What CEOs are looking for in ERP systems

While it may seem that chief executive officers are the boss and report to no one, in reality, they probably have more stakeholders to report to than anyone else including meeting the needs of employees, customers, investors, communities, and regulatory requirements.  As the CEO of a mid-size or smaller organization, you probably have a significant ownership stake in the company.  You’re responsible for creating, communicating, and implementing vision and direction.  You need information to set and continually evaluate the organization’s strategy.  The CEO is the leader for all other executive leaders.

In order to be effective you need to intimately understand the pulse of the company without actually being involved in the hands-on operations.  You need accurate, real-time information to quickly evaluate whether your strategy is succeeding and whether adjustments need to be made.

Microsoft Dynamics® NAV helps chief executive officers gain significant competitive advantages and operational efficiencies. It provides a system that can be quickly adapted to meet unique needs as well as provide key real-time operational data to capitalize on opportunities and exceed customer requirements.

Some of the more unique features available in Microsoft Dynamics NAV for you, the chief executive officer, include:

  • Real-Time Operations and Financial Data – Your information is as up-to-date as the last posted transaction. This allows operational and financial decisions to be made using current data, which can easily be displayed in a dashboard format using a number of different products.
  • A Comprehensive System – The extensive functionality available within Microsoft Dynamics NAV allows a company to meet its needs right through from marketing through to receipt of customer payments.
  • Accessibility of Information – All information is immediately available from a summary report level down to the detailed transactions underlying the report.
  • A Completely Integrated System – Never again will precious resources and time be wasted on trying to integrate a variety of third-party systems. Information is immediately available to all users. System upgrades become much simpler.  Enter data once and utilize it in many places
  • Configuration to Fit Best Business Practices – The system can be installed as an off-the-shelf system or be configured to fit best practices available for your organization.
  • Low Total Cost of Ownership – Microsoft Dynamics NAV is priced as a mid-market package and saves significant amounts in the cost of the software, the initial implementation and the ongoing software assurance program. Dynamics NAV typically implements for a fraction of the cost of a Tier One solution such as SAP or Oracle and offers comparable functionality and performance. PMP-certified project management activities for Dynamics NAV projects typically results in projects that are on time, on budget, on spec.
  • Guaranteed Software Investment From Microsoft – As the fastest selling Enterprise Resources Planning application from Microsoft, Microsoft Dynamics NAV continues to be enhanced with an annual release cycle. As long as a customer remains current on their annual software enhancement program, Microsoft guarantees a free software license upgrade to any new technology released in the future.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is the most popular mid-market ERP software system in use by over 100,000 customers worldwide. The product provides fully integrated modular solutions for supply chain management, financials, human resources, payroll, job cost, manufacturing, fixed assets, equipment rentals, customer relationship management and service management.

Document Capture in Microsoft Dynamics NAV with Continia Document Capture

Webinar Series: Getting the Most out of Dynamics NAV

Join us on September 23 as we present Continia Document Capture for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Continia Document Capture is a comprehensive solution for Dynamics NAV for the scanning of invoices and other documents. The solution offers automatic registration of documents, OCR data extraction, an advanced approval flow, and a full-text searchable digital archive and everything is processed directly in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. With Document Capture, invoices and other documents are analyzed and data is read from the scanned image automatically.

Here are some of the key features:

- Use predefined templates or create new templates on the fly to pull all the data into the correct fields
- Work with a scanner or extract data from a PDF document
- Approvers will receive an email notification when an invoice requires their attention.
- Process up to 10,000 documents a month with a standard license
- Match purchase invoices with existing purchase orders
- Access original document with a digital archive

See an overview and features of Continia Document Capture and register for our webinar.

Please join us:

Date: Tuesday, September 23
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 am MST
Register Now

What you need to know about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

Many organizations are asking how the new Anti-Spam legislation will affect their current marketing and sales programs. The Anti-Spam law affecting commercial electronic messages is coming into effect on Canada Day, July 1, 2014 and the consequences of violating the terms have penalties ranging from maximums of $1 million per violation for individuals and $10 million for organizations. Not only are the fines intimidating, directors and officers of your organization can also be held liable. Needless to say, it’s pretty important that your organization understands the restrictions applying to any electronic message.

The Anti-Spam legislation applies to a commercial electronic message, which is defined as any message send to an electronic address that is meant to encourage the recipient to participate in commercial activity. These messages include SMS messages and emails and even some via social media that promote a product or service and encourages purchase or buy-in.

