Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Microsoft Dynamics AX-GP-NAV-CRM: trends & international recommendations

Microsoft Dynamics project ? or formerly referred as Project Green should unify and modulate all Microsoft Business Solutions ERP applications: Microsoft Great Plains/Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Navision (former Attain) Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft (Navision) Axapta/Microsoft Dynamics AX. 

Microsoft Dynamics project ? or formerly referred as Project Green should unify and modulate all Microsoft Business Solutions ERP applications: Microsoft Great Plains/Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Navision (former Attain) Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft (Navision) Axapta/Microsoft Dynamics AX.  The challenge of unification probably will result in quality change for the unified interface, such as Web/Business portal/Microsoft Outlook & MS Office integration, Deployment of new technologies, such as Microsoft Sharepoint with workflow automation.  Plus the development platform for Microsoft Dynamics products should shift from proprietary tools, such as Microsoft Dexterity, C/SIDE, MorphX (no confirmation for Axapta yet ? but we guess it should follow) to C# and VB.Net with VisualStudio.  In this small article we will try to orient IT managers in Microsoft Business Solutions MRP products selection for international and regional markets.

  • Microsoft Dynamics GP.  The regional markets for Great Plains 9.0 and following Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 version will narrow: United States, United Kingdom, Canada: both English and French speaking, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other English speaking countries in Asia, Africa and Worldwide, plus Spanish Speaking Latin America.  Microsoft Dynamics GP 10 will not be available for Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland ? the last version localized for these European countries will be 9.0 ? June 2006
  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV.  Currently Navision has very good presence in Europe, including East Europe: Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia.  Microsoft also localized Navision for new markets, where it just moved in: Brazil for example ? it was interesting development in Brazil ? first Microsoft probed Solomon, then Microsoft Great Plains 7.5 and in 2004 replaced it with localized Navision
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX.  Microsoft Axapta, opposite to Navision or Great Plains where market shares are gained/divided and competition is based on renovations and product improvements, Axapta has great potential yet to be deployed, coming from its modern and very futuristic system design and architecture.  Being targeted to upper mid-market and corporate clients Axapta shows very good progress on emerging markets: in Russia for example the number of Axapta installation is similar and comparable with the number of Navision installations.  Plus, in 2005 large number of Microsoft Business Solutions gold certified partners rushed into Axapta consulting arena ? this is seen in the USA, UK, Australia and continental Europe.  In Brazil currently MBS in local Portuguese Axapta launching mode ? localized for Brazilian tax code
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Is planned as front CRM solution for the majority of Microsoft Dynamics ERP system: integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP is available for GP 7.5, 8.0, 9.0 and CRM 1.2 and 3.0, Microsoft Navision ? through third party integrations, Axapta integration is planned.  Microsoft has Microsoft CRM as worldwide product, so you should not have any doubts regarding your regional market.
  • Competition. Oracle is on the way with Oracle Fusion project, aiming on Oracle Financials/Applications/E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards and potentially Siebel integration.  SAP with the purchase of new mid and small market ERP: SAP Business One and Mendocino ? for SAP R/3 is catching up

Please do not hesitate to call or email us: USA 1-866-528-0577, 1-630-961-5918 help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com http://www.greatplains.com.mx http://www.enterlogix.com.br ) - Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, Navision, Axapta MS CRM, Oracle Financials and IBM Lotus Domino Partner, serving corporate customers in the following industries: Aerospace & Defense, Medical & Healthcare, Distribution & Logistics, Hospitality, Banking & Finance, Wholesale & Retail, Chemicals, Oil & Gas, Placement & Recruiting, Advertising & Publishing, Textile, Pharmaceutical, Non-Profit, Beverages, Conglomerates, Apparels, Durables, Manufacturing and having locations in multiple states and internationally.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Microsoft Dynamics ERP: GP, AX, NAV, CRM ? which one to select

Being in MRP implementation, customization, integration, data migration/conversion business for many years, we would like to give you some orientation, in the case if you are on the way of ERP selection for your company. 

Being in MRP implementation, customization, integration, data migration/conversion business for many years, we would like to give you some orientation, in the case if you are on the way of ERP selection for your company.  In this small article we will be talking about Microsoft Business Solutions ERP brands only, you can check our future publication to get similar orientation on Oracle and SAP ERP products.

