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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spotlight: Top Reasons Companies Implement an Automated Data Collection Solution

Companies choose ADC because their industry demands it, either by regulation or voluntary standards compliance. With our research we found the top reasons companies choose an ADC solution:

Implement Industry Regulations – think of food and beverage traceability initiatives and Pharmaceutical ePedigree requirements:
  • The recent Food Safety Modernization Act Section 204 is dedicated to enhancing tracking and tracing of food and recordkeeping
  • PTI or the Produce Traceability Initiative is Voluntary. Tracing starts in the field, when the produce is removed from the field and put in the carton.
  • One RF-SMART customer packages produce, they use RF-SMART to capture carton number in the field and throughout their entire process, satisfying the PTI.
  • The ePedigree for pharmaceutical is a record in electronic form containing information regarding each transaction resulting in a change of ownership of the given prescription drug, including returns
  • We have several Pharmaceutical customers coming to us to satisfy the new ePedigree requirements

Empower your Warehouse Team – We all like to be able to make decisions and be accountable, RF-SMART’s ADC will make you workers feel empowered
Reliable Information- Is everyone in your organization able to rely on information they pull from their ERP or do they worry that it is not accurate or timely Capture Metrics – Providing important Key Performance Indicators, such as Inventory Velocity by location and Picking Performance by worker is possible with ADC. Selection of an Automated Data Collection solution must use real time validation, and real time updates to the ERP system. If it is architected with a redundant database no one will know which system to believe. Soon everyone will be second guessing the system.

There is nothing that keeps a CFO awake at night like not knowing if the information they are relying on to make major decisions is valid, accurate and timely. For these reasons RF-SMART is architected to use only the Dynamics AX database so there is a single source of truth. All data resides in the AX database. RF-SMART leverage Dynamics AX business process to provide top-notch warehouse management functionality validating against AX in real-time and all updates occur at the point of the activity.

Touch it once. If I can capture at the point of activity I can trust the input the first time. For Example: Many times we find an as-is process like this: Print the pick list; distribute to the workers in the warehouse; the workers use the paper to find the items and then mark the quantities, batches, serial number, and locations. The paper is turned into the packing/staging station.

Some of you may not have considered Automated Data Collection as a tool that can be used to empower employees but it can do just that. By using RF-SMART workers can be guided through their daily task. An example is to guild a worker through the warehouse to pick sales orders. The worker can be guided, by highest priority, through an optimum route, to pick orders. And since RF-SMART offers real-time validation they will be notified if the data is valid, not only in content but in context. For example, the location is validated as a valid location for the warehouse and then the item is validated not only as a valid item but that it has inventory in the specified location. AX setup such as location blocking, optional dimension settings, batch dispositions, expiry dates etc. will be validate at the moment the worker touches the inventory, stopping the worker before a mistake happens.

Imagine how valuable preventing the use of expired or quarantined inventory for a Food and Beverage manufacturer is! Workers also can make decisions on the spot, because useful information is provided to them while they do their task. They can’t just write down what they have done and the pass the paperwork on, blaming someone else for mistakes. They are totally accountable. And that makes them feel good. They are autonomous!

Workers can review the progress of the transaction they are performing on mobile devices only when they need to, thereby keeping the mobile device screen crisp and clean unless they need to refresh their memory. To allow workers to make informed decisions at the point of activity, almost every field in RF-SMART has a lookup. And best of all, today you can let your workers BYOD (Bring your own device). Now instead of just texting on the smartphone, they could use it to do a quick inventory lookup or maybe you have a warehouse supervisor and a store manager that wants to work on their RF-SMART dashboard from their own device.

That is not a problem; good mobile solutions are not constrained by devices. RF-SMART is ahead of the trend, we are not constrained by device and we have many customers using multiple devices, such as an industrial device in the warehouse and a smartphone for a supervisor.

Now that is empowering a worker!

Reliable information is important and is probably one of the reasons that you have or are implementing AX. Why would you want to have business process that put the integrity of AX information at risk? It is important that your employees, whether in the warehouse or in the boardroom, trust the information they use.

