MRO Software

How To Prepare For Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015

Part of Microsoft Dynamics’ family, NAV delivers an ingenious ERP solution able to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in finance, manufacturing, supply chain, and customer relationship management. Ready to go one step further, Dynamics NAV 2015, formerly codenamed “Crete,” promises to take care of two pain points most NAV users have encountered over the years:

Dynamics NAV 2015Download our NAV 2015 guide on the new functionality that can automatically match your entries with transactions

1) Upgrades – NAV 2015 includes more upgrade tools to make possible technical upgrades instead of full upgrades. This means that users don’t have to perform any of the additional technical tasks they used to complete before, which will reduce overall deployment and maintenance costs.

2) User experience – Coming with a brand new interface, NAV 2015 will provide a more consistent user experience across Windows, Apple and Android devices.

According to Kirill Tatarinov, Executive Vice-President of Microsoft Business Solutions, the cloud-based Business Intelligence (BI) technologies included in NAV 2015 will also make possible seamless integration with the new Office 365, extending system functionality for superior reporting capabilities. In a nutshell, users will be able to use the tools they’re already accustomed to (Excel, SharePoint and mobile devices) to complete different operations more efficiently.

Why Choose NAV 2015

Although very little information has been published so far, a demo performed during Microsoft Convergence 2014 revealed that “Crete” delivers a wide range of new features, which will make possible advanced data processing. For instance, you’ll be able to develop more relevant formulas and even to use information derived from NAV in conjunction with data collected from other systems in order to perform more complex analyses.

Additionally, you can use the system to create color codes for highlighting titles and different areas of your reports. This way, identifying specific elements on a page becomes a very simple task. Browser performance has also been improved, offering users a truly intuitive and smooth browsing experience.

Upgrading to Dynamics NAV 2015

One thing is for sure: as many people are currently running pre-NAV 2013 versions, an increasing number of users will start looking for system upgrades very soon. Furthermore, Microsoft will end technical support for NAV 2009 in 2015, which means that the latest software version is going to be in high demand.

Fortunately, NAV 2015 is on its way, proposing new, more powerful features, which will not only streamline financial, inventory, warehouse, sales, marketing and service management, but also allow current users to keep customization to a minimum when replacing previous software versions with the latest one.

Besides, the most recent solutions released by Microsoft (e.g. Dynamics NAV 2012 R3 and GP 2013 R2) indicate another essential aspect: over the past few years, the developer has made impressive efforts to develop new mobile business management tools. Dynamics NAV 2015 should be included among these solutions not only because it delivers a new software version, but also because it’s one of the few tools that will help developers turn “mobility” from a simple trend into one of the most essential concepts of Information Technology. Further, the concepts especially created for this new upgrade will provide more reliable upgrade paths for future software solutions.

Should You Upgrade or Re-Implement?

If you’re a NAV user, you have the option to either upgrade or re-implement. To make the right choice, you need to consider the following factors:

  • An upgrade may be a better option if you use a recent NAV version, such as NAV 2009. In case of an older version, it’s better to re-implement.
  • If the version you’re currently using has been heavily customized, re-implementing the system is the best alternative to get stable business solution.
  • If your organization has changed significantly since the last implementation, it’s important to consider the degree of customization performed and required for the future before deciding between a system upgrade and a re-implementation.

As Dynamics NAV continues to evolve, manufacturers will be able to streamline more business areas, while meeting growing customer needs and demands. Though quite brief, the overview presenting the features and technologies included NAV 2015 reveals the fact that this software solution will probably become a key business success factor, helping small- and medium-sized enterprises overcome inefficiencies and move forward toward their goals.









On-Premise vs Cloud Based ERP

Cloud Based vs On-Premise ERP: Which Is Right For You?

Choosing between cloud-based and on-premise ERP deployment methods has become a common issue in today’s business world. While on-premise solutions, also referred to as legacy or traditional systems, are built on time-tested concepts with proven success across various horizontals and verticals, cloud ERP software solutions have been developed much later, proposing a quite new deployment model whose efficiency and reliability are yet to be thoroughly tested.

On-Premise vs Cloud Based ERP

In this post, we’ll explore the differences between cloud-based and on-premise ERP systems along with their advantages and disadvantages so that you can select the best deployment option for your organization.

The Could-Based Model

Cloud ERP solutions propose a software delivery model in which infrastructure and data are hosted on remote hardware, commonly referred to as “cloud.” In this deployment method, apps and data are accessed via an interface, across the Internet.

