Archive for the ‘Project Management’ category

VAT registration U.A.E. – act now deadlines are imminent

October 17th, 2017

The UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA) online portal is open 24/7 to allow for taxpayers to register for VAT purposes. The FTA has also determined the deadlines for the application for VAT registration based on business turnover.
For larger companies VAT registration is required by 31 October 2017, and such businesses should
immediately consider the timeline requirement given their turnover profile and the other registration
requirements.
Businesses that are required to register for VAT will need to set up an online account on the FTA website and complete the VAT registration form.

The FTA has announced that a phased registration approach has been introduced. In particular, those businesses that meet these criteria must comply with the relevant application dates for registration:
● Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding AED 150 million must apply for registration by
31 October 2017
● Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding AED 10 million must apply for registration by 30 November 2017

● Remaining businesses with an annual turnover exceed the mandatory registration threshold
(expected to be AED 375,000) must apply for registration by 4 December 2017
Prior to the fulfilment of the VAT registration form, the FTA provides a “Getting Started Guide” that shares essential information that businesses should be aware of. This includes information on the registration criteria, registration of a VAT group, and necessity to register if only zero-rated supplies are made.

Additional details clarifying the VAT registration mechanism are found in the VAT registration guide, a document posted on FTA online portal under the “Advice” tab. This document captures the
calculation of turnover for VAT purposes, a walk-through of VAT registration through the FTA
registration portal, registration of a VAT group and types of books and records required to be held by a
taxpayer to ensure accurate tax compliance.

We strongly advise for businesses to visit the FTA website to initiate their VAT registration application by
their applicable deadline after having considered the guidance provided by the FTA and other advice
as required (for instance VAT Grouping).
Businesses should allow time to compile the required information for the VAT registration.

GDPR Affects All European Businesses – What about the G.C.C. and U.A.E.?

August 19th, 2017

See our previous article on this topic for why your company may be affected if you are a branch of a European company, or have branches in Europe, or trade with a European company.

From May 25, 2018, companies with business operations inside the European Union must follow the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to safeguard how they process personal data “wholly or partly by automated means and to the processing other than by automated means of personal data which form part of a filing system or are intended to form part of a filing system.”

The penalties set for breaches of GDPR are up to 4% of a company’s annual global turnover.
For large companies like Microsoft that have operations within the EU, making sure that IT systems do not contravene GDPR is critical. As we saw on August 3, even the largest software operations like Office 365 can have a data breach.

Many applications can store data that might come under the scope of GDPR. the regulation has a considerable influence over how tenants deal with personal data. The definition of personal data is “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.”
GDPR goes on to define processing of personal data to be “any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.”

That means that individuals have the right to ask companies to tell them what of their personal data a company holds, and to correct errors in their personal data, or to erase that data completely.

Companies therefore need to:
- review and know what personal data they hold,
- make sure that they obtain consents from people to store that data,
– protect the data,
- and notify authorities when data breaches occur.

On first reading, this might sound like what companies do – or at least try to do – today. The difference lies in the strength of the regulation and the weight of the penalties should anything go wrong.

GDPR deserves your attention.

The definitions used by GDPR are broad. To move from the theoretical to the real world an organization first needs to understand what personal data it currently holds for its business operations, and where they use the data within software applications.

It is easy to hold personal information outside of business applications like finance and erp and crm e.g. inside Office 365 applications, including:
• Annual reviews written about employees stored in a SharePoint or OneDrive for Business site.
• A list of applicants for a position in an Excel worksheet attached to an email message.
• Tables holding data (names, employee numbers, hire dates, salaries) about employees in SharePoint sites.
• Outlook contacts, and emails. Skype business,
• Social media sites
• Loyalty programmes
• T@A systems
• E commerce sites
• Mobile apps e.g. What’s App

Other examples might include contract documentation, project files that includes someone’s personal information, and so on.

What backups do you have of the customer’s data?
What business data do your staff hold on BYOD devices e.g. in What’s App?

Data Governance Helps
Fortunately, the work done inside Office 365 in the areas of data governance and compliance help tenants to satisfy the requirements of GDPR. These features include:
• Classification labels and policies to mark content that holds personal data.
• Auto-label policies to find and classify personal data as defined by GDPR. Retention processing can then remove items stamped with the GDPR label from mailboxes and sites after a defined period, perhaps after going through a manual disposition process.
• Content searches to find personal data marked as coming under the scope of GDPR.
• Alert policies to detect actions that might be violations of the GDPR such as someone downloading multiple documents over a brief period from a SharePoint site that holds confidential documentation.
• Searches of the Office 365 audit log to discover and report potential GDPR issues.
• Azure Information Protection labels to encrypt documents and spreadsheets holding personal data by applying RMS templates so that unauthorized parties cannot read the documents even if they leak outside the organization.

Technology that exists today within Office 365 that can help with GDPR.

Classification Labels
Create a classification label to mark personal data coming under the scope of GDPR and then apply that label to relevant content. When you have Office 365 E5 licenses, create an auto-label policy to stamp the label on content in Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business found because documents and messages hold sensitive data types known to Office 365.

GDPR sensitive data types

Select from the set of sensitive data types available in Office 365.
The set is growing steadily as Microsoft adds new definitions.
At the time of writing, 82 types are available, 31 of which are obvious candidates to use in a policy because those are for sensitive data types such as country-specific identity cards or passports.

Figure 1: Selecting personal data types for an auto-label policy (image credit: Tony Redmond)

GDPR Policy

The screenshot in Figure 2 shows a set of sensitive data types selected for the policy. The policy applies a label called “GDPR personal data” to any content found in the selected locations that matches any of the 31 data types.

Auto-apply policies can cover all Exchange mailboxes and SharePoint and OneDrive for Business sites in a tenant – or a selected sub-set of these locations.


Figure 2: The full set of personal data types for a GDPR policy (image credit: Tony Redmond)

Use classification labels to mark GDPR content so that you can search for this content using the ComplianceTag keyword (for instance, ComplianceTag:”GDPR personal data”).

Caveats:
It may take 1-2 week before auto-label policies apply to all locations.
An auto-label policy will not overwrite a label that already exists on an item.

A problem is that classification labels only cover some of Office 365. Some examples of popular applications where you cannot yet use labels are:
• Teams.
• Planner.
• Yammer.

Microsoft plans to expand the Office 365 data governance framework to other locations (applications) over time.
Master data management
What about all the applications running on SQL or other databases?
Master Data Management MDM is a feature of SQL since SQL 2012. However, when you have many data sources then you are relay into an ETL process and even with MDM tools the work is still significant.

If you have extensive requirements then ask us about Profisee our specialist, productized MDM solution built on top of SQL MDM that allows you to do much of the work by configuration.

Right of Erasure
Finding GDPR data is only part of the problem. Article 17 of GDPR (the “right of erasure”), says: “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay.” In other words, someone has the right to demand that an organization should erase any of their personal data that exists within the company’s records.

Content searches can find information about someone using their name, employee number, or other identifiers as search keywords, but erasing the information is something that probably also needs manual processing to ensure that the tenant removes the right data, and only that data.

You can find and remove documents and other items that hold someone’s name or other identifier belonging to them by using tools such as Exchange’s v Search-Mailbox cmdlet, or Office 365 content searches.
What if the the data ahs to be retained because the company needs to keep items for regulatory or legal purposes, can you then go ahead and remove the items?
The purpose of placing content on-hold is to ensure that no-one, including administrators, can remove that information from Exchange or SharePoint.

The GDPR requirement to erase data on request means that administrators might have to release holds placed on Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business locations to remove the specified data. Once you release a hold, you weaken the argument that held data is immutable. The danger exists that background processes or users can then either remove or edit previously-held data and so undermine a company’s data governance strategy.

The strict reading of GDPR is that organizations must process requests to erase personal data upon request.
What if the company needs to keep some of the data to satisfy regulations governing financial transactions, taxation, employment claims, or other interactions? This is a dilemma for IT. Lawyers will undoubtedly have to interpret requests and understand the consequences before making decisions and it is likely that judges will have to decide some test cases in different jurisdictions before full clarity exists.

Hybrid is even More Difficult

Microsoft is working to help Office 365 tenants with GDPR. However, I don’t see the same effort going to help on-premises customers. Some documentation exists to deal with certain circumstances (like how to remove messages held in Recoverable Items), but it seems that on-premises customers have to figure out a lot things for themselves.

