The Reports of Microsoft Dynamics NAV’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
The Reports of Microsoft Dynamics NAV’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated Recently, one of our longtime customers forwarded us the following e-mail. He received this from a partner that sells an ERP product (which will go unnamed) that competes for the same market space as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: “Correct me if I am wrong, but is your finance team currently using Microsoft Dynamics NAV? MS Dynamics NAV 2018 is the final release of that product, meaning customers who now must decide whether to upgrade or wait for the replacement Business Central to be released and implemented. As a result it’s a great time to evaluate other cloud based ERP solutions. Many companies have been making the switch to _____ so they can better manage their business and lower their total cost of ownership.” While it was interesting to see how other organizations are using fear and uncertainty as a marketing tool, rather than focus on the benefits of their own product and their own happy customers, we do feel compelled to address such doubts. Let’s re-visit this marketing e-mail and refute each point: “Dynamics NAV 2018 is the final release of that product, meaning customers who now must decide whether to upgrade or wait for the replacement Business Central to be released and implemented.” This is incorrect. Business Central is the same product and platform as NAV; it is just another version with a name change. “Dynamics NAV” itself is not the original name of the product. The software began its life as “Navision,” and was re-branded to “Dynamics NAV” in 2005, shortly after it was acquired by Microsoft. This latest “Business Central” naming is the exact same type of re-branding initiative, nothing more. While there are parts of Business Central that are different than NAV 2018, these changes represent the normal improvements and enhancements that are made with every release of a product, rather than the introduction of something entirely new. For example, Business Central’s Web Client is now the preferred user interface (although it should be noted that the RoleTailored Client is still available in Business Central, and it looks pretty much the same as the NAV 2018 RoleTailored Client). But this would be just as true if Microsoft had decided to call the product “NAV 2019.” “As a result it’s a great time to evaluate other cloud based ERP solutions. Many companies have been making the switch to _____ so they can better manage their business and lower their total cost of ownership.” Existing NAV users already have a standard upgrade path to Business Central, and their licensing investment remains protected. NAV has always been a stronger and more feature-rich ERP solution than its competitors, and this will continue with Business Central. This latest release, for example, gives us a solution that fully supports SaaS licensing and is 100% cloud-ready, illustrating Microsoft’s commitment to keeping the product current with the latest technologies and business standards. Not only would making a change from a NAV solution to another product be (in our opinion) a downgrade in terms of features and functionality, but it would certainly be more expensive, since it would require re-implementation costs and new software license fees. Conversely, upgrading from NAV to Business Central would have minimal implementation costs and allows for the use of existing licenses. In short, existing Dynamics NAV users have nothing to worry about when it comes to Business Central. The product is not being eliminated or ungraciously entered into the maintenance phase of its lifecycle. To the contrary, new and exciting improvements will continue to be introduced for years to come, regardless of whatever name Microsoft uses for marketing purposes. If the content of the original e-mail is any indication, the only area in which Business Central’s competitors possess a significant advantage is when it comes to creating confusion and uncertainty.
FSIS Proposes Changes to Voluntary Recall Paperwork
The FSIS Requests Approval to Changes Surrounding Voluntary Recall Paperwork In an effort to reduce paperwork, the FSIS has also announced its intent to change the information collection involved in voluntary recalls of meat, poultry, and egg products, specifically as it pertains to its recall effectiveness checks. The currently approved information collection is set to expire on September 30, 2018 if not changed or renewed. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and the Office of Management and Budget regulations, the FSIS estimates these new changes will reduce the paperwork burden on respondents by 2,000 hours. As the government body which verifies that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe for public consumption, the FSIS is responsible for making sure that these items are wholesome, unadulterated, and properly packaged and labeled. If a producer fails in one of these arenas and distributes a product that may be harmful to the public, the FSIS will then request that the producer recall its product. In addition, the FSIS asks that the producer provide them with basic information such as the identity of the product, the reason for recall, and distributor, retail, and shipping information. During a recall, the FSIS will also conduct “recall effectiveness checks” by contacting the retail and consumer level businesses that may have sold the recalled product (if the product has made it this far). The purpose of this communication and resulting paperwork is to ensure that businesses have received notice of the recall, to verify how much of the product they have received, and to confirm they have removed it from their shelves. It is this paperwork that the FSIS wishes to change. Armed with updated information on their recall effectiveness checks (obtained by an information collection assessment), the FSIS estimates that the total paperwork burden on those importers, distributors, and other consumer-level retailers who receive a recalled product is about 1.08 hours per respondent each year. There are an estimated 6,090 respondents, resulting in a total of up to 6,600 hours annually. The FSIS believes its proposed changes will significantly reduce this burden. The details of the information collection assessment are available upon request from FSIS offices, and they are currently accepting feedback to determine if the proposed changes will allow recall effectiveness checks to be performed in the most efficient, accurate, and least burdensome manner possible. The FSIS will also be accepting comments on whether automated, electronic, or other technological collection techniques or information technology would be helpful in minimizing the burden for respondents. If you are a food processor, manufacturer, or distributor and looking for ways to ease the paperwork burdens of your business, take a look at our software solutions that are specially designed for the food industry or contact us today to learn more.
