looking systems, we can allow people to access actionable information with greater speed and agility – enabling businesses to respond more efficiently, effectively and proactively to changing market conditions.

Technology to Differentiate Your Business

Merit Solutions believes that many organizations are at a point of profound transformation that won’t be sufficiently addressed via a patchwork of business solutions. That's why we are committed to helping your business be ready for what’s next with the most comprehensive range of integrated solutions today and the most complete vision for the future.

Empowering Your People

For your people, we offer an unparalleled range of integrated, connected solutions that help provide a seamless experience across people’s personal work lives. Our approach is to deliver solutions that are integrated by design across devices and services. From productivity, collaboration, and business apps, to devices and security, our goal is to deliver a connected experience that works together seamlessly and naturally, the way people expect it to work. The result? Get more done, faster, without limits.

We live in an amazing time for technology. At home, when we use our personal devices, we’ve become accustomed to a highly connected experience where all of our apps and information are at our fingertips and the experience has become highly intuitive. It’s easy to watch movies, read books, play games, and share photos and documents. We also know that people consume information in a different way depending on the device they are using—tablets, PCs, or even business whiteboards. In each case, the Microsoft business platform makes it easy to personalize the experience and get it just right. By choosing the Microsoft platform, your company's devices and applications will truly work together - and these connected devices will give you the same version of the truth regardless of the device you are using.

Maximizing IT Flexibility

Our IT customers are entering a new era - a new era for the way they manage and deploy applications and devices. Between the consumerization of IT and the move to the cloud, a lot of what IT provided, from deployment to systems integration, is being radically revised and simplified. Throughout this transformation, we are here to help our customers maximize the return on your IT existing investment and best position you for the future. Our goal is to enable people to use the devices they want to use in the places they want to work - while also enabling enterprises to protect corporate information.

At the same time, we know that you will have more than just Microsoft solutions in your business, and so we are experienced at building bridges across technology. We believe this builds choice, drives innovation, and creates opportunities.

Accelerating your Business

Finally, we’re committed to helping you maximize the return on your investments in Microsoft solutions. Whether that means saving money, growing revenue, attracting and retaining customers, or driving innovation.

In today’s business climate, people expect the technology they use at work to be as simple as the technology they use at home. Today’s technology is expanding the possibilities for connecting people and helping businesses be more proactive and dynamic to change. For example…

In summary, Merit Solutions offers companies an unparalleled experience across today’s devices, while maximizing IT flexibility and providing the business platform and process optimization services that can truly accelerate your business.

Please comment below if you have any questions or comments as we’d certainly like to continue this conversation and find more ways that we can continue to help companies differentiate their business.

Microsoft Dynamics AX is a Next Generation ERP Solution

A while back we discussed some global business and IT trends that are slowly but steadily reshaping the ERP landscape. With our emerging economic climate, these trends are posing additional challenges for business and IT professionals who are struggling to improve profitability and retain IT agility.

Global market trends are creating the need for businesses to:

At the same time, shifting IT trends are creating the need to:

  • Increase ERP adoption and access to ERP data across a broader subset of the workforce.
  • Reduce IT operational costs by investing in systems that are more flexible and scalable, and simpler to configure, maintain, and upgrade.
  • Put solutions in place that enable broad business strategies, and that enable IT to respond quickly to specific line-of-business (LOB) requests and industry needs.

When you frame this discussion with the research conducted by Forrester in 2010 detailed in our article, Key Challenges Companies Face with ERP Solutions, you can see how the needs produced by market and IT trends are affecting customers’ expectations of their ERP application.

Today’s world is increasingly flattened by technology, global complexity and new global competition - making it critical for a business to be able to rapidly see and react to signals, threats and opportunities. Going one step further, in this world where the pace of business accelerates, imagine being able to anticipate rather than react to those signals. Success today and tomorrow increasingly depends on information insight and efficient business processes.

So what would the next generation of ERP look like? See for yourself!

Better Informed People Make Better Decisions

Today’s social connectedness, mobile devices, and growing opportunities for interaction “any time any place” have changed the way many live and work. People are increasingly dependent on connections across the global network—interlocked in this connected reality.

In order to gain the insight needed to make better decisions, organizations need an end-to-end business solution that integrates all areas of their business and provides managers - as well as individual team members and contributors - with the information they need to make the right decisions at the right time!

