Dynamics GP – Business Portal & Requisition Management Webcast

Join us October 16th, 2013 for our monthly 30 minute “A Better Look at Dynamics GP 2013” Webcast. October’s session will dive-in to Business Portal & Requisition Management providing instruction on how to:

 

–   Set up role/user based approval hierarchies for purchase requests

–   Customize role/user securities with approval/purchase limits and rights

–   Generate a GP purchase order within the web-based Business Portal

 

Our webcast series offers monthly insights into product capabilities of Dynamics GP .

This webcast will be hosted by Renee Leung, GP Application Consultant for Tridea Partners.

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Upcoming Sessions:

Wednesday, November 6, 12:00-12:45pm – ISV Spotlight: eOne Solutions – How SmartList Builder and Extender can simplify Dynamics GP

Wednesday, December 4, 12:00-12:30pm – Year-end Close Training

7 Factors for Ensuring a Successful ERP Implementation

If you are reading this, it’s likely you are about to begin an ERP implementation and want to avoid the common pitfalls. It’s possible you’ve already suffered a failure or are in the midst of a setback, and are hoping to recover.  A web search on ERP implementation failures will contain dozens of hits, mostly to useful articles, some available for free and others for a fee. My objectives for this blog post are to:

  1. Focus on the claims supported by actual research.
  2. Provide you with a concise list of the most common pitfalls identified and ways to avoid them.
  3. Wherever possible, provide links to source data.

The Problem:

Before jumping into the list, it helps to understand the magnitude of the problem and establish the necessity for managing the risks involved in ERP and other enterprise systems implementations. A 2008 Gartner Group research publication identified that between 20% and 35% of all ERP implementations fail1. A 2013 publication analyzing results of a survey conducted by Panorama Consulting Solutions indicates that:

  • Although 81% would select their chosen software again, 30% still classify their implementation outcome as a failure
  • The average ERP implementation cost over $7 Million
  • The average ERP implementation took almost 18 months
  • 53% went over cost budget
  • 61% exceeded their planned implementation duration
  • 60% reported that they are experience 50% or less of the measurable intended benefits2

In short:

  • ERP implementations represent a significant investment in direct cost and consumption of resource time
  • The majority of projects exceeded their cost and time budget, and
  • The majority of companies fail to receive the benefits they expected.

Given the costs and inherent risks of implementing ERP, managers need to enter into implementation projects with a proactive plan for avoiding and overcoming the common pitfalls.

Defining ERP Implementation Success:

First, we define ERP Implementation Success as:

  1. The system implemented delivered the measurable benefits intended
  2. Implementation was within budget
  3. Implementation was completed on time

The 7 Factors for Assuring ERP Implementation Success:

Following is Tridea Partners’ compilation of the 7 key factors for assuring implementation success, followed by a more detailed treatment of each factor:

  1. Provide adequate executive management sponsorship and commitment
  2. Assure adequate scoping by involving the expert user community in needs definition and product selection.
  3. Provide experienced project management resources and project team members
  4. Use a proven methodology
  5. Provide sufficient budgeting of cash and internal resource allocation
  6. Anticipate, embrace, and manage change
  7. Avoid extensive modifications and use proven 3rd party products when available

Details:

#1: Provide adequate executive management sponsorship and commitment

Companies invest in ERP systems because they believe the investment of cash and other resources will provide a greater return than committing those resources in a different manner. The first role of executive management is to define the key metrics of measurable value the system should provide and the budget for achieving the expectations.

Next management assigns the selection team and the implementation teams and communicates the expectations to those teams. When appropriate, executive managers may participate directly in the teams.

Additionally, executive management needs to provide consistent support and reinforcement throughout the entire implementation by:

  • Requiring that timelines, project plans, and methodologies be implemented
  • Requiring consistent follow-up and reporting of status and progress against the plan
  • Assuring that promised cash and other resources are available when required
  • Providing special incentives where warranted to motivate
  • Remaining positive – not poisoning the well by expressing opposition to the project in front of the selection or implementation team. Any expressions of opposition should be kept in the executive conference room. Organizations resist change, and the resistance should never find an executive sponsor.
  • Assessing the success of the project for each expectation, and following up with the rest of the organization to recognize success and assess the need for continued improvement.

#2: Assure adequate scoping by involving the expert user community in needs definition and selection.