SAP Anywhere is Shutting Down for Good
SAP Anywhere is Shutting Down for Good SAP recently announced that it will be shutting down its cloud-based software suite known as SAP Anywhere. This “front office solution” for small and medium-sized businesses offered clients a bundle of CRM, inventory management, ordering, and customer service tools. SAP Anywhere competed with companies like Salesforce and Netsuite. And it now seems they’ve admitted defeat. German-owned SAP is well known for its presence in the market of big business software solutions. SAP Anywhere was the company’s attempt to dip its toe into the market of smaller businesses worldwide with a user-friendly “all in one service.” Many sources, however, say they saw the writing on the wall long before this “sunset” announcement. In 2017, SAP Anywhere began to turn away new customers in the European market with the explanation that they were trying to focus solely on US and Chinese clients. Users of the “complete front-office software package” said SAP Anywhere fell short simply because the company didn’t understand its customers. Reportedly, SAP support was slow to respond to client requests and the web portal was difficult for non-technical customers (which make up a large portion of the small business market) to use. In short, SAP Anywhere wasn’t a good fit for businesses without a dedicated IT staff. At the end of March and beginning of April, SAP sent out letters to all of its SAP Anywhere customers informing them that their services will be terminated 30 days after receipt of the notice. They will offer refunds for the remaining subscription terms so long as those customers agree to waive any claims against SAP. SAP made the following statement regarding its decision to shut down the software’s services: “… From time to time, we evaluate our current solution portfolio and make changes based on our overall cloud ERP strategy. As such, we have decided to sunset the SAP Anywhere solution. We will be working closely with our customers to help them transition off the product and to find a new SAP solution that best fits their needs.” Despite marketing internationally, it’s estimated that SAP Anywhere had only around 60 customers, half of them thought to be inactive. Once the software suite is shut down, the company doesn’t have many suitable offerings for these customers to jump to, so they’ll likely have to download their data and make the switch to a different company’s software. Thankfully for small and medium-sized businesses who are now in need of a cloud-based, all-in-one software solution, SAP’s exit from this particular market nearly coincides with the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. What this means to these companies is that another big (and experienced) player is making it presence felt in this space.
Microsoft Announces Dynamics 365 Business Central
Microsoft Announces Dynamics 365 Business Central After a long wait, Microsoft has finally announced the newest version of Dynamics 365. Read the article we published on LinkedIn to find out what to expect from this new cloud-based software in terms of functionality, pricing, and what it means for current users of Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018 Has Been Released
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018 Has Been Released As of last Friday, December 1, Dynamics NAV 2018 has been made available for download. The latest version of Dynamics NAV is currently offered in a base worldwide release, as well as localizations for 22 different countries. It can be downloaded here (note that a PartnerSource login is required). NAV 2018 contains a number of application improvements, including: Expanded workspace personalization options. Printing and previews reports directly within NAV. Pre-loaded Excel templates for standard financial statements such as balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and aged accounts payable/receivable. User task creation and assignment. Enhanced Power BI reporting controls. Posting setup improvements. Bulk posting of documents such as orders, invoices, and credit memos. Integration API. For an extensive listing of the new features in NAV 2018, as well as links to other helpful resources, please visit https://community.dynamics.com/nav/b/dynamics365nav/archive/2017/09/17/what-is-new-in-microsoft-dynamics-nav.
