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Effective Supply Chain Management Needed to Meet Increasing Customer Expectations

Today’s global ERP solutions offer robust, fully-functional supply chain management capabilities. And they need to. Customers, both consumer and commercial, expect a lot from a business and its ability to supply materials and products. The demand side of the supply chain has become, well, more demanding. Perhaps it’s the fact that customers have product and company information available at all times via social networks and mobile technology. Or it could be the speed at which consumers receive their items from online retailers, who have made same-day delivery routine. The consumers in these B2C relationships start wondering why they can’t have similar response in their B2B transactions at work.

Continue reading "Effective Supply Chain Management Needed to Meet Increasing Customer Expectations"

Microsoft Dynamics AX for IT Professionals

IT teams are responsible for the computers, networks, and software applications that manage a company’s operations, track financial transactions, and enable people to communicate and collaborate throughout the company. Without a smooth flow of information through a company’s IT systems, operations would not be efficient or even possible in some cases. IT managers need to monitor the day-to-day health of complex systems while simultaneously tracking innovations in technology that might create competitive advantages.

Microsoft Dynamics AX makes the job of connecting systems and exchanging information easier for IT professionals, and in many cases, it happens automatically. Microsoft Dynamics AX enables your end-users to access information by themselves, so IT professionals can concentrate on higher-value tasks.

  • Reduced costs. Microsoft Dynamics AX is built on a standard Microsoft platform, which helps your company reduce costs. You may already use many of the supporting technologies, such as Windows, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office, or Microsoft SharePoint. If so, you won’t need costly, time-consuming retraining to benefit from Microsoft Dynamics solutions.
  • Familiar user experience. Microsoft Dynamics AX operates like other familiar Microsoft applications, such as Microsoft Office. The RoleTailored user interface provides access to the data and insights needed for individual roles or departments, making Microsoft Dynamics easier to learn and use and helping to reduce IT support requirements.
  • Responsive to change. With a flexible and standard architecture that takes advantage of Microsoft .NET components, Microsoft Dynamics AX enables you to quickly and easily respond to changing business conditions. This helps ensure that your business software is adaptable to your changing business needs.
  • Simpler end-user reporting. Microsoft Dynamics AX helps make important business information more widely accessible in your organization, giving the right people access to the right information at the right time. By using Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft SharePoint, you can provide straightforward access to information via a Web browser. And because Microsoft Dynamics AX is built to work with familiar Microsoft Office programs such as Outlook and Excel, your people can use familiar tools to perform additional analysis.
  • Flexible deployment. Microsoft Dynamics AX is available either on-premise or in a Cloud ERP model, providing you with flexible and cost-effective deployment options.

Microsoft Dynamics AX helps you gain more value faster with a single, powerful solution that supports industry-specific and operational demands across your global enterprise. It's unprecedented agility adapts and grows with you, allowing you to expand business operations, modify processes, and differentiate your business. Microsoft Dynamics AX is simple to use, deploy, and manage - and delivers real-time access to the data and processes needed to drive your business forward.

Enhance Productivity and Boost Collaboration

In today's cost-competitive world, Life Sciences companies require ways to sustain enhanced employee productivity. However, in order to truly empower employee productivity, these companies need software solutions that can give their people easy access to accurate, real-time information.

MAXLife ERP enables true productivity for Life Sciences companies by providing a software solution that employees will actually use. With MAXLife, employees are provided a familiar interface that quickly connects internal people—and even external business partners—to the right information and tools to work faster and smarter.

With a tightly integrated Life Sciences Software solution, Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, and Biotechnology companies can successfully:

MAXLife supports your people in their day-to-day tasks, helping them improve communication and collaboration and discover better ways to work with one another. By tying people to the right process in their organization, Life Sciences companies can now achieve new levels of personal productivity and collaboration.

A Solution for Supply Chain Challenges

Wholesale distribution operations are becoming more complex, with ever-changing customer requirements, global and electronic marketplaces, multiple distribution channels, and compliance initiatives adding to the perennial challenges of delivering products accurately and on time. Successfully meeting these challenges in ways that provide competitive advantage requires tight synchronization of business processes throughout the supply chain and across the entire enterprise. Traditional warehouse management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are not enough.

True distribution effectiveness means streamlined processes and timely access to the information necessary for moving goods at maximum speeds. Tracking technologies such as radio frequency (RF) and radio frequency identification (RFID) eliminate manual labor but by themselves cannot make up for awkward workflows, redundant handling, or errors. Operational efficiency is the key to increasing inventory turns, improving order fulfillment rates, reducing cycle time, and eliminating chargebacks.