Management’s main top level role is to define the expectation for increased productivity, increased sales, increased service levels, decreased expenses, and other quantifiable performance indicators. However, there is generally a group within the user community that understands the nuts and bolts of how a system can actually deliver those objectives, whose perspective is more valuable than managers that are not actually hands-on with the systems. It’s important to involve this expert user community in the scoping and selection process both because of the practical expertise they bring to the table and the increased user adoption experienced when skilled end-users feel their voice was heard.

#3: Provide experienced project management resources and project team members

Project management is a skill that requires training and experience. For implementation of core mission critical systems, qualified Project Managers (PM’s) more than pay for themselves. The PM:

  • Serves as the primary intermediary between executive management and the implementation team
  • Is the primary provider and enforcer of the project plan, implementation methodology, and project execution and communication infrastructure
  • Should have the experience to spot early warning signs and risk indicators
  • Should have the respect of executive management and the implementation team members
  • Should be impartial and not have an individual departmental agenda. PM’s that serve dual roles as IT, Operations, Finance, or Accounting Managers tend to place emphasis on their own departmental needs.

#4: Use a proven methodology

Do not reinvent the wheel. Most companies only implement new core enterprise systems a handful of times during the lifetime of the company; therefore, internal experience may be thin in systems implementation and team members may not even realize there are proven methodologies and project management disciplines that they can adopt. Tridea Partners practices Microsoft’s SureStep Methodology for its Dynamics ERP and CRM products, and most other ERP vendors have their own methodologies. Additionally, a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) will be knowledgeable in various generic methodologies.

Additionally, outside consultants that are certified on the ERP system spend their careers implementing systems and can assist in the use of the methodology best suited for your implementation. Tridea Partners ERP and CRM consultants are trained and experienced in the use of Sure Step for Dynamics GP, Dynamics AX, and Dynamics CRM implementations, as well as other common best practices, and can assist with use of the Microsoft’s proven implementation methodology.

#5: Provide sufficient budgeting of cash and internal resource allocation

Once a company has scoped out its needs, determined the value that delivery of those needs will provide, assessed the amount it’s willing to invest to meet those needs, and identified the system that best meets those criteria, executive management needs to make the required cash funds and resources available to the implementation team.

Cash budget issues arise when projects go over budget. Management should create a budget risk management plan prior to implementation so that they are not faced with making decisions in the heat of crisis and springing surprises on the board of directors or investors.

Resource allocation issues mostly originate from management underestimating the amount of time that will be required of the implementation team and the end users for process design, implementation, testing, validation, and training. Everybody on the staff at the beginning of a project already had a 40 hour job, and management must anticipate the need for additional human resources or lower their expectations of productivity during the implementation.

#6: Anticipate, embrace, and manage change

People resist change. Often the users that are being given a new system emotionally own the legacy system (or it owns them), and experience fear of the unknown. Even users that are frustrated with the legacy system, if left out of the loop on the requirements analysis and selection of the new system, will resist adoption of the new one, favoring the known evil over the unknown.

Management has a key role in creating an environment that fosters continuous improvement and rewards reasonable experimentation. Managers can foster user adoption by recognizing and rewarding successful process reengineering as much as normal operational performance.

Finally, organizations need to avoid the classic trap of simply re-creating the legacy system procedures and business practices in the new system. Many of the legacy practices exist due to the need to contort the workflow to fit within the constraints and limitations of the old system. Managers need to learn to separate the desired end result from the path leading there, and be willing to look at the best new path exploiting the strengths of the new system.

#7: Avoid extensive modifications and use proven 3rd party products when available

This factor comes in two forms. The first was largely addressed by factor #6 where we encourage companies to adopt the best business practices using the features of the system selected, and not try to customize the new system until it is a re-deployment of the legacy system.

Sometimes, however, even the best fit lacks some special feature that is a critical requirement. In this case, first priority should be given to finding an existing 3rd party product that integrates well with the new system, before considering major customizations or developing a custom bolt-on. This means that part of the selection criteria for any system should be that it is deployed on a widely supported stack (operating system, database, application architecture) and that the system has a good ecosystem of 3rd party products available.

The main advantage of a well-established 3rd party product is that you can purchase and begin deployment immediately without going through an extensive design, develop, validate, deploy cycle. Your company likely already has its hands full with the core ERP deployment.

