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January 28, 2014

Global Implementations & Rollouts: Some best practices -4

This is the fourth blog in this series.  If you are reading this blog directly I would recommend reading the earlier blogs so as to appreciate the thought flow in this series.
In this blog I will be talking about how in a Global Implementation  the Test Strategy, Test planning and testing itself can yield the vision and objectives of the program.

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December 13, 2013

Mobile Apps for Dynamics AX

Business is getting challenging as well as exciting. MS Dynamics products are adding mobile apps into its arsenal which I believe is not only a competitive necessity but will also add to the fun of doing work.

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October 3, 2013

Challanges in a Multi-vendor Project

Over the past 6 years I had the opportunity of working in multi-vendor projects. Apart from the complex nature of projects which is typical of multi-vendor projects, there are business and competitive aspects between vendors which present numerous challenges. This blog tries to analyses the structure of project teams in conjunction with multi-vendor setup and the challenges posed.

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August 21, 2013

Global Implementations & Rollouts: Some best practices

Just fresh out from a Global Implementation for Dynamics AX 2009 and as I am still digesting the learnings, I have now been put into another global implementation which is half way through and I am seeing again the same cycle of mistakes occurring, client after client. I thought I would share my experiences here so as to make them relevant for everyone considering planning, implementing or involved in a global implementation. I plan to share these experiences in a series of blogs thus making them readable and easy to digest for the reader.

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December 15, 2011

Gamification of the ERP

While almost everyone is having only "Cloud-enabling" of ERP at top of their mind, i am personally seeing a trend which is what we can say "gamification" of the "serious" ERPs. For the uninitiated, Gamification is (as per wikipedia) the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors, by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, and by taking advantage of humans' psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring. Can we do something for ERP as well in this areas?

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July 25, 2011

When MS Dynamics AX 2009 system maintenance went wrong

Hi, I had planned to carry on the journey of our sharing the experiences of AX2009 roll out   in Eastern Europe but Last week went bit unplanned and hectic. There was a scheduled plan of doing AX 2009 Application maintenance in the production environment. As our client operates across multiple time zones seven days a week there is specific window in which the maintenance needs to be carried out. The maintenance did happen and the system was released to the users as per plan.
Things appeared fine initially, but as days progressed with increase in number of users connecting to the system across geographies the AX2009 system started showing signs of freezing. The  users  when attempted to do anything in AX, were faced with system freeze as the system did not allow them to place orders, do payment management, or other things associated with the functions they needed to perform on daily basis.
Within some time it  became practically  impossible for the users to work. A severity Level- 1 help desk call was logged by the customer IT service team and was assigned to the Infosys Application support team. Further the scheduled full backup failed   post maintenance created another critical issue.

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July 8, 2011

The learning's from Ax2009 Rollout in Eastern Europe (Part-2)

Hi All,as promised in my previous blog where I shared  challenges in getting fiscal printer  integrated  with Ax2009 SP1  I will continue to share another challenge which we  faced during our First Ax2009 rollout in Eastern Europe  This  was related to statutory  Invoicing & reporting .Once we had come out of the hurdles of  Fiscal Printer integration, immediate challenge was related to the Statutory Invoicing   on Fiscal Printer and VAT registers reporting.

Continue reading " The learning's from Ax2009 Rollout in Eastern Europe (Part-2)" »

June 18, 2011

The learning's from AX 2009 Rollout in Eastern Europe (Part-1)

Recently at Infosys we completed our MS Dynamics AX 2009 SP1 Rollout in Eastern Europe. It was  a challenging  project   for us as we were implementing AX 2009 first time in  a far  eastern European market. There were multiple risks involved in this rollout  like  merging  of  New GLS Layer in the existing   MS Dynamics AX 2009 SP 1 Application  for global running  application , migration of Legacy system data, language constraints as the implementation  had to be done in non English Language , meeting  statutory obligations for eastern european market, training non English users  to operate AX 2009, limited time frame rollout etc.

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March 31, 2011

Time is "RIPE" for a new way of designing 'Smart' user interface

This blog is in the series of blogs around the "Smart" user interface and how the expectations from the users have been maturing over time.

I firmly believe that the Maslow's hierarchy of needs is very much applicable in the world of IT and software solutions as well. The only difference is that we are talking about "user needs" from "IT" perspective instead of "psychological" as proposed by the theory. The users till date have been able to meet their Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging and Esteem needs. What they need now is the movement to the next level of "Self-Actualization" (and i can assure you this is level which beats itself as a certain level is achieved and we start looking at the next best).