This is understandable. Each on-premises deployment differs slightly and exists inside specific IT environments. Compared to the certainty of Office 365, developing software for on-premises deployment must accommodate the vertical and company specific requirements with integrations and bespoke developments.

On-premises software is more flexible, but it is also more complicated.
Solutions to help on-premises customers deal with GDPR are more of a challenge than Microsoft or other software vendors wants to take on especially given the industry focus of moving everything to the cloud.

Solutions like auto-label policies are unavailable for on-premises servers. Those running on-premises SharePoint and Exchange systems must find their own ways to help the businesses that they serve deal with personal data in a manner that respects GDPR. Easier said than done and needs to start sooner than later.

SharePoint Online GitHub Hub

If you work with SharePoint Online, you might be interested in the SharePoint GDPR Activity Hub. At present, work is only starting, but it is a nway to share information and code with similarly-liked people.

ISV Initiatives

There many ISV-sponsored white papers on GDPR and how their technology can help companies cope with the new regulations. There is no doubt that these white papers are valuable, if only for the introduction and commentary by experts that the papers usually feature. But before you resort to an expensive investment, ask yourself whether the functionality available in Office 365 or SQL is enough.

Technology Only Part of the Solution

GDPR will effect Office 365 because it will make any organization operating in the European Union aware of new responsibilities to protect personal data. Deploy Office 365 features to support users in their work, but do not expect Office 365 to be a silver bullet for GDPR. Technology seldom solves problems on its own. The nature of regulations like GDPR is that training and preparation are as important if not more important than technology to ensure that users recognize and properly deal with personal data in their day-to-day activities.

VAT for the U.A.E. some updates – July 2017

July 15th, 2017

Any taxable person must retain VAT invoices issued and received for a minimum of 5 years.

Imports
The place of supply will determine whether a supply is made within the UAE (in which case the UAE VAT law will apply), or outside the UAE for VAT purposes. For a supply of goods, the place of supply should be the location of goods when the supply takes place – with special rules for certain categories of supplies (e.g. water and energy, cross border supplies).

For the supply of services, the place of supply should be where the supplier is established – (with special rules for certain categories of supplies e.g. cross border supplies between businesses).

VAT shall be payable in addition to the custom duties paid by the importer of the goods and cannot be deducted against. VAT shall be computed on the value that includes the customs duties.

Some goods that are imported may be exempt from customs duties but be subject to VAT.

VAT is due on the goods and services purchased from abroad. In case the recipient in the State is a registered person with the Federal Tax Authority for VAT purposes, the VAT would be due on that import using a reverse charge mechanism. In case the recipient in the State is a non-registered person for VAT purposes, VAT would be paid on import of goods from a place outside the GCC. Such VAT will typically be required to be paid before the goods are released to the person.

Exempt and zero rate
- The VAT treatment of real estate will depend on whether it is a commercial or residential property.
Supplies (including sales or leases) of commercial properties will be taxable at the standard VAT rate (i.e 5%).
- Supplies of residential properties will generally be exempt from VAT to ensure that VAT does not constitute an irrecoverable cost to persons who buy their own properties. To ensure that real estate developers can recover VAT on construction of residential properties, the first supply of residential properties within 3 years from their completion will be zero-rated.

There is a difference between exempt goods and zero rate. (for example zero rate might be raised in future).
VAT will be charged at 0% in respect of the following main categories of supplies:
• Exports of goods and services to outside the GCC;
• International transportation, and related supplies;
• Supplies of certain sea, air and land means of transportation (such as aircrafts and ships);
• Certain investment grade precious metals (e.g. gold, silver, of 99% purity);
• Newly constructed residential properties, that are supplied for the first time within 3 years of their construction ;
• Supply of certain education services, and supply of relevant goods and services;
• Supply of certain Healthcare services, and supply of relevant goods and services.

The following categories of supplies will be exempt from VAT:
• The supply of some financial services (clarified in VAT legislation);
• Residential properties;
• Bare land;
• Local passenger transport

Financial Services
It is expected that fee based financial services will be taxed but margin based products are likely to be exempt.
Generally, insurance (vehicle, medical, etc) will be taxable.
Life insurance, we understand will be treated as an exempt financial service

The VAT treatment of standard financial services and Islamic finance products, the treatment of Islamic finance products will be aligned with the treatment of similar standard financial services

Businesses that meet requirements the Legislation (such as being resident in the UAE and being related/associated parties) will be able to register as a VAT group. For some businesses, VAT grouping will be a useful tool to simplify accounting for VAT.

Offsetting VAT.
VAT registered businesses will be able to reduce their output tax liability by the amount of VAT that relates to bad debt which has been written off by the VAT registered business. The legislation will include the conditions and limitations concerning the use of this relief.

A scheme will be introduced to allow a UAE national who is not registered for VAT to reclaim VAT paid on goods and services relating to constructing a new residence which will be privately used by the person and his family. This will allow the recovery of VAT on such expenses as contractor’s services and building materials.

To avoid double taxation (where second hand goods are acquired by a registered person from an unregistered person for the purpose of resale), the VAT-registered person will be able to account for VAT on sales of second hand goods with reference to: the difference between the purchase price of the goods, and the selling price of the goods (that is, the profit margin).

The VAT which must be accounted for by the registered person, will be included in the profit margin. The legislation will include the details of the conditions to be met in order to apply this mechanism.

VAT on expenses
A VAT registered person incurs input tax on its business expenses, and this input tax can be recovered in full when it relates to a taxable supply that was made, or intended to be made, by the registered person. In contrast, where the expense relates to a non-taxable supply (e.g. exempt supplies), then the registered person may not recover the input tax paid.

VAT will not be deductible in respect of expenses incurred for making non-taxable supplies. Furthermore, input tax cannot be deducted when it is incurred in respect of specific expenses such as entertainment expenses e.g. for employee entertainment.

VAT on expenses that were incurred by a business can be deducted in the following circumstances:
• The business must be a taxable person (the end consumer cannot claim any input tax refund).
• VAT should have been charged correctly (i.e. unduly charged VAT is not recoverable).
• The business must hold documentation showing the VAT paid (e.g. valid tax invoice).
• The goods or services acquired are used or intended to be used for making taxable supplies.
• VAT input tax refund can be claimed only on the amount paid or intended to be paid before the expiration of 6 months after the agreed date for the payment of the supply.

In certain situations, an expense may relate to both taxable and non-taxable supplies made by the registered person (such as activities of the banking sector). In these circumstances, the registered person would need to apportion input tax between the taxable and non-taxable (exempt) supplies.

Businesses will be expected to use input tax (ratio of recoverable to total) as a basis for apportionment in the first instance – (there will be the facility to use other methods where those are fair and agreed with the Federal Tax Authority).

Compliance and returns
Penalties will be imposed for non-compliance. Examples of actions and omissions that may give raise to penalties include:
• A person failing to register when required to do so;
• A person failing to submit a tax return or make a payment within the required period;
• A person failing to keep the records required under the issued tax legislation;
• Tax evasion offences where a person performs a deliberate act or omission with the intention of violating the provisions of the issued tax legislation.

No special rules are planned for small or medium sized enterprises. The FTA will provide materials and resources available for these entities to assist them in their enquiries.

A supplier registered or required to be registered for VAT must issue a valid VAT invoice for the supply. To be considered as a valid VAT invoice, the document must follow a specific format as mentioned in the legislation. In certain situations the supplier may be able to issue a simplified VAT invoice.

Government entities
Supplies made by government entities will typically be subject to VAT. This will ensure that government entities are not unfairly advantaged as compared to private businesses. Certain supplies made by government entities will, however, be excluded from the scope of VAT if they are not in competition with the private sector or where the entity is the sole provider of such supplies. It is likely certain government entities will be entitled to VAT refunds – this is designed to avoid budgeting issues and provide a level playing field between outsourced and insourced activities. For the supplies provided for government entities, the treatment of such supplies shall depend on the same supply and not on the recipient of the supply. Therefore, if the supply is subject to the standard tax rate, the treatment would remain the same even if it is provided to a government entity.

Transitional rules
Special rules will be provided to deal with various situations that may arise in respect of supplies that span the introduction of VAT. For example:
• Where a payment is received in respect of a supply of goods before the introduction of VAT, but the goods are actually delivered after the introduction of VAT. This means that VAT will have to be charged on such supplies. Likewise, special rules will apply with regards to supplies of services spanning the introduction of VAT.
• Where a contract is concluded prior to the introduction of VAT in respect of a supply, which is wholly or partly made after the introduction of VAT, and the contract does not contain clauses relating to the VAT treatment of the supply, then consideration for the supply will be treated as inclusive of VAT.

