Archive for the ‘SharePoint and EPM’ category

Document Management – Dubai, U.A.E., Qatar, Kuwait, KSA, Oman, Bahrain – anywhere! Synergy Software Systems

March 4th, 2014

As we move more and more into the digital world the need to access documents electronically, anytime anywhere is of increasing importance. To complement our financial and erp systems we have also provide solutions such as fax software, print management software and document management. Many erp systems have some facility for document linking or attachment e.g Dynamics CRM and Dynamics Ax. However the document repository is usually best kept outside the erp system for many reasons e.g.:
- Users need an erp license to access documents stored in an erp system
- Documents stored in an erp system are usually static in contact because those relate to specific transactions and time and should not be subject to changes and version control.
- Documents take up database space and increase the size of the erp system back ups thereby extending downtime on the operational system
- There may be document workflow processes outside of erp.
- OCR scanning and searching are generally not supported within erp systems

Filehold is a modern feature rich comprehensive document system which integrates with SharePoint and we extend it with Arabic OCR. It is available on premise or on-cloud.

There are several considerations to select and to introduce a document management system. For example:

How many documents?
What types of documents?
What is the mix of document types e.g., what % are created soft copy by applications e.. erp systems, email systems and thus don’t need scanning or physical printing and filing , and how many are received as hard copies e.g. faxes, or printed contracts?
Do you receive faxes as hard copy print outs or do you use a fax software to send and to receive?
How many users?
How many locations?
Will hard copy documents need to be scanned?
If so, then will there be a central scanning department or will users have individual access to scanners?
Do you already have scanners in place?
Is OCR scan conversion required?
If so then does this need to be multi lingual e.g. Arabic or English?
Do you need to ocr scan dual language within the same document? e.g. a bi-lingual Arabic-English contract?
How much integration is needed to other systems and how easy is this e.g. from within email systems, or within erp systems?
will the document management system work with you collaboration system e.g. SharePoint?
Does it offer version controls?
Does it offer workflow approval processes?
What will be done about legacy hard copy documents- how many are there?
How long would it take to unbind, scan, ocr convert, index, and then re-file?
Does it provide the right security Access controls to digital documents rather than to physical documents?
Which physical documents will still also be filed?
How should it be phased in e.g. by one function or one department at a time?

Business case?
For a knowledge-worker time is money. If the average annual cost of an engineer is ~$100k then how much of that workers time is consumed searching for amendments in paper contracts?

Modern businesses create complex contracts that often require multiple revisions and many authorizations. Creating and managing those contracts electronically in a document management system saves time and frustration and ensures that everyone is working with the most current version of a document.

Filehold provides important features for contract management that : maintains security, allows users to collaborate, provides alerts and reminders as to contract expiration or renewal dates. It is essential that the solution allows project users at site users to look at and even check out contract documents from anywhere in the world from where they have access to the Internet.

Engineering organizations and engineering departments create large and complex design and report documents. Being able to put these documents into a document management workflow for review and approval saves time and money. Tight version control ensures everyone uses with the most recent version of a document.

There are obvious cost saving benefits stemming from document management such as reduced printing, postage, and physical storage costs. The more significant benefits from the business impacts:
• Rapid find and search of key data and files for timely decision making based on all the related information
• Version control to ensure the correct prices, designs and contractual terms are used.
• Streamlined electronic processes,
• Support for compliance and audit trails and avoidance of legal disputes

If you are drowning in documents and want to streamline our business, reduce errors, improve collaboration, reduce errors and ensure compliance then document management is often one of the fastest solutions to implement with the quickest ROI.

Ask us for a demo: 00971 43365589

SharePoint 2013 and Dynamics Ax 2012

September 23rd, 2013

Enterprise Portal for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 now supports SharePoint 2013
For details on prerequisites required in order to deploy Enterprise Portal integrating with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 on Microsoft SharePoint Server/Foundation 2013 have TechNet article: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn169057.aspx

Install Steps for SharePoint 2013
The linked article apply to SharePoint Foundation 2013 and SharePoint Server 2013 http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262243.aspx

Updates for SharePoint 2013
Follow this URL to get software updates for SharePoint Foundation 2013 & SharePoint Server 2013 http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/jj891062.aspx

Great Dubai seminar turn out – BRSANALYTICS, BASEL lll and FATCA

September 18th, 2013

The challenges posed by new regulations and the impact on local banks are significant and growing.
Seminar attendees appreciated the balance of conceptual overview ‘top of the triangle’ to help see the woods for the trees provided by Synergy Software Systems, Director: Stephen Jones. The real meat then came from the selective presentation of the key details for Basel lll and FATCA reporting requirements presented by banking systems analyst Andrew Bonnici from Computime (authors of BRSANALYTICS).
The evidence of a significant number of incidents of late reporting and regulatory fines is sobering.

