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Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail Implementation Best Practices

July 8th, 2014 No comments

I recently presented on this topic at the AX Users Group (AXUG) and have summarized best practices to focus on when doing the implementation. The key areas this blog article will focus on are

  • Scope of Implementation
  • Rollout
  • Change Management

Scope of ImplementationMicrosoft Dynamics AX for Retail is one of the few solutions providing an end-to-end retail solution which includes Financials, Inventory, Warehousing, Procurement, Store Management and Point of Sale. Because of the breadth of the functionality as well as an architecture that allows for integration with other solutions, customers have a series of implementation options as shown below.

  • Everything or Big Bang: If there are multiple systems that need to be replaced that are either not integrated today or loosely integrated this can be a good choice. The main downside to this is the amount of energy and horsepower required by the retailer and the implementation partner to pull this off successfully. This option is not for the faint of heart and requires a well thought out plan, sufficient resources and top management commitment.
  • Phase Implementation via packages: A list of packages are
    • Store Operations, Assisted Selling, Point of Sale
    • eCommerce, mobile-Commerce or mCommerce, Social Commerce
    • Customer Care and Marketing
    • Order Management, Inventory, Warehousing and Distribution
    • Financial Management, Management Reporting

If taking a phased approach, my preference is to do the financial implementation first as you can set out our base fundamentals right. That would include the chart of accounts, financial dimensions, reporting and ensuring our have a solid foundation for the rest of the implementation. The second preference would be to do the Front-end implementations first which is either the Store Operations and POS or the eCommerce and mobility. If you have to pick order management, warehousing, procurement I would typically recommend bundling in financials in that implementation as well. The up side of a phased implementation is that the scope is manageable and can ensure the organization is focused on getting it right without burdening the whole organization with the implementation. Th down side of a phased implementation is the need for intermediate interfaces as well as a longer duration which typically results in higher costs over a Big Bang approach.

implementation packages

The last piece of best practice advice around the scope is the most obvious one – to keep it manageable. If the internal implementation team is not scaled up to doing the whole implementation then it makes most sense to implement it in a phased manner. An example phasing is shown below

phasing of implementation

Rollout: A lot of retailers don’t think about rollout. But if you are doing a POS and Store operations implementation then you want to decide whether you rollout to all stores together or do a certain number of stores as pilot and then do staged rollouts after that. The upside of doing it all together is that you get it done with in one shot but it can be much harder to manage the change for all the in-store personnel at one go. The advantage of a staged rollout is manageability but you will need to interface to the older store system while rolling out even if you just to the GL to bring in the transactions for the stores that are not covered in the first rollout. Below is a list of parameters to think about while deciding one way or the other with the metrics usually found. I say usually because even though I would typically say anything more than 50 stores it is better to stage a rollout, in one instance we implemented to 400 stores in one shot since the cost of integrating with the system we were replacing was too high due to its legacy architecture.

 

Staged Rollout

All Stores in one Rollout

Number of Stores

50 stores or higher

Less than 50 stores

Number of users

More than 100 users

Less than 100 users

Internal change management capability

Low to Medium

High

Cost of Integrating with store system being replaced

Low to Medium

High

Change Management: I referenced change management in the rollout section and my experience is that retailers often significantly underestimate the amount of change management required to make a new implementation successful. Often the focus of Change management is the training for the in-store personnel. However a new retail business system like Microsoft Dynamics AX can transform an organization in a very positive fashion. However, without good change management you could end up with a very poor implementation as users may try to get the new system to be like the old system as opposed to adopting best practice business processes that come with Microsoft Dynamics AX.  Similarly poor change management can lead to lack of preparedness for data migration, under-trained staff and high resistance to a new system irrespective of the quality of the system. While everyone typically things of adding in a project manager, I would also recommend adding in a Change Manager in the organization that helps with all of the following

  • Expectation Management
  • Training
  • Project Communication
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Openness to a new system

A new implementation while challenging can be a lot of fun and an opportunity to not just modernize your business systems but also significantly revamp you processes to allow the organization to operate in a much more optimal fashion than before. I wish you the best on your implementation journey. For more information on implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, please email us at retail@ignify.com.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Port of Long Beach launches Customer Portal integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX

July 3rd, 2014 No comments

Port of Long Beach launches Customer Portal integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AXThe Port of Long Beach, which was recently named the world’s Best Green Seaport this month at the 28th annual Asian Freight & Supply Chain Awards, launched a web-based Customer Portal. This secure web application, created in partnership with Ignify, provides customers access to their billing information, vessel calls and related information. The Portal is now available to all Port customers with a valid e-mail address.