There will, however, be special provisions to allow suppliers to charge VAT in situations where their recipient is able to recover their VAT but where there is no VAT clause.

Payments and claims
Note that VAT will be payable in full not after netting off input tax which will then have to be claimed. This is more of a challenge for cash flow and business risk, especially given the penalties for late payments.
Refunds will be made after the receipt of the application and will be subject to verification checks, with a particular focus to avoid fraud.

The FTA may provide its views on various matters in the law. Taxpayers may choose to challenge these views. However, penalties may be imposed on taxpayers who are found to violate any tax laws and regulations.

Other Emirates
It is expected that businesses will need to complete additional information on their VAT returns to report revenues earned in each Emirate. Guidance will be provided to businesses with regards to this. It is expected that the rules will be relatively straightforward for most businesses and will be based, for example, for B2C transactions, on the location of the transaction (e.g. in a retail environment, the location of the shop).

European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – 2018 what should GCC countries consider?

May 30th, 2017

The UAE Ministry of Economy is raising awareness among private sector companies of the need to be ready for new European data protection rules, which comes into force one year from now.

The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to become law by May 2018. The new rules govern all companies in Europe, as well as all companies trading with European companies and individuals.

The GDPR was drafted to “harmonise the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons in respect of processing activities and to ensure the free flow of personal data between Member States

The law includes strong penalties for either misuse of data, or failure to protect the personal data of customers, with fines of up to 4% of annual turnover, or 20m euros ($22m).

HE Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Economy, noted that the regulation issued by the EU aims to protect the data of every individual in the EU.

This not only impacts companies operating in European countries, but includes all institutions and companies that conduct business, trade and investment activities within EU countries, including the UAE business sector linked with European trade relations.

Due to this, the Ministry is working on deepening its knowledge about the new legislation, its provisions and requirements, and aims to reconcile its operational procedures with European authorities, in adherence with the framework of the GDPR, before May 2018.

Al Kait emphasized the EU is one of the UAE’s most important trade partners. Trade between the two sides generated $65.8 billion in 2016 alone. The UAE has become one of the top 10 destinations for EU exports, and is home to over 41,000 European companies, in addition to over 121,000 EU citizens.

Penalties will also apply to information controllers and processors, including cloud software companies.

The new legislation also outlines terms of approval for the use of data, to prevent companies from using legally illegitimate terms, and gives both parties the ability to easily withdraw if desired.

The compliance world will change dramatically for a number of GCC organizations on 25 May 2018. In just over one year’s time GCC organizations that:
1.have a branch, subsidiary or single representative in the European Union (“EU”);
2.do not have a physical presence in the EU, but offer goods or services to data subjects in the EU; or
3.neither have a physical presence in the EU nor offer goods or services to people in the EU, but monitor the online behavior of data subjects in the EU, will have to ensure that they are complying with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

Who is likely to be affected?

Based on the test set out in the GDPR, the new regulations will likely apply to a significant number of entities in this region.
Obvious examples include:
– major airlines that fly to and from the EU,
- hotel and tourism operators who promote travel to the region to EU data subjects,
- regional banks and other financial service companies that have branches in the financial centres in the EU and online.

Less obvious examples include:
- e-commerce companies that are able to accept payments in euros and deliver to the EU
- mobile apps that can be downloaded by users in the EU and which have access to a user’s contacts, photos or location data.

All of these businesses may need to comply with the GDPR and to mitigate the risk and cost of failure to do so.
If your organization is affected it has three main options:
1. wait and see i.e. do nothing (not advisable);
2.consider what it needs to do to ensure that it does not fall within the scope of the GDPR;
3. take immediate steps to prepare to comply with the GDPR .

For option (2), if your organization does not have an establishment in the EU and does not need to target or monitor EU data subjects then you ight consider making it very clear that your website or app is not for use by EU users (e.g. including geo-blocking EU data subjects).

for option (3), if you have not started the process of ensuring compliance by now, then there is a lot to do.

1.monitor business to consumer business practices, including:
- conducting a data protection audit,
- examining the legal basis on which it processes personal data and updates its privacy policies;
2.monitor internal business practices, including:
- review and update of agreements with data processors,
- implement processes for adoption of pseudoanonymization and privacy by design
- considering the legal basis on which it transfers personal data between jurisdictions;
3.establish compliant accountability processes, including”
- processes for record keeping,
- appointment of a data protection officer or EU representative and dealing with data subjects;
4.invest in infrastructure, including:
- how to determine the severity, and impact on data subjects of a data breach
- to establish robust security processes and procedures for notifying regulatory authorities and data subjects -

The need for compliance, especially for longer-term projects such as records of processing and compliant contracting, must be addressed as soon as is practicable.

Businesses that either operate, target customers or monitor individuals in the EU should :
• Audit: to identify key remediation areas.
• Record of Processing: This mandatory record will require significant internal resources, but will also help to plan and implement GDPR processes. .
• Consider Contract Renegotiations: The GDPR requires that contracts with data controllers include additional obligations. As companies come to renegotiate contracts, ensure that adequate data protection clauses are added.
• Review and update, where necessary, employee notices to be GDPR compliant. If you currently conduct criminal records checks, then review national laws where you operate to ensure you can continue to do so . There is an emphasis on transparency in the GDPR. Notices must be clear, concise and informative. Employees must be adequately informed of all data processing activities and data transfers and the information set out in Articles 13 to 14 must be provided. Criminal records can no longer be processed unless authorized by member state law.

Consider whether your organization is processing any sensitive personal data and ensure the requirements for
processing such data are satisfied While the grounds for processing are broadly the same as those set out
in the current Data Privacy Directive, the GDPR imposes new requirements to gain valid consent. Consent can be withdrawn at any time and systems must be able to handle withdrawal request.

• Review and update, where necessary, customer notices to be GDPR compliant
• Consider whether your notices have to accommodate “child-friendly requirements”. he GDPR requires parental consent for the processing of data related to information society services offered to a “child” (ranging
from 13 to 16 years old depending on the member state.
• Data privacy rights. The current rights to request access to data or require it to be rectified or deleted have been expanded to include a much broader right to require deletion (“the right to be forgotten”), a right not just to access your data but have it provided to you in a machine readable format (“data portability”). Versions of the existing right to object to any processing undertaken on the basis of legitimate interests or for direct marketing and the right not to be subject to decision based on automated processing are also included and expressly refer a right to object to profiling.
These must be clearly communicated in the notices given to data subjects, e.g. privacy policy
• Privacy by design. Ensure processes are in place to embed privacy by design into projects (e.g. technical and organizational measures are in place to ensure data minimization, purpose limitation and security)

Consider what data you hold in emails, in CRM systems, Social media.
What should be your data access use and retention policies?

Personally I think it will be great if this is a way to prosecute the perpetrators of all the spam nd phishing emails I get or at least to remove data form their lists!

VAT registration nears for the GCC – what should you be doing now – contact Synergy Software Systems

May 29th, 2017

VAT (Value Added TAX), which is also called as ‘tax on consumption’ , is a tax that is payable while purchasing any product. VAT is applied as particular percentage of the cost of goods and services, hence it can not be considered as a charge on companies. It is a general tax amount, which is added by the producer to the inputs before they are sold as new offerings.

All UAE businesses subject to the Value-Added Tax have to submit their tax declaration statements on a quarterly basis after the VAT law goes into effect starting January 2018, according the Ministry of Finance.

The threshold for VAT registration put at Dh375,000 as per the ministry’s announcement this week.
It is optional to register between Dh187,500 and Dh375,000 .

UAE businesses will be able to start VAT registration in Q3 2017 and it is compulsory to be registered by Q4 2017.

Businesses will be able to register online using eServices.

The UAE businesses, subject to the tax, have to keep all files that allow competent authorities to audit their transactions and commercial activities, with the nature of the needed documents to be announced over the coming period. Businesses will be required to keep records which will enable the authorities to identify the details of the business activities and to review transactions. The specifics regarding the documents which will be required and the time period for keeping those will be communicated in due course.

Review your finance systems’ readiness for rapid implementation to meet these requirements. There will be a shortage of skilled consultants, and there are several holidays (EID, Diwali, Christmas, New Year, National Day etc. its also budget time, and preparation for year end audits,to fit in during the last quarter. Allow time for collection of your trading partners VAT registration ids, for report development and update, for testing and for staff training.

All six of the GCC member states: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain – have now signed and approved the VAT framework.