Advantages

  • Flexible Pricing: Cloud-based ERP is available in “lease it” and “buy it” software alternatives. While the former involves monthly recurring charges for software, hardware and IT services, the latter implies buying the software and/or the hardware and paying monthly hosting and maintenance fees. Although both alternatives require a much lower startup cost compared to an on-premise system, an organization may need to pay significant annual subscription fees, which will add up, potentially going beyond the overall cost of an on-premise solution over the long run.
  • Easy Implementation: Cloud solutions provide ready-made platforms that are implemented and tested by service providers. Basically, this means that there are no servers to set up, no CDs to install, and no risky customizations to be made by your employee.
  • No Maintenance: Since the service provider offering the ERP solution will take care of any hardware and software issues, you don’t need to hire IT staff to monitor and maintain your cloud ERP system.
  • Superior Flexibility: Most cloud-based ERP solutions allow for adjustments in activity levels, facilitating addition/removal of users, apps and features. Additionally, even though cloud-based systems are associated with a series of bundled services, you only pay for what you actually use. Even greater is the fact that you and your employees can access the system from anywhere, at any time.

Disadvantages

  • Dependence on the Internet: When it comes to cloud ERP solutions, it’s very important to know that accessing the system is impossible without an Internet connection. For the best results, you must ensure that there are no Internet connection problems before implementing the system.
  • Lack of Control: An essential drawback is that cloud-based software are unable to provide the same level of control as on-premise systems. Besides, these solutions imply specific restrictions on supplying complex functionality, which may prevent large enterprises from achieving certain objectives.
  • Security Issues: Since cloud-based ERP systems can only be accessed via the Internet, they involve certain security risks, ranging from non-targeted cyber attacks to cyber espionage.

The On-Premise Model

On-premise ERP systems imply sourcing the software together with additional apps in-house. This means that you need to invest in software and hardware, designate a physical location to store the equipment and hire IT experienced staff to monitor and maintain your system.

Advantages

  • More Control:  Since you own both the solution and the equipment, you can replace equipment pieces, upgrade the software and make customizations whenever you want. Furthermore, on-premise systems are highly customizable, allowing consultants and in-house staff to adjust different software and hardware areas in order to deliver very specific business uses.
  • Advanced Security: Since data is stored internally, accessing sensitive information is almost impossible without authorization.

Disadvantages

  • Massive Upfront Investments: If you choose an on-premise ERP solution, you not only need office space, hardware and software, but also air conditioning, IT staff and advanced security equipment, such as CCTV systems, access controls and burglar alarms.
  • Maintenance Issues: Regardless of how knowledgeable and skilled your IT employees are, they may be unable to fix certain issues. In this case, you may need to hire a consultant or outsource particular tasks, which implies additional costs.

Which Model Should You Choose?

The CFOs who are more concerned with optimizing return on assets will always favor on-premise ERP solutions. In contrast, those who want to reduce annual expenses will lean toward cloud ERP systems.

From a strategic, functional perspective, we advise you to select an on-premise ERP solution only if your company has more than 50 employees. Why? Simply because an on-premise system includes two additional yet indispensable advantages, especially for large companies:

  1. It offers advanced flexibility for accessing app databases, facilitating custom reporting and leveraging the power of business intelligence and analysis capabilities.
  2. It provides more control of when and how to upgrade the system or replace the hardware.

Regardless of the deployment model you wish to adopt, it’s critical that you examine the pros and cons in the context of your own company’s needs and priorities in order to make the right decision.






eProcurement

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3: Transparent eProcurement

The latest capabilities included in Dynamics AX 2012 R3 are nothing short of the “Engage. Run. and Expand.” theme that Microsoft has promised.  Introducing a rich assortment of new end-to-end service frameworks, apps and features, R3 allows organizations not only to manage processes more efficiently than before, but also to develop and distribute custom apps that fit almost any requirements.  The net of it is: AX 2012 R3 is aimed at “Delivering Amazing Customer Experiences,” and eProcurement is no exception.

Advancements have been conceptualized to expand the capabilities of AX 2012’s modules, with a focus on transparency in eProcurement. As we all know, businesses find value in insight and visibility, shouldn’t our ERP functionality be the same?  The new features added to this area offer superior functionality, enabling AX users to:

