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Quality Management Processes in Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 provides a number of quality management processes that you can use to ensure a high level of product quality within your supply chain. This capability leads to optimized supply chain processes and higher customer satisfaction.

Quality management functionality in Microsoft Dynamics AX can help you manage turnaround times when dealing with nonconforming products, regardless of their point of origin. By linking diagnostic results to correction tasks, the system can schedule tasks to correct problems and therefore help prevent recurrences in the future.

In addition to nonconformance management, quality management functionality includes the ability to track issues by problem type (including internal problems) and to identify solutions as being short-term or long-term. Statistics on Key Performance Indicators (KPI) provide a window into nonconformance problems that have occurred historically and the solutions that have been applied to correct them. Historical data can be used to help review the effectiveness of quality measures that have been taken and to determine appropriate measures to perform in the future.

Continue reading "Quality Management Processes in Microsoft Dynamics AX"

Manage Financial Accountability and Compliance

The cost of regulatory compliance can be significant, but the cost of failing to comply with legal requirements or mandates from customers can be far higher. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that enables your business to respond to external requirements or changing business conditions—and that helps you prove that these requirements have been met—is a critical ingredient for business success in a changing economic climate.

Are you looking for a solution that can help you transform compliance challenges into business benefits and accomplish these critical objectives?

  • Strengthening your ability to comply with regulatory legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 21 CFR Part 11, the Food Safety Modernization Act, or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Enforcing compliance with company procedures or quality initiatives by automating workflows.
  • Giving employees easy access to information tailored to their role within the company.
  • Providing executives and managers with easy access to key risk indicators.
  • Collecting and analyzing information from multiple departments and processes.
  • Improving security and reducing risk by controlling access to sensitive information.
  • Strengthening your auditing processes with automatic transaction recording.
Microsoft Dynamics AX provides the transparency, traceability, and accountability businesses need to comply with complex regulatory requirements, simplify compliance, and to manage risk. Here’s how:

  • Providing easy-to-use tracking and tracing tools to ensure regulatory compliance.
  • Giving employees an overview of business operations and role-tailored views of their work and tasks that need immediate attention.
  • Creating internal controls to contain and monitor identified risks, while maintaining regulatory compliance.
  • Providing one-stop access to key risk indicators.
  • Ensuring compliance while speeding up approval processes by enabling remote users to enter electronic signatures.

Microsoft Dynamics AX Compliance Management gives you a cost-effective way to simplify the challenges of compliance by helping your organization improve internal controls and increase visibility into compliance-related processes and activities. By actively managing a balance between compliance requirements and agile business practices within the organization, organizations can realize the benefits of reduced risk, increased operational efficiency, and the continued building of a foundation on which to grow.

Five Food ERP Features for the Food Safety Modernization Act

The burden of foodborne illness is considerable. Every year, 1 out of 6 people in the United States—48 million people--suffers from foodborne illness, more than a hundred thousand are hospitalized, and thousands die.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

However, many food and beverage processors are already becoming overwhelmed as they move towards compliance with the major provisions of the FSMA, including:

  • Inspections and Recalls: The FDA now has the sweeping authority to inspect “high-risk” food products annually, and to initiate product recalls of suspected tainted foods. This is a significant transition away from relying on individual producers and distributors to voluntarily issue their own recalls.
  • Penalties and Fines: The FDA has also been given the power to levy heavy fines and limit supplies to food companies that do not cooperate with FDA inspections and recalls.
  • Food Safety Plans: Food processors are now required to develop comprehensive food safety plans, or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plans, that are easily accessible by the government in case of an emergency. These Food Safety Plans need to include analyses of potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards, preventive controls and corrective actions to be taken after an event.
  • Food Traceability: Over the next few years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is required to create a food tracing system to streamline the discovery of contamination sources and accelerate the response times during an outbreak of food poisoning.
In order to meet the document management and traceability requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (and other Food Safety regulations), food processors need to choose innovative Food ERP solutions that provide more than just lot traceability and corrective actions. Today’s leading Food ERP solutions go beyond finance, accounting, and supply chain management - they enable you to identify, document, monitor and follow up on critical control points, thereby supporting compliance with even the most stringent regulations and reporting requirements, including FSMA, GFSI, and SQF protocols.