Registered businesses will be expected to submit VAT returns on a regular basis. It is expected that the default period for filing VAT returns will be three months for the majority of businesses. Registered businesses will be able to file their returns online using eServices.

Exemptions:
We understand that:
Health, education services, international transportation, import gold for investment purposes, commodities and exports are exempted from VAT in UAE.
Residential buildings for sale or lease during the first three years in which the building is completed, some financial services and empty plots of land are also exempted from VAT.

The GCC Member States will appreciate the VAT on financial provisions. The Banks and Financial House are ineligible for VAT in terms of the services provided, instead, they might be eligible for input tax based on tax recovery rates determined by each Member State.

The Federal Tax Authority has also announced a 100 per cent tax on tobacco, energy drinks and 50 per cent on carbonated beverages. This is separate from VAT.

The General Authority for Zakat and Income Tax (GAZT) in KSA reportedly warned businesses, during an awareness session that took place at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce on Monday 16 May 2017, that penalties will be applicable in the cases of violation of VAT laws and regulations.

Penalties

The following types of Penalties will apply in each of the following cases:
• Case 1: Businesses required to register for VAT and that fail to register shall be liable to double the net tax due.
• Case 2: Committing an error in filling the tax return shall result in paying an additional 50% of net tax declared.

• Case 3: Exaggerated tax refund claims shall be subject to a penalty 50% of the original amount reported.
• Case 4: Late filing of tax return would result in a penalty of SAR 1,000 and an extra 5 to 20% of the unpaid tax. The percentage varies depending on the number of days of delay.
• Case 5: Non-registered person who issue an invoice with VAT shall pay SAR 1,000 or double the amount of the net tax (whichever is higher).
• Case 6: Not keeping records of the required documents shall result on a penalty of SAR 1,000 or 2% of the monthly average taxable supplies (whichever is higher).
• Case 7: Non-compliance with GAZT inquiries in providing relevant information shall result in a penalty of SRA 1,000 or 2% of the average monthly taxable supplies (SAR 20,000 maximum) or whichever is higher.

VAT planning- GCC framework is published

May 10th, 2017

The GCC’s unified agreement for value added tax (VAT) has recently been published (in Arabic only) by the
Saudi Ministry of Finance on their website.

This unified agreement sets out the framework under which VAT can be implemented in each of the
GCC member states. The framework includes agreement on certain matters but still allows member
states discretion on how to treat others.

Once the agreement is ratified, each member state can issue its own local law and implement VAT.

The UAE intends to implement VAT with effect from 1 January 2018 but other states may take another 6 months or so.

The framework paves the way for implementation, for a basic rate of VAT of five percent with certain supplies of goods and services zero rated or VAT exempt. We understand that the Ministry of Finance (MoF) will release the UAE’s law on VAT towards the end of June. This will detail how the UAE will interpret the GCC framework and how it will deal with those matters where it has discretion. These will include whether to treat certain supplies as zero rated or VAT exempt.

The local law will detail conditions for:
VAT deductions,
VAT grouping
Rules for recovering VAT in respect of financial services
Reporting formats

There is no indication of how VAT will apply to free zones.

The MoF has recently been holding a series of public awareness sessions, outlining how they
propose to apply VAT to those areas where the GCC framework allows discretion. The UAE has also
taken steps to set up its own Federal Tax Authority (FTA), which will be responsible for all VAT
matters in the UAE.

The framework provides information to start planning for VAT.

VAT will impact all businesses in the UAE, either directly or indirectly.

So carefully review your systems and review their processes to understand the impact of VAT and to determine what needs to be done to be fully compliant with the new laws.

Do you need to recruit? Train?

Budget for auditors, or consulting support, or system modifications or upgrades?

What contracts are in place beyond 1 January 2018 -how will those be impacted by VAT?

All businesses will be required to maintain extensive and proper books of account because complete, verifiable
documentation will be essential to support a VAT refund claim and avoid penalties for non-compliance.

Accounting systems should be able to identify and record VAT – payable and receivable, – across the entire supply chain. Ensure that your systems will enable you to:
- hold VAT registration ids by trading partner
- hold VAT codes by item fro the relevant tax rate or exemption.
- identify and record rebates,
- exemptions,
– or other special VAT treatments on particular transactions.
- generate commercial documents like invoices or till receipts with VAT shown
- deal with rebate and returns
- create timely, accurate statutory returns
- work with current interfaces.
- product auditable accounts.

We have already received several dozen inquires to assist with this transition, if you need assistance with your business systems to comply with VAT then please contact us in good time – year end is a holiday season and also a busy time for new system go live, and for financial audit preparation.

3 new Microsoft tools to help you to move to the cloud.

April 18th, 2017

Here’s a breakdown of the three new Microsoft tools to help you move to the cloud faster and what they can offer businesses.

1. Free cloud migration assessment

This assessment will help customers to more easily find and to better understand their current server setups, to help them to determine the cost and the value of moving to the cloud. Once the servers are discovered, the tool can analyze their configurations, and give the user a report of the potential cost drop of moving to Azure.

Data center administrators can export the results of the assessment into a customized report. The report could provide some valuable data and statistics for a CIO conversation with the CFO.

2. Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

This tool should save users money on their cloud deployments. Customers can activate the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit in the Azure Management Portal,It is available on Windows Server virtual machines in Azure, to all customers. “Use your on-premises Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance to save big on Windows Server VMs in Azure. By using your existing licenses, you pay the base compute rate and save up to 40 percent.” the tool’s web page said,

3. Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery is meant to ease the process of migrating virtual machines to Azure. Applications running on AWS, VMware, Hyper-V, or physical servers can be moved. Additionally, a new feature in Azure Site Recovery will “allow you to tag virtual machines within the Azure portal itself, This capability will make it easier than ever to migrate your Windows Server virtual machines.”

Other features include automated protection and replication of virtual machines, remote monitoring, custom recovery plans, recovery plan testing, and more

Dynamics 365 – Licensing and support key dates to be aware. Ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

March 18th, 2017

License Renewal & Anniversary Date:

If you are considering an upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations, then your license anniversary or enhancement renewal date is significant, You have the opportunity to do a full platform and license transition. There are specific incentives and license credits available to make this transition when you are on a supported product version.

The Mainstream Support End Date of your Current Dynamics AX Software Version:

If you do not opt to move to a cloud-based license model at your license anniversary, then the next important date to consider is the mainstream support end date for the current product you are using:

Support Dates for Existing Dynamics AX On-premise products:
AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 & R2 – Mainstream support ends in April 10, 2018; Extended support is available until October 12, 2021
AX 2012 R3 – Mainstream support ends on October 12, 2021; Extended support is available until January 10, 2023

Why is it important to be on a Mainstream Supported Product?

There are many reasons to be on a supported product :
1.The option to receive support updates and hotfixes – this is the forum in which Microsoft collects bugs and issues and systematically releases fixes, making the platform up-to-date and reliable.
2.Regulatory Compliance ends with Mainstream Support – this means that when your organization is legally obligated to follow regulatory compliance standards, this process will need to be manually completed.
3. Access to Customer resources.

During Extended support, Microsoft provides support for the product and will provide security-related hotfixes.

Your Dynamics Roadmap – Action Plan

So, what should all of these dates mean to you? The answer depends on many things: which version you’re currently using, the range of modules, and customisations, and integrations, your hardware investment, internet connectivity, how you are impacted by statutory changes, economic pressures, and so on..

For those on AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 & R2:

It’s ideal to be on a mainstream supported product, and extended support is available through October of 2021. In either scenario, you need to an action plan to:
◾Decide whether to stay on premise thereafter , or whether to go cloud at some point.
◾Decide to what product you’ll upgrade and whether this will be a one or two step process – AX 2012 R3 or direct to Dynamics 365 operations?
◾Identify requirements for path chosen (Data migration, customizations, process change, short term hardware investments, whether to upgrade SQL or operating systems, etc.)
◾Budget [time and money] for the requirements gathering [can last several months] and the actual upgrade
◾Identify internal/external resources to execute the project
◾Perform and test the upgrade , and train new users.

Most companies want to have the decision and plan in place before mainstream support ends – which is just over a year away – April of 2018 for 2019.

There are other incentives as to upgrading sooner rather than later.

For those on AX 2012 R3:

Like the clients on AX 2009, 2012 R1, & R2 (above), the same decisions must be made.
Do you want to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Operations?
Do you want to stay on premise?

While your mainstream support lasts longer, there are benefits and incentives to consider when deciding on a timeline for your changes.