  • ?Legacy? vs. ?Modern? ERP.  It might not be the focusing question, however we?d like you to look at the ERP products from this perspective: Java/EJB Sun Microsystems conception is less then 10 years old, and now Microsoft .Net/C# construction is in the process of getting market from Java.  Similar time test should be given to ERP system ? if the system has legacy architecture ? it might be candidate for replacement or be seriously re-written/renovated.
  • International aspect.  If you think your company is and always be focusing on the US market and will do business with local folks only ? this paragraph might be skipped.  For the rest of us ? and we are in this cohort ? we should watch closes Microsoft Business Solutions international policies.  When Great Plains Software and Navision Software were independent software vendor and being forming their international policies completely independently from one another ? both had intentions to expand to all the world markets: USA, Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa, South and Central America.  Now, when Microsoft sells all former GPS and Navision ERP products ? it can choose one product over the other to promote on the regional market ? simply due to the fact that it has to invest into ERP localization.
  • Microsoft Dynamics GP - Great Plains.  Great Plains Software pioneered in the earlier 1990th with its graphical and DB platform independent product for Mac and Windows: Great Plains Dynamics.  The shell was written on C programming language and was named Great Plains Dexterity.  Currently with Microsoft Dynamics project initiative ? Microsoft renovated Dexterity ? it supports now COM object calls and so XML web services, but it is not pure .net application/shell ? Microsoft is investing in web interfaces for Microsoft Dynamics GP ? Microsoft Business Portal for GP is very good example.  Microsoft Dynamics GP incorporated all the best technologies from Microsoft Office to .Net, but its design was done more then 10 years ago.  Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 is available in English, Latim Americal Spanish and Canadian French, plus German, Dutch and French/France versions will be available for version 9.0 only ? they will not be supported for future version of Dynamics GP.
  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV ? Microsoft Navision - Navision Attain.  Navision Software was established in 1994 and since then it gained European ERP mid-size and portion of USA market, especially for light manufacturing.  Navision success should be attributed to Denmark software development market miracle of earlier 1990th.  Navision went even further into graphical and DB platform independence ? it designed its own database platform ? C/SIDE ? Navision separated SQL coding from the database itself.  Currently MBS promotes Navision on MS SQL Server platform and its database independence is losing its actuality.  Navision was localized by MBS to the majority of East European, South American and other emerging markets ? if you are in Europe, South America, Asia and looking for supported reliable solution on your regional market ? you should look at Navision first.
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX ? Axapta.  Axapta was the newest ERP designed by Navision Software prior to its acquisition by Microsoft.  The architecture is dated at the end of 20th century.  Axapta needed some time for Microsoft to get upper mid-market ground ? traditionally occupied by SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards.  Currently Microsoft is localizing Axapta to Brazilian market ? due in April 2006.  Very good chances are in East and Continental Europe, including UK.  In 2005 US Microsoft Business Solutions regional and nation-wide VARs invested into Axapta consulting practice ? training and certifying consultants, marketing campaign, etc.  Very good chances for Axapta for US mid-market and and upper mid-market clientele and prospects
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 or simply Microsoft CRM 3.0 is promoted by Microsoft Worldwide.  So, do not question it from the international perspective ? you will have integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP, Navision (through third party integration), Axapta ? in progress, plus with IBM Lotus Notes Domino ? via Alba Spectrum Lotus Notes integration.

Please do not hesitate to call or email us: USA 1-866-528-0577, 1-630-961-5918 help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com http://www.greatplains.com.mx http://www.enterlogix.com.br ) - Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, Navision, Axapta MS CRM, Oracle Financials and IBM Lotus Domino Partner, serving corporate customers in the following industries: Aerospace & Defense, Medical & Healthcare, Distribution & Logistics, Hospitality, Banking & Finance, Wholesale & Retail, Chemicals, Oil & Gas, Placement & Recruiting, Advertising & Publishing, Textile, Pharmaceutical, Non-Profit, Beverages, Conglomerates, Apparels, Durables, Manufacturing and having locations in multiple states and internationally.
We are serving USA Nationwide: CA, IL, NY, FL, AZ, CO, TX, WI, WA, MI, MA, MO, LA, NM, MN

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Microsoft CRM in Brazil: implementation, customization, support overview for consultan

We expect substantial number growth of Microsoft CRM implementations across Brazil and the need for Microsoft CRM implementation, support, tuning, reporting, training services, especially in such business metros as So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Manaus. 

Microsoft Business Solutions CRM is present several years on the US software market plus it makes advances in Europe.  We expect substantial number growth of Microsoft CRM implementations across Brazil and the need for Microsoft CRM implementation, support, tuning, reporting, training services, especially in such business metros as So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Manaus.  In this small article we try to project US market lessons on Brazilian business climate.

