ERP

Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency

Visible and Shareable Data Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency

Visible and Shareable Data Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Covid-19 and its variations, a trade war with China and ongoing cyber attacks are just some of the problems supply chain managers are still facing in 2021. Similar issues may occur at any time making supply chain managers nervous and cautious.

One way to improve overall supply chain performance is through accurate data collection plus improved vendor communications. Knowing what you need and when you will need it is important to keeping inventories under control.

Working closely with vendors is especially important when seeking diverse raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) sources. Being able to pivot from a supplier in one country to a different firm halfway around the globe can make the difference between a happy customer and an unhappy one. Having more than one source helps make your supply chain resilient.

Critical components of a secure supply chain are:

  • Accurate, real-time data available to decision makers any time, anywhere
  • Detailed knowledge of each supplier and who supplies them
  • A diverse, geographically spread-out network of suppliers
  • Sharing appropriate data with vendors to ensure adequate inventories

Figure: 1Critical components of a secure supply chain are:

Critical components of a secure supply chain

All of this is based on data available through Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices.

Data Collection in the Digital Age

The IoT lets companies connect real-time monitoring devices to a wide range of production machines. Each IoT device can then be connected to a Microsoft Azure IoT hub. The hub can signal when completing a manufacturing process or reaching an inventory threshold, for example.

Each data point goes into a secure, cloud-based network allowing authorized users to see the real-time progress of each production run. When appropriate, that data can be shared with vendors. Sharing select data with vendors lets companies maintain balanced inventories, informing them when supplies of a particular precursor chemical are running low, for example.

Performance data from many individual machines can be combined into one real-time data stream. When it is analyzed by as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management inventory forecasting tools, pharmaceutical manufacturers can then reach out to their diverse vendor base, ensuring a constant flow of raw materials.

The same general process for raw materials coming into a plant applies to finished products leaving it.

D365’s Supply Chain Management module includes inventory tracking tools. Pharmaceutical manufacturers will know where every labeled and scanned product is at any point in time.

For example, say a company has part of a product manufactured in Asia and then sent to Europe for additional assembly. A Supply Chain Management dashboard containing data from a Microsoft Power BI report can let a company know of a major shipping delay, such as the Suez Canal blockage last year. Having all of this information in one spot at one time lets company leaders decide if they want to wait for the blockage to get fixed or ship the materials by air.

Having a diverse supply chain in terms of raw material providers and finished product shippers provides additional options and security.

Supplier Knowledge

The more a company knows about its suppliers, the better prepared the company is when disaster strikes.

In an article on supply chain mapping, Sedex states companies should:

  1. 1Learn where primary suppliers and their suppliers are located. Having detailed supplier records helps accomplish this task.
  2. 2Integrate this information into a single data source.
  3. 3Conduct a risk assessment to determine where to focus their attention next.
  4. 4Research each supplier so your company is aware of any risks to them.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management provide a single shareable data source. If, for example, a trade war breaks in one region, a company can sort through its supplier list and find out which companies are affected.

Xcelpros has a unique approach to ensuring decision makers have information critical to them. Xcelpros can create analytic reports using intelligence gathered in Microsoft Power BI. The reports can map geographic locations, such as those of raw material providers. The Power Bi report is then embedded in a D365 Supply Chain Management dashboard, giving executives “at a glance” views.

Combining the artificial intelligence capabilities of Supply Chain Management with the analysis functions of Power BI lets executives know what is happening in terms of potential supply chain disruptions and where they might occur.

Power BI features include:

  • Transforming data in shareable graphics
  • Explore data obtained from many sources
  • Share customized dashboards and data, such as between Sales and Inventory Control

Having geographically-dispersed vendors also helps.

Supply Chain Diversity

What happens when your primary API supplier’s workforce is decimated by another round of coronavirus infections? For example, say Supplier A does not have enough healthy workers to produce the quantity of essential materials at the right quality point. If your company has other vendors who can fulfill your order requirements, nothing changes with your customer. If you don’t have back-up suppliers or ways to get the finished products to them, it could cost you.

A study by the Hackett Group found that those with a diverse supply chain had lower overall operating costs and spent 20% less on buying.

Effects include a higher return on investment (ROI), lower prices to the manufacturer’s customer and improved customer service, an article in Supply Chain states.

Working with small and medium-sized business suppliers (SMBs) has several advantages over only dealing with large multi-nationals. These include:

  • Efficiency at the local level
  • Innovative services
  • Faster delivery when the SMB is closer to the plant

Figure: 2Advantages of working with SMB Suppliers

advantages of small and medium-sized business suppliers (SMBs)

“The companies that build resiliency into their supply chains will be best positioned for success and growth as they will have an adaptive advantage in the face of change and volatility,” Supply Chain states. Having options in terms of near-shore and off-shore suppliers lets, “companies spread their risk, mitigating the impact that social, political and geographic incidents could have on raw material price and availability.”

Supply chains that are diverse in terms of location and their ability to provide raw materials and precursor chemicals give pharmaceutical manufacturers the ability to survive disruptions.

Having this information is one thing. Letting the people who have what you need in time to get it to you is also vital.

Supplier Communications

“Effective communication between buyers suppliers helps support long-term goals by building a strong and trusting relationship in which both parties are comfortable sharing information and working together to support these goals,” a report by the ISS Group states.

“Communication builds trust and ineffective communication demolishes it,” a Canadian Center for Science and Education report cited by ISS states.

Giving suppliers advance knowledge of the types and quantities of needed materials can prevent potential problems, such as running out of stock. Companies can improve risk management when vendor communications share real-time data over a secure, cloud-based network. Microsoft D365 provides the data sharing and security functions required by today’s top pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Dynamics 365’s Finance module provides data sharing between a company and up to 15 legal entities. For example, a pharmaceutical manufacturer wants to share some inventory information with a partner to ensure the production plant has enough raw materials on hand for a special project. D365 Finance permits sharing the reference and group data but not transactional information like the name of the customer requesting the project.

Sharing the information between a manufacturer and its vendors is based on an important assumption: there is accurate, timely data.

Supplier communications also lets companies monitor product quality. Quality assurance is critical, especially in terms of medicines, drugs and other pharmaceutical products requiring regulatory compliance.