I would like to thank RF-Smart for being such a supporter of the Dynamics Community at large, and further being a sponsor of this blog. That's all for now but check back soon as I continue to add more post around Dynamics AX & BI. Til Next Time!
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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Beyond Dynamics AX with Business Intelligence

I hope everyone is having a blessed day, and you find yourself productive in our Dynamics filled world. May is once again here, and that means we tilt ever so closer towards our solar systems star - in the northern hemisphere that is. That also means planning for summer time vacation, baseball / softball, as well as an assortment of water related activities. The march towards summer begins, and that means the world around us continues to come alive.

With spring in full force, I thought it was time to talk about the needed topic of beyond Dynamics AX with Business Intelligence. Lets face it, more and more projects are being sold & implemented well, that has Microsoft Dynamics AX only acting as an operational ERP element. It's one spoke in the total solution for larger companies. When you have this reality, Dynamics AX is no longer the single data mart from which analytic's & insights are derived from.

As we see from the above image, when Dynamics AX is the data mart in which such BI artifacts solely are crafted around, then you have a very compelling story in which a companies total reporting needs can be told by. This is Sunrise's standard offering for business intelligence needs. That is: Office+SharePoint+SQL Server.

Are focus is expanded however, when the needs of the customer expand. To help facilitate the understanding of when and where this might be the case, let's start by listing a high level set of topics, that in turn will be used to guide into greater business insights for customers. Further, how each of these topics would drive to a more complete or total BI story that is crafted for a customer. All the while, keeping in mind that the tool is the last thing you focus on for a real BI project.

  • Dynamics AX is a spoke, not the hub - Here we have a total solution scenario, where Dynamics AX is an operational ERP element in a customers total solution. This means 2:n possible line-of-business applications that complete an end-to-end solution for a customer. When this is the case, items like real data warehouses, ETL, Master Data Management across the systems, and more must come into the picture. This further means that what tools are best for achieving the ultimate end goal might need to be extended beyond the Office+SharePoint+SQL Server.
  • Security & Exposure beyond the Dynamics AX walls - Here we have a need for an organization that has reporting requirements. These reporting requirements however dictate that there are business insights needed for employees that will not have, nor should not have access to Dynamics AX at all. When this is true, again, then we have directive for something that extends beyond the walled garden of Dynamics AX.
  • Mobile BI across a multitude of platforms - There is a very compelling story that can be told with the BI stack of Office+SharePoint+SQL Server. Mobile is very much apart of this, specifically with the release of Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. However when you want a mobile BI platform, that needs to reach beyond the Microsoft world, in a more native way, then extending beyond the BI stack that comes with Dynamics AX is needed.
  • Abstraction - This last point is more focused around that true executive information system, or dashboard. With the continued improvements being made for Dynamics AX, and those improvements driving more technology and model churn, the need for abstracting away the C & B level executives from such churn is a valid one. Having something that extends beyond the Dynamics AX BI stack, can help abstract out the executive's and their analytical needs. Reality is, these might change some, but not at the rate in which technology, and further Dynamics AX is changing.

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

The above, by far is not a final list but something that hopefully has you thinking in terms of a more complete BI solution. There is hardly ever any truth in we bought (insert product name) now we have BI! Real business intelligence for customers is always about the data first, then reporting need second, and finally the product or products that help delivery on said need last. Take into consideration any of the above points, and you have a more larger requirement - where selecting specific tools first could halt the needed progression that is demanded by the organization.

Over the next several weeks, I will continue to expand upon each of the above topics, and others in how I feel these are best addressed. This includes both the stack that comes with Dynamics AX, and beyond that for a total solution offering.

That's all for this post, I hope you have enjoyed it and your excited to hear more. One final note, I would like to say that I'm honored to have been listed once again this year in the DynamicsWorld Top 100 list. Top 25 again this year! Honestly the amount of work that some of the people put into the ecosystem, that I can be included with amazes me. This community as a whole has grown leaps and bounds over the past 3 years. I can't say enough of how honored I am to be included as part of it. Til Next Time!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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