Blockchain – an Introduction
Blockchain – an Introduction It doesn’t take more than a casual review of the latest technology news to encounter some sort of reference to blockchain. Called “the first native digital medium for peer to peer value exchange,” blockchain is most widely known as the technology behind the bitcoin, but it carries the potential to completely change the way transactions are performed across a variety of fields and industries around the world. We at Beck Consulting recognize the potential impact of blockchain upon our clients, be they food organizations working with our vertical bcFood solution, or general Microsoft Dynamics NAV users employing one or more of our ISV offerings. If blockchain is new to you, read on as we explain the importance of this new technology, and what it could mean for your organization. What is blockchain? Simple descriptions of blockchain typically involve phrases such as “a decentralized, public database,” which does a good job of adequately summing it up, but requires a bit more explanation. At its foundation, blockchain is a peer-to-peer network to which a transaction, “or block,” is broadcast. All members of the network must then approve the transaction as valid, at which point it is added to a “chain,” that is, a record of all transactions. Once a block is added to the chain, it is permanent and cannot be modified or removed. In this way, there is an enduring record of every transaction that is submitted through the network. And because this activity occurs through a peer-to-peer network, rather than a centralized location, these permanent records are public in nature. What are the benefits of blockchain? To ensure the integrity of the data they contain, blockchain networks are heavily encrypted, and the technology’s fundamental design makes it inherently secure; because the chain exists throughout the network, there is not a centralized point of entry for hackers or data manipulation, significantly reducing the chance for fraud. Blockchain also carries with it the potential to streamline transactions by effectively eliminating the need for middle parties. Throughout history, people have turned to established “trust foundations” such as banks, other financial institutions, and governments to assist in the completion of transactions and activities. Blockchain, with its requirement that every transaction be approved by all members of the network, is essentially built upon a foundation of trust, eliminating the need to involve a third party in the processing of transactions. Where can blockchain be used? Blockchain first gained prominence as the platform that allowed the bitcoin to become a viable form of currency, and to date its biggest influence has been on the financial sector. However, its decentralized design and recording of unalterable, public data brings with it the potential to be beneficial in other fields. Blockchain is still a relatively new technology, and at this point there is no concrete idea of its potential or limitations. Companies such as IBM and Microsoft are in the process of researching and working with blockchain to get an idea of its capabilities, and it is estimated that banks will invest $400 million in the technology by 2019. Governments are also looking at ways to leverage the technology, as illustrated by the state of Delaware’s Delaware Blockchain Initiative, which promotes the use of blockchain as a means to efficiently govern and manage the more than 300,000 companies that are incorporated within the state. How does blockchain impact the food industry? One area in which there is a great deal of excitement over blockchain’s potential impact is that of supply chain operations. It is easy to see how the processing of transactions through a trusted network would help to alleviate the uncertainties and complexities of any supply chain scenario, but the strengths of blockchain lend themselves especially well to food distribution, a tightly-regulated field where full traceability and transparency are of the utmost importance. The potential role of blockchain in the food space is not mere speculation; Walmart has partnered with IBM and Tsinghua University of Beijing in a serious pursuit of this technology to facilitate food tracking throughout its supply chain. As part of a presentation during an investor event last June, the retail leader indicated that its current experimentation with blockchain has reduced “farm to fork” tracking times from days to minutes or even seconds, facilitated more efficient response times in the case of a recall, and produced “very encouraging” results overall. In an article first published by CNBC, Jason Kelley, IBM’s global manager for blockchain services, described the potential of blockchain in supply chain environments: “It allows people to exchange value without knowing the identity of each other necessarily, in a secure way on the back end…On the front end, it’s simplicity, transparency and trust. Think of all the cost, time and often waste that happens in the exchange of value — blockchain rids that from the system.” Is blockchain available to Dynamics users? Like many other high-profile organizations in the tech field, Microsoft acknowledges blockchain’s potential and wants to establish a presence in this growing technology. Although blockchain has many benefits, Microsoft is somewhat wary about the wholesale implementation of standard protocols in the enterprise space. For example, while maximum transparency may be a benefit in purely public environments, there is a need for some level of confidentiality in an enterprise setting. To that end, the company recently launched the Coco Framework. An open-source system designed to facilitate the adoption of blockchain, the Coco Framework seeks to promote the high level of security and decentralization for which the technology is known within a confidential network structure. Conclusion Blockchain is still in its infancy, and it is easy to dismiss it as another “up and coming” unproven technology that will end up going nowhere. But when we consider the inherent strengths of blockchain, along with its adoption by established industry players such as Microsoft, IBM, and Walmart, it appears increasingly likely that this is one technology that will continue to grow and shape the way in which business is transacted. It will be interesting to keep an eye on blockchain, and see the direction it ultimately takes in the near future.
Dynamics NAV Extensions: a Brave New World, or the Beginning of the End?
