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4 Best Practices For Reporting With Cloud ERP

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Feb 7, 2017

For so many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the problem with their reporting system is that it’s just not easy for “regular people” to use.

Normal people — folks without pocket protectors or advanced degrees in IT — don’t understand how to manipulate all the dials, switches and levers it takes to crank out the necessary data to make decisions.

So what do regular people use? Excel. With more than a billion Microsoft Office users, it’s safe to say that most businesspeople know how to use, and heavily rely upon, the spreadsheet software. The problem with this is that producing significant business intelligence from this simple program is difficult, at best.

The solution, therefore, is to use an ERP system that is capable of more sophisticated data-crunching, but is as easy to use and is integrated with Excel. Fortunately, cloud ERP solutions out there do just this; they have business intelligence reporting tools that are built-in and based on Excel.

This fact alone can solve so many reporting issues for SMBs. It means the nontechnical user can leverage his or her already-built competencies around Excel formulas to build ad hoc reports. Otherwise, this effort is a tedious process for most people.

Remember, reporting tools that are user-friendly means more people in the company can leverage and prepare reports or build their own. Rather than hiring someone to build reports, users are able to run the reports they need all by themselves, saving time and speeding up decision-making.

The more power you can put in the hands of your employees, the better off they are to support their own decision-making process. If they don’t have to bug the IT guy to pull reports for them, they are empowered and more productive.

Obviously, the similarity with Excel isn’t the only advantage that cloud ERP has for reporting. Using cloud ERP helps SMBs define and follow best practices of all kinds, including these four.

  1. Standardize accounting and operational business practices: This is critical to improving the integrity and reliability of all reports.
     
  2. Conduct a review of all of the “out-of-the-box” reports available with an ERP system: Make sure you review all of these reports on the system that you’re migrating to. See if they can be used to replace an existing report, relieving you of the need to create a custom report.
     
  3. Key performance indicators: Many metrics could be used to make adjustments to your business. The obvious considerations are profitability, sales numbers and time to invoice.
     
  4. Forecasting: Revenue, capital planning and personnel are important to consider when making plans for the future. Perhaps you have a goal to grow the staff by 10 people or add a new division. Get your finance department to create a bridge to achieve these operational goals. Finance will establish the parameters around the goals, such as a specific percentage of revenue growth to pay for new employees, or capital planning to support a new division.

Most SMBs are made up of “regular people” who are tasked with an ever-increasing number of assignments. They have to wear many hats to keep the business going. The key to success is to have full visibility into your finances. Quality cloud ERP solutions provide SMBs with the power to build the reports they need to achieve this visibility.

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Topics: cloud ERP, Business Reporting, bi reporting

Five Keys to a Successful Financial Migration for SMBs

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Jan 11, 2017

Is your small- to medium-sized business (SMB) finally moving your financial accounting software from your server in the basement to the cloud? If so, that’s a great decision!

However, successful migrations aren’t easy without help. Here are five tips on how to seamlessly move through this critical process and start enjoying the benefits of a cloud ERP solution. 

  1. Build the perfect timeline for the migration: Planning the right time of the year is critical. Determine your own busy periods and avoid them. If you’re starting an implementation, give yourself 90 to 120 days to pick a kickoff date for the project. From there, work backward to time evaluations and decision-making. Assume a 45- to 60-day sales process to work toward that deadline. This allows time before completing the contracts for an evaluation period.
     
  2. Pick the right vendor by asking around: Evaluate possible vendors as much as possible before engaging in the sales process. Referrals are highly important. And remember, you can learn a lot from a company and its solution before you ever commit to entering the sales process. In other words, know what you want and need, and make sure the system provides those features. Some companies make the mistake of jumping into the conversion process and must learn about the software along the way. This is a bad idea because you might get directed into a point of view that’s not in your best interest. Vendors that provide evaluation tools and white papers are most likely to have a good sales process, because they expect you to evaluate them. Peer evaluation can provide authentic “from-the-trenches” views on the software.
     
  3. Avoid hidden costs and fees: Make sure you clearly understand what you’re paying for. The value of the cloud is that it removes a great deal of costs — hardware, support, maintenance, etc. — that are ongoing but not always considered appropriately. Often, the biggest problems occur when companies don’t understand a contract or deliverable. Scope creep happens because companies keep asking for features not included in the original price. Deployments will last longer and cost more if you don’t read the fine print. This is why you must demand a fixed bid.
     