Here are five Food Safety software features that every Food processor must have in their ERP system to ensure that the company maintains the highest levels of quality, safety, compliance and profitability.

  1. Traceability: The increasing demands for regulation and easy access to real-time data have made traceability programs and systems a necessity for any food manufacturing and distribution company. The capability to track (farm to fork) and trace (fork to farm) details per product or per lot is critical. Tracking and tracing is the core of most global regulations. The capability to track a product from farm to fork or using the one up and one down rule combines collecting appropriate information, organizing the information, and retrieving it as required. 
  2. Recall Management: At any given moment, Food companies must be able to quickly and effectively recall products that have been deemed unsafe for the market. Failure to handle a recall successfully (either voluntary or mandatory) can have serious economic and legal consequences. Choosing an industry-specific ERP solution with comprehensive, end-to-end food recall management functionality positions a company to plan their entire recall process in advance, to perform mock recalls proactively or at a customer / regulator’s demands, to constantly measure and improve the recall process and, most importantly, to respond rapidly, accurately, and thoroughly if an actual recall is required.
  3. Quality Management: Food and beverage companies are also required to detect and react to Food Safety incidents and non-conformances and ensure that appropriate actions are taken to correct and prevent future occurrences. Still, more than half of the FDA warning letters cite Corrective Action / Preventive Action deficiencies. Using a systematic approach to correcting and preventing issues, measuring the outcome and continuously monitoring the system can ensure that a company is compliant, effective and efficient. And, having a well-thought-out Food Safety Management system can result in successful audits, fewer investigations, less product loss, better customer satisfaction, and an increase in overall operational efficiencies.
  4. Electronic Document Management: Today’s successful food companies are increasingly global. These organizations must sustain global manufacturing and distribution processes while addressing the potential operational risks, as well as overcoming the quality, safety and pricing pressures inherent in an already complex industry. As a result, many food companies seek to implement enterprise-wide food safety and compliance document management solutions that can quickly address customer and regulatory issues consistent with worldwide requirements, while simultaneously being leveraged to automate and enhance business processes. These companies need to manage unstructured data in a controlled manner and according to their food safety compliance programs - and do so efficiently without paper-based and people-intensive processes.
  5. Inventory Control: Every manufacturer must plan production, purchase and manage materials, execute the manufacturing plan, and deliver products. Food process manufacturers however, require a unique set of capabilities, including management of co-products and by-products, multiple packaging configurations, lot traceability, item weight and specification variances, and product shelf life. Food inventory management must enable companies to track and manage raw materials while taking into account the complexities of multiple inventory characteristics such as weight, container type, and expiration date. In addition, companies must be able to define, manage, and cost multiple outputs, such as co-products and by-products, from a single production process.
MAXFood Safety ERP allows organizations to grow their business instead of spending time on manual tasks, redundant data re-entry, and people-intensive processes. It enables food processing companies to simplify compliance with stringent food safety standards - including FSMA, GFSI, and SQF. MAXFood streamlines and automates recalls, and helps companies identify, document, monitor and follow up on critical control points.

And with MAXFood Cloud ERP, employees can have real-time visibility and anytime, anywhere access to the critical business data they need to be successful - without compromising functionality or security.

New MAXFood ERP Website: Food Safety for Microsoft Dynamics AX

We are excited to announce the launch of our new MAXFood ERP website: http://www.maxfoodsoftware.com.

The new site provides a fresh new look and feel meant to enhance the overall user experience. It has been updated with new product information, demos, white papers, and deeper, more content-rich landing pages.

MAXFood Safety ERP streamlines how food companies operate according to the guidelines of the Food Safety Modernization Act, and according to Good Manufacturing Processes. MAXFood Safety provides more than just lot traceability and corrective actions; it enables you to identify, document, monitor and follow up on critical control points, thereby supporting compliance with even the most stringent regulations and reporting requirements, including GFSI and SQF protocols.

Learn more about MAXFood Safety:

  • Food Safety Portal: Increase control over operations, reduce the cost of compliance, and increase productivity with one integrated quality control and food safety document management solution for HACCP, Recalls, SOPs, Incidents, Audits, Complaints, GMPs and more.
  • Food Safety Incident Management: Quickly generate a Corrective Action or Preventive Action request that routes through review, root cause, corrective action taken, and verification stages. Generate multiple Food Safety Incident reports automatically, providing an effective mechanism for tracking the source and costs of problems.
  • Food Recall Management Workbench: Streamline and automate the recall process, enabling you to not only perform effective product recalls, but to provide concrete documentation and proof that you followed all FDA GMP mandated recall procedures.

