Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) is a leader in life sciences manufacturing and developing products for the research and diagnostic market. It serves the areas of academic research, biotechnology, clinical diagnostics and pharmaceutical development. IDT synthesizes and ships an average of 36,000 custom products per day and serves more than 86,000 customers worldwide.

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With the challenges of double-digit growth; expanding into several new product markets and fulfilling FDA traceability requirements, IDT knew it needed a new business system.  Ultimately IDT selected Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP 2012 and implementation partner Edgewater Fullscope.

According to Aaron Warner, CIO, “From an integration perspective, IDT has easily combined Dynamics AX ERP with existing custom software used in our complex manufacturing environment. The consistency of interface design and familiarity of other Microsoft products greatly simplified the training requirements. Ultimately, we found the total cost of ownership to be lower than our projections.”

Watch this short video and learn more …

It’s been a mixed year for chemical manufacturers.  While end-use markets have recovered to their pre-recession levels, growth beyond that level has been slow.  For many North American firms, exports have been especially weak as markets in Europe have all but disappeared.  There are bright spots, such as the surge in demand for ethylene-based products, driven by burgeoning natural gas capacity.  Still, it’s been a year of eking out profitability wherever it can be found.  One of the strategies many chemical manufacturers are using to improve margins is a renewed focus on business basics, the industry best practices that separate market leaders from the rest of the pack.

Common strategies in emphasizing best practices include process intensification (the merging of two or more production processes), a search for greater supply chain efficiency and a renewed drive to pare overhead even more.  While every business process can yield some additional waste and performance improvement, producers often overlook the benefits to be gained from more effective vendor management and purchasing.

Procurement leaders differ on some of the details of what constitutes purchasing excellence, but several themes recur in almost every vendor management or purchasing excellence initiative.  We’ll discuss some of these initiatives shortly.  The common foundations of purchasing excellence initiatives are better communication, more accurate data at all levels and a focus on enforceable, repeatable processes.  Finding a way to achieve these objectives can be a challenge.  Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP for chemical manufacturers provides these foundations, as well as other tools required to implement best-in-class processes that can give you the competitive advantage you need to sustain and grow margins in an already competitive business.

First we’ll discuss some of the tactics you can use to improve purchasing performance and contribute to stronger margins.  Then we’ll look at how Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP can help you, as a chemical manufacturer, to effectively implement some or all of these approaches in your company.  Read the rest of this entry »

By Don Price, Edgewater Fullscope

This article contains a series of technical steps to successfully add a key performance indicator (KPI) to an existing Rolecenter web part in Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP.  I will show you how to add a very simple KPI called “My Revenue.” It doesn’t really do anything except add the a goal of 105 and set the value at 100. Creating meaningful values might be a good exercise for another post, but here I am showing more how to define the KPI and how to get it to publish to your role center.

Step 1. Use Bids (Visual Studio Business Intelligence Development Studio) to create a new project to make adjustments to the SAS cube. Create a new Project using the Import Analysis Server template. Pick your sever and OLAP d/b. Bids will create a project with all the cubes.  Your project should look something like image below:

Find the General Ledger cube and view in the designer. Under the KPI’s tab, add the new KPI from the toolbar. From here I was able to basically create a very simple kpi by creating 4 methods in the KPI, including goal, value, trend and status.
Name – My Revenue
Value Expression – 100
Goal Expression – 105
Status Expression: (Not all needed for my very simple on)
iif( KPIGOAL(“My Revenue”) >= 0,
(CASE
WHEN KPIVALUE(“My Revenue”) >= KPIGOAL(“My Revenue”) THEN 1
WHEN KPIVALUE(“My Revenue”) >= KPIGOAL(“My Revenue”) * 0.90  THEN 0
ELSE -1
END),
(CASE
WHEN KPIVALUE(“My Revenue”) >= KPIGOAL(“My Revenue”) THEN 1
WHEN KPIVALUE(“My Revenue”) >= KPIGOAL(“My Revenue”) * 1.10  THEN 0
ELSE -1
END))
Trend Expresion: 1
Set the status and trend icons as you want.
You can view the KPI in browser mode right from VS.Browser Icon from the toolbar.
Save your changes. Here you can see the KPI in the designer:

The initial project is set to deploy to a d/b that you can use during development, which is the same name you gave your project. But for the next part to work, we have to deploy to the OLAP d/b expected from SSRS. So in the project properties, there is a deploy properties for Target – here set your server and database to what SSRS expects. Then back on the project, click deploy to update the new server/db.