The legislation doesn’t necessary stop organizations from sending marketing emails to their existing clients or new contacts, but there are some restrictions.

There are three important elements outlined by the legislation you must have when sending marketing or sales emails:

1. Have your obtained express consent either verbally or in writing?
2. Are you providing your identification information in each message (name, organization, and address)?
3. Do your communications include an unsubscribe mechanism?

It is not good enough to know this information, you must be able to prove it if needed. The Compliance and Enforcement Information Bulletin CRTC 2012-548 has some helpful tips in proving express consent. Those suggestions include recording key pieces of data including how and when consent was obtained.

Complications arise for organizations with databases of existing contacts that they may or may not have express consent data for. You may have a contact list that has individuals or organizations who have given you implied consent to email them. Implied consent can mean you met them at a tradeshow and you added them to your marketing list because they didn’t say they didn’t want to be emailed.

How can you convert implied consent contacts to express consent contacts

The first step is ensuring you have a system in place that can provide email tracking and unsubscribe options. Relying on anything but a professional solution, such as Constant Contact or ClickDimensions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, will make it almost impossible to track unsubscribe requests and other data. Check all of your email templates to ensure a contact name, address, and organization is included in each outgoing message. Most importantly, there must be an option to unsubscribe from your email communications.

Send out an email to your implied contact list and ask them to confirm their subscription preferences. Note: a pre-checked box does not count as gathering express consent; the contact must select the box.

It is important to know that there is a three-year grace period beginning July 1, 2014 that allows you to continue to send messages to your implied list as long as they don’t unsubscribe during that time and you continue to email them. This grace period is designed to give you time to convert your implied consent list to express consent contacts.

We know that this is a big topic and we hope we’ve shed some light on it for you.

Disclaimer: Although we have made every effort to present accurate data here in this article, we encourage you to read up on this topic for yourself. Visit these sites for more detailed information: Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and Compliance and Enforcement Information Bulletin CRTC 2012-548

By Malcolm Roach, CEO of Open Door Technology

Open Door Technology Expands Rental Software Reseller Program

Open Door Technology has signed a tenth Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner to resell Open Door Rental Software across Canada and the United States.

Open Door Technology is pleased to announce the addition of a tenth partner in their rental management software reseller program. Their rental software package Open Door Rental Software is built in the highly regarded Microsoft Dynamics NAV system, which remains the most popular mid-market ERP platform in the world.

“Our company is highly committed to the reseller channel because we recognize the advantages of working with strong partners who can provide personalized service in a local market,” said Malcolm Roach, CEO of Open Door Technology.

Open Door Technology offers two levels of partner support in their reseller program. One level accommodates those partners who are not heavily invested in the rental industry and the second for those partners who want to focus on the rental industry. The Open Door team can provide their resellers with whatever level of expertise is required for the project including the implementation of the rental software itself. The reseller retains the customer and is the first point of contact in all cases.

“The equipment rental industry is one of the few markets targeted for double-digit annual growth. We continue to see strong pipeline activity in many markets from construction, medical, electronics, and energy,” said Larry Miller, Business Development Manager of Open Door Technology.

“Open Door’s Rental Management Software provides our partners a unique offering that truly differentiates themselves in a competitive landscape,” according to Mr. Miller.

Call on the expert team at Open Door Technology to learn more about Open Door Rental Software or visit www.opendoorrentalsoftware.com.

Bio: Open Door Technology has more than 12 years of experience in delivering solutions to the rental industry. Their solutions take advantage of all the latest technology and can be installed out of the box or customized to an organization’s specifications to provide further competitive advantages in the rental industry. Each installation is delivered with expertise, honesty, and the promise of on-time and exceptional customer service.

Compare Cost of Cloud for ERP vs. In-house

Some claim that the Cloud for ERP software is the cheapest option. Many organizations have embraced the Cloud under this premise, but many critics say the Cloud is more expensive, especially long-term, and an in-house system is the most economical. Both groups are right in that sometimes the Cloud is the best option and other times it isn’t. When evaluating the Cloud for ERP, all the underlying circumstances must be considered to make the correct choice.

Cloud computing makes more sense than purchasing in-house software licenses for start-up organizations, seasonal businesses, and organizations with minimal IT investment through choice or lack of capital. Upgrades in Cloud computing are also cheaper than traditional upgrades.