http://www.brsanalytics.com/news-events/20-great-turnout-at-basel-iii-seminar-in-dubai-internet-city.html

Attendees welcomed the low risk, rapid implementation approach of a purpose built ‘out of the box’ solution for regulatory compliance reporting. They also appreciated that:
- it is supported by Synergy Software Systems established local company that specialises in Financial solutions, with financially qualified consutltants.
- it is developed adn maintained by Computime an established solutions provider since 1994, with a clear future road map
- there is proven succesessful adoption evidenced by a several case studies presented by Computime International Channel manager Daniel Buttigieg.
- Synergy Software Systems is a Microsoft Information worker partner for many years, and has experienced certified consultants in the underlying Microsoft technology stack (SQL, SSRS, SSAS, Excel etc) to ensure high quality delivery and support.

Synergy Software Systems and Computime have been associated companies for many years both implementing Sunsystems. If you could not make today’s seminar – then we plan to repeat it next month, and you can also meet us at Gitex, in Hall 7. For the next seminar we will build and show some example FATCA reports because we expect Dubai authorities to complete their consultation exercises and to put this into effect by year end. Although FATCA reporting does not come into effect till 2015 the reports will need to cover 2014 which is is not so far away. FATCA affects pretty much any financial services company with any clients anywhere in the world that are USA citizens or companies and its a pretty broad net. The implications and costs of compliance are huge and little understood. Andrew cited this quote from the U.K.: HMRC estimates the cost for UK business over the first 5 years to be £1.1bn-£2bn, running thereafter at an annual cost of £50m-£90m Non-compliance potentially leads to a 30% witholding tax on your USA operations.

If you have challenges with regulatory reporting and need expert guidance and a proven solution then please contact us. 00971 43365589

Is your business really unsupported?

August 26th, 2013

I am constantly surprised that senior executives head in the sand approach to the software systems that underpin their business. I once read a statistic that a pretty hgih % of companies that lose their system for a week go out of business within 18 months. Its dificult not be aware of the threats from hacking and virus and phishing and malware ….

Frequently we find sysrems with no proper back up, no test of back ups, no defragmentation, no reindexing, no service packs or cumulative updates. SO I suppsoe In should not have been suprriosed to read the results of a mini poll by SQL MVP Paul Randall that indicated that 53% of SQL databases surveyed were out of support and 51%

To quote Paul: “I urge you all to check your SQL Server instances to make sure they’re running as close to the latest build as possible, so you have the most bug fixes and are supported if you do have a problem.”.

All SQL Server 7.0 builds are unsupported
All SQL Server 2000 builds are unsupported as of April 9th, 2013
All SQL Server 2005 builds are out of mainstream support - extended support is an option until April 12th, 2016 (You should be at least on 2005 SP4)
Any SQL Server 2008 build before SP3 is unsupported. Mainstream support ends on July 8th, 2014, with extended support available until July 9th, 2019
SQL Server 2008 R2 RTM builds are unsupported, and support for SP1 builds ends on October 10th, 2013. Mainstream support of SP2 builds ends on July 8th, 2014, with extended support available until July 9th, 2019
All builds of SQL Server 2012 are currently supported, but support for RTM builds will end on November 7th, 2013 as that will be one year from the SP1 release

Microsoft SharePoint is mobile.

January 29th, 2013

Microsoft SharePoint has gone mobile and Harmon.ie created this video called “Don’t SharePoint While Walking” to try and get the word out. Its aimed to be pretty funny(…well as funny as it gets when you’re talking about SharePoint).

Check it out here. http://harmon.ie/dontsharepointwhilewalking/

Mobile device management

January 19th, 2013

Mobile operations via mobile devices provide faster reaction and easier management of activities. However, a mobile device increases the work for IT for support and maintenance, and also introduces more challenges of supervision and security e.g. risk of loss or theft, or misuse.  A mobile management solution is required to address 5 key aspects of device management.

We offer the award winnin , proven, affordable and feature rich Mobi Connect solution.

The adoption of mobile devices in business is growing exponentiall . BYOD or ‘bring your own device’ is now the norm for many industries i.e. work across platforms and devices.

Reduce IT’s workload and increase their effectiveness remote management, deployment of patches and isntalls etc.

 Ensure compliance to corporate policies – security lockdown, geofence tracking, disable and wipe rmeotely, alerts, detailed log

Easily synchronise  files with mobile workers

Track who and who is not logged on, and their location.