Step 2. In the Microsoft Dynamics AX client – Under Report Libraries, select Ledger. Right Edit in Visual Studio. Just like editing  any of the SSRS reports in Dynamics AX. Once the project is available in VS. Then you find the correct report to modify in my case, CFOProfitablityAnalysis.

Edit in report modeler.
Find The dataset ProfitablityAnalysis – click on the properties. Add your KPI values – here I add “My Revenue”:
SELECT {
KPIValue(“Total Revenue”),KPIGoal(“Total Revenue”), KPIStatus(“Total Revenue”), KPITrend(“Total Revenue”),
KPIValue(“Total Expenses”),KPIGoal(“Total Expenses”), KPIStatus(“Total Expenses”), KPITrend(“Total Expenses”),
KPIValue(“Cost of Goods Sold”),KPIGoal(“Cost of Goods Sold”), KPIStatus(“Cost of Goods Sold”), KPITrend(“Cost of Goods Sold”),
KPIValue(“Gross Profit”),KPIGoal(“Gross Profit”), KPIStatus(“Gross Profit”), KPITrend(“Gross Profit”),
KPIValue(“Gross Profit Margin”),KPIGoal(“Gross Profit Margin”), KPIStatus(“Gross Profit Margin”), KPITrend(“Gross Profit Margin”),
KPIValue(“Net Income”), KPIGoal(“Net Income”), KPIStatus(“Net Income”), KPITrend(“Net Income”),
KPIValue(“My Revenue”),KPIGoal(“My Revenue”), KPIStatus(“My Revenue”), KPITrend(“My Revenue”)
}

ON COLUMNS,
STRTOSET(@Period) on rows
from
[General Ledger Cube]

where STRTOMEMBER(“[Master Company Reporting Currency].[Currency].&[” + @Currency +”]”)

I did this with the property designer – but it wanted  parameters, otherwise it chokes on the parameters values and says there is an error in the mdx expression.  In the parameters, I put in Period.Period (another dataset field) and put USD in for currency. After that is accepts the properties okay.  On my first pass, somehow it had renamed period to period1 and was giving validation errors on the report design, if it does that, just click on the field in the dataset and rename back to period. And then it will clear out. Once you’ve done this okay, you should see your new KPI values (4) in the fields under the dataset.

Next edit the Role center design(edit using designer). Basically there is a table with rows and columns for the KPIs. On the left column, find the row where you want to insert your KPI and right click – insert row below. Then copy and paste one of the other KPIs fields down for each column and then edit to your KPI properties – specifically the value property. Here are my values
=Fields!Measures_My_Revenue_Goal.Value
=Fields!Measures_My_Revenue_Value.Value
=IIF(Fields!Measures_My_Revenue_Trend.Value = 1, “TrendUp”, IIF(Fields!Measures_My_Revenue_Trend.Value = 0, “TrendFlat”, “TrendDown”))
=IIF(Fields!Measures_My_Revenue_Status.Value = 1, “StatusGreen”, IIF(Fields!Measures_My_Revenue_Status.Value = 0, “StatusYellow”, “StatusRed”))

Once that is done you can preview the report and see if your kpi shows up correctly.
Once it works right in preview– On the project – Ledger-right click and build. Make sure it builds correctly(no errors). Then save to AOD. It will save that it saved to the AOD successfully down in the status bar.

Step 3. Deploy the updated report library.  In Dynamics AX, you will have to restart your client to see the AOD layer changes i.e., sys,syp,usr. In the AX client, right click on the ledger report library and click deploy, this will copy the report out the Report server you have defined. It takes a bit, get a cup of coffee.

After that refresh your EP page and bam, it’s there.

Simple … yes?

Businesses of all sizes, including more than 90 percent of Fortune 100 companies, rely on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. ERP is an integrated computer-based system used to manage internal and external resources, including tangible assets, financial resources, materials, and human resources. Its purpose is to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside the boundaries of the organization and manage the connection to the supply chain. Built on a centralized database and normally using a common computing platform, ERP systems consolidate all business operations into a uniform and enterprise-wide system environment.

We are now more than 20 years into a business world driven, in good part, by ERP systems and the efficacies they enable. (The term “Enterprise Resource Planning” was first employed by the research and analysis firm Gartner Group in 1990 as an extension of MRP—first, Material Requirements Planning;  later, Manufacturing Resource Planning—and Computer Integrated Manufacturing. While not supplanting these terms, ERP has come to represent a larger whole.)