Summary

Supply chains can be very fragile as the debacles from 2020 have proven. Having accurate inventory information, knowing how each supplier is affected by activities and events beyond their control and communicating with them will help make your supply chain more resilient.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

ERP and Big Data

ERPs Make Big Data and Big Business a Good Match

ERPs Make Big Data and Big Business a Good Match 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

What does “Big Data” mean to you and your company? To many, the phrase means large quantities of information from different sources, data that changes by the second. For example, it can refer to the temperature of a chemical process where a small variation makes the difference between good product and wasted materials.

A common big data definition is, “a collection of data that is huge in volume yet growing exponentially with time,” guru99.com states. The “4 Vs of Big Data” are:

Figure: 14 Vs of Big Data

4 V's of BigData

  • Volume, in terms of data coming from multiple sources at the same time
  • Variety, which can be flow volumes, temperatures, production costs and other information calculated separately
  • Velocity, referring to the speed of information from application logs and device sensors (IoT)
  • Variability, data flows when a machine is running and stops when the production cycle ends

“Big Data” can also refer to lines from sales contracts referencing products, volumes and/or quantities from several customers. From a supply chain perspective, those same sales numbers require raw materials plus labor and machine operating time to produce them.

In the past, “Big Data” often referred to information from one department such as Production or Sales. One of the biggest challenges with big data is providing information siloed in one department to other areas that need it.

There are even challenges to searching big data, which includes getting results based on the query. When the query isn’t phrased correctly, or a required document has a naming error, important information is left out.

A key challenge is overwhelming volume.

  • The New York Stock Exchange generates one terabyte of data each day
  • Facebook cranks out more than 500 terabytes of customer-uploaded photos and videos every day
  • A jet engine generates more than 10 terabytes of data in 30 minutes of flight

By the Numbers

Many businesses are drowning in data, not all of which is useful.

  • 8%: the number of businesses using more than 25% of internet of things (IoT) data available to them
  • 10% – 25%: Marketing databases containing critical errors
  • 20% – 30%: Operational expenses directly tied to poor data
  • 40%: The growth rate of corporate data with a study by SiriusDecisions finding organizational data typically doubles every 12-18 months
  • 40%: the number of businesses missing business objectives because of poor data quality
  • $13.3 million: The average annual cost of poor data quality

Big Data Costs

Big Data comes with costs, especially for in-house networks. Once data is obtained, it gets stored before being analyzed. Data is usually backed-up in case something happens to damage, destroy or in the case of hacking, hijack it.

The actual costs of this data varies based on business size and need. Estimates place the lowest range at $100 – $200 per month to rent a small business server. Installation costs typically start at $3,000 and go up from there.

Big Data includes up-front as well as hidden costs. Up-front costs most people see consider includes:

  • Software tools to manage and analyze data
  • Servers and storage drives to hold the data
  • Staff time to ensure the physical devices work properly and to manage the data

These costs scale proportionally depending on the business’ storage and retrieval requirements and the processing power required to gather the data.

Hidden costs usually refer to the bandwidth needed to move data from one source or site to another. While we might consider it a simple task to download a movie on a cellphone, moving terabytes of data between servers can be significantly more expensive.

Accurately estimating big data costs is basically impossible without a detailed look at each company’s specific requirements and needs. However, online research estimates them to be anywhere from several hundred dollars per month for a small business to tens of thousands of dollars per month or more. Infrastructure costs alone can easily top $1,000 – $2,000 per terabyte (TB) with qualified outsourced consultant pricing averaging between $81 – $100 per hour.

Big Data Limitations

Having access to large volumes of data is great – when a company knows what to do with it. Especially when servers are in-house, big data has its limitations. These problems include:

  • Software tool compatibility, such as different types and brands of databases
  • Correlation errors, such as linking incompatible or unrelatable variables
  • Security and privacy from the standpoint of only exposing your data to the eyes of qualified people

From a mechanical perspective, one industrial device might use a Siemens programmable logic controller (PLC). Another device can use a Rockwell PLC and a third could be from Mitsubishi Electric. These different devices add additional layers of complexity.

Using supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) architecture is one way some larger companies are resolving PLC compatibility issues. SCADA includes computers, networked data communications and graphical user interfaces.

Figure: 2Big Data Limitations

Big Data Limitations

Resolving Big Data Issues

One way pharmaceutical companies can resolve rising big data issues, especially those caused by using older, legacy systems is with a modern ERP. Enterprise resource planning software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) resolves many of these incompatibility issues.

Data integration is a major big data problem for companies that use one database in production and another in finance.

D365’s data integrator is a point-to-point integration service used to integrate data. It supports integrating data between Finance and Operations apps and Microsoft Dataverse. The software lets administrators securely create data flows from sources to destinations. Data can also be transformed before being imported.

Dual-write—a related D365 function—provides bi-direction data flow between documents, masters and reference data.

This type of data collection raises potential ethical issues when accessing large quantities of personal information, which could include contact information for patients enrolled in a new drug study.

Installations by professionals experienced in working with pharmaceutical companies can organize data and help strip out personal information. Removing it reduces the chance of a HIPAA (health insurance portability and accountability act) violation.

Being a cloud-based product, D365 also cuts down many of the personnel costs associated with big data management and maintenance. Microsoft assumes those costs along with the burden of data security.

Conclusion

Having a lot of information lets companies make accurate, informed decisions. Problems crop up when data is kept in departmental silos. Using an ERP to integrate information across departments removes many barriers to sharing information, which leads to more accurate sales and inventory predictions, reducing overall costs and boosting profits.

Boost Your business ROI with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and manage big data efficiently. Book a free consultation to learn more.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

warehouse management techniques

Warehouse management techniques in 2021: Tips to increase efficiency

Warehouse management techniques in 2021: Tips to increase efficiency 1202 451 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing companies face greater risks when it comes to inventory control than some other industries. Why? Because some of the same chemicals used to make effective medicines can also create addictive street drugs. For example, ephedrine, which is used to treat breathing problems, is also an active ingredient in methamphetamine. The Food and Drug Administration has strict rules for companies making and distributing drugs. All companies, especially those in the pharmaceutical sector, want to run their warehouses efficiently. Common efficient warehouse management includes:

  • Maximizing and optimizing all available space
  • Keeping inventory to lean levels
  • 50% of enterprises spend more than $1.2 million each year on cloud services
  • Using inventory tracking technology efficiently
  • Organizing the workforce so its time is used wisely

Warehouse management best practices also emphasize the “3 C’s”: control, coordination and communication. Standard practices, where control is maintained by only one department, usually results in difficult coordination and communication between departments such as sales and finance.