 

Conclusion:

The top tier ERP systems have all been successfully deployed in thousands of organizations of every shape and size. The most common reasons for failure are all within the power of management to control. Success starts with top management and flows downward, and ultimately success comes when management puts the right resources in place and keeps their eye on the ball. I’ve provided links to the excellent source articles by the organizations that performed the actual research cited. I hope that this overview opened your eyes to the risks inherent in ERP implementations and your ability to manage them. I offer my thanks to the professionals and scholars that performed the original research.

 

Sources Cited:

1 Denise Ganly, “Address Six Key Factors for Successful ERP Implementations”, Gartner Group Archive, 24 March 2011, http://www.gartner.com/id=1603415

2 Panorama Consulting Solutions, “2013 ERP Report”, The Prescott Group, LLC, Copyright 2013, http://Panorama-Consulting.com/resource-center/2013-erp-report/

Panorama Consulting Solutions, “Clash of the Titans | An Independent Comparison of SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics”, The Prescott Group, LLC, Copyright 2012, http://panorama-consulting.com/resource-center/clashof-the-titans-sap-vs-oracle-vs-microsoft-dynamics/

 

 

This post was written by George Sagen, Senior Application Consultant for Tridea Partners, a Microsoft Dynamics GP
and Dynamics AX consultant serving Southern California and the Salt Lake City
region.
For more information on Tridea Partners’ ERP implementation methodology and how we can ensure a successful project for your company, contact Sales@trideapartners.com.

Big changes for: Life Sciences, Healthcare, and their IT Vendors

The new HIPAA Omnibus rules go into full effect Monday 23 September 2013. There are new regulatory requirements for IT vendors working with life science & healthcare “covered entities”, such as, new required delineated business associate agreements (BAA) contracts related to detailed risk-based assessments and detailed alignments, named HIPAA Security Officers, documented HIPAA compliance and IT training, human genetic information now included in protected health information (PHI) and the list goes on and on…

An in-depth legal review article takes a deep dive into some of the most significant changes that will impact IT vendors and covered entities.

“Final HIPAA Omnibus Rule Brings Sweeping Changes to Health Care Privacy Law: HIPAA Privacy and Security Obligations Extended to Business Associates and Subcontractors”

Download (PDF, 185KB)

Harmonized regulatory risk-based framework for health information technologies

On July 2, 2013 the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued the final “Health Information Technology Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan” or the “Health IT Safety Plan” http://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/health-it-and-patient-safety

The Health IT Safety Plan has two fundamental objectives:

1. To promote the health care industry’s use of health IT to make care safer; and

2. To continuously improve the safety of health IT.

The HHS Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for health information technology (HIT) will coordinate with AHRQ, CMS, FDA, FCC and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) centralizing on FDA’s risk-based regulatory framework for health IT, that protects patient safety, promotes innovation and avoids regulatory duplication.

FDA’s Risk-Based Regulatory Framework

The underpinning of FDA’s risk-based regulatory framework for health IT is Good Informatics Practices (GIP) guidelines.  Today the Introduction and Intended Use and seven chapters or modules have been extensively peer review and published by HIMSS.org.

See: http://ebooks.himss.org/catalog/show/good+informatics+practices/9

①   Executive Summary

②   Infrastructure & Cloud

③   Risk Management

④   Data Management

⑤   Security

⑥   Training & Training Practices

⑦   Validation & Verification

Our friends at Abnology (www.abnology.com) played a significant roll in leading the authorship of GIP’s and utilize GIP’s as their architectural reference in their product the Trusted Health Cloud® enterprise system, released in 2010 and today available in data centers nationally.

We recommend you become familiar with GIP’s.  The GIP’s are a great resource to utilize in the HHS required HIPAA compliance and IT training.

We have made available GIP Executive Summary Introduction and Intended Use publications from HIMSS:

Good Informatics Practices (GIP) Guidance

Good Informatics Practices (GIP) Executive Summary

 

For more information on how this may impact your company, please contact Tridea Partners at sales@trideapartners.com. Tridea Partners is a leading Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, and Dynamics CRM partner serving Southern California and Salt Lake City regions.

This post was written by Howard Asher, Chairman at Abnology, Trusted Health Cloud.

