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Increase Visibility To Maximize the Power of ERP Data

When a small manufacturing business first gets started, the employees are usually tight-knit enough to exchange information “informally” by asking the appropriate knowledge expert. In fact, this type of direct request may be the only method of collecting the information if it is stored differently than your own domain-specific information. For example, accounts receivable may keep information in a set of Excel files, while Sales keeps theirs in a proprietary software program. As an organization grows, the need to be able to view data throughout the business in real-time becomes crucial.

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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.

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Use Your ERP to Achieve Supply Chain Resilience

When the demands to a supply chain are smooth and predictable and the supply always matches the demand perfectly we can all live the life of Riley. Who is ready to take off work early this afternoon?

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6 Steps to Improving Supply Chain Visibility

Nothing affects a company’s ability to compete more than the agility of its supply chain, but supply chain agility is dependent on visibility. Supply chain visibility is something that everybody talks about, but they seldom give you concrete information on how to achieve it.

Follow these six actionable steps to increase visibility in your supply chain and you’ll see major improvements in your key metrics.

  1. Bring customers and suppliers into the forecast process
  2. Adopt EDI or another rapid communication method
  3. Open a portal
  4. Treat outsourced operations like in-house work centers
  5. Eliminate middlemen and non-value add processes
  6. Foster a relationship of open partnership
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7 Ways an ERP System Can Help You Delight Your Customers

A well-functioning ERP system not only serves as the repository and record of all your day-to-day transactions, it can also help you to become a more responsive organization that continually delights the customer by exceeding their expectations. Here are seven ways that your system will help you to become more competitive and satisfy your customers.

  1. Faster Order Cycle Times
  2. Visibility to Supply and Demand Fluctuations
  3. Better Forecasts
  4. More Accurate Inventory
  5. More Perfect Orders Shipped
  6. Reality-based Available-to-Promise Dates
  7. Mass Customization

Keep reading to learn more.

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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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Lean Manufacturing in Microsoft Dynamics AX

Reduce waste, streamline processes, accelerate demand-pull operations, and gain tools for implementing and sustaining lean manufacturing initiatives that can give you a competitive advantage.

Microsoft Dynamics AX can empower your people to successfully implement kanban, kaizen, heijunka-board production leveling, just-in-time operations, and other key tactics by delivering the specific functionality, access to information, and process flexibility demanded by lean manufacturing operations. As an integral part of a familiar and adaptable end-to-end business management solution, Microsoft Dynamics AX can help you achieve the insight, agility, efficiency, and customer-orientation that enhance profitability and business success.

Benefits of Lean Manufacturing:

  • Achieve demand-driven production.
  • Increase replenishment efficiency.
  • Accelerate continuous improvement.
  • Understand value streams, eliminate bottlenecks, and identify improvement opportunities.
  • Free people for higher-value activities.
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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

Achieving Supply Chain Visibility with Globally Adopted Systems and Processes

One of the most important determinants of any manufacturing company’s success is supply chain visibility, and one of the best ways to achieve the required visibility is by adopting a global ERP system. Supply chain visibility enables companies to react quickly to unexpected supply change disruptions or changes in supply or demand. More visibility also helps companies to make better decisions based on facts and real information, rather than guesswork and rules of thumb.

Customers expect to have products that meet their exact specifications and delivery needs. As a result, inventory management and manufacturing processes become much more complex, especially when conducted on a global basis. In addition, manufacturing today requires the ability to outsource operations to suppliers or sister plants, and to distribute products globally from multiple locations.

Any company seeking to succeed in today’s environment needs to find new ways to forecast demand, and it must rely heavily on suppliers to be responsive to unpredictable demand fluctuations while controlling costs and quality. The only way to achieve both customer satisfaction and reasonable inventory levels is to provide openness and visibility into the entire supply chain to provide the most time to react to changes.

To achieve the necessary supply chain visibility companies must implement and enforce consistent business processes across all regions and facilities. While there may be local or regional variations to accommodate differences in regulations, specific plant equipment or locally supplied materials, the company should begin with the assumption that each facility will use the same business processes.

By structuring the process so that it works across all facilities, the company will achieve:


  • Ability to ship orders from any facility, resulting in faster deliveries, better customer satisfaction, reduced inventory and improved cash flow
  • Balanced production loads across facilities, with predictable quality and lead times
  • Access to worldwide supplier and customer expertise to improve supply chain efficiency, product quality or market acceptance
  • More efficient operations through centralized, shared services for common business functions such as credit management, procurement, order management, accounts payable or accounts receivable
  • Insight into the overall state of the business
  • Faster month end close times since financial data will be easier to consolidate
  • Reduced risk of fines or sanctions due to non-compliance with industry or financial regulations
  • Information access to make fact-based decisions faster and more confidently
  • Standardized alerts and workflows that improve operations and provide fast communication and immediate visibility
Select an ERP system designed for global visibility

Manufacturing companies need global ERP systems that are instantly familiar to people around the world without requiring a great deal of training or instruction. The user interface must be easy to navigate, and screens must display in the user’s native language. Information must be easy to understand quickly and accessible both inside and outside corporate firewalls to provide all companies in the supply chain immediate access to updates and changes.

Many ERP software companies designed their systems without considering the needs of a global manufacturing company. These products may have complex menu systems that require training or that slow down users, or they may display only a limited number of languages. Some systems can’t support the complicated financial reporting or regulatory requirements of multiple countries. Worst of all, the business processes they support are often inflexible or even hard coded.

Companies can avoid these issues and improve overall supply chain visibility by using this checklist:


  • The ERP system allows for centralized or decentralized business processes, with local process variations allowable where required
  • Business processes can change and flex as the company strategy changes
  • The underlying technology supports supply chain visibility through alerts, workflow and a portal or other collaboration space
  • The ERP software easily accommodates multiple companies or facilities within a single instance
  • Strong security that crosses business entities and yet keeps sensitive data safe
  • Global reference companies that successfully use the ERP system
  • Available experienced global consultants and implementation project managers
Align with company objectives

Many companies buy into the high-level benefits of supply chain visibility without any idea of how to create actionable plans for globally adopted systems and processes. Most companies need to work with an experienced global ERP implementation consultant who can help them to define processes that work across various geographies to help achieve their objectives. The global consultant can oversee local teams to ensure that any proposed process deviations are justifiable and that local changes don’t impede the company’s goal of increased supply chain visibility.