A recent survey of CIOs indicated that ERPs were “essential to the core of their businesses, and that they could not live without them.” They also acknowledge that many of these systems are out of date technologically, or, in the case of those that have newer systems, troublingly expensive with customization and maintenance costs. It is time to consider the questions: is your business running as well as it should be? If not, why not? Your current ERP system may be the dynamo it was intended to be, but if it has become outdated or outrageously expensive to operate—a dinosaur or a devil in the making—chances are it is doing more harm than good in today’s increasingly contested global competition. Regardless of your business or industry, the time has come to examine your ERP system dispassionately.

• Should you continue with your current system?
• Is it time to upgrade?
• Is it time to change?

These are not easy questions to answer. In part one of a multi-part post, this article is designed to give you an overview of what needs to be considered as you go through this interrogative—and potentially invigorating—process.

Why Consider Change?

To survive and thrive in today’s marketplace, companies must improve and streamline their operations and business processes to increase productivity, drive down costs, and foster innovation. These were principal motivating factors in the original implementation of ERP systems. Even as those systems have changed and evolved, ERP’s importance to business vitality has increased as competition has expanded. In a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm and should not be postponed but rather embraced.

While ERP systems were designed to improve business processes, they sometimes impose bad ones. As you gauge the effectiveness of your current ERP system, do so in light of your core business processes. Is the system facilitating efficiencies and greater productivity, or is it forcing action based on its own structure?

Initial ERP systems were often inflexible, forcing organizations to bend their business processes to the needs of the software rather than the needs of the business. Or the software required significant, expensive, and time-consuming customization to gain a little flexibility. When business processes evolve and software remains static, a chasm emerges between the original implementation and the changing requirements of the business. This may continue over time to the point where the ERP system becomes an impediment rather than an enabler—in other words, dysfunctional.

Many companies with older ERP systems have augmented them with other software to gain functionality that was lacking in the initial ERP System implementation but subsequently deemed necessary. The data from these newer systems must integrate into the existing ERP System, and in numerous instances this has proved costly, problematic, or both.

Integrating data to ERP systems from these reactionary systems can be challenging, as even before their addition, data migration to ERP was often given inadequate atttention due to its typical position in the production phase of implementations.

As ERP systems evolved, the problem of integration has been addressed by the expansion of functionality. The idea is to replace standalone systems—and eliminate siloes of information—with the capabilities inherent in the new ERP System. Independent software vendors have also developed industry-specific modules that are tightly integrated to the core ERP application. As companies have persisted in their need for third-party applications outside of core ERP, ERP vendors have developed application interface tools (APIs) designed to ease integration challenges.

Access to both resources and support personnel is also an issue that demands consideration. As you assess the technology of your ERP system, consider where the vendor will be ten years from now, and what kind of support will be available at that time. Ongoing support must be a given if you are to stay with your current ERP system technology, just as your own organization’s ability to change must be considered if new technology is to be implemented.

Remember that when you purchase an ERP system, that purchase is not static but dynamic: the product, the vendor, and their relationship with your organization must develop and support your goals through the years to come.

Your ERP system’s ability to provide the reports and information is another important aspect to consider in evaluating current system status:

  • Are you getting the reports and information you need to run your business effectively?
  • Can users run their own reports queries or do they need to turn to IT for support?
  • If so, what are those costs in terms of time and labor to develop these custom reports and inquires?
  • How easily can you access reports and inquires?
  • How easily can you export them to desktop applications like MS Excel?
  • Is the information you’re getting real-time, actionable, and easy to understand?

Often a company will experience pain, or even failure, because during its planning, reporting tools and inquiries were not considered as important as other system components.

Many companies have no idea what the total costs are to operate their ERP system because only a handful of the costs are quantifiable. Hard costs (e.g., license fees, maintenance fees) can be easily expressed and are readily available, but soft costs are more difficult to grasp, and can be very costly in terms of labor, productivity, and time. In fact, if you were to just look at hard costs, a new ERP system will almost always appear to be a more expensive option than staying with the current one. But when total cost of ownership is evaluated, accounting for both hard and soft costs, a new system may be warranted because of the productivity gains, time savings, and increased revenue opportunities that a new system brings.

Weighing the costs and benefits of retaining an existing ERP system against the costs and benefits of changing to a new one is something that companies will do sooner or later. If your current business environment has you thinking sooner is the better of these options, then there is a methodology to follow that will inform the decision you must make—a decision that will have a shaping, and perhaps decisive, influence on the future course of your business.