Technology migration

  • Public Sector External Vendors. In Dynamics AX 2012 R3, vendors can be assigned not only an ‘external vendor’ role but also an ‘external vendor for Public Sector’ role.  Vendors with these privileges will be able to see open RFQ’s and public documents from their vendor portal-thus, granting the ability for vendors to bid on an RFQ, even if they were not specifically invited.
  • Make documents public. By enabling the Public Sector configuration key, you can publish documents, including RFQs and purchase orders, to the public Vendor portal. Any unregistered vendor can view these documents as a guest, but must register with your company and be assigned as a ‘Public Sector External Vendor’ to be able to bid on your offers.
  • Develop vendor scoring criteria. Rating, filtering, comparing, selecting and adding vendors to your RFQs has never been easier. Additionally, you can use AX R3 to evaluate RFQ replies based on preset scoring criteria.  Scoring criteria, as seen in our latest eProcurement demo in Part III consists of a ‘Collaboration’, ‘On time performance’, ‘Quality’, ‘Transportation’ and ‘Cost’.   These of course can be based on user-defined criteria.
  • Create questionnaires. You can create questionnaires for vendors by combining different questionnaires you already have or by collecting queries from new users. Vendors have the opportunity to complete questionnaires upon registering, or as part of their replies/bids from the public vendor portal.
  • Find the most advantageous offers. Making possible item/service substitution in bids, new eProcurement capabilities allow vendors to provide a variety of items/services for the same order, which means that you can choose the most advantageous offers. You can also setup the system to notify you every time a vendor makes a change to his bid.
  • Easily Manage Requests and Bids. In Dynamics AX R3, you can add or remove RFQs and renumber RFQ lists as needed. Furthermore, you can handle vendor bids, sealing and hiding them until solicitations are closed or bid tabulation begins.
  • Make updates and attach additional documents. Another thing you can do is to add documents, modify current RFQs and inform bidders of any changes by communicating updates via the Vendor portal.
  • Place requisitions on hold. For better requisition management, AX R3 allows you to place requisitions on hold and provide various reasons for the hold.
  • Create discount agreements. You can use specific eProcurement functions to require discounts from vendors and even set up long-term rebate agreements.
  • View price details. AX R3 makes available a Price Details form that provides information about the prices of trade agreements, which are especially useful when calculating rebates and potential profit margins for orders.
  • Create purchase orders for direct deliveries. With the direct delivery workbench feature, you can develop and handle purchase orders not only for your company, but also for other organizations.

In addition to all these, vendors are able to access the Vendor portal through Windows Live, Google, Yahoo and even Facebook after registering with your organization; view various details, including their scores, notes on their bids and changes to RFQs; and adjust fees according to your changes.

Assessing the Advantages of New and Improved eProcurement Functionality

One of the most critical aspects for an organization is to gain insight not only into customers’ needs, but also into its core operations. Understanding how things work can help leaders streamline processes, run more agile operations, engage customers on their own terms and last, but not least, build lasting relationships with vendors.

The new eProcurement tools included in Dynamics AX 2012 are flexible, agile and scalable enough to help you handle any procurement processes efficiently, while offering your vendors the ultimate service experience.

 





Acumatica Awarded For Supply Chain Visibility Software

Developed with supply chain management best practices as core foundation, Acumatica is considered a superior supply chain visibility software solution not only by its users, but also by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). By presenting the developer with the 2014 SIIA CODiE Award for the Best Supply Chain Management Solution, the SIIA has recognized Acumatica’s business software suite for achieving excellence in operational performance and continuous improvement.

Cloud Based ERP

Over the past 28 years, SIIA has handed out more than 1,000 awards to validate extraordinary innovations positively impacting diverse industry sectors.

Why Acumatica?

Encompassing procurement, manufacturing, distribution and sales operations, supply chain is an important part of any organization because it impact all the activities involved in bringing products to market. To help companies manage complex supply chain processes, Acumatica delivers comprehensive supply chain visibility software built on a robust yet flexible platform. Now, let’s take a look at the features that helped Acumatica win the SIIA CODiE award.

Procurement and Manufacturing
Focusing on budgeting, inventory, billing, profitability and reporting, Acumatica’s Project Accounting Software Suite allows you to manage a wide variety of procurement and manufacturing areas. Basically, Project Accounting Software features can be used to:

  • track expenses relating to materials, labor, overhead and services for each project so that you can easily analyze the profitability of different projects
  • compare project costs with initial budgets in real time, which can help you avoid going over budget
  • create and manage various billing scenarios for contract-specific pricing, milestone billing, types of work being performed and different account groups
  • enter time and expense data from anywhere, at any time — a useful feature especially for the employees doing their job while traveling;
  • assign employees, equipment and materials to projects

Distribution
Considerably differentiating Acumatica from other supply chain visibility software systems, the Distribution Management Suite can easily handle the complexities of the distribution process. The suite features:

  • a comprehensive warehouse management module, which provides in-depth insight in warehouse activities along with a series of advanced tools to manage multiple warehouses, various product lots, expiration dates, inventory in transit, negative inventory, routes, etc.
  • a purchasing management module that you can use to automate the entire procurement process, from requesting quotes and receiving orders to analyzing financial results
  • a requisition management module to streamline distribution operations involving numerous suppliers and products
  • an order management module for allocating inventory, splitting orders, accepting returns and verifying credit limits across multiple warehouses

Sales
Selling products can be very difficult for a company focusing strictly on the actual act of selling. For your organization to be successful, you must also consider your customers along with specific finance aspects. To help you with this, Acumatica puts at your disposal two useful tools:

