Archive for May, 2010

Performance Management

May 16th, 2010

Synergy will be running advanced Performance Management training for its financial consultants at the end of the  month.  

The unified PROPHIX Performance Management solution fully integrates budgeting, reporting, planning, scenario management, dashboards, and in-depth analysis capabilities, providing a forward looking view of company performance to stakeholders across the organization in a single extensible platform.

PROPHIX delivers the best value by combining high end functionality, low total cost of ownership, and the fastest implementations in its class.

All PROPHIX Solutions are designed by business and finance professionals to deliver ease of use with minimal reliance on IT resources.

Select a Business Performance Management Vendor

A Road Map is Key

Business performance management has many components, from budgeting, strategic planning, consolidation, and reporting to dashboards and operational analytics. Without a well thought-out road map, you may address your current pain-usually budgeting- without an eye toward what follows next. Then, when you are ready to move on the next phase, you may discover your vendor is great in the area you attacked first, but weak in the functionality you want to add next. Prior to making that first purchase, the senior team rshould define  their long-term vision for BPM and identify and prioritize the various phases. Perform, an audit of software currently owned by the company. You may find that you already own products that can address some of your BPM requirements. A gap analysis based on ‘where you are ‘compared to ‘where you want to go; will help identify the missing pieces .

Business Requirements First

BPM is a strategic business initiative. It is not a back-office operational system. Therefore, the business requirements need to be front and center. Which technology is best is  a secondary discussion. Before you look at OLAP vs. ROLAP vs. hybrid OLAP determine more fundamental matters, such as whether or the software can handle the complex budget allocations required by finance . Some companies think they’ll know a good budgeting or reporting system when they see it. That  is a potentially big mistake thta is best avoided. Interview the key stake holders, gather their detailed requirements for the new system, and  consolidate and prioritize results. What do they like and dislike about other systems they have used to accomplish similar tasks.

Give your requirements a sanity check. Unrealistic blue sky items on the list could cause you to filter out otherwise very capable vendors. your list will be focused on current pains and challenges and may overlook some potential BPM benefits that you didn’t have time to think about or of wbhich you were simply unaware. .

RFP or Not?

The RFP (request for proposal) process is tedious and labor intensive for all concerned, and in the end, probably not very useful. better to use the time the vendor spend sona POC. So why do  it?

You need some way to filter down the long list of potential vendors to a more manageable handful of best fit candidates. There are other ways to cut down the list (see the next section), but if you must go through the RFP process then  do it right. The single biggest mistake people make is to not ask sufficiently detailed questions. For example, I can almost guarantee that if you ask every BPM vendor, “Does your product work with Excel?” you will hear nothing but “yes” straight across the board. Does that help you differentiate between the vendors? Of course not. However, if you follow up that question by drilling into the specifics (e.g., Do you have an add-in? is the interface an external load file? Can you execute commands from within Excel to directly access your database? Does your interface support both read and write access? Can I use existing models?), you begin to have enough information to differentiate the vendors. Customize your RFP for business performance management. Pulling out an old  generic RFP that IT has used countless times before that asks question such as: “How many characters is the account field?” is not going to add much value.

Which Vendors?

Who will receive your RFP? Or, if you skip the RFP, how will you create your vendor short list?

Some companies just look at the  best knwon vendors with the biggest marketing budgets –  because they have seen or heard of them most often. They usually also cahrge  top dollar for nice to have  features you may not need.  Someone’s got to pay for marketing, after all, and it could be you. Don;t miss out on a lesser-known vendor with a product that is a better fit.  Today people start their research on the Web. A Google search will turn up any number of free whitepapers, reports, and buyer’s guides. Free research material is free for good reasons: whether it’s just marketing material in disguise, or it’s a high-level overview designed to entice you to purchase more detailed information. To invest in a BPM software for maybe  hundreds of thousands of dollars, and  an equal amount on services, isn’t a small investment to make sure you consider the right vendors woerthwhile? It makes sense to purchase in-depth reports from a recognized industry analyst or to commisisona  proper Proof of Concept .

Vendor evaluations, scoring process, selection and negotiations.

Form  a committee that represents, the key stakeholders impacted by the BPM solution, not just finance and IT. They key benefits :

  • taking advantage of the combined wisdom of a diverse group,
  • achieving ownership and buy-in from the key stakeholders,
  •  reducing the pool of potential doomsters stem doesn’t turn out quite as planned.

I there is someone strongly tied to any current  system that will be repalced then maybe that person should be on the committee to ensure all the needs s are addressed and that there is full buy in to the new system initiative.