  4. Don’t undervalue the cloud: Don’t dismiss the value that the cloud brings. Avoid getting hung up on license or monthly subscription fees. Instead, look into the lowest total cost of ownership. Your on-premises financial accounting software solution won’t seem so cheap if you calculate all the costs to maintain and upgrade the system. And remember, a cloud ERP system includes updates to the tax code, service packs, tech support and many other additional services within an application that you need but will never have to ask for.
     
  5. Always review deliverables: Be clear about the deliverables. Include these expectations in excruciating detail. Otherwise, you’ll hear this phrase: “That wasn’t included in our estimate. It’s extra.” Get everything in writing as part of the statement of work (SOW) before you sign any contracts. If something you expect isn’t contained in the SOW, make sure it gets added and that the provider tells you if it’s not.

You’ve made the right move! You’ve decided to empower your financial accounting efforts by moving to the cloud. Just make sure you comb through the fine print and put everything in writing. If you do, your migration to the cloud should be a great experience.

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Topics: financial accounting, cloud migration

UK Banking Disrupted: Metro Bank Reinvents Customer Service with Microsoft

Posted by Frank Gerome

Jan 5, 2017

Metro Bank is reinventing the customer experience by eliminating the all-too-familiar pain-points experienced at a bank – the long waits, complex rules, confusing processes, and barrage of marketing offers. Metro Bank is leveraging technology to give people what they want, and they’re doing it faster, making it easier, and delivering it via the communication channel that’s most convenient to the customer. With nearly 100% year-on-year growth, Metro Bank is succeeding – but not by serving customers, by creating "fans.“

Metro Bank is transforming banking. Turning the industry on its head and putting the customer first, the company isn’t simply focused on the number of new accounts, or the number of pounds in deposits or lending. Daily performance metrics actually include factors of customer happiness. With a data- and process-driven Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, today Metro Bank is providing employees immediate access to information at their fingertips, fast-access to fast solution pathways, and the empowerment to solve the customers’ needs. Craig Donaldson, Metro Bank CEO says, “Technology should be used to engage people and that’s what we do at Metro Bank. It’s all about our colleagues and our customers. It’s all about creating fans. It’s really that simple.”

Increasing the speed of business: Technology reduces customer wait time

“When a customer walks in, we can open their accounts for them there and then. Cheques and debit cards are printed in minutes and given to the customer on site – done,” says Donaldson. If a customer requires more complex banking needs, the right colleague can be messaged to come assist to solve the customer's needs immediately. Communication is instant between employees with Yammer, says Donaldson, “We use modern communication tools to connect people with customer service instantly – no appointment required.”

Whether it’s monitoring branch traffic patterns or a customer’s account activity, Metro Bank employees use Dynamics 365 for customer service and Power BI to identify and address problems before they begin to affect the customer relationship. And when in doubt, employees have access to a vast knowledge base of answers. “Our colleagues have instant access to Metropedia where they find the answers stored in Microsoft Parature. It’s massively faster and far more user friendly compared to what we had in the past. We’ve seen the usage of it shoot through the roof,” says Donaldson.

Consistency with every interaction: Giving customers clarity not confusion

Whether it’s over the phone, face-to-face, via the mobile app, social media, or the internet – every customer channel will deliver the same superior customer service offering fast and easy solutions. Dynamics 365 for Marketing allows Metro Bank to avoid the mass marketing communications that are a common frustration among banking customers. Metro Bank’s goal is to provide exactly the right information customers need at exactly the right time, via the channel that’s most convenient to the customer. Says Donaldson, “When we launched our mobile app, we got live updates on mobile banking data and as customers requested the activation code, if we saw customers go past five activation attempts we called them to help them through it, which earned us great feedback.”

Streamlining systems: Less bureaucracy creates more time for customers

“By getting people to sign on Surface tablets, we took two minutes off the time it takes to open an account with the customer, and 10 minutes off the back office work. Also, we instantly we saved maybe three-quarters of a million pounds in paper, and we now have 15% more time to spend with the customer,” says Donaldson. “We can have people across the organization, all looking at the same credit paper, discussing it together over Skype for Business. We think that’s taken about two days out of reviewing a large credit underwriting. Which for our business, is massive. There’s no other organization that can turn a credit request like we can,” says Donaldson.

The company streamlined their systems with dashboards and reports generated in Power BI — everything from types of accounts opened to income data and P&L and balance sheets. The CEO relies on a dashboard with 14 different data points to monitor the health of the business, including one metric – “New Fans Today” which is also displayed on big screens around the office.