Start-up companies can utilize Cloud computing to minimize upfront hardware and software investment by paying for software licenses on a per user (usually monthly) basis. Not having to purchase the software and hardware upfront means that a small organization can gain access to sophisticated software without having their own computer server.

For some organizations, the monthly payments that never go away can seem very expensive after a few years. It’s important to know that on average, monthly payments for Cloud services over two to three years will be the same amount as if the system were purchased upfront for in-house installation. However, as already mentioned, start-up companies stand to gain the most from the Cloud model as the initial investment into computer hardware and software can be daunting when first starting out.

Seasonal organizations can grow and scale back in size and the Cloud model allows user licenses to be added or dropped as needed. The overall cost of the monthly software licenses is reduced as they only pay for what they need at that time and avoiding having to purchase licenses for the maximum number of possible users.

If an organization does not want to build a professional IT support group in-house, the Cloud model makes a lot of sense. The IT staff and resources at the Cloud service centers will often far exceed the quality of firewall protection, software patching, and backup services provided by in-house resources. In addition, the Cloud service offers more integration to other business software such as Microsoft Office or SharePoint.

Future upgrades are an important consideration for organizations considering the Cloud. Upgrades to ERP databases can be very expensive, whereas upgrades on the Cloud can be cheaper because the software vendor completes the work in the background with organizational data being easy transitioned. It is important to realize that processing upgrades on the Cloud may severely restrict an organization’s ability to configure or customize the system to meet specific requirements.

In some circumstances, Cloud computing is more expensive and not advisable. If an organization is committed to having a highly professional in-house IT group and abundant server resources and this situation is likely to continue, the cost advantages of Cloud computing seem less clear.

There can also be technology or security reasons why your ERP database should be in-house and Cloud computing is not a viable option. Many organizations are still uncomfortable about having physical access to their data outside their control. In some cases, organizations operate in an environment without reliable Internet access, which eliminates the ability to work with remote databases. We have also worked with organizations who by law cannot have their data reside outside of Canada and some data service providers include locations in the United States.

An organization can compromise when deciding between the Cloud and in-house by choosing both when needed. We have seen organizations in a rapid start-up mode sign up for Cloud licenses so they can quickly scale up without needing to make additional capital or people investments and then purchase in-house software licenses when stabilized or the investment funds become available.

Overall, there are many factors in play and they are usually unique to each organization so be sure to evaluate your short and long terms goals when choosing between Cloud services or in-house.

By Malcolm Roach, CEO of Open Door Technology, Microsoft Dynamics NAV Partner

Dynamics NAV and Jet Reports Training Videos Now Available Online

Open Door Technology has launched an online training program for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 users. The program allows organizations to purchase subscriptions for playlists of video training on a variety of topics that can be viewed and reviewed on-demand. These purchased subscriptions are on a per-user basis and are geared towards new and existing Dynamics NAV users.

“We are excited about offering on-demand videos, because it allows us to provide more value to organizations utilizing Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 who are looking for convenient and quality training for new staff hires and current users,” said Malcolm Roach, CEO of Open Door Technology.

“The response to our training videos so far has been tremendous. Organizations appreciate the opportunity to get the training they require, when they want it, and have the ability to review it again, if needed,” said Christian Roach, Account Manager of Open Door Technology.

New topics and videos are continually being added with the two current playlists being Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 and Jet Reports general training.

The Dynamics NAV 2013 playlist has launched with a free introduction training video that gives viewers a general overview of the system. More topics will be added soon, including Financials Essentials, Financial Advanced, Application Setup, Fixed Assets, Trade, Advanced Inventory, and Assembly.

The Jet Reports playlist includes Jet Reports Essentials training for new users to Jet Reports for Dynamics NAV 2013. The videos are divided into two sessions and are equivalent to two half-day training sessions. Videos for advanced Jet Reports users and designers are coming soon.

All training videos can be accessed on Open Door Technology’s website at www.opendoor.ca/dynamics-training.

Watch the first video now.

By Malcolm Roach of Open Door Technology

How to Get Started Using RapidStart for Dynamics NAV 2013

Please join us on Thursday, July 3 as we present some of the many features and uses of RapidStart Services (formerly Rapid Implementation Methodology) for existing Dynamics NAV users. RapidStart Services may be considered an integral tool for implementing Dynamics NAV 2013 and NAV 2013 R2, but it can be used further to enhance user productivity by automating and simplifying recurring tasks.