On-premise vs. Cloud Options:

Until February 2017, existing on-premise clients only had 3 Options:
◾Stay with your Perpetual License on AX 2012 or earlier (keep paying Enhancement or Software Assurance)
◾Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations and move to Subscription Only [Cloud] Model (available at license anniversary/renewal)
◾Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations in a Hybrid Model (Perpetual License + Cloud Add-On)
◾ Move to Dynamics 365 for Operations subscription license but continue to use Dynamics 2012 on premise R3 for some time before moving to Dynamics 365 for Operations (‘equivalence”)

On February 23rd, Microsoft announced a new, hybrid option based on edge computing:
◾Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations, but stay on premise, either with a subscription license or keep a Perpetual License model.

On Monday last week in the Tech Conference , Microsoft announced more details about the new deployment options for Dynamics 365 for Operations that will be available in Q2 2017.

In addition to a pure-cloud environment, organizations can now choose from two options on how this can work .

◾The first is a hybrid deployment (called Cloud and Edge) where critical operations processes, as an example, can remain in an on-premise database, but the power of the cloud can be harnessed for additional scalability.

◾ The second option is, essentially, on premise option. Microsoft calls this option Local Business Data, where Dynamics 365 resides in your existing datacenter.

Investment Credit and Incentives:

Most companies do their budgeting annually, so planning your roadmap should already be underway in 2017. At the Summit Conference last October, Microsoft announced a 40% discount to existing on-premise clients who want to transition to the new Dynamics 365 Cloud Platform. This incentive is active for 3 years.
If you transition in 2017, you’ll be able to leverage 2 years of discounts,
if you transition in 2018, then you’ll only be able to leverage 1 year of discounts
If you do not transition till 2019, you may not get a discount (depending on transition month).

Under Dynamics 365, licensing SKU’s, functionality and license names also changed , so there is an additional consideration to make in how your organization is licensed. Like previous license models, Dynamics 365 for Operations has different user license types – each with different user rights. The more prescriptive you can be for what your users need to access to the more accurate will be your license transition and the more money you can save.

Strategic Planning with Synergy Software Systems

Synergy Software Systems can undertake a license and environment audit to help you understand your high- level options and costs associated with those options. If you feel that cloud has exciting new functionality and integration that you’ve been looking for, use the time you have between now and your next license anniversary/renewal to look at Dynamics 365 for Operations with us and decide if it’s right for you.

If you’re on Dynamics AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 or R2, use the time between now and April 2018 to decide how to best leverage your existing investment in your ERP system in the next supported step in your Dynamics roadmap journey.

If you’d like help to better understand your options then reach out to us on 00971 4 3365589

Artificial intelligence what does it mean for your company in Dubai?i

January 21st, 2017

At the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained that his company has designed its artificial intelligence (AI) solutions specifically to augment human workers, not replace them.

In a panel discussion with other tech leaders, Nadella said that AI, much like user experience, can be designed with a goal in mind. While some are designing AI systems to think like humans in order to replace them, he said, Microsoft is designing systems to assist humanity. Nadella said that Microsoft was utilizing “pragmatic principles that can guide AI creation.” He also mentioned that this isn’t a new strategy for Microsoft, as he pointed out this idea in his 10 rules for AI that he posted in June 2016.

Of the rules initially proposed by Nadella, the two most relevant are :

“A.I. must be designed to assist humanity,”
and
“A.I. must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people.”

In his original post he made on Slate, he wrote, “we want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences. Ultimately, it’s not going to be about human vs. machine.”

Nadella also spoke on the mission of tech companies to democratize AI. “To me, the key right now in this next phase of AI is: How do we put tools so that others can create intelligence in every walk of life?,”

Brynjolfsson is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-author of The Second Machine Age, a book that asks what jobs will be left once software has perfected the art of driving cars, translating speech and other tasks once considered the domain of humans.
Some fear a vision of a world where computers entrench the power of a wealthy elite and push the majority into poverty.

Brynjolfsson identifies various astonishing technologies lining up to encroach on human labour. Such as always been the case with new technologies. Taxis generally work better than rickshaws, and now we have self-driving cars.. Lifts work 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no holidays, pay rises or pensions.

The question is whether the rate and adoption of technological change is of a different order in the digital information age to the industrial revolution. Unlike much of the 20th century we’re now seeing a falling ratio of employment to population. Maybe with an aging population pretty much globally (except maybe Middle East and Nigeria) machines taking over work from human may prove to be a necessity.

There has been much discussion of a tipping point being reached with many technologies- growth is logarithmic rather than linear. For most of the second half of the twentieth century the economic value generated – a country’s productivity – grew hand-in-hand with the number of workers. Since 2000 the two measures began to diverge. From the turn of the century a gap has opened up between productivity and total employment. That gap has widened significantly, and reflects continued economic growth but no associated increase in job creation. Despite all of Trump’s electioneering claim about jobs, Obama actually increased jobs, but many jobs were lost not to Mexican nd Chinese workers but to automation Caiifornian orange orchard growers are not looking to switch orange picking jobs from Mexicans to Americans they are automating the job. A wide range of studies shows that simple algorithms generally provide better decision than expert intuition. The City of London financial sector and is not so much threatened by Brexit and loss of jobs to Frankfurt but that its bankers will be replaced by machines that calculate faster and more consistently with less risk.

Another trend over the past quarter of a century the income gap between the richest and the poorest in OECD countries has continued to widen. Today the average income of the richest in these countries is nine times that of the poorest. . For the first time since the Great Depression, over half the total income in the United States went to the top 10 percent of Americans in 2012. Between 1973 and 2011 the median hourly wage in the US barely changed, growing by just 0.1 percent per year. This wealth gap isn’t restricted to America. In Sweden, Finland and Germany, income inequality has grown more quickly over the past 20 to 30 years than in the US.
The message again is be smarter than a machine, or cheaper.

Production in the second machine age depends less on physical equipment and structures and more on the four categories of intangible assets: intellectual property, organizational capital, user-generated content, and human capital,” the book states, and points out that in the US, the share of GDP that goes to labor has declined over the past decade, falling to its lowest point in the third quarter of 2010, 57.8 percent. Muhc more ahs gone to assets and to owners.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Wassily Leontief stated as long back as 1983 that ‘the role of humans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish in the same way that the role of horses in agricultural production was first diminished and then eliminated by the introduction of tractors’.”

John Maynard Keynes, forecast it as an inevitable outcome of society discovering ways to make labour more efficient more rapidly than finding new uses for labour. There’s no economic law that says ‘You will always create enough jobs or the balance will always be even’, it’s possible for a technology to dramatically favour one group and to hurt another group, and the that overall have fewer jobs.

A law firm may not hire as many researchers because a machine can scan through hundreds of thousands or millions of documents and find the relevant information for a case or a trial much more quickly and accurately than a human. Call centre operators gradually are gradually being replaced by question-answering, automated systems. Cortana on your pc shows the power of a digital assistant with voice recognition. Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne from Oxford Martin School & Faculty of Philosophy in the UK wrote “According to our estimate, 47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk category, meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two,” they predict in the report The Future of Employment. During the coming decades they forecast two “waves of computerisation” during which different categories of jobs will be washed away, with no field of employment left untouched.

“In the first wave, we find that most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labour in production occupations, are likely to be substituted by computer capital. As computerised cars are already being developed and the declining cost of sensors makes augmenting vehicles with advanced sensors increasingly cost-effective, the automation of transportation and logistics occupations is in line with the technological developments documented in the literature. Furthermore, algorithms for big data are already rapidly entering domains reliant upon storing or accessing information, making it equally intuitive that office and administrative support occupations will be subject to computerisation. The computerisation of production occupations simply suggests a continuation of a trend that has been observed over the past decades, with industrial robots taking on the routine tasks of most operatives in manufacturing. As industrial robots are becoming more advanced, with enhanced senses and dexterity, they will be able to perform a wider scope of non-routine manual tasks. From a technological capabilities point of view, the vast remainder of employment in production occupations is thus likely to diminish over the next decade.”

They also predict disruption to jobs in services industries from personal and household services robots, automation of more routine sales roles, such as cashier and telemarketers, and from prefabrication of buildings to construction jobs.