Track stolen or mislaid devices

Manage shared devices

Ask us about how to better manage your mobile devices, and also about our solutions for extending applications for mobile use e.g.:  mobile CRM or filed service management, mobile inventory and asset counting, mobile alert notifications and workflow approvals,  mobile BI etc

Is there more to choosing an erp system than keeping the CFO happy??

December 12th, 2012

We are used to to the idea that erp systems will handle financials and inventory but new technology creates new business processes, new opportuntities and new competition. These are some of the features you might also want to check on before selecting a solution a modern ERP solution:

Mobility. In our personal lives we are more mobile and connected. Sales of tablets, netbooks, mobiles etc continue to exceed projections as does the use and prolfieration of social media. We expect the same tools at work. Organizations large and small are becoming ever more mobile, to drive down costs,and  improve service.  Mobile alerts, mobile reports,  and mobile BI are now expected.   By 2013, 1.2 billion workers will be mobile—that’s 1/3 of the overall workforce. By 2014, 50% of devices used to access business solutions are expected to be smartphones. Will the solution you’re considering accommodate mobile workers?

 IT Costs. Some people claim 84% of organizations have a remote workforce – Typically true of the sales team, installation and service engieers, meter readers, delivery men, consultants trainers, etc.  But on average 85% of datacenter capacity is idle, and 70% of IT budgets are spent maintaining datacenter operations. What are inefficiencies like these costing your company?  It’s not just the software it’s the server room rental, the energy, the A/c , the hardware depreciation and obsolesence, inusrance, cleaning etc.

3. Access. Think about how people can interact with their solutions. Employees struggle when they can’t collaborate with people who don’t have full access to important data. Can people outside the solution or organization be given web and mobile access to specific reports, charts, graphs, and KPIs? Is the data real-time? Marketing these days is frequently a  self service activity, as in many case are business processes like booking on-line or checking in for a flight via  kiosk with a bar code on your mobile for a boarding pass, or searching a knowledgebase for help. Project teams are geographically remote but need to uodate each other and to share plans.

4. Simplicity. Workers at home use laptops, phones, tablets—all their preferred devices—with a common experience, to make those all easier to use. What do your staff really need?

I might throw in;

  •  Cross platform, cross company workflows – for both centralised and decentralised services, faster responses and automation
  •  Seamless integration with other applications, e.g. messaging and social media, or SharePoint or office
  • Scalable architecture- businesses and technology both change fast and your systeme should enable not constrain your growth
  • Compliance and collaboration tools – why have expensive offices, why waste staff time on travel,  mobility, internet presentation tools, collaboration portal workspaces, and cross supply chain collaboration are all factors but you also have to think about security and compliance – what support do you have for these?
  • Competitive edge – you will not outstrip your competition just with new back office systems - can your solution provide vertical specific features, can you adapt it to streamline your specific processes
  • Can you easily handle data imports? new budgets, forecasts costs
  • Can you easily handle new reporting requirements?
  • Can you easily handle new subsidiaries and acquisitions – language, currency, vertical requirements, localised statutory compliance?

Does it matter? Watch your competitors and see what they are doing but don’t wait too long!

Year end is a good time to rethink your strategies and your systems. if there are aspects of your business or systems that are not delivering or you are not sure what is possible then why not undertake a mini business review and let us help you understand how technology can help you to cut cost or add value or reduce risk and to evaluate whether there is a business case.

Cut price erp projects?

December 11th, 2012

It’s easy to quote low to win a project just write a few clauses in the small print:

 • Out of the box reports – but do any of these really work for you?

• Load your own data – is that easy? And what so the right sequence and validation

 • Use of out of the box security profiles – do these really fit your organisation structure where people do more than one job?

• Use a standard chart of accounts and the same analysis codes as every other industry?

 • Don’t implement features the customer doesn’t know about

• Leave the difficult work out of the scope e.g. budgets and consolidation, or forecasts and master scheduling

• Make all customisations a chargeable extra

 • Etc

 So how do you get a quality implementation that makes the most of your software investment without an open ended budget? Be realistic about the scope and the business case when you set the budget. Don’t start with a budget and work backwards. If a feature adds value and there is a payback then its worth doing properly. If there isn’t a quantifiable return then don’t implement it just because it’s nice to do. If it adds value then implement it properly.

Understand what value the consulting partner can add and what is a routine task you can do yourself. Understand the difference between quantity and quality of consulting contribution. If you face a big challenge in your personal life :you need an operation, or a tooth removed, or have to fight a legal battle then you find the best dentist, the best doctor or the best lawyer not the cheapest. However, you don’t need a dentist to tell you how to clean your teeth or a doctor to stick on a plaster, or a lawyer to write basic letters. You know your business and your data. There is much you can do beforehand to define requirements, processes, reports, and to clean up data, and bring employee basic IT skills up to scratch etc. A little bit of advance diary preparation can save the need to repeat training. Data clean up reduces time on validation and reload.