Slick, canned vendor demos, give yopua  fella nd save time, but  focus the bulk of your time on scripted demos, or “proofs of concept.” In business performance management many ofsystems, are superfically alike.  Differentiate the contenders based on how you will actually use the system in your company.

  • Identify the most important and/or most difficult aspects of your planned use of business performance management.
  •  Develop a script for the  vendor to follow that demonstrates how their product will uniquely meet your needs. 
  • If you allocate certain expenses down to individual business units based on their percentage contribution to consolidated revenues, then have the vendor demonstrate how their product can handle this sometimes tricky multistep process.
  • Evaluate the various vendors on the ease with which this is accomplished.

In most cases it will appear simple and straightforward when demonstrated. So  ask to see how it was accomplished so the differences are apparent. Some products will have complex logic rules that a consultant wrote to make this happen. Another will have created shadow accounts or entities to hold interim calculation steps. Those best allocations will have pre-built functionality to streamline the process and make it easier for you to administer and maintain. Look at your key requirements this way, cand the right vendor will begin to stand out.

Asking the vendors to create a custom demo or proof of concept will  shrink the list of viable contenders. Some will decline. The reasons can range from simple economics (the potential revenue from you is not worth the cost of this sales effort) to recognition by the vendor that your needs are not a good fit for their product or are  they just too busy or do thye not really have the required skills?. Whatever the reason, it is better for you in the long run that they drop out early. If the product is a good fit and they really wantyou as a customer, then they will find a way to accoworlk with you.

Before the vendors run through their custom demos,  train all the members of the evaluation committee on what business performance management really is and how the company plans to use it.  For example, some of the committee members may be wowed by products that can produce fancy animated 3D graphics. If, however, your focus is on a system that can work with Excel and crunch numbers really fast, then there is going to be a disconnect.

Prepare a scoring worksheet with columns for each vendor and rows identifying your key evaluation criteria.It is useful to include weighting factors,  for the relative importance of each element. Whatever tool you use to create this scoring worksheet it needs to be able to quickly and easily consolidate the results from all committee members. When the vendors come in, each evaluator should enter their reactions in the worksheet. In the end, the scoring worksheet should highlight the top vendors as selected by your team.

There is a key question  to ask each vendor: What are the short-and long-term product plans? The long-term plans will tell you if their research and development investment is going to be aligned with your needs. For example, if they say they plan to rewrite the product for a hosted environment and that doesn’t interest you, then you may  consider a different vendor that is more focused on development in areas that are of interest to you. The short-term plans will tell you what is lacking in the current solution. If the next release will have even better integration between models, does that mean thethe current integration is not good enough.?

Look at the consolidated results. While it may appear obvious who the favorites were, be sure to watch out for any sizeable variances. If a vendor received an 8 average on a 1 to 10 scale , were all the votes around 8, or were there some 10s and some 6s. Those are very different situations. In the latter case, you need to take into account that some people were not thrilled with this vendor’s performance in a certain area and may not be excited by the prospect of choosing them for your BPM solution.

Once you have selected the best solution for your needs, it is time to determine the modules that you need how many seats, negotiate the best deal and determine who will assist with implementation

Don’t drink and drive in Dubai

May 16th, 2010

Drunk drivers face athree-year imprisonment and to have their licences confiscated for one year and /or a  face a hefty fine of Dh30,000.

394 drivers have already been refered for prosecution in the last 2 weeks alone

355 have already lots their licence this year

The metro has opened 3 more stations, there are still ample taxis  so why risk it?

The 2007-revised traffic law stipulates that any individual who consumes alcohol and drives or attempts to – there is no tolerance or acceptable mimimum. If there is an accident irrepsctiv eo whose fault the driver who has taken alcohol is going to regret it.

Microsoft CRM vs

May 13th, 2010

In early 2009, Crimson Consulting undertook survey of users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and The goal was to identify the tasks most important to them, as a guide to the functionality desired in a CRM solution, and to assess their satisfaction with how well their CRM solution supports them in accomplishing these. Survey responses revealed many directional differences in satisfaction. For nearly every one of the top 15 tasks, for both sales and customer service users, Microsoft Dynamics CRM users are more satisfied than users. You can download a copy of this report here.

Microsoft Dynamics – where is it headed?