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March 11, 2011

Taking ahead the thought of "Sensitivity of User Interface " in packages


I had blogged around this topic earlier where i had exposed a thought which i think is very important from the 'user perspective'. you can check out the post at "When will my ERP experience be 'smarter'... the Time Sensitive Paradigm"

In a recent meeting with a CIO of a large company operating in telecom domain, a very important point came up. The users in the organization has an ERP being used for handling all financial, invoicing, customer and vendor management, sales, purchasing, billing, etc. The organization was looking at adding a new feature in the product to support the relationships with the suppliers (a.k.a. Supplier Management System). From a SI perspective there are multiple solutions which are best-of-breed, additional modules from ERP provider and also there were add-ons from 3rd parties. However, none of these were striking a chord with the users.

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December 31, 2010

When will my ERP experience be 'smarter'... the Time Sensitive Paradigm!

There are number of posts around the year end musings and the predictions for the next year. I thought of not penning down my thoughts this time; though i did the same last year (you can check that out here). This is so as even as we predict there is always an element of a "game-changing idea" or a "trend" coming up in the New Year which will make all these predictions run for shelter.

So, why this post! I thought of looking from the perspective of users of ERP systems - our clients. These are the people who will ultimately reap benefits from the ERP implementation though there will be some difficulties in the process. Any change would bring in some adjustments, additional learning and differentiated focus within the organization. However, it is the sweet success after this entire struggle that gives the strength during the challenging journey.

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November 4, 2010

Library Functionality for Media Processing

Mapping of Media processing steps in Dynamics AX ERP presents a challenge. This blog discusses how the library functionality finds relevance in modeling this production process in Dynamics AX.

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October 21, 2010

Application Portfolio Management - Have you chosen the right mode of transportation for your organization journey?

While working on EXIST framework as highlighted in my post (Defining the Application Portfolio using the "EXIST" framework ) and a subsequent post around trying to clear some myth and misconceptions in next post (As you sow, so shall you reap: Effective Application Portfolio with 'Cloud Inclusivity'); i was thinking of highlighting some live examples from public sources which support this model.

Since i found a lot of them, my thoughts actually went in another direction where i tried to answer a simple question - "Why is there so much of competition between on-premise and SaaS models?" .You search the web with keywords 'SaaS' & 'On Premise" and there would be prescriptive solutions and comparisons between the two deployment options and each trying to outdo the other. Is this needed?

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October 15, 2010

Library Functionality for a Service Unit

Building on my previous thought of library functionality this blog explores its usage for a service department in a manufacturing organization.

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August 30, 2010

As you sow, so shall you reap: Effective Application Portfolio with 'Cloud Inclusivity'

On July 1, 2010 -  i had put forth a blog titled - Defining the Application Portfolio using the "EXIST" framework  which looked at a 'holistic' approach to choosing the 'right' applications for the enterprise. There were several comments and offline discussions which led me to post a follow up blog on the topic. Before going into this blog in detail you may want to check the original blog on this subject. And needless to say, i would look forward to your thoughts and opinions as this subject in itself is a lot debated one and there are no 'correct' answers as yet.

Continue reading "As you sow, so shall you reap: Effective Application Portfolio with 'Cloud Inclusivity'" »

August 11, 2010

Connecting the Dots: Sizing & Percentage Fitment for Package Applications - A Perspective

While working on the Sizing Approach, we have found that there are various factors which come in play to define  a "true" fitment of the package application to the client needs. Some of these factors are described in my previous blog around "Percentage Fitment Anomaly - Gosh! Did I just over-sell/under-sell the product to my client?". There is a detailed blog by my colleague Amol Gupta around the Challenges in Sizing Package Application Based Implementations which brings forth the concept and its related dimensions. This blog is an attempt to try and explain this furthur to stress on the need of having a multi-dimensional view of the fitment before selecting a package of choice.

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July 29, 2010

The need for a business applications framework

What do companies in diverse industries such as manufacturing, real estate, recruitment and asset management have in common?

All of them have Line of Business (LoB) applications to help them achieve strategic competitive advantage. However, several of these disparate legacy applications have evolved over the years and they do not leverage latest technological advancements, while being increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain.

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July 1, 2010

Defining the Application Portfolio using the "EXIST" framework

As the wise-men saying goes - "Do not put all your eggs in one basket" - it is prudent to diversify the application portfolio like the investment portfolio to reduce the risk arising due to dependence on one technology, vendor, consultants and architecture model. The reason why investments are diversified is the element of uncertainty and the risk of assuming that everything will go well with the investment I choose. Besides that there is an element of individual financial goal and the outcome (duration, amount, and criticality) which drive the instrument (along with its associated risk or lack of it).

 

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May 18, 2010

Two-Tier ERP for the new business

Microsoft has recently announced announced a new connector that accelerates two-tier enterprise resource planning (ERP) deployments between Microsoft Dynamics AX and SAP Business Suite. Check the press release here.

 

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February 19, 2010

Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life.