Staying connected to the customer: Building fans

Metro Bank monitors social media to understand what people are saying about their stores. Microsoft Social Engagement makes it simple to recognize relevant issues and direct them to the right person who can make the change. Taking direct action to improve the customer experience, they forward comments to the specific colleague who will address the issue. And to ensure that no matter who the customer talks to, they’ll never have to explain their needs twice because the details of each customer interaction with the bank are stored and accessible across the organization within Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.

By putting the customer first, and driving toward solving the customer needs using cutting-edge technology, Metro Bank is setting the bar for all banks and making banking easier for all of us.

 

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Cloud ERP Returns Greater ROI

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Jan 5, 2017

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ERP software offers many advantages for small and medium businesses including greater agility, competitive edge and improved operational efficiency. Move your ERP to the cloud and it becomes more advantageous for small and medium businesses as it empowers them to better compete and achieve greater ROI.

If you’re a business just starting to research ERP, it might be good to start with the history of ERP Software and how the technology evolved.

ERP had its early beginnings from MRP or Materials Requirement Planning, which integrated additional data specific to employee and financial information into the scope and planning. It then changed to Manufacturing Resource Planning primarily due to industry interest before it morphed into what we know today as ERP – a solution that streamlines internal and external operational processes to improve efficiency and profitability across the entire business.

Enter cloud technologies, specifically Cloud ERP, and now a company has the ability to achieve greater ROI by improving operational efficiency, being more competitive in the market and proactively planning for their growth and greater profitability. For small and medium businesses, Cloud ERP may be a more viable solution, delivering greater ROI.

Improved Operational Efficiency
It’s widely known that ERP Software is designed to increase visibility and transparency across every department. And that certain industries will have specific initiatives relevant to industry drivers. Move to the Cloud and you now have your ERP on demand creating access to services from anywhere the internet is available. This allows for greater collaboration between employees, regardless of where they are located, improved visibility and a clearer picture of financials across multiple departments. And having the ability to act quickly to business opportunities as they arise will only improve overall performance and agility.

Be More Competitive
An additional benefit associated with ERP Software is the capacity for a company to gain greater competitive advantage and remain resilient. To be exact, a company’s ability to meet the demanding needs of the market faster than the competition, distinguish their value proposition from the rest and remain ahead of the competition. Many believe this is the single most important aspect of staying competitive.
Cloud ERP adds further to the value proposition by bringing fluidity to the business – allowing an organization to adopt new technology without disrupting business or having to add additional resources while adding the ability to better manage cash flow. This is especially important for small and medium business owners that can benefit from:

  • No upfront monetary investment
  • Moving CAPEX expense to OPEX
  • Locking in a price structure that fits their budget

Proactively Plan for Growth and Prosperity
The ability to plan for growth and prosperity may be the most highly regarded ERP benefit of all as companies have the opportunity to modify strategy for cost control, forecast for the short and long term, plan for the future and be in control of their own prosperity.
Cloud ERP takes it a step further by adding “scalable” options when you need and in a pay as you go model; utilizing smart technology to better manage operational capability; integrating the cloud footprint (across every department) to deliver innovative best practices; and taking the first step to alter your financial model in a positive way.

Now that you know what ERP Software can offer and the advantages of Cloud ERP, evaluate the best option for your company. By better understanding the internal details of your business, you will have more proactive options to improve the bottom line, plan your technology infrastructure and invest in the right resources to grow.

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What's in Development for Dynamics 365 for Financials?

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Jan 3, 2017

Coming soon for Dynamics 365 for Financials!

Basic Human Resource

With Basic Human Resources, you can maintain a list of employees in your company. You can add basic information and a picture for each employee. Coming soon for Dynamics 365 for Financials!

Cash Management

With Electronic Funds Transfer, you can pay vendors using electronic payments. You'll be able to modify the format that is used to create the EFT file to suit your needs. You can assign a file layout to each bank account, and then when EFT payments are processed, each EFT file uses the specified layout. The default layouts will include a PPD and CCD file layout.

Ceridian Payroll

You can now import payroll transaction files from Ceridian HR/Payroll in US and Ceridian Powerpay in CA by installing the Ceridian Payroll extension. Aggregated payroll data, including date, payroll account, description, and amount, will be imported to your G/L accounts according to mappings that you perform once per payroll account. The extension also contains a sample payroll file that you can use to try out the functionality, for example, in a demo company.