 

System Considerations Before Your Life Sciences Company Goes Commercial

There is no question there are many system considerations when it comes to preparing your company to go commercial – each of which will depend on the business model you have and what business processes will be maintained in-house versus what is outsourced.  Such considerations might depend on whether manufacturing and fulfillment would be internal or through both a contract manufacturer and 3PL.  Other considerations include the following:

  • System of Record: Do you want your ERP software system to be the ‘system of record’ where you’ll be able to defend full product traceability in this system for FDA purposes.  Or, will this traceabilty be paper-based?
  • 3PL Integration / Contract Manufacturer Integration: Is your 3rd party logistics provider able to provide data integrations communications of product that was shipped.  How about providing your manufacturer with visibility into sales demand, and you with visibility into finished product or product costing?
  • Serial / Lot Controlled Items: Unless you’ve passed off all inventory responsibility to a contract manufacturing and 3PL, you’ll need full product lot or serial traceability and a means for managing this added element of effort.
  • CRM Requirements: Do you have plans for a CRM system, or the ability for the sales team to easily manage leads, opportunities and prospective client communications and follow ups so that new business doesn’t fall through the cracks?
  • Quality Management: Once sales of product occurs, it important to have strict controls over the inbound product quality and quality control through the manufacturing process.  Only specialized systems can manage these quality considerations.
  • Material Planning: Making sure the right products are available for the forecasted sales activity can become very important for some companies, which means they need to put an MRP and Sales Forecasting system in place to balance supply and demand.
  • Online Ordering / eCommerce: Today’s customer requires much more flexibility into how and when orders are placed for your product in the market.  However, online ordering comes with many complex challenges especially when dealing with FDA controlled products and operations. 
  • Expense Management: Once there is a sales team selling product, there are regulations in place for how they communicate with potential clients and how they can spend money on them.  One of those requirements is outlined in the ‘Sunshine Act’.  Make sure the systems help you managed towards these regulations.

 

If you would like to discuss these system considerations in more detail, or would like an assessment done of your current system, please contact Tridea Partners: sales@trideapartners.com.

This post was written by Andy Collins, Partner at Tridea Partners. Tridea Partners is a leading consulting provider of Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM software applications and professional services for the life sciences and health care industry.

Top 5 Reasons to Integrate Dynamics CRM with Dynamics GP

There are many compelling reasons to integrate enterprise CRM and ERP systems, but for this week’s blog, we’ve selected five of our favorite top drivers. We’ll also compare a few of the methods and tool sets available to integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Dynamics GP, as well as list the standard integration templates provided in the most popular integration tool sets.

Our list of Top 5 Reasons to Integrate Dynamics CRM with Dynamics GP:

  1. Reduce manpower required to manually re-enter or copy and paste data between systems
  2. Eliminate data transcription errors
  3. Real-time bi-directional flow of data
  4. Trigger CRM Workflows from changes to data in ERP system
  5. Create reports that accurately combine ERP and CRM data

Before taking a deep dive into the list, I thought I’d answer a question asked by many companies as they select ERP and CRM systems, “Why don’t they just combine all the functionality into one program so we don’t have to integrate?”

  1. The first answer is that Microsoft does provide full CRM and ERP functionality combined in Dynamics AX, the highest end product in the Dynamics ERP family. If a single integrated CRM/ERP system is a requirement for your organization, then you will want to consider Dynamics AX.
  2. My next response is that marketing and sales organizations tend to be very dynamic, constantly experimenting with different business practices, while accounting and operations tend to be much more control, standardization, and compliance oriented. While good ERP systems can be configured to meet a variety of business needs, they are not generally reconfigured as often or to the same degree as CRM systems.
  3. Where accounting and operations processes are tightly intertwined, marketing and sales often operate outside accounting and operations, both geographically and procedurally. There are many touch points, therefore the need to integrate, but marketing and sales departments often act with more autonomy, from a systems perspective, than accounting and operations.

A Deeper Look at the Top Five Reasons to Integrate Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP:

Reason #1: Reduce manpower required to manually transcribe data between systems

We could subtitle this reason “Spreadsheets, Spreadsheets, Everywhere.” In my 20+ years of implementing ERP and CRM systems, I’ve never once analyzed and documented a legacy business process workflow without management being shocked at the number of times data was copied and pasted or manually transcribed from one system into another. User’s PC and network directories are full of spreadsheets containing data exported from one system, e-mailed to another user, and then re-entered into another system. This is added cost with no added value—waste pure and simple. Even semi-automated processes where data is exported to a delimited text or Excel file, mapped, then uploaded into another system are time consuming and error prone.