With MAXFood for Microsoft Dynamics AX, food companies can minimize risk, maximize product safety, and deliver greater value to their customers. And with MAXFood Cloud ERP, you can also give your employees real-time visibility and anytime, anywhere access to the critical business data they need to be successful - without compromising functionality or security.

Food Safety Incident Management Software

Food and Beverage companies are required to detect and react to Food Safety Incidents (non-conformances) and ensure that appropriate actions are taken to correct and prevent future occurrences. Still, more than half of the FDA warning letters cite Corrective Action / Preventive Action deficiencies.

The common pitfalls and challenges of a Food Safety Incident Management system include:

  • Inability to link related problems
  • Inconsistent investigation process
  • Confusion over the difference between Corrective Action and Preventive Action
  • Time-consuming approval process
  • Changes to the action plan mid-stream
  • No means to generate metrics

Benefits of MAXFood's Food Safety Incident Management capability:

  • Quickly document Food Safety non-conformances and record all relevant incident information.
  • Automate the processes of assigning non-conformances, investigations, and corrective actions.
  • Improve management of Food Safety Incidents with root cause analysis and real-time trend reporting on food safety issues.
  • Streamline compliance with food safety regulations, including HACCP, SQF, and ISO.
  • Improve brand loyalty and customer satisfaction by continuously improving food safety and responding quickly to potential incidents.

MAXFood's Food Safety Incident Management capabilities enable you to increase control and assuredness for how your organization operates. With MAXFood, you can generate a Corrective Action or Preventive Action request that routes through review, root cause, corrective action taken, and verification stages. This Corrective Action tracking software generates multiple reports automatically, providing an effective mechanism for tracking the source and costs of problems.

Using a systematic approach to correcting and preventing issues, measuring the outcome and continuously monitoring the system can ensure that a company is compliant, effective and efficient. And, having a well-thought-out Food Safety Incident Management system can result in successful audits, fewer investigations, less product loss, better customer satisfaction, and an increase in overall operational efficiencies.

The Food Safety Modernization Act: One Year Later

Since President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on January 4, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made significant progress in developing proposed rules to implement the sweeping food safety reform law, publishing mandated reports, and taking important steps toward increasing overall food safety capacity in the United States. Below are brief summaries of what FDA has accomplished to date.

Highlights of FSMA during 2011:

  • Issued interim final rules on criteria for administrative detention and used this authority three times; issued interim final rules on prior notice of imported food.
  • Issued guidance to the seafood industry on food safety hazards and to the dietary supplement industry regarding new dietary ingredients.
  • Conducted extensive domestic and foreign outreach to all stakeholders to receive input in developing the proposed preventive control rules.
  • Established the Produce Safety Alliance and the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance.
  • Met the FSMA mandate for foreign food safety inspections, and is well on its way to meeting the 5-year inspection frequency mandate for high-risk domestic food facilities.
  • Continued to build State-Federal and global partnerships.

Moving forward, the ability to track and trace ingredients is likely going to be a major focus for food manufacturers as the FSMA is rolled out. The days of brand recognition alone will be long gone; worldwide, all the major producers of food products will now need to focus on brand reputation as well as brand recognition. Government authorities will be requiring companies to track and trace all products to the original point of origin. Today, companies only track goods at convenient points in the supply chain, such as when one ingredient leaves the warehouse and when it arrives in the manufacturing plant. Expect the future to mandate much tighter controls.

From a systems perspective, none of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 ERP vendors have announced a system that supports the mandates of the FSMA. True winners in ERP solutions will be vendors that can provide material and routing information that identifies critical control points in the manufacturing process. Likewise, the system will also need to be made aware of potential new hazardous and other airborne bacteria identified as risks. To date, the only systems tool to support the food safety initiative that is approved by the GSFI is a document management system that is not integrated to the ERP or quality management systems. While many of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 ERP vendors are hosting Food Safety webcasts, none of them are proposing a resolution for the complexity that the FDA is now mandating.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Merit Solutions will offer a new perspective on how Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 will support the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2012!