  1. Financial Management Suite. Especially designed to perform a variety of tasks, such as collecting and analyzing financial information; managing cash transactions, funds transfer and bank account reconciliation; monitoring credit limits, customer balances and pending documents; issuing invoices, collecting payments, performing inter-entity transfers, and calculating commission, discounts and due dates automatically; centralizing tax configuration, management and reporting; supporting multiple currencies so that organizations can do business globally and manage international subsidiaries; and controlling liabilities for purchased goods and services, the Financial Management Suite can help you avoid common errors that inevitably lead to customer dissatisfaction, typically followed by a significant drop in sales.
  2. Customer Management Suite. The Customer Management Suite can be used to manage contact information of current and potential customers, automate certain customer support tasks and get comprehensive lead reports for identifying the most profitable marketing channels.

New features included in the latest version of Acumatica give organizations the ability to communicate with customers via Acumatica Customer Portal; find information easier than before by using additional filters within the same interface; and configure multiple rates based on projects and tasks associated, which confers superior billing flexibility.

Given all these tools, it’s no wonder that Acumatica is considered one of the top supply chain visibility software solutions. With more features to come, Acumatica promises to help organizations manage increasingly complex supply chains, gain even greater visibility into supply chains to improve operational efficiency and last, but not least, unlock their true potential to drive organic growth despite economic uncertainty.

 





JAMS Acumatica

JAMS For Acumatica: A Complete Manufacturing Software Solution

Continuous availability and real-time updates of every detail involved in manufacturing operations are two of the most important factors that drive profitability and growth. If your company is faced with unnecessary downtime, huge operating costs, sub-optimal efficiency,  noncompliance with quality standards and lack of internal collaboration, it’s time to get a complex manufacturing software solution capable to seamlessly integrate your shop floor with critical business areas, such as manufacturing, distribution, accounting and customer management. The focus on managing different manufacturing areas simultaneously delivered the foundation upon which JAMS for Acumatica was developed.

modern textile factory manager

JAMS for Acumatica: What to Expect

Especially designed to leverage Acumatica’s capabilities, JAMS delivers advanced functionality via Windows Azure, facilitating real-time coordination of various operations from one central location, on premise or as a service. Integrating with Acumatica’s Distribution, Financial and Customer modules, JAMS Manufacturing delivers a flexible, end-to-end manufacturing software solution, which gives companies the ability to:

  • manage various manufacturing processes, costs and inventories in real time
  • assign supplies to job orders and job orders to teams
  • choose among different manufacturing options, such as job shop, engineer-to-order, make-to-order and make-to-stock
  • automate different production processes and financial operations

To help you complete all these tasks and many others, JAMS Manufacturing for Acumatica makes available the following modules:

  • Production Management. Complementing Acumatica’s inventory, order and requisition capabilities, JAMS Manufacturing allows you to control everything, from raw materials and components to end products. Thanks to this module, you’ll be able to create and adjust production orders and calculate the materials and equipment needed to complete certain projects. Additionally, you can calculate and divide manufacturing costs based on overhead, labor, material and outside processes.
  • Bill of Materials and Routing. You can use this module to create and view specifications along with different versions of products, manage costs, inventories and manufacturing processes for accurate forecasting, and even plan future functionality for upcoming projects.
  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP). Maintaining optimal inventory levels, MRP prevents stock outs and excessive inventory buildups, allowing organizations to deliver more than they promise. Additionally, this module provides views of master production schedules, sales activities and criteria selected for production and purchase orders.
  • Product Configurator. Designed to verify sales and work orders, Product Configurator identifies the orders that don’t comply with specific requirements, preventing them from reaching the shop floor. This way, production delays, rework resulting in wasted inventory, and customer service issues can be easily avoided.
  • Quality. The Quality module comprises a Material Review Board, which presents all the materials and equipment pieces used during the manufacturing process. Since this board also includes material/equipment rejection reasons, it can help you choose the right materials/equipment for future projects.
  • Release Accounting. Providing a fully integrated EDI module, Release Accounting enhances the functionality of this manufacturing software solution even more, saving you the cost and your employees the hassle of managing time-consuming non-integrated EDI transactions, which usually result in error and rework — two factors known to negatively affect overall business activity.
  • Quoting and Estimating. Embedded with forecasting functionality, the Quoting and Estimating module can be used to estimate future costs and generate quotes for upcoming projects upon request.
  • Scheduling and Capacity. Especially developed to help you schedule production, this module gives 360-degree, real-time visibility into previous, current and future work orders. Further, Scheduling and Capacity allows you to create diverse “what-if” scenarios and analyze production capacity based on last-minute changes.
  • Reporting. Getting accurate, periodic reports allows you to analyze your organization’s efficiency and profitability. You can use different features to customize your reports and even create graphical representations, which present information in a clear, concise form, facilitating the monitoring of key performance indicators.