Digital technology drastically reduces the cost of technologies, as well as the infrastructure and people needed to support those industries that use the technology. Digital photography us an eample Brynjolfsson and McAfee point out, in an age where our photos sit on hard drives rather than in ring-bound albums, the need for a large number of workers disappears. “These photos are all digital, so hundreds of thousands of people who used to work making photography chemicals and paper are no longer needed. In a digital age, they need to find some other way to support themselves

Once an algorithm is digitised it can replicated and delivered to millions of users at almost zero cost.
Reducing the cost of using that technology to the point where it is accessible to much larger numbers of people, empowers them to build new businesses. The web led to an explosion in online companies. For example of courses taught by some of the world's most prestigious institutions are now freely available online. While the cost of taking photos may have plummeted the same cannot be said of many essentials people need to survive — food, drink and fuel. Companies like Instagram and Facebook employ a tiny fraction of the people that were needed at Kodak. Nonetheless, Facebook has a market value several times greater than Kodak ever did and has created at least seven billionaires and they employ a lot of people in hitherto unknown jobs.

So is all bad news? Some jobs remain exceptionally tricky for robots, even simple manual tasks like walking over uneven terrain are beyond the capabilities of most modern bots. The phenomenon is known as Moravec's Paradox, an observation by leading AI researchers in the 1980s that computers found hard the tasks we found easy and vice versa. While it might take a human seconds to fold a towel, a robot made to carry out the task in 2010 took nearly 25 minutes. Cooks, gardeners, repairmen, carpenters, dentists, and home health aides are not about to be replaced by machines in the short term. All of these professions involve a lot of sensorimotor work, and many of them also require the skills of ideation, large-frame pattern recognition, and complex communication. "Machines are still very clumsy they don't have the agility, and few if any robots can pick up a coin that's on a desk, even though a two or three-year-old person child could.

A calculator makes an accountant more efficient but does not replace the end for an accountant.
Digital technologies a in many ways similarly can complement, not substitute for, creativity.

The stunted social skills of machines should mean that salespeople, managers and entrepreneurs have a reasonably bright future, as will nurses, kindergarten teachers and home help aids.

The career advice that Google chief economist Hal Varian frequently gives is: "Seek to be an indispensable complement to something that’s getting cheap and plentiful.”

Project Service Automation for Microsoft Dynamics 365

November 13th, 2016

The project service automation capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics 365 empower organizations to bring people, process and technology together to deliver on-time, on-budget professional engagements. Project management tools help you to:
- Effectively estimate work
- Forecast resource requirements when projects are in the pipeline
- Enable team members to collaborate on projects and maintain current and accurate project status at all times
- Proactively identify and resolve potential threats to the success of each and every engagement.

– Provide work estimates for a project during the sales process (Project Service Automation)
- Create a project (Project Service Automation)
– Schedule a project with a work breakdown structure (Project Service Automation)
- Determine project cost and revenue estimates (Project Service Automation)
- Track project progress and cost (Project Service Automation)
- Create a project template (Project Service Automation)
- Submit resource requests (Project Service Automation)
- Create an Office 365 Group for a project (Project Service Automation)
- Add documents to a project (Project Service Automation)
- Track a project’s status (Project Service Automation)
- View project team members and manage bookings (Project Service Automation)
- View and edit project estimates (Project Service Automation)
- Approve time and expenses (Project Service Automation)
- Review project actuals (Project Service Automation)
- View and send invoices (Project Service Automation)
- View dashboards and reports (Project Service Automation)

There are 2 primary options/for Professional/Project Services Automation in Dynamics 365.

OPTION 1: A Fully integrated PSA solution within Dynamics 365 for Operations. This is the fully integrated Enterprise ERP solution that supports both project operational and financial automations, all within one solution.
Project operational processes such as project management, project accounting, end to end project procurement and end to end project sales & distribution, and seiban manufacturing are fully supported in this. For those who are familiar with Dynamics 365 for Operation (Known as New Dynamics AX earlier), this is really the Project Management and Accounting module and it’s built in integration with the other modules of AX.

Traditionally customers always had to build integrate Dynamics AX with Dynamics CRM if they wanted to establish the seamless flow of customer and project data from Lead to Project delivery. Within Dynamics 365, the built in integration of Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics 365 For Sales/Marketing is already off to a great start.

OPTION 2: Dynamics 365 For Project Service Automation service/solution, A stand alone solution which can be integrated with Dynamics Financials or any other financials solutions. This  supports key project service processes such as: project management, resourcing, project execution and billing up to some extent (Not Advanced Billing). This is the new version of the Project Service Module of Dynamics CRM online, for Dynamics 365.

Dynamics CRM Project Services Automation – PSA for the U.A.E. – ask Synergy Software Systems

November 3rd, 2016

Project Service Automation (PSA)was added to Dynamics CRM in the May update 1 and is a brand new capability within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. While Microsoft Project has long been available as part of the Microsoft Office portfolio, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Project Service Automation differs by enabling specific business processes for managing projects (including: planning, scheduling, project management, and billing).

PSA will provide direct integration Microsoft Project client for its rich planning and schedule design capabilities.

The initial focus of PSA includes: professional services, internal project organizations, and field service organizations as an extension of field service scenarios.

For example, your company sells solar power equipment and projects include the installation and configuration of the purchased products. It’s a great fit for organizations in the manufacturing, construction, professional services, consulting, or other fields where tracking of projects, physical and employee resources, and time spent on projects.

Why Project Service Automation?
To optimize the customer experience in project oriented services, a couple of key drivers delivering those projects on time and on budget. That’s the minimum requirement from a customer perspective. From a company perspective, it’s important to deliver those projects at profitable margin and to template or systematize those projects where possible.
Project-based organizations can improve these aspects of their business by bringing people, processes, and technology together. Combing these aspects improves the customer experience by delivering value at every interaction. On-time, on-budget service delivery requires collaborative experiences as well as efficient and effective tools to improve our processes.

Microsoft has built a comprehensive solution that runs on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and provides an end-to-end solution for project based sales, resourcing, delivery, and billing. CRM opportunities become projects with their associated project types, quotes, contracts, and other elements that build continuity across sales and delivery.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Project Service Automation closes the gap between sales and service by seamlessly and easily incorporating project estimates and details into the sales process. With one button, all the estimating performed by delivery becomes the details behind the quoting of new projects.
Project departments are the hub of this strategy with a clear view of the current client portfolio – and can better understand the relationship and cement a firm-wide approach to prioritization and pursuit of clients.

Now we have Dynamics 365

Key Features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Project Service Automation
The key features of Project Service Automation include:
• From lead generation, to quote, to opportunity, to delivery, to invoice in a single system
• Planning, estimating and pricing simple or complex projects
• Optimizing resource utilization, helping manage the right resources for the right projects
• Tracking and approving project tasks
• Managing and tracking time and expenses
• Monitoring key performance metrics

Project Service Automation offers many more impressive capabilities, some of which are listed below. We will provide a deeper dive in our upcoming Webcast:
• Project Service Automation Series Outline
• Project vs Field Service: What’s right for me?
• Resource Management
• Sales to Project Process
• Projects and Templates
• Finances and Forecasting
• Project Execution and Tracking
• Opportunity Management
• Project Planning
• Resource Management
• Team Collaboration
• Time Expenses
• Customer Billing
• Analytics & Integration

Other features i:
Sales and opportunity management – Manage leads, prospects, accounts and opportunities in a single, integrated system. Teams work much more collaboratively when they have visibility and access to what is happening with each and every customer.

Project management – Centralized project management features including project setup, project progress, client invoicing and cost tracking increases productivity and efficiency. It’ gives back the one thing service organizations value most…time. Assess project risks with real-time view of over-budget and under projects, unmet milestones, unpaid invoices and pending proposals. Utilize built in workflows to improve team efficiency and automat mundane activities to improve visibility of project status, productivity, resource costs, expenses and invoicing.

Resource management – Track, schedule, book and forecast resources including people, equipment and things. Assign resources to projects, based on certifications and skills, availability and other important attributes. Streamlines administration functions including talent acquisition, onboarding and time and expense entry.

Collaboration and mobility – Mobile features enable access to project information, task completion, expense entry and team collaboration anytime, anywhere and on any device. The optional client portals enable customers to view the progress and status of projects and any related information you choose to share.

Project accounting and billing – Track, view and analyze costs and revenues with budgeting tools that give project managers and accounting deep visibility into project details. Forecast utilization by role or resource, and get project budgeting information down to the activity level. Handle all aspects of contract management and revenue recognition from contract initiation to renewals, realignments and billing frequencies.
Reporting and dashboards – Monitor the heartbeat of your projects, and work faster and smarter. All project details can be viewed in dashboards with drill down to the underlying project and task information. Dashboards enable project managers to bring data together and create personalized dashboards to analyze and present information more effectively.