Contact Management

To streamline your marketing reporting, you can now specify a salesperson/purchaser code for user accounts. When you then create sales or purchase documents, the default salesperson/purchaser code is the one specified for your user account.
 
To increase sales people's productivity in managing opportunities and to provide a more fluid experience for phone and tablet devices, you can set default chances of success in the sales cycle stages in opportunity management.

Managing contact duplicates is important as contact information tends to grow over time. If you're a sales & relationship manager, your Home page now shows the number of duplicate contacts. 

Tailor your cover sheet reports to your business needs using Word.

Filter exactly which contacts you want to export from a segment and send to a marketing Agency.

Dynamics 365 Integration

Connect to your Dynamics 365 for Sales solution in a few easy steps. The assisted setup helps you synchronize your data across the two apps, including sales orders, item availability, units of measure, and currencies.

Integration APIs

To empower developers and service providers to easily integrate with Dynamics 365 for Financials, we are adding REST-based web service APIs with easy-to-use authentication. The APIs can be used on their own or in combination with extensions when there is a need to add user interface elements or business logic to Dynamics 365 for Financials. We will start by adding APIs for common record types, including customer, vendor, employee, item (product), sales order, sales invoice, account, and journal.

Interaction/Document Management

You can now send a sales quote to a contact without having to create them as customers first.

Multiple Locations

With Multiple Locations, you can manage your inventory at different places. Multiple Locations gives you a more detailed overview of inventory, whether it is placed at ather geographical locations or just in different places in your warehouse. You can buy to and sell from locations. When you sell items, the Availability per Location window will tell you how to best deliver items to customers. You can transfer items between locations with transfer orders.

Payroll - Quickbooks File Import

You can now import payroll transaction files in the Quickbooks IIF format by installing the Quickbooks Payroll File Import extension. Aggregated payroll data, including date, payroll account, description, and amount, will be imported to your G/L accounts according to mappings that you perform once per payroll account. The extension also contains a sample payroll file that you can use to try out the functionality, for example, in a demo company.

 Setup and Configuration

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Roadmap

We have added a Setup and Extensions button in the navigation pane for the Business Manager and Accountant Role Centers. From the list of actions, you can open practically all setup pages, either assisted or manual, and you can open setup pages for service connections and extensions. Third-party extension providers can add their actions to the list. In the Manual Setup action group, each action refers to an area, such as General, Finance, and System. The row for each setup page has keywords allowing you to both search across setup pages and to filter the list to only see setup pages within a given area. 

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Topics: cloud ERP, microsoft dynamics 365

11 Tips To Determine The Total Cost Of Ownership For Cloud ERP

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Dec 30, 2016

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When appraising technology buys in your firm, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of an ERP/CRM software is a critical measurement of value. Most often, the technology vendor and buyer fixate on one thing – the acquisition price. This is mainly because of budgetary cycles that trend towards the short or near-term.

Business studies, going back years demonstrate that the cost of acquisition is the smallest part of the overall TCO.Truthfully, it is generally accepted that the cost of maintenance, upgrades, optimization, management, and training account for approximately 3-5 times the cost of the initial equipment acquisition over a five-year ownership period.

Because of this, it is mandatory that the small business owner look beyond the purchase and on-boarding expenditures, to ascertain the long-term view as to how much the technology actuallycost your organization.

Similarly, you must assess the TCO for a cloud/SaaS solution like SMB Suite’s Cloud subscription with the same evaluation as an ‘on-premise’ technology solution. The criteria should look something like this:
1. Cost per user, per month
2. Consulting / Implementation Fees
3. Training Costs
4. Ongoing User Support Costs
5. Upgrade Costs
6. Maintenance Costs
7. Extra Application Integration Costs (3rd Party Applications and Information)
8. Application/Environment Backup/Restoration/Recovery Costs
9. Ease and Cost of Adding New Functionality or Modules
10. Ease and Cost of Adding New Users to the Solution/System
11. Uptime Commitments and Cost of Business Downtime

SMB Suite views TCO as primarily the preferred method to analyze technology investments when two solutions provide roughly equivalent functionality over the solution lifecycle, but have different types of costs associated with acquisition, maintenance and operation. For these reasons, a TCO comparison offers a more tangible assessment of the total costs involved in deploying cloud-based SaaS and on-premise business solutions. 