All these modules turn JAMS Manufacturing for Acumatica into a robust, fully featured, cost effective manufacturing software solution, which can help you deal with the constant pressure to produce top quality products on time. With this system on your side, you’ll be able not only to comply with current demands and anticipate future needs, but also to deal with competition, labor shortages, economic fluctuations, compliance mandates and many other challenges you may be facing.

 






Wearable Technology

Google Glass: Seeing The Future Of Cloud ERP

Manufacturing is one of the best industries for new technologies to be tested and deployed. Take Google Glass. Delivering an innovative technology that can be used by anyone, from students to technicians and physicians, Google Glass can find more uses in manufacturing than in any other sector. This theory has been recently demonstrated by Plex Systems, Inc., a software company specializing in cloud ERP solutions for manufacturing.

Manufacturing Experts Are Testing Google Glass

Plex Systems specialists have used Google Glass in conjunction with their ERP system to perform a series of tasks according to different employees’ roles and responsibilities. With this wearable device, they’ve monitored activities, performed financial operations, accessed, recorded and shared information with other users, and even implemented emergency settings for increased operator safety.

Based on their findings, Plex technicians have confirmed that Google Glass is able to extend the capabilities of exiting ERP solutions, adding significant value by increasing operational efficiency in manufacturing and other industry sectors dependent on mobile workforce.

businessman with digital glasses

Concisely, Plex Systems project has revealed that Google Glass not only provides indispensable hands-free equipment for the shop floor, facilitating seamless connectivity with cloud ERP solutions, real-time access to information, and accurate monitoring and recording – critical elements in the manufacturing industry; it can also manage diverse administrative and financial tasks, with more features for new jobs roles to be developed. As a result, Google Glass is expected to change enterprise environments for good.

The Impact of Wearable Technology on Cloud ERP

Delivering context-sensitive information to help users make informed task-oriented decisions, Google Glass-like products are very useful. But what makes them special? Unlike regular laptops, tablets and Smartphones, wearable devices provide key benefits hands-free, a critical feature when users must perform certain tasks hands-free and with minimal distraction.

What else? Newly developed wearable devices are embedded with cutting-edge technologies that make possible:

  • Object/Image Recognition – Developments in digital imaging provide superior resolution and incredible scanning capabilities, turning wearable devices into reliable cameras, barcode readers and even 3D scanners. But Google Glass not only detects, it also inspects objects. This means that it can be used to analyze whether an item meets specific criteria or falls outside the specification limits.
  • Speech Recognition – Equipped with state-of-the-art speech recognition technology that incorporates new advances in Artificial Intelligence, Google Glass enables true hands-free functionality.

Unfortunately, Google Glass has no cellular radio capability, which means that it can only connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Without network connection, you can use this device to take pictures, record videos, get directions and access Google’s offline search engine. Once connected to the Internet, Google Glass delivers the functionality of a Smartphone as a hands-free device. Because Google Glass has minimal functionality on its own, developing a reliable enterprise network capable to support multiple devices is of the utmost importance.

Despite the negatives, this wearable device is likely to have a significant positive impact on cloud ERP. Besides making it easier than ever for professionals to communicate with each other and perform a variety of tasks, regardless of whether they’re in the office or on the shop floor, Google Glass is poised to eliminate error and rework — two major pain points in manufacturing. Considering all these, anyone can easily understand why an increasing number of manufacturers are eager to exploit the true potential of this new technology.

But, Google Glass promises much more. For instance, receiving staff can use Google Glass to send information to the office as they scan bar codes on newly arrived packages. With the same device, engineers can look at machines, diagnose problems and order replacement parts on the spot to avoid prolonged downtime. As well, maintenance staff can use Google Glass to consult repair instructions without having to put tools down in order to use a handheld device. Because wearable technology allows workers to access information from anywhere, at any time, it’s expected to offer unlimited possibilities and even open up new horizons for cloud ERP.

In conclusion, no one can deny the reciprocal relationship between cloud computing and wearable technology. While cloud computing encourages the development of Google Glass-like devices, wearable technology provides a new point of reference for cloud developers.

Cloud ERP Rankings




Mobile 3D Scanning

Mobile 3D And The Future of ERP Software

Not only mobile technologies have witnessed rapid growth over the past few years, they also have given rise to a new trend, irreversibly transforming the way we live and do business. New mobile apps have already been integrated with various software products and devices, allowing people to control everything, from lights and locks around properties to complex manufacturing processes.

Unfortunately, all these deliver insufficient data to predict the innovations the third industrial revolution, already on the horizon, promise to bring along. Since new apps are continuously changing everything we know about the solutions we use, the future of ERP has become more unpredictable than ever before.