What happens in a project? Plan it, define the requirement, build it, test it, train users are common steps whatever implementation methodology is followed. But where is the real work content? Is that properly assessed? How much could you do yourself with the right training and tools? There add on modules for most software solutions. Tools for report writing, print output management, and data loading are examples. Typically these areas account for over half the mandays on projects and even more for budget overruns and project delays. Yes, these put up the cost of software investment but these put much more of the scope and cost of implementation and future system maintenance under your own control.

Have you really allowed enough time for training and practice. If training is expensive, then how costly is ignorance? Why is inadequate time spent on training one of the most frequently cite causes of project failure? Usually, because training happens late in the project, when timelines and budgets are already squeezed. Most of the training was given to the project team not to the end users etc. No training needs analysis done. No post training evaluation of trainees done. No time scheduled for practice before go live. Little time spent on prototyping or reading help files or e-learning. All of these issues can largely be managed internally to reduce cost and to increase success.

There is a right cost to any service and a right amount of effort for any project. There is also a huge cost to failure, delay and unrealised benefits. Understand the quote assumptions, and challenge how those worked out on other projects. Understand the project methodology. If implementation  quotes vary is there a reason?  – what steps are being riskily cut or overlooked, or are not included e.g. post go live hand holding, first month end support, system personalization, audits, etc. Recognize that high skills and experience are needed to deliver complex projects with predictable timelines and costs. Inexperience comes cheap for a reason.

Budget for what you need with some contingency to allow for business changes, staff changes, etc. Control the spend, and use some of the ideas suggested here to achieve more at lower cost.

Erp Success or failure

December 1st, 2012

Studies show that 60-70% of ERP implementations fail. What??

We have  worked with a lot of customers who  approached us  to reduce their stress around ERP, and to help pull in the right resources to get  situations back on track after trying the wrong partners.

Partners play a critical role in ensuring their customers understand the key factors and best practices that make the other 30-40% successful. ·

The #1 factor—Trust: Customers need to trust that the people on the team implementing the solution understand the business and have the ability to execute. Base  decisions on the reputation of the companybut also meet the project manager and the individuals that will be doing the work. Trust works two ways the partner also has to trust the client not to misrepresent the scope, and the challenges e.g ‘dirty data’, shortages or resources, unusual critical needs and interfaces etc

 · Data migration strategy: Customers always want their data migrated. It’s the partner’s job to help them determine at what level. Migrating data introduces risk and higher costs. Does your customer really need 10 years of data, or is it better to migrate master records, bring in beginning balances, and leave historical data in the legacy system?  Is the effort of ocnversion and reconciliation really understood, is the need real or just a comfort blanket? What can be migrated at summary elvel, or be held in the legacy system and be accessed via a BI tool that merges data from old and new systems, this can be especially useful when upgrading e.g from Ax 2009 to Ax 2012 

Customization: Excessive customization is a major cause of failed ERP implementations. Differentiate customizations you want from what you need. Maintenance and cost increase (and ROI decreases) with the level of customization. If a high level of customization is required, then customize in smaller chunks through a phased approach. Customisation is most worthwhile where it gives you a vertical competitive edge  not in standarrd back office functions.

 Is there a proven solution or tool already available? Report wrting is the hidden part of the customisation iceberg.  You have to: define precisely, desgin and develop, create test data and transactions and run processes, then test layout, content, printing, and distribution and security.  For example Lasernet for report writing can save days of  consulting time and reduce risk. This is especially true when ugrading to Ax 2012  and SSRS let lasernet capture the SSRS output and thenn easily modify the report design in a favoruite tool like MS word. Often without any need for coding. Similalry, some BI tools such as BI4Dynamics provide you a core set of reports that deal with most requirements.

Complexity: Companies often implement new ssytems because they outgrew the old oine and this  leads to a restructure of their organisation and charts of accounts when they change ERP systems. ensure they’re not making the redesign is not too complex. Dynamics Ax is an example of  a very flexible orgnaisation framework and powerful and flexible  COA  for multi-company operations and consolidation that has many features to make users life eaiser. Management Rpeorter which is free for Dyamics Ax users supports multi level aggregation and  powerful drilldown features that leverage the dimensional and organisational frameworks.

Dig past the pretty charts: Today’s ERP systems have a lot to offer and demos are full of shiny objects. Cut to the chase and understand which features are most important to make the needed business change. Consider how deployment options and specific features tangibly impact your specific business processes.