RapidStart can help Dynamics 2013 (and 2013 R2) users to import data, create templates, create new records such as customers, as well as create new companies from a generic shell company setup. Christian Roach, of Open Door Technology, will be explaining how to use data templates for setting up master records such as customers, vendors, and items. He will also show how to import data journals with shortcut dimensions.

RapidStart Services allows users of Dynamics NAV 2013 to take control of importing their own data and refining their data in-house.

Attend this webinar and take charge of your system and get the knowledge you need to get started with RapidStart Services for Dynamics NAV.

Please join us:

Date: Thursday, July 3
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 am MST
Register Now

The Difference between Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, and GP

Figuring out Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software systems can be confusing, especially if you dive into the process without clear objectives. Add to it the fact that Microsoft offers three of the leading systems – and with similar names – and it all becomes even more puzzling. The question is: how do you choose the best software to fit your organization? One thing to keep in mind is that different companies use different systems to meet their unique needs. Which brings us back to the importance of having clear objectives and fully understanding the needs of your company.

Microsoft Dynamics ERP

Microsoft has chosen a common brand, Dynamics, for five very different products, four of which are ERP systems for mid-market and up organizations – Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, and Dynamics SL (previously called Axapta, Great Plains, Navision, and Solomon).

Over the years, Microsoft has invested over one billion dollars in research and development of these four ERP products, especially into Dynamics AX; their goal was to make the product more high end and competitive when compared to SAP and Oracle.
In general, these products have represented much that is good in the world of ERP systems. They are all great products, of similar interface, and benefit from Microsoft’s extreme commitment to research and development.

Let’s take a look at the history and current performances and specifics of Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, and Dynamics NAV. The development toolkits in the three products are very different and this reflects in the product.

Dynamics GP

Dynamics GP was developed in the late 1980’s using a legacy toolkit that makes it difficult to migrate the product to a newer development platform. Today, Dynamics GP is a solid product with strong and extensive functionality. It is well suited to companies that have financial reporting and light distribution requirements. Its extensive family of third party add-on products brings significant amounts of specialized functionality and utility to the product. In recent years Dynamics GP has moved to a lower category compared to Dynamics NAV or Dynamics AX; this is mostly due to the flexibility of the Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX toolkits and what the development partners and resellers have been able to do with those products. Dynamics GP is very suitable for smaller organizations or those with limited advanced functionality.

Dynamics NAV

Dynamics NAV was released in 1994 and was able to take advantage of the Visual C+ toolkit, which has been upgraded to the latest versions of Visual Studio with .net extensions. Also, Dynamics NAV was able to evolve into a 3-tier environment due to the efficient design of the toolkit, with a web services layer handling the communication between a variety of clients and the SQL Server database. Nowadays, Dynamics NAV plays exclusively in the mid-market and utilizes its three-tier design to scale up to potentially hundreds of concurrent users. The design allows for Windows, web browser, and SharePoint clients, while its flexibility and simplicity enables Dynamics NAV to be rapidly configured or customized to fit unique business requirements. Full access to the source code and development toolkit allows the development partners and resellers to rapidly develop industry-specific solutions. Standard Dynamics NAV offers advanced functionality for distribution, manufacturing, and service management.

Dynamics AX

Dynamics AX was released in 1997 and had an even more up-to-date and flexible toolkit than Dynamics NAV. Microsoft invested significantly into creating this toolkit to be flexible and capable enough to compete with SAP and Oracle. Also, Microsoft has had to rely on configuration and light customization options around the exterior of the product, because of the older design of Dynamics GP. Developers can customize and configure the products since all source codes for Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX are available. Dynamics AX comes with the most flexible toolkit and advanced feature set of the three products. Microsoft has added several industry features into Dynamics AX for professional development, retail, and process manufacturing industries. For those who need advanced functionality – Dynamics AX is the answer. A challenge can be finding capable implementation partners with sufficient staff to carry out the project. The product is much more suited for advanced multi-location and multi-national requirements.

In Summary

In comparing the software, the conclusion reached is that, besides the functionality and ability to customize or configure the products, a major differentiator is the cost of the implementation itself. The cost of the three systems is actually rather comparable; however, there are wide discrepancies in the scale of implementation of services required. Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV have very similar service level requirements with a services-to-software ratio of approximately one to one. Both could be more costly if the customer requires extensive configuration; still, Dynamics NAV can somewhat offset this additional expense through use of a templated process called RapidStart. Dynamics GP, if it matches your requirements, overall offers advanced functionality at a good price. Dynamics AX is similar to SAP and Oracle with services ratios often touching seven to one. Because of its competition, it is forced to play the game of advanced functionality and complexity. Dynamics NAV offers similar functionality at a much lower overall cost and allows the product to be quickly configured to meet the most relevant unique requirements.