May 13th, 2010

Ttwo Microsoft executives defined high-level future priorities for Dynamics applications. at  Convergence 2010, Hal Howard, vice president of Microsoft Dynamics ERP Research and Development, and Mike Ehrenberg, Technical Fellow, offered up four trends they see as key for future versions of Microsoft Dynamics

1. Context-aware computing.  – moving the role-tailored interface “to the next level,” and involve what Hal Howard called “unified communications…from analysis to communications.  We’re not an applications provider, but a platform provider.”

2. The Cloud. Ehrenberg noted its strategic significance relates to “the idea of the power of choice…the same applications delivered in different ways.” A  company might put a request-for-proposal onto a public site,that  could be used directly  from the cloud within Dynamics AX. The executives noted that the cloud requires that Microsoft confront security issues, as well as abiding by the varying laws and regulations covering privacy around the world.  

3. Sustainability. , “We going to have to start accounting for energy use and emissions,” Ehrenberg said. Some large retailers Microsoft is working with want to begin providing customers with information “of the environmental impact of the product I’m buying,” said Ehrenberg. Providing such information is no trivial matter-”There may be a hundred entities that touch a product,” said Howard. “.

4. Social networking. Adapting Dynamics applications to seamlessly take in information fromFacebook and Twitter. etc  Users want a variety of information, said Howard. “What are people saying about suppliers I am doing business with? We want to mimic that data so you can find out about people you are doing business with.”

Use BIM to win at the RFP stage.

May 13th, 2010

In  economic recession, the building market is even more competitive.

Lower prices with hard bids and more bids to choose from is the norm. and owners still seek more ways to save money and to accelerate project schedules .  So how can  contractors distinguish themselves.

BIM is exactly the tool to provide the Owners the savings and to gives the General C ontractor a competitive advantage t. Many contractors claim that they do “BIM;” but most contractors,, only clain it as a marketing tool or for 3D coordination.

Generatw cost savings and providie the Owner the confidence that they will get delivery in budget on time. 

 The RFP stage is when you win and lsoe proejcts and is htest time to demonstrate th benefit sof BIM

 The typical RFP process is broken into these categories:

 • Interview: 5% – 25% of total

 • Plan, Pricing and Schedule: 25% – 40% of tota

l • Qualifications: 40% – 70% of total

Clients are very interested to kno how the  5D virtual construction workflow help in completing a project successfully. Use the model as a presentation  tool to “wow” the client but that’s  not enough anymore.  Demonstrate the integrated workflow during the interview and  transparently  illustrate the 5D BIM approach to the project . “Talk to the model” and communicate to the client the schedule and opportunities for saving  money and time.

The lowest reasonable price by a qualified GC is a strong factor but  Owners are wise to contractors who low-bid and live off  change orders to recover. With conceptual estimates, GCs hone in on a true cost based on quantities, locations, and past subcontractor efficiency rates. This focus on quantities, locations, production rates) enables meaningful subcontractor negotiations.  The Subcontractors are more confie=dent and accurate when bidding off the same model as GC . so there is lowe rneed for risk contingency and tprices are transparent .  This porcess is enahced when the subcontractors uses the virtual cosntruction model with the GC to resolve constructability issues before going to site .

 With more efficient schedules and better logistics, there’s no need for stops and starts and last minute rush towards completion.You are able to frequnetly track the target cost versus  actual cost to manage budget overruns and  resolution.

The fastest, reliable schedule is often less important a factor in a bid but in many  cases, it is the most critical factor.  GCs often have difficulty explaining their schedules to a n owner when they can’t express it in an easy-to-understand graphical presentation. There are many benefits to shwoing  a 4D schedule in a bid. The combination of flowline theory and production control gives more accurate planning, GCs can help their Subs remove the typical stops and starts that simply waste labor.

 Owners know that a proven team will consistenlty deliver the best results. They look specifically for the teams with which they want to work – a team that communicates well and is trustworthy. A poorly-structured or overly-complicated presentation undemrines that trust. Owners  need to hear  a crdible proposal and plan.  Use  a 5D BIM model to drive your presentation, so the team members are able to clearly illustrate the key points in  language that a layperson will understand.

 Even more compelling is the ability to show the Owner exactly what is meant , “a picture is worth a thousand words.” and lot more in won projects. This is one of the first benefits of BIM.” Techniques -. This is so much easier to express with a 5D model, especially when the Owner is a layperson. Too often, construction companies try to communicate the building methodology with non‐integrated, non-visual techniques, which only muddies the water. Your firm’s integrated construction methodology can be easily expressed with transparency through the 5D model. Owners appreciate a well-defined process for planning and managing the job, especially when the plan includes objective measurements and reporting.