Enterprise resource management (ERP) software with warehouse management and inventory control modules can help manage warehouse inventory.

Maximizing Warehouse Space

Maximizing warehouse space includes stacking items logically, and using vertical space to your advantage.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests hazardous chemicals be labeled with hazard warnings and the chemical name. Other chemical storage tips from the CDC include:

  • Keeping all stored chemicals, especially flammable liquids, away from direct sunlight and heat.
  • Keeping like chemicals together and away from those that might cause a reaction if mixed.
  • Storing liquids in unbreakable or double-contained packaging.
  • Storing flammable materials, acids and highly toxic or controlled materials in dedicated cabinets designed for those purposes.
  • Storing volatile and odorous chemicals in a ventilated cabinet.
  • Keeping all unused or empty compressed gas cylinders in a dedicated storage area.

Figure: 1Maximizing Warehouse Space

ERPs and Inventory Management Techniques

Use ERP to Run Lean

ERP software often includes warehouse management tools and technology designed to help companies balance inventories with current and future needs.

For example, warehouse management is integrated into Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Supply Chain Management. There’s even a connected Warehousing app available on the Google Play Store and Windows store that connects cellphones and other mobile devices to the network running D365’s Supply Chain Management. Each device must have its own copy of the app and be configured to connect to the local warehouse computer network.

Microsoft’s warehouse management module apps let workers use their cellphones, tablets or other connected devices to perform activities such as:

  • Printing and reprinting labels
  • Generating license plate numbers, confirming item types and quantities on a license plate or pallet and splitting full license plates
  • Starting production orders
  • Get information about particular items in a location

These warehouse management software settings can be configured to allow users different permissions in different warehouse locations. Software such as Microsoft Intune is used to mass deploy settings and service warehouse mobile devices.

Once devices are configured, cellphone cameras can be used to scan many common barcodes, including QR codes.

Another important part of the warehouse management module is the Transportation Management function. It lets workers register when a driver arrives, noting the driver’s name and license number, tractor and trailer number plus the location in the warehouse (e.g., Receiving Bay 1, Shipping Bay 3, etc.).

A key function for the pharmaceutical industry is setting work audit templates to interrupt an inbound order. Since many medicines require strict environmental controls, workers can be prompted through the audit template to check the temperature in delivery containers. They can then be told to check a particular container at a particular point in the receiving process.

Another method of boosting efficiency and controlling warehouse inventory is by requiring warehouse workers to confirm the product, location or quantity when they pick items. This reduces the likelihood of inventory errors caused by inaccurate counts.

Improving Efficiency With an ERP

When IDC conducted its 2018 survey, 45% of independent service vendor customers preferred the lift and shift cloud migration method for moving business applications. Combined with cloud computing, 69% of end customers understand the positive implications of using cloud-based software. These include agility, scalability, cost effectiveness, efficiency and others.

Is Cloud Computing Worth the Cost?

One reason many companies purchase an ERP is its ability to help them run their day to day operations more efficiently. One example is the ability to use an intelligent warehouse management system to cluster purchase order putaways. Workers put away products in a specific area and then pick multiple license plates at once before putting them away in different locations.

In a related activity, workers can check incoming product quality before technically receiving it and taking ownership of it. D365’s Warehouse Management module lets users log these checks with mobile devices.

This same intelligent warehouse management system also lets pharmaceutical companies efficiently process purchase order returns. The item is entered into Supply Chain Management and then scanned, starting the process. Items being returned are picked and sent through the warehouse process using mobile devices. The software also creates the shipment and load.

Similar configuration settings help inventory, procurement and delivery management become more efficient. Workers are no longer moving randomly from place to place within a warehouse, picking items from six different locations for a single order. Instead, they might pick items for six different license plates from the same general location, move to a second spot and add additional items. By using this method, each worker’s time is used to maximize the amount of actual work done, achieving more production.

ERPs and Inventory Management Techniques

Six of the most common inventory management techniques are:

  • Bulk shipments
  • ABC Inventory Management
  • Backorders
  • Just in Time (JIT) shipping
  • Consignments
  • Cycle counting

An innovative warehouse management system helps executives decide when buying in bulk is appropriate and when going lean is better. How? By sharing data with sales, finance and other departments. Warehouse managers can see what sales are coming up and know what raw materials to order.

The same situation applies to deciding what to produce and what to have in inventory based on importance. Data shared between systems lets managers make and adjust these calculations.

Backorders are becoming more common as Covid-19 related issues delay raw material shipments. While using them is a common warehouse management technique, effective ERP software helps firms control backorders and order materials from alternate suppliers.

Just In Time (JIT) inventory management reduces the amount of stock available at any given time to the bare minimum. Using D365 Supply Chain Management lets chief executive officers understand the complete supply chain. They can decide what items to get only when needed and what to buy in bulk.

Combined with precise inventory tracking to know when a specific medication is approaching its expiration date, pharmaceutical manufacturers can use consignment selling with confidence. Alerts will let them know when they need to refresh a seller’s stock.

Cycle counting, where workers count only a small quantity of product, is rendered nearly obsolete by an ERP. Using barcodes and electronic scanners, warehouse managers have an accurate idea of inventory at all times.

The Future of Warehouse Management

The future of warehouse management systems isn’t workers running around with pencils and clipboards. Instead, it’s automating many manual processes with real-time access to critical data.

“Warehouses will be built on current effective process-driven technologies such as widespread supply chain automation, hyper-effective robotic technologies and yes, plenty of drones to go around,” 6 River Systems predicts.

Leading that charge will be artificial intelligence-enabled ERP software coupled with industrial internet of things (IIoT) sensors. This combination will enable pharmaceutical companies to more efficiently track materials as they run their businesses.

Minimize redundancy and maximize your warehouse productivity. Book a free consultation to learn how.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Importance of Robust ERP in Sustaining Manufacturing

Importance of Robust ERP in Sustainable Manufacturing

Importance of Robust ERP in Sustainable Manufacturing 2500 1250 Xcelpros Team

Importance of Robust ERP in Sustainable Manufacturing

ERP has been critical to the manufacturing sector, from business strategies to meeting increased demand for specific products. Moving forward, manufacturers need to rethink their supply chain and inventory management strategies and implement proven and systematic resource planning tools. For more information see the full article here.