Modern business solutions like Microsoft Dynamics AX not only connect people inside and outside the organization, they also give them context and insight which drives better decisions and boosts productivity. An important focus of Microsoft Dynamics AX is to drive connections with people, with customers and with business partners across processes, data and the ecosystem in which organizations operate. This focus on connected organizations includes the vision of anywhere, in-context collaboration services that links people and companies to the right people in the right place, in the right context, at the right time, across multiple avenues of communications.

By implementing a fully integrated ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics AX - encompassing everything from sales and marketing to production and accounting - organizations can improve the accuracy of the information upon which decisions are based because each module of the software is tied together and information flows freely among them. Everyone from the top floor to the shop floor can have access to the business intelligence information they need to drive business success across the organization:

  • Keep current on changing business conditions - Accurately monitor current business activity, and compare it to historical activity and future plans to give people the contextual information they need to keep performance on track. Microsoft Dynamics AX delivers many integrated monitoring tools to help your people access the most relevant, accurate, and timely information about your business.
  • Gain insight into your business - It's not enough to gather accurate and timely data—people need powerful and easy-to-use analysis tools to help them understand context and trends. Microsoft Dynamics AX business intelligence functions provide people with the insight they need to take quick action and pursue opportunities.
  • Budget, forecast, and plan effectively - Microsoft Dynamics AX offers flexible planning tools to help you compare budgets, forecasts, and plans to actual performance. It also gives you the ability to update budgets and plans on the basis of new data and analyses to help your business stay competitive.

Microsoft Dynamics AX removes the impediments that generate friction within the organization and provides people with a broader array of insights and actions across internal and external connections. With greater transparency, agility, and insight, your people can make better, more informed decisions - enabling you to transform into a Dynamic Business.

How the Right BI Solution Can Help Drive Success

There’s plenty of incentive for overcoming today’s business information challenges. Although it can be difficult to put financial values on faster, smarter decisions, the ability to make them is still widely recognized as critical to success in the highly competitive global marketplace. Moreover, it’s not hard to identify organizational dissatisfaction with the relevance, availability, and accuracy of the information people currently do have at their disposal.

Fortunately, new solutions are emerging to help solve these problems. Today, the right BI solution can:

  • Provide self-service convenience for the average user, with immediate, out-of-the-box analysis capabilities, while still helping to maintain a secure environment and offer the depth and power necessary for sophisticated analysis.
  • Improve business agility with a range of flexible options for generating, viewing, analyzing, and distributing BI.
  • Integrate and connect disparate legacy systems and business applications, information sources, departments, and locations to provide comprehensive, one-stop BI for the entire organization that’s optimized for the capabilities of the ERP system.
  • Expand in reach and capabilities as the organization grows and its BI demand increases. Ideally, this growth can take place as an integral component of a scalable enterprise-wide solution that also adapts and extends readily as needed.
  • Offer a quick return on investment through initial cost efficiency, long-term scalability, and a low total cost of ownership.

The following steps provide a guideline for incorporating BI into your organization. By following these steps, you can identify key business considerations prior to deploying a new BI solution.

Step 1: Replace complex user interfaces with intuitive, convenient self-service

Ease of access is a primary consideration. An inquiry, analysis, or reporting solution that is too complicated may be powerful but sit mostly unused. On the other hand, a solution that’s too simple may not be robust enough to serve the business decision-makers who need it most. But when the BI solution is easy to use right out of the box and users can access information via familiar interfaces, applications, and tools, everyone in the organization can achieve greater insight without relying on costly IT resources to generate reports or run time-consuming analyses. The ideal solution works the way your people want to work. A self-service–focused user interface also minimizes training costs and startup times and enables team members to work with information in a collaborative environment. At the same time, managers can control information access based on functional roles or individual authorization to help protect sensitive information and prevent inappropriate or unintended modifications.

Step 2: Expand options for analysis, transportability, and dissemination

To turn information into actionable business intelligence, people must be able to extract and analyze the specific information they need, in the order they need it, and with the detail that addresses their interests. Tailored functionality is critical, both for customizing the solution to industry and organizational needs and for adapting operationally to the interests of diverse functional roles. Finally, the right solution can make it easier to share, present, and distribute the results of analysis, not only within the organization but also with trade partners. Therefore, solutions that incorporate Web services, portal compatibility, or other measures to ease communication across platforms provide a definite advantage.

Step 3: Integrate disconnected information and systems into the knowledge base

A strong BI system must be able to incorporate information from across the enterprise while also connecting with line-of-business applications, including document repositories, and the desktop productivity tools employees use every day. The ability to access and consolidate information from multiple production management and manufacturing control systems, warehouses, distribution channels, and companies or subsidiaries is also valuable for providing managers with comprehensive, enterprise-wide insight.