Visit our website pricing page: www.smbsuite.com/pricing for more data on SMB Suite’s Cloud subscription TCO with Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics 365 for Financials and Sales.
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Real Madrid brings the stadium closer to 450 million fans around the globe, with the Microsoft Cloud

Posted by Frank Gerome

Dec 21, 2016

As the leading sports franchise in the world, Real Madrid has a lot to brag about, including more than 100 championships and a passionate fan base. But what the football club didn’t have was a way to directly engage with its 450 million global supporters. That changed when it implemented a comprehensive technology solution based on the Microsoft Cloud platform.

Now, Real Madrid is able to connect more closely with its fans and give them a better overall experience, while analyzing social media data and other information to customize marketing campaigns and boost revenues.

In the world of sports, it doesn’t get any bigger than Real Madrid. The world’s #1 sports franchise, the Spanish football club boasts more than 450 million fans across the globe and is known for its domination on the field. Since its founding in 1902, Real Madrid has won 116 official trophies, 11 European Cups, and a FIFA Club World Cup. It was recognized as the best football club of the 20th century by FIFA.

Passion is the hallmark of Real Madrid. The club’s global fans are fiercely loyal to the club, whether they’re cheering on the team at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium or watching a match on television. “It’s impossible to change football club loyalty. Fans never change clubs,” says José Ángel Sánchez, CEO of Real Madrid. That kind of passionate support is true for all Real Madrid fans, whether they’re in Spain, the US, or Asia.

But even with all its on-field success and ardent support, Real Madrid was still missing one thing: the ability to connect more closely with its fans. “We wanted to connect with all the people who support Real Madrid in the world,” says Sánchez. “It is critical for us to understand and learn from them, because in the end, the club belongs to them.” By engaging with its fans in more personal ways, Real Madrid wanted to increase revenue, customize marketing initiatives, and reinforce the club’s leadership position in the worldwide sports industry.

Embarking on a digital transformation initiative

Because Real Madrid knew it wanted to use state-of-the-art technologies to achieve its goals, the club chose to enhance its already strong partnership with Microsoft, which started when the Real Madrid Foundation and Microsoft began working together on social projects for Latin American youth around the world.

Real Madrid engaged a Microsoft Services team to develop a new technology solution that would provide a cohesive structure to support innovative digital services to serve the club’s global fans. Real Madrid also wanted to use the solution to collect and analyze data on fans. Microsoft Services worked with Real Madrid to build a comprehensive platform-as-a-service solution, based on the Microsoft Cloud and Office 365 platform. “Our core business is football, so having a technology partner manage the technology infrastructure is important,” says Enrique Uriel, CIO, Real Madrid. “The Azure platform will help us provide the services we want to offer because it gives us the scalability we need whenever we need it.”

The solution includes the following components:

Fan Engagement Platform. The marketing back-office engine of the solution, the platform captures and stores every interaction with a fan, including mobile check-ins at the club’s stadium, online fan profile updates on the club’s official website, and online merchandise purchases. It is hosted on Microsoft Office 365 based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Dynamics 365 for Marketing, and Power BI. The solution also takes advantage of Microsoft Social Engagement to collect club mentions and other data from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. An innovative solution built on Azure aggregated such data into social segmentation of the individual fan. The highest volumes of data reside in Azure Table Storage and Azure DocumentDB, which is used to enable high-performance queries for analysis.

Extended Video Platform. Hosted on Azure Media Services, it contains both new and historical video content, including previous Real Madrid matches. The platform uses Azure App Service to integrate the apps to Azure Media Services. The solution also uses Azure Media Player to present the content to fans and Azure Search as the search engine, so fans can filter searches to view specific games using criteria such as games where the club scored a certain number of goals. “Using the Microsoft Cloud, we are building a way of understanding who our fans are, where they are, and what they want from us.” José Ángel Sánchez, CEO, Real Madrid.

Consumer App. This mobile interactive app, designed for iOS, Android, and Windows platforms, was created using the .NET Framework with Microsoft Visual Studio 2013. Fans access the app on their mobile phones, tablets, or wearable devices to have the Real Madrid brand as part of their experience wherever they are. They can use the app to virtually access the stadium before, during, or after each game, and they can search data on all the club’s players, past and present, while also exploring detailed statistics from specific games.