And Here Is the Proof

Smartphones currently replacing common devices, such as cameras and music players, are about to take over more important functions, promising to become indispensable tools in a series of industry sectors, including manufacturing and engineering.

Mobile 3D

One of these functions is mobile 3D scanning. Delivering a brand new technology, mobile 3D scanning apps enable Smartphones to capture objects and scenes, subsequently displaying them as 3D visual representations for further processing, such as measuring, editing and even 3D printing.

Though numerous 3D scanning solutions have been developed over time, the new technology aims to turn 3D scanning into a simple operation — similar to taking pictures with your Smartphone — that no longer requires dedicated hardware. Further, the latest 3D scanning apps are able to connect with phones’ graphics processing units, allowing users to check visual representations and perform calculations instantly. The ability to verify 3D models on the spot gives you the opportunity to identify any missing parts that must be scanned in order to get complete 3D representations of objects.

Applications of 3D Scanning Software

Primarily developed for industrial use, cutting-edge mobile 3D apps not only collect and process data to deliver 3D models, but also output information in a format that can be easily recognized by most software solutions. As a result, 3D technology can be used to:

  • Create customized products for different industry sectors, including machinery, healthcare and even fashion
  • Verify product quality by comparing manufactured products to 3D models
  • Scan buildings and create accurate 3D visual representations for the construction industry
  • Develop CAD models of different parts to update existing products or make new ones

Since the most common uses of 3D scanning include reverse engineering, digital archiving and 3D printing, it’s expected to have a significant impact on the future of ERP.

Is the Future of ERP at Stake?  

Although many ERP users may think that 3D technologies endanger the future of ERP, industry experts explain that new solutions are being constantly developed to extend the capabilities of existing ERP systems.

For instance, a mobile 3D scanning app installed on your Smartphone can be used to obtain a comprehensive 3D visual representation of an older item. Then, you can use your ERP solution not only to access the 3D model saved on your Smartphone, but also to make various changes, such as adding or removing elements and modifying physical dimensions. As soon as you finalize the 3D model, you can connect the same ERP system to a 3D printer and create your first prototype.

The advantage? In comparison to traditional methods of creating prototypes, which use subtractive processes, removing material and producing waste, 3D printers create products by using only the material required to build the items. What does it mean to a manufacturer? Zero waste, lower costs and greater profits.

If the new product is worth the investment, you can use the same ERP system to calculate costs based on different materials, assign specific tasks to employees according to their roles and capabilities, create multiple projects and choose the most advantageous one, and even schedule production.

By combining a reliable ERP system with the right 3D scanning apps and 3D printer, the cost and time of designing and prototyping in manufacturing can be reduced to minimum. Hopefully, 3D scanning and printing will soon help manufacturers produce large amounts of standardized products not just prototypes. This will have a tremendous impact on the future of ERP, encouraging the demand for new ERP solutions, on one side, and further development, on the other.






Wholesale Distribution Software

7 Reasons NAV Is The Best Distribution ERP Software Solution

More than 100,000 organizations throughout the world are currently using Dynamics NAV. Delivering the perfect tool for performing a variety of processes, from basic accounting to complex distribution operations, NAV is one of the best solutions you can find to streamline your activities and increase efficiency. Besides offering a specialized system that can help organizations stay competitive in today’s market, here are seven more reasons why most distributors choose NAV over other distribution ERP software solutions.