This is not a blog around a sermon on how we need to live as humans. I came across this quote today morning in a mail forwarded from a friend of mine who herself has 1 blackberry, 1 iPhone, an iPad, a laptop, a desktop at home and a desktop in office…and maybe more - that I do not know; what an irony!

However, most important point is that this triggered my thoughts around what we do in business day in and day out. Some of the thoughts here are disconnected and since I am myself not clear of the ‘right’ way; you will find certain level of cross movements.

Continue reading "Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life." »

January 21, 2010

Percentage Fitment Anomaly - Gosh! Did I just over-sell/under-sell the product to my client?

Place: Could be anywhere in the world!

Actors: Consultant (Jerry) and Client (Tom)

The Conversation:

Tom: So now that you know my needs; can you tell me what is the percentage fitment for the product you are recommending?

Jerry: Well, this depends on how you see it; but I can assure you it’s a good fitment. Nothing will meet your needs out of the box.

Tom: Can you be more specific? What is the fitment in percentage terms – 40%, 60% or 80%

Jerry: Ok, let me get back to you on this by tomorrow

Jerry lists out all requirements and puts them in an excel sheet; gives a fitment of – ‘Out of Box’, ‘Customization’, ‘Not Applicable’ to each requirement line. And yes, here is the pivot with number of requirements in each bracket. Ready for next day

Jerry: Good Morning Tom; here is the analysis. As I had mentioned yesterday you have a 70% fitment; 20% will be met with customization and 10% are not possible with the product. Net-Net a good 70% fitment is what I see here.

Tom: Hmmn. Looks ok to me. Let’s discuss the statement of work.

Jerry: Sure, Drinks anyone??

Continue reading "Percentage Fitment Anomaly - Gosh! Did I just over-sell/under-sell the product to my client?" »

December 21, 2009

MMIX > MMX - The King is dead; long live the King (Year end musing on IT providers space)

This is probably my last post in this year and I feel like sharing my thoughts together at one go.

Yet another year is about to come to an end. Many would like to forget this year as one of the nightmare - job cuts, stagnation, closing businesses, struggling bottom lines, insecurity and unexpected falls. While several things may have gone wrong; there were some very thought through and meticulous business moves that will change the business paradigm in near future.

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X-factor in XRM

Many of the CRM solutions are tied towards relationship management but it is not essentially towards managing a customer. This is where XRM comes into play and X could be an employee, patient, Investor, Partner, or anything.  A typical CRM solution will have the lead to opportunity life cycle but in XRM it will vary depending on whom are you managing.  In short, XRM means extended Relationship management.

The CRM products that are flexible and allow the re-use of the below features will qualify as the XRM product. This is where Microsoft Dynamics CRM scores over its competitors.

1.       UI --> User interface is created by default in the dynamics framework. This can be easily modified and extended using .NET and Silverlight.

2.       Event-Driven --> Microsoft dynamics provides the handle for all the events that cab triggered though batch, integration or through user interface.

3.       Entity-based --> New entities can be created and the relationship can be established between these entities.

4.       Workflow --> User can manage the work flow through a user interface or a new work flow can also be published by the developer.

5.       Security --> Object-based and role-based security model provides the high flexibility to adopt the security requirements of any new processes and/or a new organization structure.

December 10, 2009

Dynamics Unbound - The 'Clouds' in 'Azure' Sky

Azure is the hue that is halfway between blue and cyan and is generally used for clear skies. With the cloud computing services being provided through the Microsoft Azure platform; am I missing a point. I guess Azure is the platform where the clouds can venture out and in this case in a positive way provide a lot of options to Developers, ISVs, SIs, IT teams and business community at large to end of day lead to “Incremental benefits” for all stakeholders viz. a familiar development experience, on-demand scalability and reduced time-to-market for applications. Microsoft Dynamics has also jumped on this bandwagon and this is what is the most interesting part – as they are one of the early vendors to talk about a hybrid environment of ‘on-premise’ and ‘cloud’ and certain scenarios in which this can work together.

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December 1, 2009

Can ERP be a “Plug and Play” Replaceable Engine?

Recently, I came across an interesting IT strategy of using the ERP solely as the processing engine keeping it largely independent of the end-user UI needs, the presentation layer and business specific customizations if any. The whole idea was to insulate the end users from any impact of future changes in the IT strategy of the organization in terms of changing the technology platform and/or the ERP vendor.

The strategy basically translates into having a common future proof platform for the end-users leveraging the core ERP functions such as GL/AR/AP etc. and incorporating  business logic level extensions in a client specific “Logic Layer”. The presentation layer is largely independent of the package except where it cannot be totally avoided.

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November 17, 2009

Defining solution in ERP: Ten Commandments - Thy shall not falter on them!

