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Optimizing your Supply Chain and Warehousing with Microsoft Dynamics AX

April 19th, 2011 Eric Shuss No comments

Last week Ignify had presented a paper at the Dynamics Academic Alliance proceeding in the Microsoft Convergence conference. This blog is a summary of the paper. Microsoft Dynamics AX presents the most powerful ERP product as validated by Gartner and other analyst firms. It provides enterprise coverage for the business but especially shines in optimization of supply chain, MRP, warehousing, and inventory management.

The traditional model of produce/ buy, stock and sell has been turned on its head. Just because you are able to make enough of an item and stock it – it doesn’t mean you are going to be able to sell it. The supply chain has to be very nimble and responsive to the shifting demand patterns. Demand is not only different by items, assortments and item categories but also can be very different by channel, geography and customer type. For example one of our customers sells to big box retailers with EDI orders as the sales channel, sells direct to consumer through its ecommerce sites and then to academia through a network of sales professionals and inside customer service team members. The big box retailers hit their peak in September and October when they stock up for the holiday season while the ecommerce site hit its peak in November and December and the schools typically buy in June and July before the schools open. While there is overlap in what each customer buyer segment buys there are differences too. So the customer has the challenge of aggregating the demand across all the different channels and customer types and combining into an overall business demand forecast and ensuring the supply chain stays in tune with the demand pattern as there are always changes due to a multitude of factors.

The Traditional Linear Supply Chain is becoming more Demand Driven. Microsoft Dynamics AX provides native functionality for a demand driven supply chain with MRP, Production planning, Purchase Planning and Vendor Portals

Figure. The Traditional Linear Supply Chain is becoming more Demand Driven. Microsoft Dynamics AX provides native functionality for a demand driven supply chain with MRP, Production planning, Purchase Planning and Vendor Portals

Microsoft Dynamics AX offers rich functionality for helping Improve Customer Service, Lower Inventory Carrying Costs, and Increase Visibility through the supply chain.:

  1. Powerful MRP and Master Planning functionality: Dynamics AX has the ability to take in a sale or demand forecast (or multiple forecasts for different geographies, customer groups, item groups/ item categories) and automatically create recommended purchase orders with purchases dates and recommended production orders for manufacturers. Master Planning automates purchasing and production planning.
  2. Safety Stock Recommendation: A tool that automatically recommends safety stock for items based on past sales order volume and desired fill rate.
  3. Vendor Portal: For vendors to be able to login and see their purchase orders and if you desire also your inventory so you can move to a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) model.
  4. Supplier collaboration tools: A services oriented architecture with the Application Integration Framework (AIF) that makes integrating with suppliers and customers straight-forward with the use of web services.
  5. Operational dashboards and Native BI: While most systems provide management dashboards – Dynamics AX provides operational dashboards and role centers that improve insight at the guts of the organization. For example out of the box role centers exist for Warehouse Managers, Accounts Payable Clerk, Controller in addition to the Executive dashboards for a CEO, CFO and other CxO roles. This helps ensure that users at all levels are empowered with the correct information to make intelligent and informed decisions. Most importantly Dynamics AX can be a single integrated system that captures all important data and provides a single version of truth for users across the organization.

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides information at all levels in the organization with operational, tactical and executive dashboards thus allowing for informed decision making across the organization

Figure. Microsoft Dynamics AX provides information at all levels in the organization with operational, tactical and executive dashboards thus allowing for informed decision making across the organization.

As an example, Ellison had seen a significant shift in its business model from a manufacturing company to a distribution business. It had also morphed from a single channel to a multi-channel business. It also needed to optimize its supply chain to be able to more tightly integrate its supply with its demand and reduce on-hand inventory with automated planned purchasing. Ellison implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 that helped it

  1. Automate the warehouse with RF using native Dynamics AX integration though AIF to the RF hardware. Dynamics AX provided the ability to do directed pick and directed put-away using the location control in Microsoft Dynamics AX
  2. Used Master planning to automate the purchasing process and reduce inventory carrying costs.
  3. Integrate natively to customers to receive orders via EDI and process ASNs thus increasing visibility to demand and lowering order processing costs

Ram Kanagala, Director – IT at Ellison susms this up well "This project is a showcase example of a client-partner relationship at the highest quality, delivering the project on time and on budget, with improved business processes and seamless information flow across systems, resulting in operational cost efficiencies and improved sales forecasts." If you need more information on optimizing your supply chain email us at dynamics@ignify.com

Eric Shuss is the President of the ERP Division of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, POS , CRM , and eCommerce software solutions to mid-market and enterprise businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify is a Top-tier Microsoft Gold Certified partner ranked in the Microsoft Partner of the Year for Retail in 2010 and both the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle and the Microsoft Dynamics Presidents Club in 2009. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 4 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. Ignify has employees in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Phoenix, Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, Manila, Pune and Bangalore.

Be Dynamic: Steve Ballmer announces Dynamics AX 2012 at Convergence

April 11th, 2011 Sandeep Walia No comments

Steve Ballmer today announced the formal launch time frame of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. The Public Beta of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is already out. The General Availability (GA) is expected in August 2011. I’m excited about the launch as it brings to the table several new features that I will go into detail in a few. Some key ones that were shown at the Keynote speech by Lachlan Cash at Convergence include:

  • Organizational structure: The organizational structure which was already powerful and a visual tool now has the ability to be connected to the underlying financial dimension structure. Those with appropriate security privileges can in the organizational visual editor tool of Dynamics AX 2012 cut and paste and move around the organizational structure with all associated individuals and transactions related to the structure also being updated.
  • Vendor portal enhanced with RFQ bid: The vendor portal has been enhanced to tie to the Purchase Requisitions and RFQ functionality. When RFQs are sent to vendors they can login into a vendor portal and place their be
  • Shop floor manufacturing enhancements: Visualization of the shop floor with Microsoft Dynamics AX showing routes, capacity and choke points.

Lachlan also showed the ability to control Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 without touching the screen or the computer with Kinect for scenarios such as complex or hazardous manufacturing scenarios where the users cannot touch the computer. It is nice to see all the Microsoft Technologies come together.

Picture of Lachlan Cash using hand movements to control Dynamics AX 2012 without touching the screen, mouse or a keyboard.

Figure. Picture of Lachlan Cash using hand movements to control Dynamics AX 2012 without touching the screen, mouse or a keyboard. Done with Kinect. Sorry for the not go great picture –taken at Convergence today on my Windows Phone 7 camera

Finally Lachlan showed the ability to access Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 on a table device in a very seamless fashion. More detail to come later. If you are at Convergence stop by the Ignify booth #501 and say hi. I will be the Ignify booth for most of the expo hours today, tomorrow and Wednesday.

Sandeep Walia is the Chief Executive Officer of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, POS , CRM , and eCommerce software solutions to mid-market and enterprise businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify is a Top-tier Microsoft Gold Certified partner ranked in the Microsoft Partner of the Year for Retail in 2010 and both the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle and the Microsoft Dynamics Presidents Club in 2009 . Ignify offers Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics AX for Retail POS and the Dynamics CRM Loyalty Management solution for retailers and to several other businesses. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 4 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. Sandeep was ranked in 2010 in the Microsoft Dynamics Top 100 Most Influential People List by DynamicsWorld. Ignify has employees in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Phoenix, Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, Manila, Pune and Bangalore.