For user authentication and profile storage, the solution uses a preview version of the Azure Active Directory Business to Consumer (B2C) identity service. Fans get simplified registration and login through use of social accounts like Facebook, or they can use traditional username/passwords for a seamless experience across mobile applications on any platform. Using a standard service built on the established Azure Active Directory platform significantly reduced custom code while giving Real Madrid customized branding and alleviating concerns about security, data breaches, and scalability.

Telemetry and Data Analysis. All aspects of the solution, including the cross-platform mobile applications and supporting web services, take advantage of Visual Studio Application Insights to provide rich telemetry on application usage by fans along with in-depth technical and operational insight across the entire infrastructure spanning mobile devices and Microsoft Azure.

The majority of this telemetry data is automatically collected with no added code, which significantly simplified the solution and reduced operational complexity.  This telemetry is also surfaced through Power BI, giving Real Madrid the ability to analyze fan engagement.

Engaging one-on-one with millions of fans

Previously, Real Madrid only had a one-way communication method for broadcasting information and news to its fans, without the ability to get any feedback from fans.

With its new solution, Real Madrid now has a tool to capture detailed information about its hundreds of millions of fans, which it can use to engage with them more deeply. For example, the club can capture and discover personal preferences for providing more relevant content to that fan through the new mobile app.  Or when fans use the app to check in at the stadium for a live match, the fan engagement platform can automatically provision a personal QR code for a loyalty in-stadium offer, or even a simple message that thanks the fan for investing time and money in seeing this live match.

“We can create a one-to-one relationship with fans around the planet with the Microsoft solution, connecting this huge community of people and making the experience of being a supporter of Real Madrid much better,” says Sánchez. “Our goal is to profile all our supporters, to understand who they are, and to give them what they want from us, such as exclusive content, and bring them closer to the club.”

Creating near-real-time marketing campaigns

Real Madrid is also able to take all the fan information gathered and stored in the fan engagement platform through fan actions to generate a detailed user profile of each fan. As a result, Real Madrid marketers can offer more targeted, customized marketing initiatives that could ultimately help the club increase revenues. For instance, the club’s fan engagement platform can aggregate social media post volume for each fan registered through the Real Madrid website or the new mobile app.

By analyzing these social media signals with Microsoft Social Engagement, Real Madrid can customize its marketing and advertising or encourage fans who have downloaded the app to use it. Or, by capturing social media information such as a fan’s favorite player, Real Madrid can send personalized emails to that fan showing how to find statistics on that particular player inside the app. “Using the Microsoft cloud, we are building a way of understanding who our fans are, where they are, and what they want from us,” says Sánchez. “We can find out if they want products or content, as well as whether they want to have an influence in decisions. This is an old dream of ours now made real with the Microsoft solution.”

The club hopes to use insights gained through the solution to plan, create, and optimize its marketing campaigns to drive the best possible engagements with its global fan base.

Using data to analyze app usage and fan behavior

Real Madrid is also able to use the solution to analyze specific user behavior. The digital platform records all information related to user actions, such as winning an external challenge, checking in at specific places, or updating profiles. The process of collecting and analyzing the data is based in Azure Data Factory, which extracts, loads, and transforms the information and stores it in Azure HDInsight for querying. The data is then published to Azure SQL Database and consumed by Excel and Power BI. Additionally, Real Madrid can perform queries to extract specific information from large data sets.

From its telemetry information, the club can see how users interact with the app, including how they open the app, if they click on advertisements proposed by the app, or use third-party applications integrated in the app to access specific areas. Using Visual Studio Application Insights, Real Madrid can see which users have executed specific actions. The club can use this information for better monitoring, operations, and forensic insights.

With all the data it collects and analyzes, Real Madrid has a process to clean, categorize, and group the information into reports that show how users are participating in the app, the number of users interacting with the system, and the specific actions inside the app.

Looking ahead, Real Madrid plans to use Azure Machine Learning to work directly with coaches and players to find out the status of players and also predict the price of seats during the season.

Transforming the business

As it expands its solution to add new features and engage with fans in new ways, Real Madrid will continue to completely transform its business. “The Microsoft Azure platform is helping us rebuild and reinterpret our business in a way that makes it possible for us and our fans to do things that used to be impossible,” says Sánchez. “It is really a complete disruption of the business model that football has had over the past 15 to 20 years.”