Delivering project excellence with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Project Service Automation
Delivery execution is another key element of a PSA solution, and Microsoft delivers on this. If you are a resource manager, project manager, practice manager or executive, you need the right people, skills, time to deliver project excellence. PSA helps you with this by having a single screen view of Resource Availability. This is a fully interactive, filtered view of people and skills across a timeline horizon, allowing you to much more easily make decisions to and assign people with the right skills to the right projects. In a single system, everyone can have visibility into resources and their availability, as well as submit requests to a resource manager to review and find the right person, skill, and cost for a project.

Utilizing the Power of BI in project service automation
As part of the Dynamics platform, you can also utilize Microsoft Power BI to tap into the rich information about projects and performance. With informative and interactive visualizations and anywhere, anytime access, everyone can see their forecasts, project details, resources, utilization, and more. Delivered across any device and any browser, Power BI is the tool to maximize your insight into your service organization performance.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 now available in the U.A.E. – ask Synergy Software Systems

November 1st, 2016

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of cloud services to help companies to accelerate their digital transformation with purpose-built apps to address specific business needs.

Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP functions into applications that work smoothly together across all divisions: sales, customer service, field service, operations, financials, marketing, and project service automation. These apps can be easily and independently deployed and scaled on demand.

Start with what you need the most.

All apps are delivered through easy-to-use, mobile experiences and feature offline capabilities.  

Users can rely on Power BI, Cortana Intelligence and Azure IoT functions which are natively embedded.

In addition to that, Dynamics 365 and Office 365 are deeply integrated.  Since Dynamics 365 uses a new common data servicel, customers can extend functionality and build custom apps using PowerApps, Microsoft Flow (News: PowerApps and Flow available) as well as professional developer solutions.

To find out more call us now on 00971 43365589.

Cloud – IaaS,PaaS,SaaS – what does this mean for Microsoft Dynamics?

September 20th, 2016

•<IaaS – Infrastructure as a service shares a huge gird of raw computing power and storage, including databases, rules engines, processing power and other infrastructure capabilities. A cloud provider makes this power accessible on an “as needed” basis. Its usually charged as a utility – you pay for what you use. for many comanies this is a way to outsource much of their day to day IT server management and strategy. The cloud provider takes care of hardware and database and operating systems upgrades, patches. log management, database tuning and expansion, and support, together with the associated overhead cost of energy, staff, server room – (no fit out, space to rent,n or A/c needed no separate maintenance contracts, no need for back up and anti virus software, etc)
PaaS - Platform as a service. This allows developers to access tools to create their own applications. The building blocks are made available by the software vendors to provide a jump start on development. PaaS is what your supply chain IT support or third party consultants can use to create customized workflows or tools specific to your needs. This may also for example be a temporary environment for testing
•SaaS – Software as a service. The business process application (“solution” in vendor-speak) layer in the cloud. Users can ‘rent’ or subscribe to applications on a per use basis to tackle specific business issues. SaaS is what you log on to use without any customization. Some vendors may also offer a rent to buy option.

Dynamics CRM is available on the cloud as part of the Office 365 suite ,and also on premise.

Ax can be run on premise, or the on premise licenses can be hosted on a cloud such as Azure i.e. IaaS charges are based on the server and database option selcted, the amount of storage space , the number of environments and a per month cost based on usage.
Both CRM and Ax are also available on a SPLA i.e rental licence basis/per user role either premise or on a hosted platform.
Third party hosting providers may offer a fixed priced SPLA and IaaS offering, for example Synergy Software Systems provides this option via our partner SaaS Plaza.

The current version of AX, released under the codename “AX 7″, or sometimes as Ax RTW provides both infrastructure and platform as a service, and you could also say software as a service for many businesses. It is currently only available as a cloud offering with a minimum of 20 Enterprise users or equivalent (this minimum number was reduced to 20 this month)

Note Historically AX has been a favored development platform and is often bought with the purpose of customizing the logic to match the exact needs of the business, instead of a company attempting to adjust their business processes.

The next step will be Dynamics 365 which will launch in the USA in November this year and we expect to see in the U.A.E. mid 2017. This will be an integrated solution with a common database, common data layer (out of the box master data integration), office productivity (Word Excel …) and communication tools (Skye Business,) collaboration tools )SharePoint, Yammer..) CRM, A Business logic layer which until recently was called ‘madeira’ this will extend to include sales, purchases finance … and will be an excellent solution of the SMB sector and medium size businesses. For the Enterprise customer Dynamics Ax 7 will also be an option finally set of tools will work across this solution stack Power Apps (think Xamarin, AsxStudio) Power BI, Microsoft Flow etc. And that’s not all there will also be an apps store and it will be easy for developers to push new apps into the store.

we will be covering lot more in this topic in coming months.

So the cloud is coming and offers more options than ever. Many companies will have a mix of on premise and cloud based solutions for the foreseebale future.Azure technology stack is due mid next year and will enable on premise Ax 7 as will as other hybrid cloud options There are many other azure solutions, e.g. for cloud based back up, or Cortana Analytics for Bi or the Azure IoT stack.

All the major IT vendors are now focused on the cloud. As the world becomes more mobile, and business models more disruptive expect its adoption to accelerate -we already mass use cloud systems One note, drop box, Facebook Linked-in Google apps, Hotmail, You tube, Vimeo,…. and many mobile apps already in our personal lives and the new ‘generation z’ employees now entering the job market expect the same power, agility and simplicity f se in their work tools.
So if the cloud, social and mobile are not part of your IT strategy then you have already ‘missed the bus’.

Why the ‘cloud’? What is a hybrid cloud? Ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

September 19th, 2016

Buy or rent?. On premise or SaaS.? The answer to the questions, for enterprise computing, goes in cycles. When mainframe computing was at its peak, many organizations did not own such expensive machines outright and many companies rented processing time on these machines when needed, an arrangement known as time-sharing.
Moore’s law changed that. The era of mini — and then micro — computing made processing power so cheap that many organizations chose to own. As enterprise computing infrastructures became more complex, and the cost and difficulty of finding expert IT staff increases, so renting or subscription as it now called, has come back into vogue once more, in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing

The terms “cloud” and “data center” may sound like interchangeable technical jargon or trendy buzz words. A data centre is ideal for those companies that need a customized, dedicated system that gives them full control over their data and equipment. Typically those with many integrations, and uncertain internet connections, and an internal IT team will consider this route. Since only the one company will be using the infrastructure’s power, a data centre is suitable for organizations that run many different types of applications and complex workloads.

A data centre, however, has limited capacity — once you build a data centre, you will not be able to instantly change the amount of storage, or processing power to accommodate for example significant changes in workload and data processing. On the other hand, a cloud system is scalable to your business needs. It has potentially unlimited capacity, based on your vendor’s offerings and service plans. When you are looking at big data processing for predictive analytics, of have high day end or seasonal workloads, then the ability to ramp up and down is important to avoid oversizing. For project based companies both the number of user licences required, and the processing power may vary from year to year. For a rapidly expanding company hardware and server room expansion and management is a challenge on premise.

In a recent IDC (International Data Corporation) Multi-Client Study, CloudView 2016) respondents to the survey said that they expect to increase their cloud spending by approximately 44% over the next two years, and 70% of heavy cloud users are thinking in terms of a “hybrid” cloud strategy.

The idea of a hybrid cloud is to get the best of on-premise deployment by leveraging cloud services. Some work is done on premise, some on the cloud e.g. BI or payment gateway. A combination of both public and private platforms, a hybrid cloud is meant to provide organizations with greater IT and infrastructure flexibility, as well as visibility and control over their cloud usage. The result should be that a, hybrid cloud enables business agility, including streamlined operations and improved cost management.

Sounds good but what does it all mean and what are the challenges? First let’s review some of the basics concepts.

Public Cloud
A public cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are provided off-site, over the Internet. Data centre hardware is not owned by clients and so you face no capital expenses. Instead, providers sell hosting as a ‘utility’ or rental service. Providers offer maintenance, disaster recovery and backup, however basic this may be. This is typically a multi-tenant software solution. Individual company data sits in separate blocks in a common clustered hardware. Data for individual organisations is kept separate and protected with robust security. Breaches of data with a reliable provider are rare. However, some security standards are not suitable for very sensitive data, rigorous audit trails or industry-specific compliance.