Microsoft recently released the 2013 figures for the number of world-wide customers on their Dynamics products. Dynamics NAV is currently in the lead with 102,000 total customers (and over 2,000,000 users), Dynamics GP has 47,000, and Dynamics AX has 19,000.

By Malcolm Roach, CEO of Open Door Technology, Microsoft Dynamics NAV Partner in Calgary, Alberta and Western Canada

Open Door Technology Celebrates 22 Years

By Malcolm Roach, Open Door Technology, established April 1, 1992

Ten years in business is an accomplishment these days.  Over twenty years makes you grateful for an opportunity to do something you really enjoy for so long. Each new software customer is unique and I still find it fascinating after all these years.  The technology has certainly changed but the principles remain the same.  Customers want the best system they can get for their needs and need reliable partners to help them to implement the system and provide support.  The first time I saw Navision, or Microsoft Dynamics NAV as it is now called, I literally fell in love with it and could see so many different ways it could be useful for customers.  I haven’t been disappointed.  We are excited to be leaders in the mid-market space for Dynamics NAV and Dynamics CRM solutions and we owe much of that to these two exciting products from Microsoft and the support of our clients.

A brief timeline of Open Door Technology:

  • 1992: The business starts up as Rapport Microsystems and begins providing ERP software solutions to integrate people, processes, and technology.
  • 1997: The business is renamed Open Door Technology to reflect our desire to promote customer service.
  • 2000: Open Door Technology takes on an exciting ERP product called Navision from Denmark and signs up 15 new clients during the first year.
  • 2000-2001: Open Door Technology grows from 4 staff to 12 staff during the first year of providing Navision.
  • 2002: Navision purchased by Microsoft for 1.45 Billion.  Later renamed to Dynamics NAV.
  • 2014: Open Door Technology celebrates 22 years in business with one of the largest Dynamics NAV customer bases in North America and over 30 contractors and staff members.
  • 2014: Microsoft Dynamics NAV continues to be the most popular Dynamics product with over 100,000 customers world-wide and over 2,000,000 users.

How to get an investment group to buy your business

By Malcolm Roach, Open Door Technology

You may be at a stage in life where you are considering selling your business as an exit strategy from either the professional services business or a product development company.  Many of the businesses we see around us were founded by entrepreneurs and many have grown to a substantial size and valuation.  This creates a number of interesting dynamics when viewed in the context of the movement of the baby boom generation through the demographics in North America.  Not only are individuals hoping to sell businesses for significant returns, there are increasingly fewer entrepreneurs coming up through the ranks and especially ones with the resources to purchase a well-established business.  The same phenomenon is also found in the agriculture industry and the result is that many businesses and farms are being acquired by larger corporations and run by professional managers.  What is important to realize is that individuals need to prepare their businesses to meet an investment group’s expectations of a well-run investment, because that is how they will value your business.

The following are three items that are critical to attracting the maximum valuation for your firm if you are selling out to an investment group.

1. Excellent processes are an absolute must

Many businesses appear to be well run because of micro-management from one or two principals in the firm.  The investment group will wonder what will happen if this person or persons leaves.  The answer is to have well-honed processes that make the owners redundant and something that can be handed over easily to a manager.

2. Invest in your people

You often hear the expression that people are your best assets.  Well trained and happy people will be attractive to the new owners.  Staff who spend their time scrambling and are always behind will have difficulty fitting into a new culture.

3. Develop replicable IP

Investment groups are interested in intellectual property that can be easily scaled up to grow the business and increase profits, whether you are talking about a software product or a replicable service process.  It is this point that has the greatest potential to drive up valuations based on cash flow or gross revenue.  With IP comes the opportunity to value your company based on gross revenue and not just cash flow.

Obviously there may be entrepreneurs willing to buy out your business but with many of them having their eye on their own exit strategy, many potential investors are increasingly looking for bargains to compliment their existing business, not buy large, proven organizations that will take significant effort to integrate.  It would be wise to consider the three principles above as a starting point that will help you position your business or a business unit as an attractive option for an investment group.