Food Recall Management for Microsoft Dynamics AX

Customer demands and regulatory requirements relating to food safety are accelerating every day. The bar is going up and everyone in the industry will soon be scrambling to find and implement systems that satisfy these new demands... that is, if they’re not already panicking!

One new requirement is the Food Safety Modernization Act signed by President Obama in January of 2011, which mandates that all food companies must have Food Safety Management systems in place, including document control, HACCP and recall. This is the biggest change to Food Safety legislation in over 60 years.

Another is The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which is a collaboration between some of the world's leading food safety experts from retailer, manufacturer and food service companies, as well as service providers associated with the food supply chain. It is coordinated by The Consumer Goods Forum, the only independent global network for consumer goods retailers and manufacturers worldwide. It serves the CEOs and senior management teams of nearly 400 members, in over 150 countries. Most major retailers mandate suppliers follow one of the 8 protocols supported by GFSI, which includes SQF and variants of ISO22000. These standards are very similar to the FSMA recently set by the FDA.

The bottom line: you don’t want to be one of the food manufacturers caught without adequate Food Safety and Food Recall ERP systems!

That's why we're so excited about the MAXFood Recall Workbench.

The MAXFood Recall Workbench exists for one purpose – to go beyond lot track and trace to enable extremely fast recall functionality. A common challenge for organizations is the quick response to client requests for “test” recalls. Many companies are making the ability to perform a quick recall a key performance metric for their suppliers. You are probably subject to this testing from your customers. Non-performance during test recalls puts your customer relationship at risk. You could lose your customers if you are unable to perform.

We reduce risk to you if your firm is subject to recall testing from your customers. Imagine being able to answer a test recall within minutes – this should improve your vendor performance score and your customer relationship. The MAXFood Recall Workbench goes beyond the time consuming labor of either paper or system based lot track and trace functionality. It provides a Rapid Food Recall capability for:

  • Recalling product shipped to customers.
  • Stopping production for any affected in-process manufacturing orders.
  • Finding and quarantining any on-hand batches subject to a recall.
  • Quarantine and Vendor notification for problem raw material lots.

Normal lot track and trace works just fine, and is an improvement over paper-based lot tracking systems. But lot track and trace doesn’t save time when customers have to be notified or on hand inventory must be quarantined. It just gives you a list of orders or inventory – then someone has to print the list, and enter transactions.

The MAXFood Recall Workbench saves companies time and money by automating and streamling the entire Food Recall process!

Merit Solutions is a Bronze Sponsor at Microsoft Convergence 2012!

Merit Solutions is excited to announce that we will be a Bronze Sponsor at Microsoft Convergence 2012 in Houston!

Microsoft Dynamics Customers and Partners come to Convergence from all corners of the globe to experience all that the event has to offer. Loaded with a wealth of informative sessions and other creative ways to learn, customers discover how to extend the power of their solution across all areas of their business. They also get a first look at new product releases and hear about future plans for their software. Convergence is the annual event where connections are generated, best practices are shared, and business relationships are built and renewed.

Merit Solutions is thrilled to be a Bronze Sponsor because we have had a very exciting year - one that has seen multiple product launches, experienced an increase in customer satisfaction, and received numerous awards / recognition within the Dynamics Community:

  • This year, we announced MAXCloud ERP, our Microsoft Dynamics AX Cloud Solution. MAXCloud enables companies to take advantage of the industry-leading capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 at a decreased cost - without sacrificing security or functionality.
  • One of the main benefits of MAXCloud ERP is our Rapid On Deployment and Fixed Price Packaged Services. With Rapid On, you can take advantage of a 30 Day Deployment and the freedom to select only the implementation services you require - all at fixed prices.
  • We also had exciting announcements for our Microsoft Dynamics AX industry-specific products, MAXFood ERP and MAXLife ERP. Earlier this year, MAXLife passed the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics AX Software Solution Testing. More recently, it was named one of the Top 15 Add-Ons for Microsoft Dynamics AX. 2011 also witnessed the launch of MAXFood ERP, a Microsoft Dynamics AX Food Safety solution. We are pleased to announce that both products are now available in the cloud! Learn more about MAXLife Cloud and MAXFood Cloud.
  • At WPC 2011, we launched the Merit Solutions Partner Program, designed to provide partners with the sales, service, and product support needed to present competitive industry bids and win more deals. We invite you to join the Merit Solutions Partner Program!