Microsoft Dynamics AX integrates information from your business and the entire supply chain to help synchronize real-time product movement and improve productivity within distribution operations. This comprehensive, fully integrated business solution helps companies to balance the demands of extended supply chains and move product more efficiently to increase sales, improve fill rates, and decrease costs.

Building on the multilanguage, multicurrency functionality, Microsoft Dynamics AX offers a powerful competitive advantage for companies distributing across a global marketplace. The supply chain solution can be most beneficial to organizations that seek to improve current distribution operations or to manage new initiatives for the following:

  • Distribution capacity
  • Transportation optimization
  • Delivery service improvement
  • Retail compliance
  • International expansion
  • Implementation of barcode and RF data collection
  • Global supply chain visibility
  • Trading partner collaboration
With the ability to handle single-byte and double-byte languages, international currency exchange, various warehouses, and multiple companies, Microsoft Dynamics AX can manage entire supply networks. As organizational needs change, the Microsoft Dynamics AX scalable system architecture makes it easy to tailor the solution both for today’s requirements and for the future growth of the business.

Key solution benefits include:

  • Improve order fulfillment and accuracy 
  • Eliminate inefficient processes and excess inventory
  • Enhance workload balancing and planning
  • Enable compliance with industry standards
  • Reduce transportation costs

Microsoft Dynamics AX delivers a flexible, modular approach, which offers cost-effective options for taking advantage of the functionality that can best enhance your operations. Warehouse Management options streamline receiving, slotting, picking, and order fulfillment. RFID-enabled technology helps ensure Electronic Product Code (EPC) compliance with customer requirements and increases product visibility to facilitate tracking and inventory management while improving cross docking and expedition of back orders. Strategies and tools for selecting optimal product placement enable you to increase efficiency, shorten order fulfillment cycles, and eliminate user error. By balancing workloads, setting performance targets, and deploying resources, companies can achieve maximum work force productivity. Tracking all warehouse activities, sharing key performance indicators, and measuring against baseline standards help ensure a company’s operations are performing at full potential.

With integrated Transportation Execution options, companies can simplify and speed transportation management tasks. Efficient load building, automated carrier assignments, and quick generation of compliant documentation boost efficiency, eliminate errors, and reduce costs. Shipments can be confirmed and tracked as needed to maintain visibility throughout distribution and help ensure timely delivery and customer satisfaction.

Increase Insight and Efficiency by Integrating People, Information, and Processes

For our 500TH POST on the Merit Matters Blog, let's talk about manufacturing insight.

Accurate information and the ability to respond with fast, informed decisions are key requisites for agile, low-cost manufacturing. Unfortunately, many manufacturers continue to operate with aging and unconnected information systems. Growth through acquisition, plus the valid need for custom manufacturing processes, often results in an inability to gather and roll up data from diverse manufacturing execution and control systems.

Consequently, many manufacturing organizations struggle with insight issues such as:

  • Manual forms and unstructured data not readily integrated or understood in relation to other data and systems.
  • Limited visibility of manufacturing data in the context of overall enterprise processes and information.
  • Critical machine, performance, tracking, and status information trapped in silos.
  • Labor-intensive and untimely report generation.
The resulting lack of visibility of key data can greatly hinder an organization’s ability to implement common and shared business processes, practice lean manufacturing, or even understand machine center or process profitability. That’s why many companies are recognizing the need to move to a common and shared manufacturing solution architecture that enables implementation of shared best practices while addressing the needs of local language, regulatory compliance, and integration requirements of each operating unit or location.

When companies integrate data to make a single version of the truth visible across the organization, they can deploy an appropriate manufacturing solution in either an on-premise or cloud model to:

  • Support the business across manufacturing, back office, and managerial processes.
  • Provide an integration platform for manufacturing execution and control systems.
  • Deliver accurate information to people who need it for proactive decisions and actions.
  • Facilitate the standardization of data and the optimization of processes and value.
  • Help reduce cycle times and costs through the elimination of errors, redundant or manual tasks, and data delays.
  • Link to existing or corporate systems to better understand overall performance and plan continuous improvement.
With accurate, integrated data, business managers can more easily measure and analyze performance, run “what-if” scenarios and simulations, and better predict potential problems. When circumstances change, the right business management solution can provide fast access to the historical and plan data needed to assess the right course.

The end-to-end integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX means the right information can be available to the right people at the right time, with less data reentry and fewer manual procedures.