Distribution ERP Software

  1. Powerful Functionality. Making available a series of useful functions, including Timeline Visualization, Assembly Management, Cost Accounting and Cash Flow Forecast, NAV provides deep insight into all the processes that drive business success. Having greater control across operations makes you confident that the right decisions are made at the right time. To help you improve productivity and boost profit margins, NAV offers a clear view across all the systems you use, while allowing you to automate different business processes, manage tangible (fixed and current) and intangible assets, manage inventory, forecast demands, schedule tasks, set special discounts for top customers, draft a wide variety of reports based on preset settings, etc.
  2. Simplicity. Simplicity may seem unimportant when assessing the characteristics of a distribution ERP system. However, one of the most important challenges for ERP software developers is to create more features, while keeping systems user friendly. Microsoft has managed to do this, Dynamics NAV being one of the few distribution ERP software solutions quick to learn and easy to use. Even greater is the fact that it provides the same intuitive look and feel as Microsoft Office, a software app suite that most people are accustomed to.
  3. Scalability. Running on Microsoft SQL server, NAV delivers a series of advanced features, such as indexed views, bulk insert, memory cache and three-tier architecture. What do all these mean? In a nutshell, NAV not only responds quickly to commands, but also supports new functionality, making possible horizontal and vertical growth at different paces. The multi-currency feature is a valuable add-on for the companies running global operations or planning to expand across borders.
  4. Customization. Providing full access to source code, NAV is one of the most versatile distribution ERP software. You can add modules, select features, modify formulas and policies, and create new fields from scratch within several minutes. Basically, any must-have requirement can be met with Dynamics NAV.
  5. Role Centers. Offering different Role Centers out of the box, NAV provides role-tailored features. For instance, special Role Centers for Accounting Managers allow accounting managers to access business data specific to their roles. Providing limited access to information is one of the best things you can do to protect sensitive data, including your clients’ addresses, names and credit card information. Further, offering information according to roles streamlines processes, helping your staff work more efficiently.
  6. Tracking Capabilities. Most distribution ERP software solutions are useless when it comes to tracing information back to certain events. Fortunately, Dynamics NAV is different. Equipped with “SumIndexFields,” a smart technology that records everything, NAV gives you access not only to all entries, but also to their details, regardless of when they’ve been made. Another great thing is that all entries are linked together, which means that you can choose a particular transaction and navigate back and forth to assess the impact it has had on your business. Further, the system verifies all the entries before posting them, preventing inaccuracies (e.g. subtracting items from stock lists before adding them, resulting in negative stock balance) from occurring.
  7. Cloud Functionality. NAV is available either on premise or via the cloud. Although you may feel more comfortable using the on-premise software version, NAV in the cloud provides added functionality, including online payment service, built-in integration with Dynamics CRM and remote access from anywhere, at any time. The hosted option is the best choice for any company searching for a robust ERP solution ready to keep up with its needs.

If you’re tired of hearing how “great” most ERP systems are, here’s one thing to keep in mind: Dynamics NAV is one of the most complex distribution ERP software solution capable to deliver incredible agility and flexibility, so that distributors can offer their customers unparalleled service.









Barcode

RFID vs. Barcode: Which One Is Right for Your Organization?

When you are looking to implement a new supply chain solution for your warehouse, you will need to decide whether to use radio frequency identification (RFID) or barcodes. Knowing how each of these two solutions work, their capabilities and limitations can help you make a more informed decision.

RFID

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID are chips that are placed on products to help identify them. The chips contain all the information about the product and how it is supposed to be used. Each chip is capable of holding a vast amount of data, which makes them ideal for everyday use. For example, the chips can provide information on where a particular item is within the system, its transit route and the contents or the item.

RFID chips are made from hardened plastic, are very durable, virtually indestructible and can be stamped on nearly all kinds of materials. The chips can withstand harsh weather conditions, including extremely high temperatures.

RFID chips do not have to be manually scanned through a line-of-site system. A scanning device can be at any place within a specified distance and will still get all the data from the chips. Most systems can read up to 800 chips per second.

RFID chips are embedded in a unique way, making it impossible to copy them. This is why the technology is used in security applications such as ID cards.

Below are important highlights about RFID chips:

i) RFIDs have a high read rate. More than 100 chips can be read simultaneously.

ii) RFIDs do not require a line of sight to be read. The items can be read regardless of the direction where they are oriented. The only condition is that the items should be within a specified distance.

iii) Human capital is not required to read RFID chips. When the system is set up, it is completely automated.

iv) RFIDs have read/write capability. The chips can be read, written or modified even after being placed on items.

v) RFIDs have higher security and are made from hardened plastic that can withstand harsh conditions. The chips can still be read even in harsh environments.

vi) RFIDs are difficult to replicate. Their data can be password-protected, encrypted or have a “kill” feature than can remove the data in case of tampering.

vii) RFIDs can be used to trigger various events (for example, starting alarms, opening doors, etc.).

Barcodes

Barcodes are popular in many organizations and were the standard identification for a long time. Barcodes contain information about the place of manufacture and ingredients of an item. The information is usually encoded in the barcode and can be read through a barcode reader. Barcodes are found in almost all products in grocery stores and retail shops.

Barcodes are usually printed on a sticker that is placed on each bin. If the sticker gets dirty, it can be difficult for the reader to interpret the code. However, barcodes are easy to replace. In case a barcode is damaged or too dirty to be read, you can easily print a new one and place it on the bin.

Barcodes require line-of-site readings. An item has to be passed through a barcode reader at every phase for its information to be read.

Below are some highlights of barcodes:

i) The read rate of barcodes is very low. The chips can only be read manually, one at a time.

ii) Barcodes require a line of sight to be read. The scanners must see each item directly in the scan. Moreover, the items have to be oriented in a specific manner.

iii) Human output is required to read barcodes. Employees are required to scan each barcode.

iv) Barcodes cannot be modified or edited when stamped on an item.

v) Barcodes are not as durable as RFIDs. They can easily get damaged, removed and will fail to be read if they are greasy or dirty.

vi) The security of barcodes is low. The barcodes can be easily reproduced and even counterfeited.

vii) Barcodes cannot be used to trigger events.