Work with a partner that has a formal project methodology and a track record of delivery and local support. Project management that comes free or part time is unlikely to ensure success. 

If you are bogged down and all of this advice is too late for your project then let us help you to get it back on track-we have audited and turned around many projects.  Let us help you be successful.

SQl 2000 – it’s time to upgrade

August 26th, 2012

An impotant topic for many companies absed on this post: Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

If you are using SQL Server 2000 then upgrade to SQL Server 2012. SQL Server 2000 is now 12 years old. 

Now is the time to catch up with the latest trends. There are many security and performance reasons why you should not to mention many great new features. Its also  likely that yout appllciation software will not be compatible for much longer with older unsupported releases so at least budget.it for next year.

Note that you can’t upgrade directly from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2012. You need to first upgrade to either SQL Server 2005/2008/R2 and then further plan to upgrade to SQL Server 2012. There is no direct upgrade path for SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2012.

If you follow the  rule to let something continue if it is not broken and working fine and are still using  SQL Server 2000 at elast upgrade to  SQL Server 2000 SP4 and update it with latest Security updates.

Here are two important SQL Server Security Updates.

Security Update for SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 4 (KB983811)

Security Update for SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 4 (KB983812)

 

GCC Projects – Project Management software solutions – Synergy Software Systems Dubai

July 8th, 2012

There multiple projects costing $ billions /millions in this region.  

There are many considerations  run a  successful project:

Manpower varies project by project and the number of concurrent projects also varies . SaaS  licensing can be very advantageous in this case. Vary the number of licences you need by month, only pay for hardware usage based on the number of users and amount of data storage needed month to month.  No time delay for new servers for a new project, no wasted licences or hadware capacity when the project is over – predictable costs that are easily identified to charge to project.

Managing the process from lead to opportunity to quote to estimate to budget, forecast etc

RFQ, PR, PO MR approvals, many other document centric workflow approvals

Planning – high level phasing , detailed WBS, resource scheduling, programme management,

Risk management

Secure Collaboration – projects are a paper factory of multiple commericalcontracts, insurance, certifications, with the need for  version control, expiry dates, document approval workflows, digital signature, fast search across and within contracts

QA , inspection, incidents  and investigation 

Budgeting, consolidation and financial compliance

Grant and fund management

Timesheets, access control at site, payroll across countries, multi shift, sub-contractor labour, mobile between project.

Project stores and inventory control. Capital projects, Rental,Asset tracking, Mobiel and bar code solutions

Reporting and dashboards

Our Software solutions help you better manage all these areas

BIM integrated model for design, estimation, control and planning

Mind mapping for high level plans that export direct to MS Project, use for lessons learned, PESTEL risk analysis, meeting agendas, project team strucutre and many more uses for project managers

Dynamics CRM  track future projects and meetings with influencers that create the specifications, track opportunties and quotes through user defined stages, also maintain details of meetings and contacts with vendors, subcontractors, financial and legal advisors , government  contacts, auditors, H@S inspectors etc. Mobile options SaaS options

Dynamics Ax incudes a full PSA features, advanced project management accounting, grant and fund management, integration to MS Project, and additonal module options for construction projects Advanced multi company financials, make and buy to project options, integrted workflow engine for RFQ, PR etc, advanced mrp, HR, resource scheduling, Service module , case managmeent, QA module, multi company process, eg intercompany journals, orders, cosnildiated requsitoons and central pruchaisng, centralised productionplanning across companies etc. Mobil and SaaS options

Confidential secure document storage and collaboration workspaces are required for most projects  so that material can be accessed by multiple, authorised stakeholders from many locations. Whether an M&A project, a new product launch, a prestige new building design, an exhibition or event, a commercial tender or  a feasibility study all need secure storage authorised collaborative access,version control, ease and speed of search, controls on: who can see what, who can copy and print, who can approve what.

Digital signatures with documemt workflow speed up decision making processes and reduce risk of fraud. Mulitple signatories each approving a  specific  segments of a document, the ability to mass sign every page of a document, or to sign multiple POs at one go,   in built version control and audit features are soem of the features that help auotmate process while increasing control.

Fixed asset depreciation only buy the licences you need for the FA users- works with most erp systems and is much easier, more functional and more cost effective very easy flexble aquistion,  depreciation and disposal .  Optional modules for Asset tagging, counting and tracking, capitalise asset projects, planned asset maintenance. Ask about our asset tagging, and take-on and annual count  service.