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ERP For Small Business

A Beginner’s Guide to ERP Systems for Small Business

A Beginner’s Guide to ERP Systems for Small Business 1200 450 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can help any small to medium enterprise (SME) flourish and grow.

Six key benefits of using integrated ERP in a small business are:

  • Sharing information between different business processes such as inventory management and finance.
  • Enhancing productivity through using a single database accessible to all relevant departments.
  • Improving control and reducing operating costs by reducing data entry errors.
  • Greater flexibility, allowing the company to rapidly adapt to changing conditions such as supply chain disruptions brought on by new Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Boosting sales through tighter inventory control.
  • Enhancing data security when using cloud-based products such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365).

Figure: 1ERP Software for Small Business 6 Key Benefits

Benefits Of ERP software for small business

Upsides and Downsides to an ERP

Updating a small business to a modular cloud-based ERP program like D365 has its drawbacks. They include:

  • Resistance from executives, managers and workers. They don’t understand why they can’t keep using the same old spreadsheets the same old way. ERPs are much more efficient.
  • Cost of licensing and installation, which is generally done with the help of the right ERP consultants. Costs are recovered through increases in efficiency. The ability to respond quickly to customer requests generates more sales.
  • Possible on-site computer upgrades as the primary servers migrate to the cloud. High speed internet connections permit real-time viewing of data regardless of location.
  • A potential reduction in productivity while the new system gets online and the staff adapts to the new ERP. Eventually, users get to the point that small errors like typos or duplicate data entries disappear entirely, further boosting productivity.

These drawbacks are easily offset by an ERP’s inherent advantages, especially when using a modular system like D365. Additional functionality can be added as the business requires. Each module can also be expanded, adding more users and increasing capabilities such as storage.

Among the factors to consider when choosing an ERP system are the willingness of different departments to share data, and more importantly, contribute to eliminating any disintegrated processes. Finance will know what sales has in the works. Sales will know what raw materials Inventory has on-hand. Production will know when the next big order is coming up. Departments need to move beyond the “what’s mine is mine and no one else’s” mentality. A unified ERP such as D365 allows companies to do just that.

For example, sharing access to data means managers and executives have the ability to spot and correct errors quickly. They can also keep tabs on what every connected department is doing. An example is having inventory, production, finance and sales working together ensuring a project is delivered on time and on budget.

Another advantage of using an ERP in a small business is scalability in terms of:

  • Expanding existing facilities
  • Adding potential new suppliers
  • Increasing the size of projects
  • Increasing product lines

Inventory Control or Finance?

Two of the most visible and valuable D365 ERP modules are Supply Chain Management and Finance. Both are appropriate for small and medium businesses updating their systems. Which one to install first depends on the company’s current and future needs.

D365 Finance lets companies of any size, “Assess the health of your business, improve financial controls, and make timely decisions to drive agility and growth using comprehensive, real-time financial reporting, embedded analytics, and AI-driven insights,” Microsoft states.

For example, the artificial intelligence built into the software lets SMBs do a better job of managing business applications. Key elements include:

  • Accurately determine project cash flow
  • Predict customer payments
  • Rapidly provide budget proposals
  • Simplify financial management
  • Automate vendor invoice processing
  • Manage credit risks and collections
  • Provide a unified information source

When the company’s major issue is a lack of accurate inventory management, such as small business manufacturing, then D365’s Supply Chain Management module makes sense as one of the first modules.

One of Supply Chain Management’s critical functions is its ability to improve product deliveries. Functionality like creating barcode labels enhance a business’ ability to track supplies. Labels coupled with hand-held scanners or cellphones indicate where raw materials are in terms of their physical location. They also indicate where they are in the production cycle. Tracking continues from the time items arrive at the warehouse to when they are delivered as finished products.

Tracking incoming and outgoing ships is also a key reason to invest in the Supply Chain Management module. In a world beset by an ongoing pandemic, it’s important to know that raw materials will continue flowing. Last minute delays can make or break a company’s production schedule.

When the Supply Chain Management module ERP is used in small business manufacturing, companies are able to more accurately schedule certain production tasks. This leads to overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) being maximized.

When combined with internal Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, production machines can provide a continuous stream of wear data. Instead of shutting down a production line while waiting for a replacement part to arrive, the part can be ordered in advance so it is on-hand when needed. Production delays are reduced while active working time increases.

The Supply Chain Management module also helps provide advanced knowledge of potential quality control issues before they occur. Instead of wasting raw materials and worker time making deficient products, information from the Supply Chain Management module helps managers know when to stop production and resolve the issue. This boosts efficiency by maximizing raw material use.

Supply Chain Management and Finance are two of the D365 modules. Other Microsoft products cover Sales, Marketing, and the overarching Business Central (ideal for a company that is small)

Data Security

Another issue plaguing businesses worldwide is industrial espionage, also known as data theft. Private and some state-sponsored actors gain access to a company’s data and then threaten to destroy or corrupt it unless a ransom is paid. Even then, proprietary formulas and patent information may be sold to an unscrupulous competitor.

Some small businesses lack the resources to prevent every potential data theft attempt. Using a cloud based ERP like D365 for small business means you have Microsoft’s massive team protecting your data in distributed server farms. Data is safely stored away from company property that can be damaged or destroyed by a fire, flood, hurricane or earthquake.

Information as a Product

Today’s businesses buy, sell and use one main product, regardless of industry: information.

ERPs store information in a central repository, available to anyone with the right access. Older programs tend to silo data: Sales has its data. Finance has its numbers. Inventory has its own database. None of them share what they know effectively or efficiently.

ERP systems configured for a small business let it use its information much more efficiently. Data produced in the factory is immediately viewable by Inventory, allowing that department to order just enough materials to meet expected demands. When potential supply chain disruptions are forecast, Inventory and Finance working together, can quickly determine the best way to minimize impacts on production.

This allows small business’ funds to be used more wisely, allowing the company to make wiser investments as they continue to grow.