  • Real-time, consolidated views of customer account and historical information, product data, and production or delivery status can help your sales and service teams step up their responsiveness to customers and deliver faster, more accurate quotes, pricing, and order status reports.
  • Detailed inventory and replenishment information based on actual production and materials use data can help you reduce inventories, optimize purchasing processes, and gain leverage with suppliers.
  • Automated alerts and workflows can help ensure prompt actions and keep processes on track when conditions change, while automatic posting of materials consumption, work in process, and finished production costs directly to the general ledger means less time spent on routine financial tasks.
  • Comprehensive traceability and audit control can help you document components or ingredients and more easily manage source material tracking and chain-of-control compliance.
  • Remote access to company data and processes, either directly or through the Web, boosts the productivity of field employees.
Microsoft Dynamics AX helps multisite businesses operate more efficiently with immediate connectivity across locations by using one business application and a single business object data model. You can, for example, create and update sales and purchase orders across your locations in real time. Minimize stockholding costs by making stock-on-hand inquiries in all subsidiaries and sourcing raw materials across locations. Support for multiple companies, locations, languages, currencies, and tax and legal requirements for more than 30 countries is built in. Employees, customers, and suppliers can work in their own languages and currencies, while smooth conversion and reporting functions help ensure full insight and visibility at the highest levels of the organization.

Microsoft Dynamics AX enables companies to reduce time to delivery and increase customer satisfaction by automating procedures and improving connections between all company departments, from sales and customer service through production and delivery to accounting—the entire “order to cash” process.

Eliminating Silos of Data for One System of Truth

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is designed to improve and automate your business operations. Within medium to large enterprise companies, these processes - such as quality, production, inventory, reporting, order entry, accounting, purchasing, etc... - are traditionally managed by several disparate, or even manual, systems.

Companies that operate with disparate or manual systems often experience many unnecessary costs and delays. Examples include duplicate data entry, data corruption, more training, greater IT support and software incompatibilities. However, the largest impact of disparate systems is the inability to access information timely to enable good decision making.

As a result, there is a growing trend toward the use of a single ERP system to manage the entire business.

Through this single software system approach, companies can control the details of their businesses by linking all departments together. This maximizes productivity, reduces costs, and increases profitability. With a centralized ERP system, companies can erase information boundaries and deliver the critical information needed for rapid, effective decision-making.

Here are the top ten business benefits of eliminating silos of data and utilizing a single ERP software system. By understanding these benefits, companies can understand how to simplify their operational processes.

  1. Reduce Costs: Challenged to do more with less, many IT departments are finding that the cost of maintaining multiple business systems is simply too high. With a single software system in place, companies can eliminate many of the costs associated with IT, including high implementation, integration, training, and support costs. Additionally, many companies experience reduction in overall license costs when moving to a single business system approach.
  2. Single Point of Control: Another major benefit of a single ERP system is the “single point of control.” A single software system will be the trusted source of information for an organization. By integrating all business processes into a single system, companies are able to simplify business workflow and increase productivity and efficiency.
  3. Eliminate Redundant Data Entry. Eliminating redundant data entry improves productivity. Companies can also gain organization-wide insight across the applications through one easy-to-use and familiar interface. For example, inventory, formulation, production, and lot and batch control updates are processed once with real-time transactional posting.
  4. Improve Data Integrity: As the sole system for all company data, enterprise wide ERP is perfectly suited for organizations that require high levels of data integrity and control. With a sin-gle software solution, business information will be entered in one central location and will always be the same across company departments and locations.
  5. Better Business Insight: Access to business critical data - no matter where it's located - is needed for rapid, effective decision making. By integrating all departments into one business system, companies have accurate, up-to-the minute information about product costs, sales trends, profit margins, and more.
  6. Respond to Changing Business Conditions: Responding quickly to business needs can be the key to gaining and keeping a competitive edge. But disparate IT systems can get in the way. A single enterprise wide software system that is flexible and easy to use can play a critical role in helping your business achieve the agility it requires to respond and adapt to changing business conditions.
  7. Speed and Simplify Training: When utilizing a single software system, user training and adoption is easier and faster. Since employees only have one system to learn and use, as opposed to several different software interfaces, companies save time and effort during the training process.
  8. Manage Support: One software system means one software vendor, which prevents multiple vendors from passing software issues off to other software vendors. Also, instead of calling multiple support help desks, there is one support team responsible for addressing all of a company’s software questions or issues.
  9. Minimal Maintenance: Overall, since software maintenance is lower, support issues are fewer with a single system. Rather than juggling support issues for numerous systems, a company’s IT department can handle the regular updates and backups for one software system. Single systems also keep network issues to a minimum.
  10. Easier Upgrade Process: In addition to minimal maintenance, enterprise wide systems are easier to up-grade, too. Multiple software systems can conflict when one system is updated and no longer works correctly with another system. These differences are eliminated with single system upgrades.

Overall, the benefits of a single software system fulfill the original intentions of ERP as it allows companies to manage their business as simply and efficiently as possible.

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!