  • Sales.  Microsoft CRM in opposite to former CRM leaders, such as Siebel, Onyx, Saleslogix doesnt need hard pushing sales efforts.  It also should probably not be sold to the company top management, but rather to IT department enthusiasts, who are in charge for specific legacy business system support and data fixing.  Microsoft CRM is very simple from business logic and intuitively understood by IT group.  It is rather very simplified version of full-featured CRM, such as again Siebel.
  • Installation.  Microsoft CRM should be either hosted or installed by in-house IT group.  And this is due to the fact, that MS CRM utilizes all the resent Microsoft technologies: MS Exchange Server 2003/2000, Active Directory, MS SQL Server, Crystal Reports Enterprise, MS Outlook client, Microsoft IIS, .Net components, etc.  This makes installation sensitive to existing setup of the above components
  • Implementation.  The crucial in the implementation is Workflow design, which should be probably done by consultant with IT in-house specialist.  This process doesnt require a lot of business consulting knowledge and in our experience company middle management actually makes suggestions in the time of initial presentation.  In the case of MS CRM Sales module the workflow should organize leads processing up to the point of closing the deal and following invoicing.  When workflow is realized sales team works as excellent orchestra.
  • Customization.  Usually MS CRM ties together existing legacy business systems and replaces large portion of them.  Typical case if you are freight forwarding client and have cargo tracking system you should more likely have lookup from the MS CRM account screen to the customer current shipments statuses.  This is usually made as small web application, created in Visual Studio.Net with MS CRM SDK and SQL queries to legacy database.
  • Support.  Because MS CRM is web application it can be used by remote users and automate operations across the whole Brazil and even Worldwide.  The same should be said about MS CRM support your Microsoft Business Solutions CRM Partner can support your installation remotely from say office in So Paulo as if it is located across the street.

Good luck implementing, customizing and reports designing and if you have issues or concerns we are here to help!  If you want us to do the job - give us a call in So Paulo: 55-11-3826-3449, 55-113825-2586! help@albaspectrum.com

Author is MS CRM Specialist in Microsoft Business Solutions Partner Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ) Navision, Great Plains, Microsoft CRM customization company, serving client in Brazil, USA, Lisbon, Porto, Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo, Malaga, Seville, Buenos Aires, Mexico and having locations in multiple states and internationally

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Microsoft CRM Integration with Microsoft Retail Management System (RMS) overview

Microsoft Client Relation Management system (Microsoft CRM) and Microsoft RMS are both Microsoft SQL Server based applications, however historically Microsoft was purchasing industry leading software applications, such as QuickSell which is now Microsoft RMS.  So, RMS design fundamentals were minted a long time before Microsoft CRM.  But, still integration between the two is straightforward and what you need is consultant, who is familiar with both systems structures and customization scenarios

Microsoft CRM is currently integrated with Microsoft Great Plains and will be integrated with Microsoft Navision in the close future, RMS integration is not planned to our knowledge, so you should seek third party solutions or create your own integration.  We see the need for such the integration when you sell on account in RMS and have customer support call center automated with Microsoft CRM.  Let us give you highlights:

  • Microsoft CRM custom lookup.  More likely you will nee lookup to your RMS headquarters or store records for the customer transactions from Account screen.  Microsoft CRM allows you to have custom navigation bar on Account screen by clicking on this bar you could call your custom web .Net application, which will call Microsoft RMS database and return you the grid of customer transactions
  • RMS architecture excurse.  Microsoft RMS has Headquarters and Store databases.  The exchange between the two types of databases uses worksheet mechanism.  Most of the transaction types are initiated on the store level and transferred to the Headquarters database (with some global data exception, global customers for example are handled on HQ level and then propagated down to the stores). 
  • Data Inquiry and Update.  The MS RMS architecture suggests you to query primarily Headquarters database and do not change data in HQ database.  If you need to change data on the store level from Microsoft CRM custom screen you should consider placing web service on the SQL Server hardware in the store to deal with the store-initiated transaction
  • Microsoft CRM programming.  Microsoft CRM has MS CRM SDK (Software Development Kit).  This is open source tool, you can download it from Microsoft site and it is description of Microsoft CRM classes and methods with sample codes in C# and VB.Net.  Microsoft technical support encourages you to use Microsoft CRM SDK objects and discourages you from direct SQL server programming.  If you need to query MS CRM database you should create your custom database and place your objects: SQL views and stored procedures there.  Do not place custom object into MS CRM databases
Do your homework in integration and if you have issues or concerns we are here to help! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies USA nationwide Great Plains, Microsoft CRM customization company, serving clients  in Chicago, California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, Arizona, Minnesota, UK, Australia and having locations in multiple states and internationally ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ), he is CMA, Great Plains Certified Master, Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer. You can contact Andrew: andrewk@albaspectrum.com