Final Thoughts

Modern ERPs like Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help small businesses grow by efficiently using data it produces on a daily basis, and helping remove artificial barriers and data silos, allowing information to flow freely to all departments of a company. Help with selecting the right ERP is best achieved with a team that understands your industry, and supports the best products along with the experience to implement them.

Book a free consultation with our ERP expert to learn more about ERP for small business.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Advantages of Using an ERP System to Ensure Regulatory Approval

Advantages of Using an ERP System to Ensure Regulatory Approval

Advantages of Using an ERP System to Ensure Regulatory Approval 1200 450 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Employing the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can help pharmaceutical companies gain regulatory approval of drugs and other new products faster and with fewer requests for missing information.

“One of the benefits of enterprise management systems is that much of the data these regulations require can be collected through automated means. Thus, enterprise systems can be used to ensure compliance with increasingly onerous federal regulations without taking personnel away from their essential customer service functions,” the University of Scranton states.

Other advantages of an ERP system include:

  • Real-time data access
  • Standardizing business processes
  • Secure data
  • Usable and shareable data

The FDA Approval Process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) is the agency responsible for ensuring new drugs follow the regulatory approval process. CDER does not test drugs but its Office of Testing and Research performs limited drug quality, safety and effectiveness research.

CDER physicians, chemists, pharmacologists, statisticians and others review every piece of new drug application (NDA) data. This includes labeling, which follows specific FDA formatting and requirements.

The FDA currently has 12 approval steps that follow preliminary drug development. ERPs are designed to ensure pharmaceutical companies keep accurate track of every step from the purchase of raw materials to the labeling of individual samples.

Figure: 1FDA’s Lengthy Drug Approval Process in Twelve Steps

Regulatory Compliances

Gaining FDA Approval

Pharmaceutical manufacturers can easily invest years and years, and vast amounts of money developing a new drug therapy.

The regulatory approval process itself can take 6 to 10 months depending on how many benefits the medication provides. Changes to the FDA Standard Review process in 2002 defined a 10-month goal to look at drugs offering minor improvements over existing marketed therapies.

The FDA also offers Priority Reviews with the goal of completing them in six months. These reviews are applied to drugs offering treatments where none currently exist. Priority Reviews are also given to medications that offer major advancements in treatment.

Using the most recent update to the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA)—the sixth version—the FDA uses collected fees to hire more reviewers and support staff.

These fees are not cheap. In fact, according to the FDA, the 2021 application fee with required clinical data is $2,875,842, a change of -2.3% over 2020 ($2,942,965). The FDA can also issue additional invoices for program fees not previously invoiced.

User Fee 2020 2021 Change
Application Fee: Clinical Data Required $2,942,965 $2,875,842 -2.3%
Application Fee: No Clinical Data Required $1,471,483 $1,437,921 -2.3%
Program Fee $325,424 $336,432 +3.07%
Source: FDA

Regulatory Audits

The FDA inspects and assesses regulated facilities during a regulatory audit. Some of the audit information is released to improve the public’s understanding of how the agency protects public health, its website states.

According to the FDA, “Disclosure of a firm’s inspection information encourages firm compliance and provides the public with an understanding of the Agency’s enforcement actions and an ability to make more informed marketplace decisions… Laboratory records and logs represent a vital source of information that allows a complete overview of the technical ability of the staff and of overall quality control procedures.”

The FDA has 10 detailed inspection guides related to drugs alone. For example, the guide for pharmaceutical quality control labs has 21 sections, which includes laboratory management.

The Role of ERP Systems in Regulatory Compliance

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP platform seamlessly gathers data from different teams and stores it on Microsoft Cloud Servers. Researchers can review records during the development phase. Easy access to earlier successes and failures ensures work is not duplicated, increasing efficiency. Microsoft 365 has the ability to let information technology (IT) administrators apply labels to different documents. These labels let companies classify and protect sensitive data—like formulas—allowing access only to qualified, approved users. Sensitivity labels also apply content markings that can encrypt data, preventing it from being viewed by competitors and outside sources. Pharmaceutical companies can control who is able to view this data and for how long.

Regulators are allowed to see only the data they need, not private, confidential materials.

During the Investigational New Drug (IND) phase, the sponsor submits an application containing the drug’s composition and manufacturing and an outline of the human trials. Among the documents being reviewed in this stage are those related to informed consent and human subject protection.

The ERP Regulatory Advantage

ERP software has several advantages over using spreadsheets and external databases when dealing with regulatory compliance.

A key element is tracking the supply chain from ordering raw materials to delivering finished products to customers. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management is an example of an ERP product that uses a single, secure, cloud-based database to eliminate duplicate spreadsheet entries and transposed numbers. Additional key compliance benefits of using the right ERP include:

  • Visibility and transparency: ERPs have lot and serial number traceability, tracking material flow. This is a common compliance requirement.
  • Audit trails: This is included in D365, allowing administrators to know who accessed the system and when, what actions—including file deletions—were taken and where updates originated. Auditing can be enabled or disabled for an entity or specific fields within an entity.
  • Data access and security controls: these are built into Dynamics 365 products as mentioned earlier.
  • Encryption: Transactional data is securely stored and automatically encrypted when accessed by authorized individuals.
  • Electronic signatures: Secures transactions by confirming the operator is authorized while also creating a transaction summary and log.
  • Record Retention: D365 allows this to be set through the Privacy settings and elsewhere. For example, D365 Financeautomatically saves attached documents for 180 days. That number can be adjusted through the document management parameters > General > History > Enable document history settings
  • Inspection Controls: D365 allows companies to store and track test evidence, ensuring materials meet quality control standards.
  • Document Controls: Tracks and manages formulas, engineering specifications, material specifications, operating procedures and other document types.

Summary

Getting a drug approved by the FDA is a time-consuming, expensive proposition. The cost of regulatory approval for pharmaceutical products can easily exceed $3 million in government fees alone.

The right ERP can help companies track materials throughout the supply chain and product development. This enhanced tracking and secure data storage reduces the efforts required to navigate the drug approval process.

Book a free assessment to learn how an optimized ERP system ensures regulatory approval.

Book Now

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

5 Key Reasons Why Distributors Should Invest in a Robust ERP

5 Key Reasons Why You Need ERP Software in Distribution

5 Key Reasons Why You Need ERP Software in Distribution 1200 600 Xcelpros Team

5 Key Reasons Why You Need ERP Software in Distribution

Distribution management, supply chain and logistics planning can be few of the most challenging areas for any wholesale distribution company. Especially today, implementing the correct solution has become much more affordable, offering significantly improved response times, increased efficiency, and stronger customer relationships. For more information see the full article here.