Dynamics NAV Extensions: a Brave New World, or the Beginning of the End? Introduced in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016, the extensions framework allows for the development of customizations and add-ons that do not involve modification to the standard Dynamics NAV code. This carries with it the potential to complete re-write the way in which organizations approach NAV development in the years to come. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate, and a recently published article at MSDynamicsWorld lays out both sides of the extensions argument. Proponents of extensions argue that, by no longer hooking into standard Dynamics NAV code, extensions will be by necessity written in a manner that promotes quick and easy deployment and upgradeability. Developing solutions to meet the criteria established by extensions will result in standardized offerings that are more cost effective and customer-friendly. On the other side of the debate, critics respond that while extensions may be realistic for smaller, standalone add-ons, larger and more complex software offerings will require some level of integration into the standard code. While standardized options are appropriate for some audiences, they argue, there will still be many users that require more customized solutions. To read the full article, click here (requires a free MSDynamicsWorld membership). What do you think: will extensions usher in a great new chapter in NAV development, or do they represent a turn for the worse?
Navision Classic Client versus Role Tailored Client; Should You Upgrade?
Navision Classic Client versus Role Tailored Client; Should You Upgrade? In preparing for this article I had to do a lot of research on this topic because I had little knowledge of the Classic Client. Microsoft Dynamics NAV was introduced to me after the Role Tailored Client (RTC) was standard to the product. I studied and studied to gain all of the knowledge that I could in order to have the ability to give you the best and latest information so that you could make an informed decision. Then the question came of how to present the information to you without just giving you a lot of facts; something that would be meaningful and helpful to you. I decided to use an example that we all know about, purchasing a new car. As a sales representative my car is one of the most important tools that I have. Recently I had to make the decision to purchase a new car and I was debating if I really wanted to purchase a new car because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to add the monthly expense of a car payment and an increase in my insurance premiums. I thought that I might just hang onto the car that I had because it gets me to where I need to go and there really wasn’t a monthly expense tied to it anymore. Although it didn’t have everything that I might want or need, it worked for now. However, I do depend on the car daily and there is the wear and tear on the car. Over time the car had become more unreliable and needed more and more maintenance and repairs thus more trips to the shop and the repair dollars start adding up. The car also need premium gasoline, a cost that was adding up on a daily basis so I was faced with the option of replacing the car with a newer model that is more up to date and equipped with features that fit my situation today. Five years ago cars weren’t equipped with the same accessories that are available today; technology has changed giving us more and useful accessories. In today’s car the dashboard is full of new features, built in iPhone/iPod plug-ins, voice activated navigation systems, etc., and these are features that can make life easier while bringing my costs down. When driving a car everyday like I do, these features become very important. Let’s say you’re a sales representative as I am and your job is to get from point A to point B and back to point A again at the end of the day. Wouldn’t a built-in, voice activated GPS system be a wonderful thing to have? Not too many years ago I was using a Thomas Guide Map book and if you were in my line of work you had to have several of them because you crossed county lines on a regular basis. Do you remember looking up the name of the street in the index and then being directed to a page number, a row number and a grid position? You then had to navigate yourself from there. Not to mention that you had to purchase these every year because new streets were being added annually. Then there was MapQuest, what an invention! I could actually go to the internet input my starting from and going to locations and print out directions and get there with ease. Then came the Magellan GPS, wow what a change! You could actually find a location by several different methods, by city, by zip or type of business, all of that from wherever you were. No-more finding a computer and looking for a printer, no more carrying several pieces of paper around with me. However, I did need to make sure that you had the Magellan available to you at all times and had it fully charged. Today I can get a car with a GPS in it. You have a built in screen located in sight and a voice that directs you on how to get to where you are going to how to get back; all of this at your fingertips, no clunky books, no extra parts to carry, the dash board of your new car has all of this equipment built in for you. You might be asking what all of this has to do with your business software. Well the new GPS is the Role Tailored Client. You can access many pieces of data from one screen. You don’t have to have stacks of printed data, reports and you don’t need to go outside of the program and into another program, Excel, Word, Outlook, to obtain information; you can do it right from your personalized desktop. You get to choose the information that you need when you need it. You have the ability to access multiple documents, pieces of information and reports all from one screen. You have the ability to see how many emails you have waiting for you, any important notifications or request that need attention. All of these changes can be made on an individual basis without our help. You get to choose how you want to view the information that you need. If you are using the Classic Client, it is like using the Thomas Guide; you need to navigate to the right page, the right card to get the information that you