A Public cloud is y used to host web servers or develop applications. It is attractive to small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) when they are happy to use out-of-the-box menu specifications. Virtual machines are configured quickly – often within hours. Some SaaS (Software as a Service) services are placed within a public cloud when they have high levels of built-in security.

Private Cloud
A private cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. It operates on an isolated network and is extremely secure. It keeps data behind a firewall and is built either on-premise or in a ring-fenced section of a data centre. A Private cloud is a single tenant solution, with the hardware accessed by one, or multiple businesses. It’s an ideal solution for enterprise organisations or specialist firms with high levels of security and compliance. Clients generally maintain their own cloud system and own their hardware.

Security and compliance on private cloud is configured to meet compliance standards. Private cloud systems cost much more than public cloud and re-configuring is more complex and lengthy.

Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud uses public and private cloud for different elements of computing. Only some elements will require high security and customisation but others will not. Hybrid cloud offers private cloud for sensitive data but keeps non-sensitive, generic data (e.g. customer literature) in a cheaper public cloud environment. Hybrid cloud is usually hosted by different cloud providers – one for public and one for private. Hybrid cloud benefits companies who experience seasonal spikes so extra computing power is deployed quickly and cheaply in public cloud while keeping sensitive information in its private cloud.

A Hybrid cloud is the biggest growth area in cloud computing for enterprise businesses. As servers become ‘smarter’, hybrid cloud is estimated to represent 75% of future enterprise cloud computing.

A Hybrid cloud does not mean failover to onsite, for which a failover solution or a clustered install is needed and the failover can be to any other site whether local, remote or on cloud. Nor does hybrid mean offline working on premise option.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) polled more than 1,000 C-level executives to reveal that 78% of respondents deploy a cloud initiative that is fully integrated or coordinated — an increase from 34% in 2012. Enterprises may be embracing the cloud, but they are not yet fully invested in a cloud-only strategy. Across 18 industries, 45% of workloads are expected to remain on-premise in the near future.

A hybrid cloud deployment is a collaboration of public cloud, private cloud and traditional IT platforms that allow enterprises to customize a cloud solution that meets the particular needs of their company. The top motivating factors for adopting hybrid cloud solutions, according to the IBM study, include lowering the total cost of ownership, facilitating innovation, improving efficiency and meeting customer expectations.

Among the companies that embrace cloud computing, 76% responded that they were able to expand into new industries, 71% created new revenue sources and 69% supported new business models.

Security remains a concern, however, and has become a hurdle for companies and a deterrent from fully investing in the cloud. Nearly half of respondents expressed that security and compliance risks are a challenge in IBM’s study, while 41% of respondents expressed that the cost of the cloud was a deterrent and 38% feared a disruption to company operations by introducing a new cloud solution.

When survey respondents are segmented by performance, IBM concludes that twice as many high performers have fully integrated their cloud initiatives compared to low performers.

Nati Shalom, recently discussed in his post Achieving Hybrid Cloud Without Compromising On The Least Common Denominator, a survey that demonstrates that enterprises these days are often leveraging as many as six clouds simultaneously, and the list just keeps on growing with new technologies sprouting up by the minute. IT markets are not just moving to the cloud — they are moving to ‘clouds’,” said Ed Anderson, research vice president and Sid Nag, research director at Gartner in their report: “Market Trends: Cloud Adoption Trends Favor Public Cloud With a Hybrid Twist,” published August 4, 2016. “Evidence is mounting that as organizations mature in their usage of cloud services they are opting to use multiple cloud services, bound together through hybrid implementations.”

That’s why solutions like the Azure Stack, that are also geared towards multi-cloud scenerios in the context of app migration to the cloud from traditional data centers, especially while taking all of the enterprise-grade considerations involved in such a transition into account, are critical.

Many solutions don’t provide the extensibility and interoperability that enterprises need for future-proofing, application deployment portability among other popular use cases across clouds. Hybrid cloud itself has also has proven that it isn’t immune to future proofing with disruptive technologies arising every day

Azure users now have a set of building blocks for managing the entire application stack and its lifecycle, across clouds, stacks and technologies. And with Microsoft now having the most open source developers on GitHub, yup – ahead of Facebook, Angular, and even Docker – Azure is uniquely positioned to achieve this level of openness and interoperability.
This will also ultimately provide a higher degree of flexibility that allows users to define their own level of abstraction per use case or application. In this manner, cloud portability is achievable without the need to change the underlying code, enabling true hybrid cloud.

Fifty-five percent of CIOs surveyed by Gartner indicated that by 2020 they will structure more than half of their applications as SaaS or manage them in a public cloud infrastructure. To manage and govern public, private and hybrid cloud services requires a focus on cloud management. This, in turn, requires new roles, processes and technologies.

Key Employee roles for the Hybrid cloud
Database professionals to filter out business critical data from the data overload we have today. A Big Data Foundationprofessional will be familiar with – Hadoop and MongoDB.
Software developers no longer just push code, they are pivotal to the user experience and thus the user adoption of cloud solutions.
Information security managers must appreciate the risks involved with business data and discuss this across the organization (at all levels) to align key stakeholders in positions to invest in and implement security measures.
Enterprise architects. Today solution architects, need the skills to adapt to cloud computing and hybrid cloud environments. Companies want to avoid working with ad hoc systems implementations, and architects who understand cloud computing and all its service models are in high demand. to design a scalable and sustainable cloud infrastructure which optimizes the use of private and public cloud.
Business managers working in the cloud need to understand how the technical infrastructure supports the business strategy get the benefits of cloud computing to drive their objectives.

Microsoft’s Hybrid cloud blog: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/hybridcloudbp/2016/09/

If you are considering how the cloud can benefit your business then contact us to explore the many options.

Find out out about the new integrated Dynamics 365 offerings. e.g.
Ask about specific vertical solutions like Synergy MMS for hotel facility management, or 7 Medical HIS and imaging solutions
Host your applications in a secure managed cloud – with both fixed price or based on use billing.
Monitor your on site global networks with cloud based monitoring systems.
Use Cortana Analytics and Power BI to turn data into information.
Back up to the cloud.
Skype Business
and much, much more.

Dynamics Ax – Post Implementation reviews, audits, health checks, performance tuning.

September 14th, 2016

Synergy regularly undertakes reviews of Dynamics Ax projects, often to turnaround failing projects.

One of the benefits of a Dynamics AX Health Check service by Synergy Software Systems is that as an experienced and multi certified partner partner we see many different clients. Our long term relationships with Microsoft -since 1993 – and 14 years of working with Dynamics Ax -since v 2.5 Axapta gives us depth of relevant experience. We’re also on top of how Dynamics AX interacts with the Microsoft stack technology and we can leverage that experience and for our clients

We’ve of course see a wide variety of issues and situations but there are many common issues we can quickly pinpoint which means we can usually deliver quick wins.

As a consultant with more than 12 years of AX experience, and 30 plus years of erp experience across more than 40 countries I’ve come across many operational and technical challenges, that other people haven’t had the time or the opportunity to see. I spent my first year in consultancy devising a suite of audit methodologies, tools and checklists, and for several years was kept fully occupied with reviews of global company erp systems. So there are things that I would know to check in your system that may not be obvious and often a minor configuration policy change has significant impact on how a system per4forms in support of a business process.

Setting the standard

How do you know whether your system is running well, or as well as it should do? Who or what are you comparing against?
A consultant performing a Health Check will explore things like:
◾Are your batches running appropriately?
◾Have you allocated enough resources to that have?
◾Have you looked at your security within AX?
◾Have you looked at your event logs to see what is happening?
◾How are you deploying code?
◾ Are your licenses appropriate
◾ Is your system patching up to date
◾ What maintenance routines are in place?
◾ Are initial default settings no longer appropriate as the numbers of users or transactions and history data increases?
◾ Are there unused system features?
◾ Is there timely month end close?
◾ Does financial data reconcile tot he sub ledgers?
and much, much more.

What don’t you know?

There are many different areas that are reviewed during your Dynamics AX Health Check and it is meant to be more of an overall system-wide analysis, not just how is SQL doing or what are your queries doing?

All companies change over time, they open new branches, their staff changes, their customer base and products evolve. The regulatory and statutory requirements change, and technology offers new ways of working.

With a Health Check, another set of eyes will review and recommend. Sometime you are so close to a problem you can live with it and not notice how it is deteriorating.

Identify performance and operational risks, downtime. The true value of a Dynamics AX Health Check by an experienced resource is the potential for increased productivity from your team and a system that operates at maximum performance.

Learn more about a Dynamics AX Health Check or Performance review for your company.