Step 4: Scale to fit changing business models and needs

A BI system is only good while it fits. Given the rate of change in today’s business environment, it’s imperative to find and implement a solution flexible enough to adapt to business growth, whether that growth comes through acquisitions, vertical integration, international expansion, or shifts into entirely new lines of business. To continue supporting personal, team, and organizational BI needs, solutions must be extensible to new users and locations as the company grows. Such scalable solutions, when they also accommodate add-on or tailored functionality, offer strong cost efficiency, consistency, service, and fit over time.

Step 5: Deploy cost-efficiently and with long-term adaptability for a low TCO

For a business solution to be implemented at all, it must be cost-efficient to license, deploy, and maintain, while remaining accessible across the organization. Ideal solutions give all people responsible for strategic, tactical, and operational decisions access to the information they need at a low total cost of ownership (TCO). An effective BI solution can quickly provide a strong return on investment while retaining the flexibility and scalability for future growth to provide long-term performance that maximizes your investment.

Microsoft Dynamics AX is an end-to-end business management solution for enterprise and mid-market organizations, including manufacturers, distributors, retailers, service organizations, and firms with diverse or vertically integrated operations across the global supply chain. An ERP system with an intuitive user interface, robust analytics, and flexible, familiar information delivery capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics AX serves a wide range of business intelligence needs right out of the box. And because it builds on the Microsoft technology stack, including Microsoft SQL Server® and SharePoint technologies, and is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office and other Microsoft desktop productivity solutions, it is uniquely positioned to help you solve today’s most pressing BI and performance management challenges.

Gain Better Business Insight and Drive Decisions to Build Your Business

Accurate information about how your business is performing is important at any time - but in difficult times, it is absolutely essential. Getting the right information to the right person at the right time has never been more critical to your business. Finding the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that can bring insight and intelligence into your business is a must.

Are you looking for a solution that can accomplish these critical objectives?

  • Giving employees quick insight into predefined views of data tailored to their jobs.
  • Enabling employees to do more ad hoc analysis without engaging IT staff.
  • Enabling sales people to create customized pricing while on the road or in customer's office.
  • Increasing customer satisfaction and reducing costs by giving customers and field staff online ordering capabilities and round-the-clock visibility into order status.
  • Providing real-time access to a common set of accurate business information and helping your business operate more efficiently.
  • Giving you access to business information stored on employee computers, or on systems that don’t easily link with each other.
  • Analyzing project or contract profitability more efficiently.
  • Helping you quickly analyze all aspects of your business so that you can make better business decisions in high-risk situations.
If any of these objectives are in your business plan, Microsoft Dynamics AX can help. Microsoft Dynamics AX provides rich business intelligence capabilities to companies of all sizes, with specialized functionality for almost any industry. No matter what your business is, Microsoft Dynamics AX can erase boundaries between data silos and deliver the critical information needed for rapid, effective decision-making to key executives and staff, whether they’re on the road, in a customer's office, or at corporate headquarters.

Microsoft Dynamics AX can give you the business insight that will guide you to success. Here's how:

  • Accurate, up-to-the minute information about product costs, sales trends, and profit margins to inform strategic decisions about where to spend money, how to grow revenue, and how to strengthen margins.
  • Access to critical information about current sales—no matter where it's located.
  • Integrated sales and revenue forecasts from subsidiaries and recent acquisitions—even data in disparate systems—into all-up company reports.
  • Executive views of production schedules or resource availability on demand, without waiting for reports.
Business intelligence can mean the difference between an organization’s modest performance and real success. A business that can use its own data and information to help employees gain insight and make smart decisions will have a clear competitive advantage. Microsoft Dynamics AX's powerful BI capabilities make it easy for all employees—not just a select few—to access, work with, share, understand, and interpret data and information from across the organization.

To empower your entire organization with insight—at the personal, team, and organizational levels— business intelligence tools should be where your employees need them—on the desktop. Making BI tools accessible and easy to use no matter what application is used is paramount to making the most of data and information. Microsoft Dynamics AX provides extensive built-in BI functionality with capabilities that enhance productivity and facilitate collaboration.

Simplicity, ease of integration, and flexibility are Microsoft Dynamics AX hallmarks. And because Microsoft Dynamics AX can be integrated smoothly with other applications,  businesses can deliver essential intelligence throughout the entire organization. Businesses can also take advantage of their existing IT investments and grow and extend to meet changing needs, so that everyone throughout your organization is empowered to make better, more confident decisions.