Invest in a robust ERP system to streamline your distribution operations. Start your free trial!

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ERP in the Oil and Gas Industry

ERP Solutions to Rev Up Oil and Gas Industry

ERP Solutions to Rev Up Oil and Gas Industry 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

The Oil and Gas Industry is highly dynamic and volatile. Wars, politics and environmental concerns are some of the stressors affecting a capital-intensive industry. Centralized software that manages the nuances and intricacies will boost each company’s financial performance.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, which are becoming more common in many other industries, help to integrate all related tasks. One of the best examples is inventory and finance, letting companies know what they have and how much it’s costing them. ERPs help create a performance standard, letting companies set goals and use real-time data to know if they’re achieving them. Effective ERP solutions easily integrate tasks, manage risks, localize financial accounting and ensure quality checks.

Introduction

A slang term for crude oil is “black gold” because of its value. Oil is a pillar of the world economy, with prices playing a major role in determining the cost of goods and services around the globe. The industry’s size, complexity and high operating costs all demand organized management. Executives need to know where each asset sits in the pipeline. They need accurate, detailed data for planning and budgeting plus inventory and distribution.

Integrating ERP in the Oil and Gas Industry

More and more oil companies and refineries are starting to embrace ERP software solutions. Why? Because it addresses real-time business operations. Areas that benefit the most include:

  • Obtaining raw materials
  • Monitoring production
  • Managing inventory including spills, waste and burn-off
  • Tracking handling equipment

One major challenge facing oil companies is their broad distribution. For example, they can have production facilities in the Middle East and refineries in the United States, Europe and China. This means they have to maintain distribution routes almost everywhere.

Oil companies have an intricate supply chain that never stops working. This can add undue stress to both employees and equipment.

ERP software lets companies monitor operations from anywhere. They can know now, not in a week, the status of an oil field in Saudi Arabia or a tanker going through the Panama Canal. Modern ERPs help identify different ways to improve efficiency while boosting flexibility.

5 Key Reasons to Add an ERP

ERP solutions are the most viable option for improving production and overall management. Traditional companies in the Oil and Gas industry stand to gain significant advantages when they implement a modern ERP solution, including:

Figure: 1Key Reasons to Add an ERP

Key Reasons to Add an ERP

  1. 1.Ease of Integration: ERP solutions are designed to be stable, easily scalable and flexible. They function on-site and with cloud systems. ERP systems especially shine in asset planning and budgeting lifecycles. ERP solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 easily integrate with a suite of related third-party programs. Instead of having a plant’s production department using one system and inventory management using something else, the entire operation is integrated into a single system. By having departments talk to each other, business meets its productivity standards, regulatory requirements and other deadlines.
  2. 2.Effective Risk Management: Risk management is a vital component of everyday business activities in the oil and gas sector. Geopolitical pressures, environmental concerns, social activities, asset damage, cost overruns for high-value construction projects, fines for non-compliance, cyber threats and protecting personnel: they all impact daily operations. Integrated ERP solutions let management identify potential risks. You can detect risks before they become expensive problems. Companies can balance and manage multiple operations simultaneously, ensuring they all run smoothly. By seeing how the supply chain functions in real-time, companies can prepare emergency contingency plans.
  3. 3.Efficient Project Management: A key advantage to ERP software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management is its ability to manage complex supply chains regardless of their locations. An effective ERP helps manage both offshore and onshore operations, streamlining procedures driving basic business goals, helping to move raw materials to new markets. As individual shipments move from wells to refineries, ERP software lets companies adhere to regulations in every country and state along the way.
  4. 4.Localizing Financial Accounting: Oil and gas companies are aware of the huge capital investments, long lead times and unfavorable environments needed to extract and process their raw materials. Exploration and production frequently involve joint ventures to share the costs. Once the product is pulled from the ground, these companies face multiple regulations, compliances, currency risks, commodity pricing and other challenges as they move it from the wells to refineries and then to consumers. Efficient ERP solutions keep track of the regulations, taxes and fees in each region. They provide detailed financial records at every step.
  5. 4.Quality Control: Robust ERP solutions also integrate state-of-the-art engineering utilities matched with high-end total quality management (TQM) functionality. The result is a 360 degree view of quality issues, helping to address problems more quickly.

5 Features to Look for in an ERP Solution

Now that you’re aware of some possible uses, it’s equally important to make sure these five features are in whatever ERP solution you choose. The Oil and Gas sector’s sensitivities create unique requirements from its ERP solutions. These following features continue to be increasingly related to real-time operations and complex business compliance issues.

  1. 1.Asset Control: Managing all assets—such as locating new resources, acquiring them, and then refining the products—is vital for efficient operations. When you’re trying to find the best ERP System for an Oil and Gas Company, you’ll want to make sure it defines and tracks your assets, monitors their usage and availability, manages all documents, integrates mobile apps and data, and submits reports.
  2. 2.Agile QA Processing: Quality assurance is the key to constant improvement, especially in the oil and gas sector. Finding more efficient ways to convert raw materials into finished products helps offset research and development costs.
  3. 3.System Integration: Integrating existing software is often a key decision point in getting an ERP up and running quickly. It’s critical to make sure that whatever ERP solution you choose meshes with the software your employees use daily, otherwise you may face delays while work-arounds are developed. The perfect ERP solution creates superior analytics using real-time data from different sources. This will include workflows and service calls.
  4. 4.Standardizing Data Processes: The Oil and Gas industry is heavily impacted by precise management of workflows and global market analysis. Effective ERP solutions use a standard data storage method. Using this method, companies can balance multiple projects no matter where they occur: upstream (exploration and drilling), midstream (transportation, storage and processing) or downstream (refining crude oil and purifying natural gas).
  5. 4.Compliance: Many ERP solutions fail to deliver when it comes to overseeing complex compliance issues. Not being accurate often causes problems over time. Effectively managing different government regulations—such as when a pipeline crosses national or state borders—is a key benefit of a robust ERP solution.