Via the internet, the Port’s customers can securely log in and view their vessel calls, invoices, payment history, annual minimums, breakpoints, lease terms and lease documents. Invoices can be reprinted or downloaded into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet; customers can also pay invoices online using eChecks at no additional cost. The Customer Portal is fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX, which the port uses for its financial management and analytical reporting processes.

Security features were integrated into the application from the start and customers have the option of restricting access by employee to certain types of account information based on security access levels. Most invoice and payment history is available back to October 2011. The Portal reflects the Port of Long Beach’s continued commitment to innovation and its ability to automate transactions that are done manually at most other seaports.

Ignify is pleased to have been a key partner in this engagement by providing the base Customer Portal for Microsoft Dynamics product as well as implementing the PORTS solution on Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP Return on Investment (ROI) validated by Forrester

March 31st, 2014 No comments

Forrester Research’s consulting division conducted a study on the Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Dynamics AX on organizations. The study conducted with 24 organizations validates a high ROI of 92% with Microsoft Dynamics AX deployments. According to Forrester, Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP reduces operations costs and increases business value. The study shows an average payback period of 21 months, average Net Present Value (NPV) of over US$ 3 Million and an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 53%. These are pretty astounding statistics for any ERP solution especially given that the study only took in to consideration benefits in the first 3 year. A higher time horizon (which is common for ERP projects) would show even better numbers since most successful ERP implementations pay at least over 5-7 years

Composite Organization Three-Year Risk-Adjusted ROI

ROI IRR Payback Period Total Benefits(PV) Total Costs (PV) Net Present Value
92% 53% 21 months $6,269,550 ($3,259,651) $3,009,899

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

Key areas of benefits cited by Forrester are both quantifiable benefits and non-quantifiable benefits. The quantifiable benefits of replacing legacy applications with Microsoft Dynamics AX are summarized in the table below

Benefit Benefit Source Value

Increased business user productivity

Greater automation translates to higher efficiency and being able to do more with less people. Savings are typically in accounting, procurement, customer service, and logistics.

45 employees on average eliminated or not added with increased growth
US$ 5.8 million over 3 years

Reduced IT Team Size

Decreased team size due to easier manageability of the ERP application and a single application versus multiple legacy applications

US$ 2.2 million over 3 years
Year 1: Four fewer IT FTEs
Year 2: Six fewer IT FTEs
Year 3: Seven fewer IT FTEs

Eliminated systems license and maintenance cost

Microsoft Dynamics AX typically has one of the lowest software assurance costs of 16% in the ERP industry. That coupled with the fact that a Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation typically eliminates multiple legacy applications leads to ongoing continual savings every year.

US$ 1.1 million over 3 years
Average annual savings in software assurance cost of $360,000

Non-quantified benefits that are listed but not included in the analysis for the Total Economic Impact are

  • Improved business performance: Generally organization’s that used Microsoft Dynamics AX had overall performance improve with increased sales and profitability. This is achieved through faster responses to market changes and decreased internal costs. Personally, I think this should have been a quantifiable benefit as it is so significant and could nearly double the ROI and NPV value measurements.
  • Improved system reliability and uptime: Microsoft Dynamics AX exhibited better uptime and system reliability than the legacy systems replaced leading to less disruption in work and better operations for the organization.
  • Better decision making: By having a unified ERP system allowed users to get data more easily and make more informed decisions which improves business outcomes and reduces time. Increased business intelligence capabilities helped with time to market especially for global companies.