need. If you make a change on a page or card, the change is for everyone and this generally requires coding or customization. The Classic Client is based on a traditional two tier concept, and the new client is based on a three tier concept. The two tier concept has two elements: the client and the database server. The three tier concept has an application server between the database and the client. The role tailored client is a .NET application and introduces many new features to the NAV experience including a Role Center page that displays stacks of documents representing the number of items that need to be handled such as open sales orders, detailed customer information, payment status, a notepad and much more. The Role Tailored Client makes finding information faster and easier. For example to search for all open sales orders in the classic client you must go through approximately eight steps, however in the Role Tailored Client there is just one step; you are one click away from the information that you need. In order to obtain information about a customer in the Classic Client requires six steps and the Role Tailored Client takes only one step. It is not possible to send NOTIFICATIONS from the Custom Client, if you don’t have a customized program like bcNotifications, but in the Role Tailored Client you can send and receive notifications from your personalized home screen. The bottom line is that the Role Tailored Client gives you the information that you need most often with just a click; this saves you time and money. The Role Tailored client can be run from a remote location over a VPN. The Classic Client needs to have Citrix or Terminal Services to be run from a remote location. Moving to the Role Tailored Client eliminates the costs of purchasing and maintaining license fees of Citrix or Terminals Services Software. The Role Tailored Client helps you by lowering IT costs, gives you more “out of the box” functionality, less customization, better integration into other software, tighter integration to information in your company and more user productivity. Only you can decide if the time to upgrade your business software to the next level is right for you and your organization. I did decide to purchase the new car and it was well worth it. I have everything that I need at my fingertips. If you are interested in taking a closer look at what is available to you, please call us. We are happy to discuss what options are available to you and to assist you in developing a timeline and a plan for taking your business system to the next level.
Food Processing Software vs. Food Manufacturing Software
Food Processing Software vs. Food Manufacturing Software When we tell people we work with food manufacturers, we are often asked if we have software for “food processing”. Conversely, if we tell people we provide food processing software, we are asked if we also work with “food manufacturing software”. So what’s the difference? Not much. First we should define what we mean by “processing” and “manufacturing”. Processing generally refers to what we call “first level” manufacturing. Processors typically take a raw product from the field, and turn it into an ingredient useable by a “second level” manufacturer. Turning raw tomatoes into tomato paste, for example, and packaging it in containers that are easily sold and distributed for a variety of uses is typically done by a processor. The manufacturer on the other hand purchases the paste and uses it as an ingredient in a more complex product, such as spaghetti sauce, or any number of products that require tomato paste. Both processors and manufacturers add value to the product. Processors are generally concerned about: Food safety & traceability Cost of processing (availability of primary ingredient/commodities, fluctuating market costs) Regulatory compliance Sales Profitability Manufacturers on the other hand are generally concerned about: Food safety & traceability Cost of production (generally available ingredients, fixed costs) Regulatory compliance Sales Profitability As you can see, there is not much difference. Cost of processing and production includes labor, materials used in the process or manufacture, other ingredients, packaging, transportation and other regulated costs, and labeling. Emphasis and priority is placed on any one of the costs based on product, market, and other pressures, including corporate marketing strategies (i.e., low cost leader vs. segment innovator). This is important because this is where we find the differences – not in the business requirements, but in how each type of organization implements the functionality. Let’s be clear. In manufacturing jargon, “processing” has a very distinct meaning. Process manufacturing involves ingredients and formulas that are often made in a batch. Once produced, these products cannot be disassembled – think of beer for example. Process’s cousin, discrete manufacturing, involves bills of material and routing. Discrete products can often be disassembled, but not always, back to their raw materials – think of a boxed rice mix designed for the consumer. If you are a “process” manufacturer, you have unique needs over discrete manufacturing and you should be clear about the differences (which are the subject of upcoming articles). bcFood with Microsoft Dynamics or NAV has the functionality to provide a great solution for first level processors as well as second level manufacturers, for both process and discrete products. Foremost, given the current regulatory environment, is its ability for complete product traceability from the source, through production and final shipment which not only provides peace of mind, but documentation and country of origin labeling as well. Production capabilities provide for both process and discrete manufacturing disciplines so mixed-mode manufacturers no longer have to choose one over the other. And finally, margins and profitability are not left to chance. There are several means throughout the system, and especially in the production and logistics management modules to capture and report costs accurately. There aren’t many differences between food processors and manufacturers from the standpoint of an ERP provider. What’s important is that the business priorities are well defined and the provider take the time to understand them. A great solution will work for both.