Final Thoughts

The best ERP solution for companies in the Oil and Gas sector is one that:

Companies that navigate smoote implementations often start training almost from Day One. Training employees early gets their buy-in and lets people learn how D365 can make their work lives easier.

  • Integrates with a company’s current third-party software
  • Tracks inventory, plans capital projects and creates emergency plans
  • Streamlines the data into a unified flow
  • Collects data from diverse systems scattered around the globe
  • Allows the data to be used by any division
  • Integrates information from devices equipped with industrial internet of things (IIoT) sensors
  • Aligns with your company’s requirements to ensure minimal waste and deliver the best results

Expect nothing less than perfection. Having the right ERP solution will help you achieve just that.

Book a free assessment to get started with tailored ERP Solution for your Oil and Gas Company.

Get Started

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Removing Roadblocks when Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365

Removing Roadblocks when Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365

Removing Roadblocks when Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 1201 451 Xcelpros Team

Recap

In a previous post, we looked at the basics of the high-level steps involved in adding Microsoft Dynamics 365. In this post, we will take a look at common implementation problems and ways to avoid them or reduce their effect.

It’s time for a change. Your company decides to modernize with Microsoft System Dynamics 365 Finance to automate and modernize your financial operations.

Now you need to make it work for you.

Four Challenges

The four main challenges that can impact an ERP implementation project’s budget and timeline are:

  1. 1.Applying experience with other enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, expecting Dynamics 365 to behave the same way. It will not.
  2. 2.Users may expect certain functions built into D365 because of the previous ERP. These functions may have been customized to get where they are. Attempting to add them can keep the project from achieving its objectives and add constraints.
  3. 3.Wish lists items can also cause the implementation cost to go out of control. A Change Champion can reign in these wish lists to ensure the right amount of focus is placed to achieve the best possible result.
  4. 4.Using inaccurate information from other companies’ installations researching a different D365 module.

Being aware of these issues from the beginning will help avoid a failed ERP implementation.

Figure: 1Main Pitfalls affecting a project’s scope, budget and timeline

Main Pitfalls affecting a project's scope, budget and timeline

Common Problems and Causes

These are a few of the most common D365 implementation problems and their likely causes, each of which can frustrate executives and employees.

Problem Example Possible Cause
A tool or important feature was left out Payment terms are missing A scenario was misspelled or overlooked in the Design Phase
Legacy data upload is incomplete or corrupted Names are misspelled, dates are wrong, amounts are inaccurate, etc. Data was not input properly into the legacy system
A specific configuration is incomplete or not working properly Departments are not being notified when payments are made Lack of communication between staff and implementation team

The most likely cause for the majority of these issues is communication. For example, the implementation team did not clearly understand what was being asked, or different people requested changes to the same section.

A good way to resolve communication problems is by having the Change Champion review and approve the updates during the design phase. Customization best practices means having the Change Champion approve or deny all change orders and requests.

When data is not properly entered into the system, the business will need to search its records and recreate the missing material.

Other Common Implementation Problems

One of the most common reporting issues deals with those at the end of a month. For example, Inventory shows 10 barrels at $10 each were used. However, Finance shows 9.2 barrels were used, resulting in a dollar discrepancy.

This is the kind of issue best brought up during user access testing (UAT) when the implementation team can define cell properties. That way, inventory and finance agree.

D365’s Finance module has detailed reporting options. The ability to input data depends on a person’s security roles, privileges and duties. For example, someone who wants to “Generate financial reports” must have that role, privilege and duty assigned to them.

When a user needs to generate a report and can’t do it, they should talk to the system administrator or security administrator, Microsoft states.

Reports used data input into the system. When data is not being accurately added, reports will reflect the inaccuracies.

An excellent way to resolve these issues is by involving the training team early and often. Have them create training materials and then have users perform the tasks in the UAT environment to ensure everything works as designed.

Following Methodology

D365 implementations follow a strict methodology. Problems occur when executives or employees try to get around the system. Seeking an easier path by using a method from the legacy system usually causes problems with D365.

Dynamics 365 is set up logically – Form follows function, step follows step. Trying to go from Step 2 to Step 6 without performing the intermediate actions is a recipe for trouble.

Microsoft has its own “Sure Step Methodology” as part of its ecosystem. This methodology:

  • Is designed specifically for Microsoft implementations
  • Defines key activities and deliverables
  • Provides tools and templates

Focusing on the ‘To Be’

Change, no matter how beneficial, is always stressful. Many people are comfortable performing tasks a certain way. They are uncomfortable doing it differently.

When employees focus on the “As Is,” which is how tasks were done with the legacy system, they get bogged down and have trouble adapting to D365. Instead, they need to consider the “To Be,” which is the end goal.

For example, Inventory uses one legacy system and Finance uses something different. Some fields are identical but others are different. In D365, both departments must change how and where they input data.

By focusing on the “To Be,” the end result of implementing D365 is a leaner, more accurate and more profitable business that benefits both departments.

Here’s an example of “To Be.”

  1. 1.Intelligent financial information using data from multiple sources permits intelligent operations.
  2. 2.Intelligent operations lead to improved productivity.
  3. 3.Improved productivity leads to faster fulfillment, which leads to timely delivery.
  4. 4.All of these steps lead to increased profitability, which funds improvements in everything else.

The Value of Microsoft Dynamics

One way to implement change management is by explaining some of the values inherent in Microsoft Dynamics.

These values include:

  • Empowering employees, giving them real-time access to actionable data
  • Driving faster innovation
  • Facilitating smarter decisions with user-based workspaces
  • Delivering real-time responses to customer demands
  • Reducing transportation costs and increasing delivery accuracy
  • Scaling up or down as the business changes
  • Using mobile phones, tablets and other devices that let employees perform more tasks where they work

Summary

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 is often looked at as complicated, or fraught with problems – but only if you let it. Taking a forward thinking approach focusing on your “To Be” goals helps the implementation move forward faster.

Companies that navigate smoote implementations often start training almost from Day One. Training employees early gets their buy-in and lets people learn how D365 can make their work lives easier.

Having a Change Champion helps keep the implementation on time and on budget.

Anticipating problems before they occur allows managers to head them off. Change will occur. Instead of resisting, workers are better off spending that energy on learning how to maximize their value.

The overall result will make your company more efficient, more agile and more profitable.

