Microsoft Dynamics 365 and what it can do for your business

There has been a lot of noise in the news lately about Microsoft Office 365 and the cloud but how does this impact you and your business and why should you be planning for the future direction of the business software industry?

First of all Microsoft has made it clear that they are putting their money behind software solutions that operate in the cloud, are device independent (can be accessed via a web browser, mobile device or tablet) and can remove the need for on-site hardware and management. The operating system market is not an area of growth for them.

Second, Microsoft for Operations is the beginning of the total end to end solution that incorporates the Enterprise business operations and transaction flows into the cloud in addition to the already present Microsoft CRM which is integrated with Outlook.

Third, why not leverage the Microsoft Stack and all the products that are built to integrate and exchange data. After all, most business users use Office – Outlook (And Exchange), Word, Access and Excel. Many people use SharePoint for storage of documents and knowledge sharing as well as Lync for communication. The purchase of Linked In and other Sales and Marketing Solutions by Microsoft is proof of the commitment towards creating a complete business solution.

A big advantage of this is no more upgrades and that everyone is running essentially the same version of the software which makes for easier resolution of issues and rapid deployment and training. The only issue is if you have custom software and need your own a private cloud for only your “slice” there will be a higher rental cost.

What you gain is less overhead and management, better security, easier deployment of applications to users, better integration that allows you to work from anywhere (which can be a great way to remove any risk associated with a local site disaster)

Even if you dip your toes with certain standalone applications such as Dynamics CRM 365 for Sales, Marketing or Customer Service, they are all administered and configured via a common portal. Adding applications is a simple purchase and check out procedure and there are a variety of add-ons and accelerators that allow for easy setup and configuration of a solution that has you up and working in much less time with significantly less implementation costs.

If you haven’t looked at the cloud or want to know more we can help you navigate this new world and help you plan and make good solid business decisions on what is best for your business. Just ask us.

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Microsoft CRM 2013 – Get More Customers. Keep More Customers and Make More Money!

Attracting, winning, and retaining customers is the foundation for success. Thriving businesses find new and innovative channels to attract prospects, execute sales processes to win deals faster, and deliver world-class customer experiences to maximize customer loyalty.

Learn about the Microsoft Dynamics CRM vision.

Join us for Breakfast, Networking and a Workshop on this new and exciting business tool to help you

Get More Customers, Keep More Customers and Make More Money!

If you currently use Microsoft CRM or are thinking about it or just thinking about getting your marketing, sales and service in order this workshop will give you tools, tricks and tips to immediately start building a sales machine.

You will leave with everything you need to know to get started, upgrade or learn new advanced features with Microsoft CRM 2013. It will also be a great networking event and an opportunity to see how other businesses are successfully using this technology!

WHEN: Tuesday December 10th, 2013, Breakfast & Networking begin at 8:00 AM. Session starts 8:30 AM

WHERE: Microsoft 

Great Valley Corporate Center

45 Liberty Blvd., Suite 210
Malvern, PA 19355
Phone: (610) 240-7000
Fax: (610) 240-7111

See map and/or driving directions

You can sign up here:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 ~ Live Test Drive Philly!

Want to learn more:

Short Video on Microsoft Dynamics 2013 User Experience Overview

CRM 2013 Application and User Interface New Features Guide

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The New Microsoft CRM 2013

So its finally here! The new release of Microsoft CRM 2013. Microsoft has finally moved toward the mobile world in a good way and has removed the old method of opening windows in favor of the new tile drop down approach which greatly improves the real estate that can be used.  Here are some great resources to help get up to speed:

What’s new in the Microsoft CRM 2013 –  eBook-Whats-changed-in-CRM-2013

Application and User Interface – new Features – 41053_CRM2013_M01_App

This will give you an idea of what has changed as well as the new features!

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Discrete vs. Process Manufacturing – What’s the difference?

Discrete vs. process manufacturing –What’s the difference?

By Brad Tornberg, E3 Consulting Partners, LLC.