When it comes to price, barcodes are cheaper than RFIDs. However, their implementation, required system scanners and manpower makes them expensive especially if you manufacture thousands of products.






Microsoft Dynamics Comparison

Microsoft Dynamics Comparison: Dynamics NAV vs. Dynamics AX

Update February 16, 2018: Since this article was published there have been changes to the Dynamics AX platform.  It’s now written in HTML 5 which means you can access it on any Internet enabled device.  It can be deployed as a software as a service (SaaS) or purchased for an on premise deployment.  Dynamics AX is now called Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Enterprise Edition. Dynamics NAV will also be available as a SaaS or on premise solution in the 2nd quarter of 2018.  It’s name is Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Business Edition.   This article is still very helpful but it does not include the latest features for either product.  Contact us to find out which Edition is right for your business.

Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX deliver two fully integrated, highly scalable ERP software solutions especially designed for companies planning to expand locally or globally. How could you find out which system best suits your organization? The answer is quite simple: by checking the differences that set these products apart from each other. Below is a comprehensive Microsoft Dynamics comparison. A Dynamics NAV versus Dynamics AX review that can help make your choice.

Microsoft Dynamics Comparison

NAV versus AX: Exploring Capabilities

The main difference between these two systems relates to the size of organizations. While NAV includes capabilities appropriate for small- and mid-sized companies, AX can handle extensive operations that usually characterize large organizations. Both solutions provide features capable to support operations in different industries, ranging from manufacturing, distribution and retail to finance and service. However, for a comprehensive Microsoft Dynamics comparison of these two systems to be truly possible, we’ll focus on the functions they provide for certain business areas.

Manufacturing Management

Both systems allow organizations to improve performance by streamlining and automating different operations, tracking costs, gaining better visibility into production and supply chain, and responding quickly to changing market conditions. While Dynamics NAV offers an additional discrete manufacturing management feature, AX provides all the functions an organization may need to manage discrete, process, job shop, mixed mode and lean manufacturing.

Project Management

Focusing on project management more than Dynamics NAV, AX delivers a rich assortment of tools that you can use to efficiently handle multiple projects, regardless of how small or large they are. Assessing production capacities, scheduling and prioritizing tasks, controlling expenses, streamlining project-related accounting processes, running analyses, drafting reports and calculating ROI for each project are easy tasks with AX. NAV includes a few extra functions for managing special jobs, calculating extra costs and planning the resources needed to complete each task.

Financial Management

A Microsoft Dynamics comparison of NAV and AX would be incomplete without talking about financial management. Both systems offer accounting and financial features to help you get up-do-date, comprehensive financial information, monitor financial performance, meet regulatory requirements, reduce the time your employees spend on accounting tasks, optimize cash flow, maximize cash resources and perform multi-currency, cross-border payments between international subsidiaries.

Supply Chain Management

Dynamics NAV and AX propose a series of common supply chain management features for demand planning, warehouse and inventory management, picking and putting away, shipment and cost management, item tracking, substitution and transfer, cycle counting, purchase return order management, requisition management, campaign pricing, analysis and discount, and sales and purchase order management. AX includes a few more features that can be used to manage trade agreements along with RFID, logistics, and product development and quality. Compared to NAV, the supply chain management features included in AX are more complex, thus more suitable for handling complicated supply chain processes.

Sales, Marketing and Service Management

Organizing campaigns based on target audience, recording interactions with customers, sorting contacts into categories according to your own criteria, keeping track of sales opportunities and setting up sales and marketing activities have never been easier. But with Dynamics NAV and AX, you can complete much more, including assigning employees to work orders, managing field personnel, set up notifications, registering and prioritizing service requests, and setting up agreements and prices. Since the main role of this Microsoft Dynamics NAV versus Microsoft Dynamics AX review is to indicate the differences between these two systems, it’s imperative to know that AX includes several auxiliary features for telemarketing management, and marketing and sales force automation.

Human Resources Management

Dynamics NAV makes available functions for basic human resources management, allowing you to handle employee information, sort personnel by skills, education, and union membership, keep track of benefits and record absences. With Dynamics AX, you can complete additional tasks, among which recruiting, performance and compensation management, employee development and training administration are the most essential ones.

Matching the functionality of a system to your organization’s needs and calculating the value it could deliver are not the only things you need to do in order to get the most out of a modern ERP solution. Equally as important is finding a vendor capable to fine-tune the system for optimal performance.

If you want more information on the software and our services, we invite you to get in touch with our friendly advisers at Clients First Business Solutions.  We are a Gold ERP and CSP (Cloud Service Provider).  We focus on manufacturing, supply chain and MRO industries and implement Dynamics 365, AX, NAV and Acumatica.

Email: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas , or call at 800.331.8382.