Detailed consolidation, budgetting, forecasting and planning – many feature – top down bottom up, based on prior priod seasonality and % change etc  Built in dashboards and ad hoc what if querying, reforecast, period on period comparison by multiple dimensions, KPIs ,  etc. Use SSRS and Poer Pivot for further analysis and reporting.

Construction companies often have  a multitude of legacy solutions to integrate our  specialist mapping tool makes this easy especially when there are system upgrades.

When you have thousands of workers at site, who may be deploye dot dfferent tasks accessed via different entrance gates  you need a robust access controland T@A system that can hold all the  templates and share the across the network,-  that means a very small file size- per worker, at shift chage over there is little time so   that needs a very fast device with low rate of false reading.  Devices need to work when labourers have cut fingers, dirty hands. Devices need to be easy to use, to not lose transactions in a power cut, to hold staff rostas and to integrate with Payroll systems. only the Ingersoll Rand Hand Punch and the Interflex Software can provide all those features, which is why it is used by  large airlines, ports, event organisers like the Olympics, of football stadiums, and those with complex shifts and 24×7 opertions like hospitals, retail stores, and hotels. Devices can be installedon buses so workers can clock in  as they leave the bus, or mobile gate units  can be installed at sites. 

Paryroll and HR systems become useful when you have mote than 50 employees  nn to have when you have more than 100 employees and essential when you are dealing with thousands of employees.  Tracking employyee accrused benefits across projects and countries with timesheet integration, for mutiple benefts and deductions, multiple shift patterns, and different treatment by grade, nationality etc needs both experienced implementors, and a powerful payroll engine that can handle multiple languages and currencies.

Enterprise Project Management (EPM) is the latest release of Micorsft Project Server and now sits on SharePoint. If you are supporting multiple proejcts e.g roll-out out of a chain of retail stores or hotels , then each site will have multiple projects, from construction, to fit out, to multiple software projects.

To discuss your requirement and learn more about how our solutions will  help youmange your  projects please contact us. 0097143365589

Merger and Acquistion – M@A – Dubai ll

May 6th, 2012

How do you evaaluate an opportunity?

  • PESTEL
  • SWOT analysis
  • Brain storming

How do you present the idea to others?

  • Strategey maps

How do you provide context relevant information?

  • Shapes, colours and icons
  • Embedded files and hypelrinks

How do youplan to  make it happen and assign responsibility and timelines without losing the big picture?

  • Pictorial project plan with element properties linked to MS project

How do you support collaboration across tiemzones and geographies and disciplines, and numerous documents?

  • Integrate all of these tools with your M@A trading paltform and your document repository
  • Integrate with BPM tools with electornic notifcations approvals and workflows

How do you create agendas and keep meetings on track and capture minutes onw ide ranging discussions?

 and

How do you make it happen on time?

All of the above -  but how?

Take a look at Mind Manager - easy to use, fast to deploy, and multiple applications.

Workflows, document management – from Synergy in Dubai

January 15th, 2012

Do you have a lot of documents? Construction project contracts and drawings? Lawyers office case files and testimonies, Health records, Insurance claims, Utilities customer records…. How do you find all the right documents quickly? What about version control? and how do you know who accessed, modifed or printed what and when?

Most business processes depend on information – this often means multiple files and documents and various stages of approval or information gathering and dissemination. The  abiity to rapidly configure eforms and workflows and to store documents with context sensitive search features provides both rapid implementation and major cost reductions.  There are issues of compliance,  of data sensitivity, data loss, and timeliness of action, when orignal documents are routed physically.

ASTRA ZENECA uses PLATINA to manage their digital log books for their production entity in Södertälje. In this case the system is validated according to FDA.  

 Tele2 manage their telecommunication towers all over Europe with use of PLATINA Software. This includes documents and work orders along with distribution of digital information to stakeholders outside the Tele2 system.

 PolyPeptide AB recently acquired the system for divergence management, and the managing of quality documents along with “SOPar” and CAPA processes. Eventually this will also contain IT tasks, drawings, and agreements.

 Trelleborg AB uses PLATINA for their quality management which primarily involves divergence and quality documentation.  13 county councils in Sweden use PLATINA for their quality documentation, divergence and diary management.

  •         Case management
  •         Workflow with graphical process mapping
  •         Document management 
    • Scanning
    • Digital Signature
  •          Records management
  •         Divergence management
  •         Corrective and Preventative Action (CAPA)
  •         Project management
  •         Agreement management

 PLATINA is n integrated, versatile .NET platform for self-development and expansion of information- and operational systems.

PLATINA makes it possible to rearrange the different processes of how documents, agreements, cases and other tasks flow  through the organization – using logical conditions and alternative approaches throughout the process.  