The summary of the business value which includes the total cost as well as the total quantified benefit is shown below. In total cost, Forrester included all of the following

  • Software license cost for Microsoft Dynamics AX
  • Annual Software assurance and maintenance cost
  • Professional services and consulting costs
  • Training costs
  • Internal FTE Labor cost
  • Hardware costs

summary of the business value

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

If you would like to see how Ignify can help bring this value to your organization or see a demonstration of Microsoft Dynamics AX please email us at dynamics@ignify.com.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Avon Versus Revlon – A tale of two ERP Systems: SAP and Microsoft Dynamics AX

December 16th, 2013 No comments

Wall Street Journal reported that Avon pulled the plug on a $125Million SAP project after a Canadian pilot prompted sales reps to quit in frustration.

Avon began using the new order management software system in Canada in the second quarter. The SAP based system was so burdensome and disruptive to Avon representatives' daily routine that they left in meaningful numbers.  "In light of the potential risk of further disruption," Avon decided to halt the software's rollout to other countries, according to a filing with regulators Wednesday.  The company expects to write down between $100 million to $125 million of the cost of the software because it won't be put to use in the rest of the world.

Interestingly, Avon’s competitor – Revlon chose Microsoft Dynamics AX which in stark contrast is a success story! Revlon runs 50 different business entities and collapsing 21 separate ERP systems in to one.

Microsoft Dynamics AX is being used at Revlon to unite customers, unite business and IT, unite their people and act as one unified organization. David Giambruno, Senior VP and CIO of Revlon stated that there is a “no customization rule” within Revlon. So Microsoft Dynamics AX has been implemented with no customization. Revlon processes an average of 14,000 transactions in a second according to Anya Ciecierski, ERP Software Blog Editor. The base implementation and the first company took a year to go live. However the second country went live in 14 days and the third country in less than a day!

Why such a big difference in these two implementations? Why did Avon fail so miserably with SAP and Revlon succeed so spectacularly with Microsoft Dynamics AX. As Steve Rosenbush, Deputy editor at Wall Street Journal pointed out the failed implementation reflects the rise in importance of usability. Microsoft Dynamics AX is modern, intuitive, easy to use, flexible and agile as evidenced in the role center below. You can have the best system implemented but if users will not use it due to poor usability you will have failure.

Accounts Payable Coordinator Role Center

Microsoft Dynamics AX presents high usability ERP making it easy and intuitive for users to work with. The picture above is for an Accounts Payable Coordinator Role Center. Business Intelligence is not limited to just executives but available to operational users.

In addition Microsoft Dynamics AX is powerful evidenced by the fact that a company the size of Revlon could implement it with no customizations. There is deep capability for enterprise financials, supply chain management, inventory, warehousing, retail, merchandising, MRP, procurement, vendor management, customer management, HR and Payroll in Microsoft Dynamics AX.

If you’re looking at a new ERP system please email us at ERP@ignify.com

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

SalesLogix Vs Microsoft Dynamics CRM

October 1st, 2013 No comments

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Versus Saleslogix: Feature Comparison

A prospective customer asked us the difference between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SalesLogix functionality so we’ve put this feature comparison between the two products.

 

SalesLogix

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Marketing Automation
Static Marketing Lists
Dynamics Marketing Lists
Campaign Management (Traditional)
Campaign Activity Distribution to Record owners
Event Based Campaigns
Activity Feeds
Collaboration Framework
Email Marketing
Sales Force Automation
Contact Management
Customer Management
History
Lead Tracking
Lead Assignment to Sales Reps
De-Duplication (Lead to Lead, Lead to Customer)
Opportunity Management
Sales Stage Automation
Sales Quote Management
Sales Orders
Invoices
Sales Forecasting
Sales Goals
Automated Email Templates
Language Support
Chinese
Dutch
English
French
German
Italian
Japanese
Portuguese
Russian
Spanish
Swedish
Customer Service
Case Management
Knowledgebase
Service Calendar
Service Scheduling
Service Goals
Call Center
Collaboration
Dashboards
Dashboard Customization
Activity Feeds
Integration with Yammer
Integration with Outlook  2013
Mobile UI Only in v7.5.3
or higher
Offline Capability
Workflow Rules
Alerts and Notifications

Disclaimer: This document is put together by Ignify Inc based on its research and knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SalesLogix

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.