Until about a month ago, discussions about mobile Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software applications went something like this: “Well, you might need this because an employee may need to update the general ledger when she’s away from the office.” This was a valuable selling point of the mobile app.
Today, everyone is away from the office all day long—but businesses must continue to function. As a result, mobile ERP is essential to operations when everyone’s working from home. This promise comes to life in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central mobile app. We have worked with many clients in adapting the app to their unique use cases. Here are our thoughts on why it’s so effective.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central—In Brief
Briefly, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is software for business management solution. It enables companies to connect key systems for financials and accounting, operations, sales and service. Business Central allows for process management, task automation and improved workflows for customer engagement and data-driven decision making. It integrates with the Microsoft Office system and Outlook, which streamlines information work across the organization. The mobile version embodies the same qualities.
Solving the Challenges of Mobile Work and Mobile Business Management
The Business Central mobile app comprises separate functional areas that replicate the workings of the browser-based version. These include:
- Activities—This screen offers managers a summary of key business metrics, pending deals and projects in progress. These are pulled from Business Central in real time, giving the user an immediate overview of what’s happening in the business, along with the ability to take action.
- Supply chain—Users can order raw materials and oversee inventory using the mobile app. They can track shipments and interact with vendors with a smartphone or tablet.
- Sales management—For sales managers, the app provides a breakdown of deals by account, by sales rep and so forth. Even working from home, sales people and their managers can interact and collaborate to drive revenue growth.
- Project management—Project accounting data appears in real time on project “cards” in the app. Users can see at a glance how projects are performing in terms of schedule and budget. Key project contacts are available by swiping the screen.
- Data visualization—The app is able to display data-rich charts that give managers a way to visualize business performance remotely.
Collectively, these mobile interfaces give employees, their managers and senior executives an immediate way to get business done, regardless of where they happen to be—or what device they’re using. The app works on personal mobile devices, which are increasingly common in today’s stay-at-home environment.
Making Your Business Mobile. Now.
The Business Central mobile app is user-friendly and works out of the box. It can take some customization to get it to be a strong fit with the way your business functions. We can help. We have the experience to make mobile ERP a reality. Today, more than ever, this is becoming critical for business success.
To learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and its mobile app, visit our website or contact us for a free consultation or demo.
Additional Business Central Resources
Getting Beyond the Basics of Accounting Software
10 Powerful Manufacturing Features in Dynamics 365 Business Central
Top New Features – Dynamics 365 Business Central
As of now, virtually every business in the United States, and much of the rest of the world, has employees working remotely to avoid getting sick with COVID-19. This situation highlights the need for effective mobile computing. Mobility is no longer a “nice to have” feature. It’s all we have for the time being, and the requirement to work remotely could last quite a lot longer.
The Current Situation
Here’s what’s going on right now: Information workers are doing their best to get work done from home. They are using laptops, smartphones and tablets—sometimes their own personal devices, and almost always on a consumer Internet connection—to interact with one another and engage with corporate systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.
These remote workers need a seamless, fast and secure experience. At the same time, corporate networks are finding themselves overstretched. They were generally not designed to handle so many remote sessions. The IT department, in turn, is also burdened by support requests for remote work, a use case that was common but not ubiquitous as it is now.
Why Cloud Native Design is Critical to Mobility
Cloud-native software is a boon to universal remote work and end user mobility. As exemplified by Acumatica Cloud ERP, cloud-native applications are designed from the start to be hosted in the cloud. They utilize software programming languages and architectural concepts that are suited to cloud operations. This approach delivers the fast, seamless, secure experience remote workers need:
- Browser-based access is universal and uniform—Any user can access the same functionality through a web browser. There is no need for a dedicated software client on the user’s device. This takes support pressure off IT while creating a uniform end user experience from any location.
- One set of code, on any device—Acumatica’s cloud native design means that all devices are interacting with a single code base. There are no hand-offs between clients and servers. If a user performs an action at home, everyone else will see the results instantly wherever they are.
- One dataset—The solution runs a single database in the cloud. This way, remote workers all have the same data in front of them in real time.
- An adaptive mobile app that leverages the cloud-based code and unified dataset—The Acumatica mobile app gives remote users the complete ERP experience along with device-specific functionality that enables productivity. For example, the user can upload files or photos, linking the device’s built-in capabilities to the cloud-based ERP. Others comparable features include thing like GPS tracking, digital signature capture and note-taking.