Many times when I visit a new Manufacturing Software prospect I see the “square peg in the round hole” syndrome at its finest. Typically if they are a process manufacturing company many times they will be using a discrete software solution for their inventory, production and accounting that just doesn’t fit a process manufacturing company. When we start to discuss some of the differences it quickly becomes apparent that many do not understand that many exist. Process manufacturing is the branch of manufacturing that is associated with formulas and manufacturing recipes, and can be contrasted with discrete manufacturing, which is concerned with bills of material and routing

For example – A process manufacturer typically has a formula that produces a product which can then be added into various packaging sizes and may even be used in other formulations (intermediates). The product itself can be produced and sized depending on the available production capacity of the work center and the number and size of the machines and labor being utilized. It can have variances in yield and loss issues due to how the product is produced (its recipe).

Process manufacturing usually has issues not typically seen with Discrete. Lab Analysis and Physical Characteristics are recorded (Lab Book) , Quality Control and monitoring is performed at many levels, Lot control, recall and traceability, formulation management, approval and historical comparison, by products, co products and compliance reporting issues (MSDS, FDA, USDA, etc.)

“In discrete manufacturing it varies from Process Manufacturing. In discrete manufacturing, the manufacturing floor works off orders to build something. Examples include toys, medical equipment, computers and cars. The resulting products are easily identifiable. In process manufacturing, the products are undifferentiated, for example oil, natural gas and salt.”

“Discrete manufacturing is often characterized by individual or separate unit production. Units can be produced in low volume with very high complexity or high volumes of low complexity. Low volume/high complexity production results in the need for an extremely flexible manufacturing system that can improve quality and time-to-market speed while cutting costs. High volume/low complexity production puts high premiums on inventory controls, lead times and reducing or limiting materials costs and waste.”

“The simplest and easiest way to grasp the definition of process manufacturing is to recognize that, once an output is produced by this process, it cannot be distilled back to its basic components. In other words, “once you put it together, you cannot take it apart”. A can of soda cannot be returned to its basic components such as carbonated water, citric acid, potassium benzoate, aspartame, and other ingredients. Juice cannot be put back into an orange. A plastic card manufactured cannot be returned to its basic components like PVR sheets, transparent sheets. A car or computer, on the other hand, can be disassembled and its components, to a large extent, returned to stock. Process manufacturing is common in the food, beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, consumer packaged goods, and biotechnology industries. In process manufacturing, the relevant factors are ingredients, not parts; formulas, not bill of materials; and bulk, not individual units”

The bottom line here is that there clearly are differences in types of manufacturing and understanding your particular requirements and needs to run your manufacturing business is the most critical thing you can understand prior to selecting a  new software solution for your process manufacturing business.

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Marketing Trends in 2013

By Brad Tornberg

As we come to the end of 2012 its time to look forward and identify some of the top trends that will dominate the landscape in the upcoming new year.

1)     Mobile marketing will surpass desktop marketing – 2012 will see the number of connected mobile users surpass the traditional desktop/laptop community. Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are no longer fad or fancy but are the tool of choice for most users looking to buy new or upgrade. This move towards mobile means that marketing methods and campaigns must be optimized for the mobile user. The messages we send should be mobile friendly and be very minimal to get the message across without needing the real estate to do so.

2)     Localization – If mobile is big then localization takes on key importance. The timing of a mobile pop up within the distance of a bricks and mortar establishment or being able to suggest within a reasonable distance a personalized message that will attract someone to a location based on their likes and preferences will become a major marketing initiative for many national companies looking to personalize their message to a local market.

3)     Visual is the new social phenomenon – We see this with Pinterest and Instagram. People prefer visual and it takes less time. After all social media speeds transactions and people want it faster and be able to “browse” is a major reason why people go to stores to begin with. Take this method and apply it towards business models and the future serves up a model for monetization of this medium.

4)     Integration and Simplicity – The tools are finally here! So how do they all work together? Businesses want a single transaction flow where possible in their lead and conversion cycle. They want to manage their marketing efforts from a single location. With the tools and options come the complexity of setup, use and monitoring. Businesses will continue to use and grow tools such as HubSpot, HootSuite, etc. to manage all of their endeavors.