With its comprehensive new solution in place, Real Madrid believes it will be ready for the future. “It was our dream to connect with all our fans in the world, and we are doing that with our new technologies. We also understand that in the next five years, everything that is going to be transformed in this business will happen through technology,” says Sánchez. “The club will be in a very good position because of the sophistication of the developments we have made with Microsoft.” Adds Uriel, “By partnering with Microsoft, we have tools to enable mobility, efficiency, and productivity. With our new platform, we are going to make a big jump into the future.”

Case Study by Microsoft: https://customers.microsoft.com/en-US/story/real-madrid-brings-the-stadium-closer-to-450-million-f

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How to: Use Approval Workflows

Posted by Frank Gerome

Dec 21, 2016

When a record, such as a purchase document or a customer card, needs to be approved by someone in your organization, you send an approval request as part of a workflow. Based on how the workflow is set up, the appropriate approver is then notified that the record requires their approval.

Core approval workflows for purchases documents, sales documents, payment journals, customer cards, and item cards are ready to start as assisted setup. For more information, see Welcome to Financials.

Note: This functionality requires that your experience is set to Suite. For more information, see Customizing the Dynamics 365 for Financials Experience.

To request approval of a record

The following task is performed by an approval user.

  1. In the window that presents the record, choose the Send Approval Request action.
  2. To see all your approval requests, in the top right corner, choose the Search for Page or Report icon, enter Approval Request Entries, and then choose the related link.

The status of the approval entry is updated from Created to Open. The status of the record, for example a purchase invoice, is updated from Open to Pending Approval and remains locked for processing until all approvers have approved the record.

When the approver has approved the record, the status changes to Released. You can then continue your tasks with the record.

To cancel requests for approval

The following task is performed by an approval user with approver rights.

A customer may want to change an order after it has been submitted for approval. In this case, you can cancel the approval process and make the necessary changes to the order before you request approval again.

  1. In the window that displays the record, choose the Cancel Approval Request action.

When the approval request has been canceled, the status of the related approval entry is changed to Canceled. The status of the record is updated from Pending Approval to Open. The approval process can then start again.

To make minor changes to approved records

If you want to make a minor change to a record after it has been approved, you can reopen the record, make the change, and then release it. For minor changes, you do this with the Reopen and Release buttons.

  1. Open the window that displays the record, such as a purchase invoice, and then choose the Reopen action.

    The Document Status field is changed to Open.

  2. Make the necessary changes on the record, such as the vendor’s address.

  3. Choose the Release action.

When you reopen the source record, the status of the related approval entry remains Approved in the Approval Entries window.

To approve or reject requests for approval

The following task is performed by an approval user with approver rights.

You can process approval requests in the Requests to Approve window, for example to approve multiple requests at a time. Alternatively, you can process each request on the related record, such as the Purchase Invoice window, by choosing the link in the notification that you receive.

  1. In the top right corner, choose the Search for Page or Report icon, enter Requests to Approve, and then choose the related link.
  2. Select one or more lines for the record or records that you want to approve or reject.
  3. Choose the Approve, Reject, or Delegate actions.

When a record has been approved or rejected, the approval status in the Status field changes to Approved or Rejected.

If an approver hierarchy is set up, the record status will be Pending Approval until all approvers have approved the record. Then the record status will change to Released.

At the same time, the approval status changes from Created to Open as soon as an approval request for the record is created. If the request is rejected, the approval status changes to Rejected. The status remains Open or Rejected until all approvers have approved the request.

To delegate requests for approval

The following task is performed by an approval user with approver rights.

To prevent documents from piling up or otherwise block the workflow, the approver and the approval administrator can delegate an approval request to a substitute approver. The substitute can either be a designated substitute, the direct approver, or the approval administrator, in that order of priority. You typically use this feature if an approver is out of office and is unable to approve requests before the due date.

  1. In the top right corner, choose the Search for Page or Report icon, enter Requests to Approve, and then choose the related link.
  2. Select one or more lines for the approval requests that you want to delegate to a substitute approver, and then choose the Delegate action.

A notification to approve the request is sent to the substitute approver.

To manage overdue approval requests

The following task is performed by an approval user with approver rights.

At regular intervals, you must remind approval workflow users of overdue approval requests that they must react on. You use the Send Overdue Approval Notifications function for this.

The Send Overdue Approval Notifications function checks for all open approval requests that are currently overdue. Each approver that has at least one overdue approval entry receives a notification with the list of all their overdue approval requests. The notification is also sent to their approver and all the requesters of the overdue approvals. This helps if the overdue approval entry must be delegated to a substitute.