The system includes features and applications for: version control, management review control, indexing, and publication, distribution –and safety control. Indexing of documents including metadata enables powerful and efficient search functions. The publication and distribution feature is used for access and authorization of documents, while the safety-controls permit the right users the access of documents. .

 PLATINA Document Management includes applications for a controlled “check in/check out” of documents. The ‘lock’ function ensures that only one user at a time is able to make changes in a document. The document can easily be sorted into categories and folders. Moreover, the users can mark documents with additional metadata i.e. information describing the document.

Dubai in the cloud? Office 365?

December 7th, 2011

When you are starting up or need a new solution fast then a cloud based solution rather than an on-premise one  will get you up and running without the cash flow hit.  . . . at least in the short-term. However, if you implement a major business application then you still need comprehensive business process mapping, data cleansing, organizational change management, end-user training , data migration local support etc.

 The cost structure of cloud ERP avoids paying a lump sum up-front, either for hardware , software, product install, or day to day IT staff  but  organizations must pay for yearly subscriptions to their cloud provider. So it’s an easy way to amortize a large upfront expense witrhout punitive bank loans or mortgages.  You also don’t need to worry about the cost of applying patches and upgrades or resizing hardware, or the cost of back up tapes nor the space costs of a server room (what is the opportutnity cost of the space in a amjor city?)  and the energy costs that go with it, not to mention insurance and support costs for the hardware.

 However if the business cash flow should cash dry up, then you may find it  impossible to pay for the subscription – you dont just lose support, you may lose your entire system.   Vendors need to make a profit so ultimately they have to cover the cost of the up front finance. Cloud applications therefore generate more predictable revenue and higher long term revenue.

There are many successful solutions particularly in the CRM space.  Why am I writing about this now? Well Microsoft recently invited me to particpate in one of the partner surveys about our awarenes of, and our business plans, re the cloud and use/planned sales of specifically Azure and other providers like Amazon web  services. So I ahd to think – we sell some cloud solutions but we not likely to be a host  of the cloud – we implement and support. So how might it change our future and offerings?

In this region there has been cautious adoption . Of course most of us use the cloud  without thinking about it when we buy books on line or upload photos, or use web email, or Facebook etc.

So what about erp solutions like Dynamics Ax . We have been able to offer this for a long time on the cloud but clients in this region are still concerend about proven reliability – there have been some prominent site outages this year, and about  risks to their data. I am less conerend about secuirty – if you choose a major provider then they will have  a Fort Knox equivalent data centre physical security with appropriate back up,  disaster recovery, firewalls, virus protection, and skilled staff  etc that will be far safer than most on premise networks. For me the problem is more about the contractual and support side which seems much less clear..

 2. Will we still own our data? a crucial question to ask your ERP cloud provider before the purchase-  how and in what format will  the cloud provider deliver your data to you when you cancel your contract – how long will that take  .

3. How to choose the ERP cloud provider? Few will have a cloud track record, but  lots of satisfied customers is always a good sign .  Check the uptime guarantees, service level agreement (SLA) and other terms and conditions and whether these cna be substantiated and what happens if those are not met . Check the vendor is operating on a large enough scale with redundant infrastructure facilities in the case of a natural disaster at their primary facility. What is their financial stability. WIll your data be in the sama server as others on a shared database, or will it be dedicated for you? How does the application licensing work if the cloud provider is not the application vendor?

4. What if  we want to bring ERP back in-house? . Some vendors only support cloud deployment,

5. Will a cloud-based ERP system be able to integrate with the other line of business applications that we use?  ERP solutions with integration tools will allow you to integrate to other on premises and cloud based solutions. Can you customise for your business, or is it a common build offered to all clients – i.e if the system is enhanced for you then all other users similarly benefit. A common build will tend to be continually improved and be easier to upgrade maintain – Birch St is a typical product that works on this module for Hospitality procurdment.

6. Will there be connectivity and response time issues   Check the latency and   bandwidth requirement per client – consider report printing and BI.  Response time is a key factor for the user with a cloud based system. Flex system is a powerful user friendly cloud BI system – its in memory processing ensures exceptional processing response time. Ask us! Its a well kept secret here but is widely used in financial services in Asia.

7. What if the internet connection goes down? Consider a  redundant internet service to ensure continued operations even when your primary ISP goes down this may also help you to load balance and peak times . Many organizations find that a redundant system also helps with load balancing during high usage time.

8. What if the cloud provider is offline? The SLA (Service Level Agreement), should define   uptime guarantees and explanation of the redundant systems in place to protect against major system failure – 99.9% uptime  means in the worst case scenario that your system isdown less than 8.76 hours per annum – probably better than an in house system .