Adapting ERP to Remote Work
Having everyone work from home is not the same as the status quo, where a few people are out of the office while the bulk of the team is on-site. This new reality will understandably force changes in workflows and business processes. We can help your business adapt. We have worked with many companies on remote and mobile work solutions.
To learn more about how our expertise, coupled with Acumatica Cloud ERP can bring out the best in your business during this challenging time, let’s talk.
Check out how some customers are adapting to remote work with the help of Acumatica:
“I am really thankful we have Acumatica in place right now. If we had been still operating from the old platform, we would have had some significant challenges with people working from home and staying connected. Keep up the good work!” – Alex Craster, Owner, Craster
“Power Storage Solutions is not missing a beat, thanks to our decision to go with Acumatica.” – Derrick Elledge, VP of Operations, Power Storage Solutions
“Palmer FoodService is a Food Service client running Acumatica. Being in Tennessee, we first got hit with the tornados and while the national distributors were out of business, Palmer picked up the slack. Now with the COVID-19, food distributors like Palmer are a lifeline for their regional markets. We are family run business’s that now have superior technology to the national firms.” – Liz Palmer Gibson, VP Sales & Marketing, Palmer FoodService
“Mobility is an important driver for us. Thanks to Acumatica, our employees can connect to the same central system from any site.” – Thibault Riester, President/Founder, Controleplus France
Acumatica 2020 R1: A Significant New Product Release
The Advantage of True Cloud Manufacturing
Common Signs Your Business Management System Can’t Handle Your Needs
Microsoft has just published a great ebook, Beyond the basics Making Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central your business management solution. If you’re thinking about taking your business to the next level of growth and efficiency, you might find the book to be a good resource. It offers a perspective on an issue that we run into quite often with our clients: At some point, a business leader needs to figure out whether she or he wants to keep doing what they’ve always done or ask themselves if it’s time to make a change.
This can be a tricky moment. In a lot of cases, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the way things are going in a business. It could be growing and making money, so why not leave things alone? And, as we see in our practice, sometimes leaving things alone is absolutely the right move! Other times, though, even a seemingly well-run business has room for improvement.
In particular, there can be opportunities to make better use of business software. Modern businesses are recognizing that digitization is essential for competitive strength and profitable operations. In parallel, they’re seeing that the old labels—and implied limitations—on software programs no longer apply. Accounting software is not just accounting software anymore. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, for example, the solution is nothing less than a complete business management platform.
Is it time for a change in how you view and use your accounting software? As the ebook notes, when it comes to your accounting software, there are four basic options: You can do nothing, hire more people, find a new solution or expand your tools. Within Dynamics 365 Business Central, you’ll find many opportunities to expand your tools.
Dynamics 365 Business Central comprises a cloud-based, connected solution that combines financial and operational management. It can be the vehicle for making the changes you want to see happen in your business. To understand how this might work, consider the five functional areas of the software:
- Financial Management—Offers full accounting capabilities, including accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliation, fixed asset management and closing statements for months and years.
- Inventory Management—Includes inventory forecasting, inventory control, shipment and distribution management along with returns and cancellations.
- Project Management—Encompasses capacity planning, project budgeting and estimating, job and process costing and resource management.
- Purchasing—Spans procurement, purchase line discounting, purchase order management and vendor management.
- Sales—Starts with quote generation and continues through contact management, sales invoicing and payment processing.
It’s a unified solution. This means you don’t have to toggle back and forth between accounting and other business management systems. The different parts of the solution are integrated. They work together to help you manage your business better. And, they provide the data you need to analyze how you’re doing. Microsoft BI tools also work well with the Dynamics portfolio.
The ebook is definitely worth a look. In the meantime, we can work with you on assessing how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can help you make needed changes in the way your do things in your business. Contact us for a free consultation and demo.
Acquiring Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is usually a major move for a business. Whether you’re upgrading from an older system or buying your first-ever ERP solution, it’s a big deal. ERP will affect how your business runs for the foreseeable future. As such, ERP represents a significant investment. It’s a very wise practice, therefore, to get on top of your true ERP costs at the outset. They’ll be more than just the software’s “sticker price.” The following is a checklist of cost factors to investigate as you make your ERP move. It’s based on a checklist published Acumatica, maker of the renowned cloud ERP solution.
- People—ERP is code, but your people are the ones who will make it work. The work of designing the system, customizing it to unique requirements, devising an implementation scheduling, overseeing the rollout—and more—will all take your managers’ time. They’ll also have to make strategic decisions about how the system will be used. These tasks will consume time that is above and beyond their regular work duties. You may have to budget for overtime work or compensating (“comp time”) vacation days to make up for this extra workload.