5)     Listening and Filtering – This area will continue to grow as the social networks continue to expand. The noise will become louder and the challenge is to listen to only those things that are critical and important to you and your business. This will become a key marketing differentiator in being able to predict what the trends are and what customer’s pain is. Adding a personalization layer that reflects your company’s preferences will be a key tool/service offering in the upcoming year.

6)     Trust and Referral – A bigger push towards the use of video to help close business will continue since trust and referral come from the mouth of others. Video itself is a growing part of most businesses marketing strategies and will continue to grow. Areas such as referral marketing, testimonials, body of content value, relevance and reuse and repackaging will continue to grow exponentially.

7)     Recognition – That on line and traditional marketing must fuse and work together to be successful in Marketing. Creating on line campaigns to drive off line behavior is growing and companies are recognizing the important of the traditional marketing methods combined with the social media marketing can yield profitable results.

The upcoming year promises to see the up to now separation of marketing methods (on and off line) start to come synergize together as a single cohesive strategy and solution set. The trend favors a consolidation of tools with the end game being packaged solutions that combine and consolidate best of breed market solutions making today’s marketing methods more understandable and manageable for businesses. What do you think?

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Are you a manufacturing business that needs help?

Are you a manufacturing business that…

Needs better information? Would like to improve operational efficiencies and reduce expenses? Could use more customers? Could benefit from mobile device access to information? Is dealing with shrinking profit margins? Has rising supplier costs and offshore competition?

The right management systems can transform a busy Manufacturing company. The ability to streamline your operation will save you both time and money. Are you taking advantage of the latest technology in the operation of the company? Are you using the latest mobile devices to access your data remotely? Do you want to take advantage of Cloud technology to reduce your IT expenses? Are you using Social Media to expand your customer base or communicate more effectively with your current customers? Is your website attracting the right customers?

Let us do a no cost comprehensive review of your operation to help you answer these questions. We have all the latest tools at our disposal to help you make the important decisions affecting your day-to-day manufacturing operation.

Call us today!!! (732) 735-6429 or ACT NOW!!!!

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Small Business ERP Implementation Projects – Is the cloud the best bet for me?

By Brad Tornberg

Everyone today feels the cloud is the way to go. It’s the greatest love of the technologists and developers. No systems overhead, no IT issues, no problems! Picture the blue water and the little island paradise with just a row boat on it. It’s as real as that – but not really.

Sure you have no on site network or hardware to deal with but you also give up a little bit and even a little more if you are a manufacturer.

First, ERP is an application that requires expertise in terms of support and in terms of implementation. Most hosting companies are interested in the transaction and not necessarily how you use the connection as long as you are paying for it. Buyer beware, technical support may not be an offering for your application you may still need it though the vendor.

Service interruption while not common is another issue. You are only as strong as your weakest link and your internet connection becomes that link. Are you willing to bet on it? Good question to ask. Sure you can buy redundancy but now all of a sudden the costs start to creep up and oh yeah by the way they occur every month as long as you want to use their system. At some point there is a cross over where the cloud loses its cost advantages so make sure you are aware of this. Make sure they have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that guarantees uptime and availability

Control and Flexibility is important to me as a small business owner. I like to work with my data and use it in many different ways and applications. I sometimes like to just add things and then remove them and having someone else manage this slows me down. Another problem is being reliant on the vendor for changes to your environment.

The biggest challenge I see at least for the short term is the lack of built out functionality in the “cloud” applications. Traditional on premise solutions have been around for 20 – 30 years and have a head start in terms of features and functions so make sure the functions that are needed for your business are actually present in the cloud solution. Many times I have seen some basic functions missing from the new cloud based applications.

The cloud makes sense if you can’t support it internally, have limited funds for the project startup (remember at some point you may be paying more over a longer period of time hence there is a crossover point that you should always be aware of), are concerned about your data or just don’t have the time or wherewithal to deal with it.

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