Next Time/Part 2: The Process of Examination:  Detailed Steps To Determine if You Should Keep Or Replace Your Existing Solution

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Is Coming on September 8 … Be the First to See It.

The world is risky enough—if your company is considering a new ERP system, consider the safest bet on the market: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

Join us live on September 8 and see the new safe and powerful ERP system for discrete and process manufacturing and distribution companies in one of these cities:  Minneapolis, Dallas, Irvine, Portland, Charlotte, Grand Rapids or Cincinnati.  We’ll also hold launch events in Atlanta on September 29 and Boston on October 4.

Each launch event will be held at the local Microsoft office in each city, and will feature Dynamics AX 2012 highlights from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, insights from Gartner Group ERP Analyst Nigel Montgomery, plus the opportunity to see AX 2012 in action from both a high level and industry-specific perspective.

All attendees will be able to take advantage of special Dynamics AX 2012 offers from event sponsors Sunrise Consulting and Edgewater Fullscope. Each attendee will also be registered to win free Xbox Kinect system.

If you have any business manufacturing processes that are causing you enough pain to consider looking a new enterprise resource planning system within the next two years, come see what is in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and how it may be able to help make your job easier and your company more profitable.

Visit http://bit.ly/axlaunch to learn more or register.

Why deep industry functionality is important for chemical, food and beverage and pharmaceutical companies

While the process manufacturing market is typically categorized as large and mature, it remains one of the most competitive and dynamic segments of manufacturing. In today’s frenetic global markets, process manufacturers must evolve to meet the challenges of changing market demands, the increasing commoditization of products, and the volatility of pricing in energy and raw materials.

Industry analysts define process manufacturing as in the middle of a transformation in which established systems with deep functionality on older technology are being displaced by more sophisticated and agile systems. A modernization is clearly underway.

The stakes have never been higher for process manufacturers as they replace or upgrade their systems: they need to boost quality, efficiency, safety, and regulatory compliance for maximum productivity and process control. For the major process segments including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, pulp and paper, cosmetics and metals (industries whose business model is typically high volume, low margin), the ability to improve margins and to cost product and inventory based on the active ingredients central to their recipes are key to maintaining and improving competitive vitality.

Microsoft Dynamics AX is a leading ERP system for process manufacturers that offers broad and robust functionality, and it delivers low TCO through integration with other Microsoft products and technologies.

A new offering from Fullscope takes industry functionality to a deeper level. New Process Accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics AX provides powerful and detailed capabilities to help food and beverage, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers achieve the following:

  • Manage active ingredients throughout their operations by enabling them to buy raw materials and cost finished goods more precisely by potency.
  • Scale formulas up or down, automatically, by the identification of potent ingredients.
  • Track lot inheritance.
  • Define product sequencing, which is evaluated based on multiple characteristics, to reduce downtime and changeover costs in the production schedule.

Each Process Accelerator has been designed to address complex processes through an easy interface to automate activities as much as possible to reduce error.  Each one also provides flexibility for a manufacturer’s procurement, design, and regulatory compliance personnel so that they can easily value their inventory of materials for potency-dependent products, address factors that influence production, and trace with precision what was used in the production process. The idea is to automate processes for production and traceability as much as possible.

The Fullscope Process Accelerators for each industry integrate with the Process Industry layer of Microsoft Dynamics AX and provides new functionality concentrated in three basic areas:

  1. Potency, including automated batch balancing for raw materials and potency-based purchase pricing
  2. Lot genealogy
  3. Product sequencing

This article uses the word “potency,” but some process industries may use the terms assay, concentration, or even others. The underlying technology in the Process Accelerator supports these potency-like types of requirements found across the chemical, food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

Coming next month:  The Power of Potency

Designed for Microsoft Dynamics AX users, each month Fullscope publishes a short technical tip to for greater insight into this powerful ERP system.

Technical Tip#2: Record Level Security

Microsoft Dynamics AX lets users easily manage screen/table and report filters through record level security. Use this feature to filter screen and report data that you specifically design by user group.

To begin, open the Record Level Security screen (in the Administration module), and choose the appropriate user group. Click on the “new” button and the Record Level Security wizard will walk you through the remaining setup. This feature allows you to apply specific queries to data tables resulting in data security and an enhanced end user experience where the user doesn’t have to filter through irrelevant data. The table queries also apply to report data, which allows you to filter down to critical data.