- The on-ramp—In an ideal world, you’ll install your new ERP, flip a switch, and voila: everyone’s using the new system and being incredibly productive. This is not how it usually goes, even in the best implementations. You will have to factor in costs of temporary lost productivity as your employees get up to speed on the new ERP. Training costs, too, should be taken into account in this thought process.
- Data—Who owns your business information, especially if it’s sitting on a cloud server? It’s your information, but in some cases, the software supplier has the right to us or even sell it.
- Security and compliance—You may already have this fully budgeted somewhere else, but it’s a good practice to think through any security or compliance workloads that might result from acquisition of a new ERP solution. For example, if you want to implement two-factor authentication for the ERP, someone has to administer that process. This will come at a cost. Compliance audits also might become more expensive if the auditor has to review cloud data storage and the like, e.g. data sovereignty affecting cloud data centers in different countries.
- Work breakdown and schedule—You will almost certainly be working with a software vendor on the implementation and customization of your ERP solution. It’s a good idea to check the details and cost estimates carefully. This includes making sure that everyone understands their respective responsibilities. Vendors may assume that your team will perform certain tasks when you were expecting the vendor to take care of them. Also, does the schedule work? For instance, is it rushed, making it necessary to pay people to work weekends?
Software costs are also not static. What will be the cost to expand seats or upgrade features? Are there hidden bumps in support costs if your business expands geographically? Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should be part of the conversation. It’s useful to understand the cost of an outage. If you have a 4-hour SLA, what will it cost to have your business offline for 4 hours? It might be a minor problem or a disaster. Paying more for a faster SLA might make a lot of sense if that’s the case.
We have extensive experience helping companies work through their total costs for ERP. If you want to speak with us about ERP cost factors, or see a demo of Acumatica cloud ERP, contact us.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a compelling solution for manufacturers. It offers 10 powerful manufacturing features, as highlighted below. Dynamics 365 Business Central also integrates with accounting and finance, giving you a robust overall business management capability. The following are available in the “Premium” edition of the software.
Dynamics 365 Business Central allows you to create production orders and then manage them through the software. You can post consumption and facility output data to production orders you created. The toolset also lets you calculate net requirements. This includes the choice between manual and automatic supply planning tools.
#2—Production Bill of Materials (BOM)
The Bill of Materials (BOM) lists everything you need to produce your order. With Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can create BOMs and add up your standard costs.
#3 BOM Version Management
You may want to put together different versions of a BOM, e.g. when you have two similar versions of the same product. You can save time with Dynamics 365, which allows you to establish different versions of the BOM and related routings.
If your business is engaged in agile manufacturing, this solution helps you manage it in all its details. Dynamics 365 Business Central has a module dedicated to agile manufacturing as well as associated modules for supply and capacity planning.
The Basic Supply Planning module lets you plan your material requirements based on demand. Additional detail can come from the master production scheduling and Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) features found in Dynamics 365 Business Central. It includes automatic Purchase Orders (POs) and production orders along with action messages that help you balance supply and demand.
#6—Sales and Inventory Forecasting
Extension for Sales and Inventory Forecast gives you insights in your potential sales as well as clarity about looming stock-outs. As a Microsoft solution, it includes Cortana Intelligence that integrates historical data. The resulting forecasts drive vendor replenishment requests.
To get optimal results from operations and assets, it’s essential to know how much demand you’re facing. Dynamics 365 Business Central gives you the tools to manage demand forecasting based on sales forecasts. The resulting data makes it possible for the system to plan and set up production and purchase orders that align with the demand forecast and inventory.
Every manufacturing capability is finite. Overloading a resource will create delays. To avoid this, Dynamics 365 Business Central provides finite loading of capacity-constrained resources. This way, you can plan for production in ways that takes capacity constraints into consideration.
#9— Machine Centers
With Dynamics 365 Business Central, a “Machine Center” refers to a piece of equipment and related capacity. Multiple Machine Centers comprise a “Work Center.” The software allows you to manage the capacity of a machine or equivalent production resource. You can then plan and manage multiple Machine Centers on a consolidated basis—factoring in data points like set up times and scrap percentages.
If you want to add capacity elements like Work Centers to your manufacturing process, you can perform this task in Dynamics 365 Business Central. You can also set up routings, view loads and so forth.
If you’re not using ERP for manufacturing, this is a great moment to consider making the move to a modern manufacturing management software solution. We have worked with many manufacturers on the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for manufacturing. To learn how this valuable toolset could benefit your manufacturing business, contact us for a demo and free consultation.