9. What  about add on customised developments?   Will these  work with a cloud based application ? This will become more common as the cloud usage expands, but there will be an additional cost to adding ISV applications to your hosted or cloud system.

What about office tools- these are less crtical than erp solutions Most of us use a hotmail gmail ,yahoo or equivalent mail account. Google apps has a large footprint of users – and Zoho also has its fans,

Microsoft has now entered this space with 2 million clients for Office 365 in a very short time. For small businesses this is a quick way to get up and running at a known cost with Office Professional, SharePoint, Exchange server and Lync with the only requirement being an internet connection,- instant productivity with the possibility of Skype or other VOIP phone systems. Ask us for details. However, it can also be a big boon for large companies as a way of outsourcing these IT functions – useful when skilled resources are scarce /costly, and when office rents are high, and the company wants to stay compliant with ITIL, and the latest technology, or has   variabe staffing e.g a project based company  or is experiencing rapid growth which is outstripping systems.

This seems to me where the cloud will get established and  will  lead to wider acceptance of erp on the cloud. Meanwhile apps stores are increasingly adding business apps and Microsoft now also runs an apps store to complement its products.  expect to see SaaS models evolve around web services e.g pay for a credit card gateway on an ad hoc  per use basis.

Discontinued features and modified functionality in Microsoft Project Server 2010

August 9th, 2011

Discontinued features and modified functionality in Microsoft Project Server 2010

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/project-server-help/discontinued-features-and-modified-functionality-in-microsoft-project-server-2010-HA101819729.aspx

  • Outlook add-in The Outlook add-in for Project Server is discontinued inProject Server 2010. The existing add-in can still connect toProject Server 2010, but it has not been updated for this release. 
  • Project Server 2010 is integrated with Exchange Server, so that users no longer need to download a separate COM add-in.
  • The timesheet functionality that was present in the Outlook add-in has been discontinued.

Features and functionality that have been discontinued or changed in Microsoft Project Server 2010.

Project Portfolio Server changes

Project Server and Project Portfolio Server are no longer two separate products. Relevant portfolio functionality from Project Portfolio Server is merged into Project Server 2010. The following Project Portfolio Server 2007 features and functionality were discontinued or changed for Project Server 2010:

  • Application portfolio management This includes tracking and managing applications.
  • Audit Trail Workflow activity was previously made available from the Audit Trail link in the Workflow module. In Project Server 2010, this information is available in the Workflow History list, which can be accessed from the Additional Workflow Data link in the All Workflow Stages section.
  • Benefits estimating This includes estimating and tracking financial and non-financial benefits.
  • Organizational hierarchy and aggregates This includes a security-based hierarchical data grouping and aggregation. In Project Server 2010, departments have been added to enable hierarchical data grouping based on organizational structure.
  • Dynamic charting This includes the Chart Wizard, which allows for ad-hoc interactive chart creation, including bubble chart modeling. In Project Server 2010, Excel Services support has been added, providing a new method of dynamic reporting.
  • Financial management This includes time-phased budget, actual, and forecast cost tracking. In Project Server 2010, use custom fields and Excel Services to enable cost functionality for simple estimation, tracking, and forecasting costs. Solutions for more complex estimating, tracking, and forecasting costs are offered by Microsoft partners.
  • Insight analysis This enabled users to get specific details into the factors that impact a specific portfolio selection.
  • Decision dashboard This enabled users to make selection decisions supported by a rich dashboard with live grouping and charting.
  • Sensitivity analysis This enabled users to take a portfolio selection through various what-if scenarios and figure out how close a project was to being selected.
  • Snapshotting and versioning This enabled users to create cost, resource, and benefit snapshots at any given point in time. In Project Server 2010, reporting and baselining can be used to capture data snapshots.
  • Surveys This includes flexible, user-definable survey forms, on subjects related to risk, architectural fit, and operational performance.

Other info:

Configure Project Server 2010 to work with Exchange Server 2007 SP2

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee782548.aspx

This article describes how to configure integration with Exchange Server 2007 SP2, enabling Project Server 2010 users to view Project Server tasks in Microsoft Office Outlook. This functionality replaces the Outlook Add-in task status reporting functionality for non-time–phased tasks that is available in previous versions of Project Server and enables task assignment updates using % complete or total work remaining. These task assignment updates are then auto-submitted to the Task Status Manager when the tasks are updated in the Exchange client.

Activity plans and personal projects included the ability to create and manage activity plans, also known as lightweight projects, and personal projects from within Project Web Access. Instead,Project Server 2010 supports editing any project on the server using a rich, new grid control in Project Web App.