  1. In the top right corner, choose the Search for Page or Report icon, enter Overdue Approval Requests, and then choose the related link.
  2. In the Overdue Approval Requests window, choose the Send Overdue Approval Notifications action.
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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Road Map- What's New?

Posted by Frank Gerome

Dec 20, 2016

The Dynamics 365 Roadmap provides a snapshot of what's now available to you. Click on the link to see a description of each section listed: https://roadmap.dynamics.com/

  • Account Payables
  • Account Receivables
  • Account Schedules
  • Alternative Ship-To Addresses
  • Bank Account Reconciliation
  • Basic Resources
  • Budgets
  • Budgets/Estimates
  • Capacity Management
  • Cash Flow Forecast
  • Change Log (Audit trail)
  • Check Writing
  • Contact Management
  • Cross reference
  • Data Migration
  • Deferrals
  • Dimensions
  • Document Management, Capture and OCR
  • Drop Shipments
  • Dynamics 365 Integration
  • Electronic Payment
  • Fixed Assests
  • General Ledger
  • Interaction/Document Managment
  • Invenotry
  • Item Substitutions
  • Jobs
  • Multiple Currencies
  • Non-stock Items
  • Outlook Add-in
  • Outlook Client Integration
  • Pricing and Discounting
  • Purchase Invoicing
  • Purchase Order Management
  • Purchase Pricing
  • Reconciliation
  • Returns and Cancellations
  • Sales Invoice Discounts
  • Sales Invoicing
  • Sales Order Management
  • Salespeople/Purchasers
  • Shipping Agents
  • Word Reporting
  • Workflow
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Is your business cloud-optimized? 5 foundations of the journey

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Dec 16, 2016

Many small and midsize businesses are deciding to make cloud services and infrastructure an intentional component of their strategy, rather than scrambling to react every time employees start using some new service. These cloud-ready businesses are taking control of cloud adoption by investing in the right tools and making the technical and operational changes necessary to adapt to a faster-paced world.

A strategic approach to the cloud means recognizing that it is here to stay, and being clear about what benefits you want to achieve for your business. Then, you can evaluate where changes need to be made to ensure you can use cloud services securely and productively while maintaining control over costs.

Five key areas you should consider when optimizing your business for the cloud:

Infrastructure: Look at the IT hardware and networking infrastructure you currently have on-premises, and consider what you will need to fulfill your growth plans and optimize for the cloud. Look for ways you can consume infrastructure from the cloud instead of managing it yourself, as many robust options are available that are more secure and higher-performance than most small or midsize businesses can obtain on their own. These aspects of IT are generally well-defined and are not where you want to focus your efforts on adding value. At the same time, don’t abandon what you have. Rather, look for ways that your existing infrastructure can easily connect to the online services you with to use.

Data: Using online services naturally means data moves across multiple locations. The more cloud services you use, the more likely it is that you will keep significant amounts of data online. In order to cloud-optimize your business, look for data storage options that can interoperate with all the tools you plan to use, including analytics, business applications, and business processes. Being able to seamlessly move data to the cloud depending on application and performance needs can enable you to preserve more of your data in an accessible state.

Management: With the cloud, you can spin up multiple virtual servers for a variety of purposes, typically at far lower cost than purchasing the required hardware yourself. That means you need more than virtualization—you need visibility across all the services you support and consume. This is doubly true if you’re using a mix of on-premises hardware, cloud-based virtual machines, and public cloud services, as many businesses will for the foreseeable future. Visibility is also necessary to manage costs, as consuming cloud services typically uses an operational expense model rather than a capital expense model. This may require new management tools if your environment is on the more complex side.

Security: Securing data across multiple services is a different task than securing it behind a traditional firewall. You need server technology built to protect data wherever it goes, whether it’s on a local server, a mobile device, or an online file share. Strong encryption and multi-factor authentication should be available as an option in the technology you choose.

Applications: Look at all the applications your company uses and make strategic decisions about which ones will provide the best value when you set up your business in the cloud. Other apps might require modification to move to the cloud, but if the business value is there, it could well be worth the trouble.

One key to creating a cloud-ready business is choosing the right server technology to power your applications and services. Windows Server is designed for a cloud-first, mobile-first world and powers business workloads around the world. It helps you give employees access to information across diverse infrastructure, networks, devices, and applications, while offering high levels of security and reliability. And, interoperability between Windows Server and Microsoft Azure can smooth the path to cloud migration.

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