We hope you are able to join us this year to celebrate the Microsoft Dynamics Community!

Register now!

MICROSOFT CONVERGENCE 2012
March 18 - 21, 2012
Houston, Texas
George R Brown Convention Center
Early Pricing = $1395 – Before 11:59pm Pacific Time on January 25, 2012
Standard Pricing = $1695 – After January 25, 2012

Need Food Safety Cloud ERP?

The Centers for Disease Control reports that as many as 76 million illnesses are caused by food contamination every year in the United States. In addition to the public cost, the impact of food safety lapses can be devastating within the food industry. While many food industry executives think of regulatory penalties as a risk, the major risks are potential shutdowns or, even worse, damage to brands and companies.

MAXFood Cloud ERP enables food manufacturing and distribution companies to meet constantly changing stringent quality and safety compliance regulations while making products faster, safer, and at more competitive costs. MAXFood Cloud ERP provides a complete, enterprise wide business software solution designed to reduce an organization's total cost of ownership and improve profitability.

For companies that need Food Safety ERP, MAXFood Cloud combines built in quality processes and recall procedures with advanced lot tracking capabilities to efficiently manage raw materials and ensure food safety.

  • Forward and Backward Lot Traceability
  • Food Recall Workbench
  • Production Specifications Reporting
  • Support for compliance with HACCP, GFSI, and SQF protocols

Learn more about MAXFood Safety Cloud ERP.

Merit Solutions Launches New Cloud ERP Offerings for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Merit Solutions, a global IT services company helping customers standardize business processes, eliminate risk, and continuously improve their business, is excited to announce the availability of MAXCloud ERP, MAXLife Cloud ERP, and MAXFood Cloud ERP. These three new Cloud ERP Software products allow companies to take advantage of the industry-leading capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 at a decreased cost, without compromising security or functionality.

“Deep industry-specific Cloud ERP solutions, like MAXFood and MAXLife from Merit Solutions, deliver unique and rapid time to value for our customers,” says Kati Hvidtfeldt, Microsoft US Sr. Director of ERP Cloud. “Partners like Merit can support customers with various industry needs by delivering these solutions on premises and in the Cloud. This power of choice gives customers ultimate flexibility with an easy way to scale and manage their ERP needs.”

Merit Solutions is also proud to announce Rapid On, a packaged services approach for MAXCloud ERP customers that decreases time-to-value and simplifies system configuration. For a fixed fee, Rapid On delivers a fully configured, ready-to-go customer environment within 30 days - complete with your chart of accounts, customers, vendors, and master data. Our Rapid On methodology includes predefined templates and best practices derived from working with hundreds of clients to successfully deploy their business systems.

“MAXCloud ERP with Rapid On makes it easier for companies to realize the benefits of the next generation of ERP in a model that dramatically reduces risk, up-front costs, and the complexity of implementing an ERP system,” noted Bill Burke, President, Merit Solutions. “With Rapid On, we think we have solved our industry’s hardest problem, and this will provide tremendous value to our customers.”

MAXCloud ERP

Organizations today are looking for more flexible and cost-effective ways to run their businesses. They need newer, more efficient ways to deploy critical IT resources while maintaining their competitive edge in the marketplace. MAXCloud ERP is a single, powerful, enterprise-wide solution that is simple to learn and use so you can get results faster. With MAXCloud ERP, organizations can get up and running quickly with a fixed fee rapid implementation, lower up-front costs, and the ability to scale and adapt as needed.

MAXFood Cloud ERP

Today's Food companies need to focus on minimizing risk (through HACCP) and preventing and responding to food safety incidents (Food Recall Management). MAXFood Cloud ERP provides more than just lot traceability and corrective actions; it enables you to identify, document, monitor and follow up on critical control points, thereby supporting compliance with even the most stringent Food Safety regulations and reporting requirements, including GFSI and SQF.

MAXLife Cloud ERP

With MAXLife Cloud ERP, Life Sciences companies can take advantage of a fully integrated Quality and Compliance Management system that enables you to improve product quality and safety, reduce organizational risk, and increase customer satisfaction. MAXLife Cloud ERP supports requirements including 21 CFR Part 11, CAPA, SOPs, and cGMPs.

Contact:

Josh Richards
Merit Solutions, Inc.
630-614-7133
jrichards@meritsolutions.com