Life is never too simple! And who can know this better than consultants. Consultants have their own reasons to follow an approach for achieving a business need using any COTS solutions. However, in my personal experience I feel that any packages product should be used with utmost care and be modified after following some standard principles. There would be lot of pressure from some members of the client team to customize the product so that it has look and feel of the previous application and which lead to reduction of training needs. On the other hand, the IT teams would like to keep it simple to reduce the upgrade costs and the pains associated with it along with recurring cost of maintenance. The aim is to reduce the overall TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and the APM(Associated Pain of Management). Well the second acronym is my brainchild. Smile

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October 30, 2009

Nano- Innovation : Is this the key to Mid-Markets?

Sometimes the inspiration for an idea is a ‘baby matter’. At least that is what inspired me for this post. There was  a post from Scott Anthony in Innovation Insights section of HBR titled Procter & Gamble and the Beauty of Small by Wins 

Today we are hearing a lot about Innovation and I do believe in the concepts around disruptive innovation and the way the industry has benefitted from the game-changing innovations. Disruptive innovations either create new markets or reshape existing markets by delivering relatively simple, convenient, low cost innovations to a set of customers who are ignored by industry leaders. However, is there a scope of little innovations bringing great benefits as well.

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August 28, 2009

The green colored ERP !

Recently while working on a solution for a client, I realized how important the Green house gas reporting has become for global organizations within a short span of time.  Typically, systems are put in place to increase efficiency/enhance ROI and eventually reduce cost.  With the legal and compliance requirements getting stringent post developments like Kyoto Protocol, global organizations have started noticing the financial costs w.r.t.to green house gas reporting. Although this might be insignificant in comparison to any other cost, solutions addressing the Greenhouse reporting requirements are catching the attention of organizations.

Other than the important driver of meeting compliance, one key factor that appears to me as a very significant reason for organizations taking seriously into GHG reporting is the prospect of trading Carbon Credits which is possible only if there is adequate traceability into the data for the GHG emitted or for that matter not emitted by a particular organization.

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June 12, 2009

Understanding an ERP implementation – Bridge Analogy

This is a simplistic approach of relating an ERP implementation to constructing a bridge (under Build, Operate and Transfer basis by a private contractor) due to the inherent nature of activities being the same in both the scenarios.

The making of a bridge entails site inspection to ground preparation to blueprinting ending with construction where there are tests in the intervening duration to ensure that this is safe and can serve the intended purpose without risking the lives of the users who are going to use this to go from Point A to Point B. The work is not limited to only bridge but also entails making approach roads and giving a complete end to end solution to the commuter needs.

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October 20, 2008

And it happens in a 'snap'

From the complex setups/data entry forms for end users in the past to the modern day simplistic UI, the ERP applications have come a long way. Today, every organization wants a robust ERP with an easy-to-use user interface that encourage greater end-user adoption and acceptance. One of the major reasons for failure of an ERP implementation has been lack of user adoption. And there is nothing wrong with it. Everyone wants a simple approach to most complex of problems, especially when it comes to conducting day to day business transactions. Its all about getting the right data at the right place at the right time in the right format to meet the right needs.

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July 14, 2008

If everything could be hosted!

Today the buzz world in IT segment is “hosting” and “SaaS” where the clients can convert their CAPEX into OPEX and can use the application on a ‘pay as you use’ basis. Every vendor and service provider is joining the bandwagon to provide these services. The market segment for hosted services is huge, as the market says and there are sufficient buyers of the same. However, the segment, the type, the service, the criticality, the business type and the long term plan should be considered before weighing this option. Though it is a quick solution to implement, the acceptance of the processes, scalability and fitment is sometimes in question. It is widely known that plain-vanilla hosting is a low-margin, commodity business and unless you are the product company, you would not do it! The concept of S+S (Software + Service) as propagated by Microsoft takes a step beyond SaaS to describe the importance of System Integrators and ISVs in this emerging (if not already emerged) ecosystem.

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June 5, 2008

The “framework” conundrum in ERP/CRM

What is the optimum limit to which we should customize an “off the shelf” product to meet the client’s need?

Microsoft Dynamics products have been positioned as more of a framework with “optimal” business processes built into the products rather than “hard-coding” all the business best practices that had been the selling pointy for most of the established ERP in the market. When Microsoft Dynamics brand was launched in market, the idea was to enable companies bring their processes into the system rather than following what is already provided by the product.

There are always people commenting on this positively or negatively, and both are right!

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May 28, 2008

A “Dynamic” twist in ERP/CRM

In recent discussions with some of the IT heads and managers during new business possibilities, I realized that the way they conceive IT as a function in the organization has changed over the years. The IT honchos are now fully agreeing to the KISS (Keep It Straight & Simple) principle and have realized that bringing in greater complexity actually prevents the way organizations would like to respond in an environment needing “flexible” responses. This does not mean that robustness and scalability is not in their mind. However, right now it has moved from realm of “pure technology” based solutions to one that can help solve business problems and are acceptable to people who are going to use this.

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