Reason #2: Eliminate data transcription errors

Data that is transcribed manually will always, without exception, contain some degree of errors. Data that is copied and pasted is often truncated, pasted into the wrong field, or due to character set issues may place cryptic characters in the data that not only look strange, but can crash processes. Even export/import procedures experience transcription errors when the data itself is the improper data type, contains delimiters that skew the columns, or is manually edited between export and import.

Reason #3: Real-time flow of data

Integrations can be set to post from the source system to the target system immediately upon creation or update of the source record. To illustrate the value of this feature, I will share an experience I had a few months ago. I had been on hold with a business that I was calling to inquire about one of their services. While on hold, I continued to web surf, looking at their competitors’ web sites. One of them caught my attention, and I filled out their web form questionnaire while on hold, then clicked the submit button. Less than 1 minute later I had an inbound call, so I hung up and took the call. It was a sales representative for the company whose web form I had just filled out. A few weeks later on a follow up call, I told the sales rep how he snagged the sale from his competitor. He told me their web portal had a live integration with their CRM system which placed my inquiry into an inbound inquiry queue. He was monitoring the queue and while dialing was reading my responses to the web form.

Reason #4: Trigger CRM Workflows from changes to data in ERP system

One of the great features of Dynamics CRM is the ability to create workflows based on a record being created or an update to the value of a field on a record. The workflows can perform branching logic based on the data event that occurred, creating and assigning a variety of tasks to users, groups, and queues. With the exception of AX, the Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems do not support this level of user configurable workflow. By integrating CRM with GP, changes to a record or field in GP can trigger a workflow in CRM. Here are some examples:

  • Shipment of an order to a customer with a certain Customer Class can trigger CRM to send a shipment notification e-mail to the customer and schedule a telephone call for the sales representative to contact the customer a week later to verify they received their goods.
  • A change to the quantity of an item with a certain Item Class in GP can trigger CRM to create a task for the Master Scheduler to review the item and verify that it will not affect the shop floor schedule.
  • A dramatic change to the standard cost of an item can trigger CRM to create and assign a task to the pricing manager to review the item’s price lists.

Reason #5: Create reports that accurately combine ERP and CRM data

Businesses increasingly rely on the need to track income from the earliest stages of lead acquisition to cash collections, often mining the data for correlations, key ratios, and behaviors that help them understand their business.

Both Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP are built on the Microsoft platform top-to-bottom, using Microsoft SQL Server as the database engine in which all the data resides. Well written integrations provide cross-references between the CRM marketing and sales records and their corresponding ERP records in GP. Using Microsoft Business Intelligence Development Studio, a component of SQL Server, businesses can create reports that integrate related data from both the CRM and ERP systems. Examples of this include:

  • Complex commission reports where the metrics for determining commission rates may reside in CRM and the invoice payment data in GP.
  • Return on Marketing (ROM) reports where the Campaign data resides in CRM and the cost and revenue data reside in GP.
  • Marketing demographics data correlated with collected invoice data.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and GP integration

Standard Integrations

Both the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Connectors and Scribe Insight GP/CRM Connectors come with the following standard integration templates:

Dynamics CRM to GP integration

While the Microsoft Connector is a free download and comes with the standard integrations described above, Scribe Insight offers a far more comprehensive set of tools allowing for the creation of custom integrations with a variety of platforms and databases as well as additional features like branching logic and data transformation tools.

Scribe Workbench

Scribe provides an intuitive graphical interface for mapping fields from the source to the target.

Scribe Configure Steps

Scribe also provides a graphical step flow and control editor. Users and developers can easily see the flow of the integration, and track the branching logic that controls steps to be skipped or conditions that would cause the integration to proceed to a specific step.

When using an integration template or creating a custom integration, knowledge of all of the systems to be integrated as well as the integration tool to be used will assure a robust and stable integration. Tridea Partners provides ERP and CRM integration development services using Scribe Insight, the CRM and GP SDK’s (software development kits) for Microsoft Development Studio, and the Microsoft connector for CRM and GP.

 

Written by George Sagen, Senior Application Consultant for Tridea Partners, a Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics CRM consultant Serving Southern California and the Salt Lake City region.