Get More Done

Improve your chemical, pharmaceutical or life science business by updating your ERP to Microsoft Dynamics today. Visit www.excelpros.com (a Microsoft Gold Partner) or call 1-855-411-0585 to learn more.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

dynamics 365 implementation

Making your Dynamics 365 implementation successful

Making your Dynamics 365 implementation successful 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Scenario

Your chemical or pharmaceutical company has an outdated, outmoded, clunky legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Finance is complaining that Inventory is unable to produce the right numbers. Sales is wondering why nothing ships on time. Departments and executives are angry at each other because their individual systems work just fine but nothing works together.

It’s time for a change. Your company decides to modernize with Microsoft System Dynamics 365 Finance to automate and modernize your financial operations.

How do you make D365 work the way you want it?

Installation of D365 ERP is a Process

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365—or any other ERP system—is a process. It takes time. It’s not a matter of just downloading some software, letting it run and then “boom,” your company is up and going.

There are as many as three tiers and four production stages.

Tier 1 looks at the “out of the box” Dynamics 365 solution. Is it going to work for your company as is? For existing companies, especially those with legacy systems, the odds are that your D365 will require some customization. At a minimum, your staff will need at least some training on Dynamics 365 to be able to successfully perform their jobs.

Tier 2 is known as “the Sandbox” because this is where your staff gets to play with Dynamics 365’s wide array of features. Sample customer data—purchase orders, sales orders, etc.—is loaded. This tier is also where your experienced employees examine the product closely. For example, a person who inputs purchase orders can see how D365 performs this function. Is something you need missing? Let an implementation professional know so they can modify the program.

The final environment is Production – a live environment where business will perform its functions.

Typical ERP implementation has 4 major phases (which could still change based on the implementation):

Figure: 1Primary Phases of Dynamics 365 Implementation

D365  finance supply chain management

  1. 1.Scoping and blueprinting: This is where Xcelpros SMEs help your company determine which Dynamics 365 features and modules are best suited to achieving your goals. The topics you’ll want to discuss include:
    1. a.Your pain points
    2. b.The issues you have now
    3. c.What you would like to accomplish
  2. 2.Design and development: This phase involves configuring Dynamics 365 to install the features you need to run your business. For example, there may be specific fields—like part of a formula—that aren’t currently a part of D365. This field needs to be programmed and added to the software. Other fields may be worthless. You want them removed to avoid confusion.
  3. 3.User acceptance testing (UAT): This is where your employees get to work with Dynamics 365 in a hands-on environment similar to the Sandbox but configured for you using generated test data. This is used to determine:
    1. a.What questions do your employees have?
    2. b.Do the modules behave the way they are designed?
    3. c.Is something you need missing?
  4. 4.Going Live: D365 is now ready to go. The production environment is fully set up and the master data is loaded. Actual sales orders, purchase orders, production orders and inventory data are ready. It’s finally time to make the change.

Implementations Take Time

Dynamics 365 implementation timelines can vary greatly from organization to organization –

  • 0 days: The amount of time a company is effectively out of business during the implementation process
  • 3 – 9 months: The time for a rapid implementation involving three entities: two chemical and one pharmaceutical
  • 10 months to 2 years: The time a typical full implementation takes when a company converts from a legacy system

Selecting an Executive Change Champion

One of the biggest obstacles to a successful implementation is having too many people making the final implementation decisions. Being known as “the person who brought our company into the 22nd Century” is a glamorous title. Many executives may want to assume the Change Champion role or at least give their input.

An old proverb says, “a camel is a horse designed by a committee.” This can be interpreted as letting too many people make requests and changes will:

  • Add confusion
  • Add costs
  • Delay the implementation

Confusion occurs when departments are not aligned on feature requirements or if there is change resistance. Some standard phrases of change resistance are – “The old way of doing things is just fine” or “This is what we are used to”

A Change Champion is a single point of contact, not a committee. They act as a relay and buffer. They relay information and requests from other executives and employees to the implementation team. They also relay requests from the implementers to the company. They act as a buffer between the legacy users who are resistant to change and the people working to improve the company through modernization.

A Change Champion:

  • Is a proponent of change in the company
  • Supports and defends the Dynamics 365 implementation
  • Is able to make difficult decisions
  • Is accountable and fully involved

They understand and are able to explain how Dynamics 365 will undoubtedly make the company more efficient and profitable, and how it stands to make everyone’s lives—from the chief executive officer to the people unloading truckloads of supplies—a whole lot easier. They’re able to explain how change will come whether people like it or not.

The Champion explains how Dynamics 365 can eliminate bottlenecks and remove redundancies.

This person is ultimately accountable for ensuring the right features are selected and installed. They are the ones with the authority to sign change orders to be able to spend money where it provides tangible value to your firm.

They make the call whether or not to add a customization or use what is already supplied. Is a feature a “must have” as in it’s required for the company to work properly or a “used to doing?”

“Used to doing” features are ones based on how the legacy ERP system operates. Employees are “used to doing” a particular task in a specific way. They resist change even without understanding that D365 makes their lives easier overall.

Training is Critical

The most successful ERP implementations occur when training teams are involved from the start. Some companies ignore it, expecting their employees to figure out the new system on their own. Others start training after the implementation process is well underway. Both of these scenarios delay getting Dynamics 365 running smoothly. They also increase resistance to the new product and its new way of doing things.

As employees begin using D365 starting in Tier 2, Xcelpros’ trainers are able to show them how to perform basic steps, and then build on what they learn. For example, have trainers use Step-Action tables to document the steps for adding a new customer. Which fields are completed first? Which are done automatically? What does someone do if an automatic field is blank?

Starting training early pays big benefits later. Employees learn that their ideas count. As they begin to use Dynamics 365 in a Sandbox environment, they become more comfortable with it without the risks involved in a live production environment. Documenting a regular process and then having employees perform it lets the trainers see what they need to update for your staff. Maybe an employee spots an unnecessary or confusing feature or a critical one that needs to be added. Getting this done early on can save your company valuable time and money.

What’s Next

Understanding the ins and outs of Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a big step towards a successful implementation. As is understanding the importance of a change champion, and the role they play. In an upcoming post, we’ll take a look at common implementation problems and some of the best ways to either avoid them or reduce the impact they pose.

Book a free consultation with our D365 experts for a successful Dynamics 365 Implementation.

Get Started

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com