BIM is not a magic bullet.  BIM-capable does not just mean walk‐through animations – it is an integrated construction environment rich with precise quantities, mean and methods, flowline scheduling, and powerful visualizations that supports lean construction methodologies.

 If you’re committed to adding BIM to your portfolio, we’re ready to help.

ipTV- see us at the Hotel Show in Dubai

May 12th, 2010

See us at the Hotel Show with Deyafa Systems and the principal vendor ‘atVisions’ – (Stand 7, Hall 7 D331 ) and the super ONEVision ipTV solution used by many leading hotels.  For an early preview and a meeting with the principals early next week please contact us or take a look at these You Tube videos of client systems 



More than a hotel tv:Transform in-room  television into an unparalleled experience that will constantly impress your guests

  • An excellent in-house sales tool
  • An unparalleled  branding tool’
  • A non-stop multi- media experience

Promote your services. Strengthen your brand. Inspire your guests.

 Outstanding graphical design and appearance

  • User interface is completely customisable to match your corporate branding.
  • Multiple interface “skins” are available with familiar coverflow style interface menus
  • Personalised guest welcome screen with targeted product advertising of your services
  • Multilingual content and menu prompts in your guests’ home language.
  • Intuitive user guide and interactive help is  available at the touch of a button.

ONEvision offers almost unlimited revenue generating opportunities;

  • Guests can book excursions, tickets, Spa treatments, and a table at the restaurant,
  • Order room service or purchase products from the hotel Shop.
  • You can advertise the services of partner companies and offer sponsorship of paid-for-content such as Movies or Music.

Video on Demand: 24-hour access to an almost unlimited selection of movies
Radio: Access to numerous broadcasts from around the world

Internet on TV:

  • Use One Vision to check your e-mail,  Facebook, and twitter accounts.
  • Google the starting time of a concert, play online games or  print your flight boarding pass.
  • Internet TV features a high-resolution display and can be used via remote control or wireless keyboard .
  • Media Interface: Prefer your own content? Simply plug in your own devices –  from i-pods to digital cameras and games consoles.
  • High speed Internet access –with full or restricted access is available  on  both a guests’ laptop or on the guest
    room TV.
  • VPN Access: Offer your guests’ secure VPN access to their office via open ports  secure for your guest and for you.
    Printers: Printer connections are available either locally, using a hired device or through the network with guests collecting their printed material from the Reception.

Standard Software: Have popular standard software (e.g. MS-Office or Googel Apps) available for your business guests.  

Conference Program Overview: Your guests can consult their updated conference program at any time.

Hire Car Reservations, Flight Checks:  Inconvenient routine jobs become easy to handle with the integration of 3rd party services. This is further confirmation of the service philosophy of your hotel /hospitaland another possibility of increasing revenues with commission based bookings.

VOIP Telephony: Take advantage of  convergent IP technology – an all-in-one network. TV, Internet and telephony
offered through a triple play solution

Digital signage plays a similar role in the hotel as the TV screen does in the guestrooms. Action-packed images of brilliant quality create eye-catching stimuli in high-traffic zones and areas in which the guest spends time. It is always up to date and always adapted to the target audience.

“ONEvision brings together in-house sales, branding and amazing effects with future proof technology. A true
innovation, which has been enthusiastically received by our guests – and gives us the perfect opportunity to provide an additional USP!“

Gebhard Reiner
Managing Director, Hyatt Hotels & EAME

erp – best of breed, or single integrated package ?

May 12th, 2010

The article provides a 10-question framework for making the best-of-breed versus integrated suite decision.

There are other practical  factors e.g.:

 - licensing cost there may be a signifcant difference for a specific piece of functionality  e.g. for a Payroll system a specialist payroll solution  may charge only for payroll clerk licences, whereas an erp system  may also  charge for each employee record- so the cost effectiveness of either solution will signifcantly  depend on the number of employees, planned growth, and how long each employee’s record must be retained

- ease of expansion e.g to add other companies in different verticals, with different language, different base currency etc

- ease of integrating to a head office system – connectivity options and costs may also affect the choice

- where are your trading partners headed – self service inquiries? edi? rfid? lean, cross supply chain collaboration?

-  will each component always be compatible with the same operating and database versions – how often does each  they issue new realeses what does this mean for uinterfaces, pgrades and support?

- how easy is to to report, or to integrate to BI or office tools to provide alternative options

- can you build worklofws across the applkciation?

- how will you keep master data conssitent if it is created and maintained in mutliple applications with different fleld size  constraints, different manadatory fields,  different approaches to data e.g dimensions or attributes or structured master data,

-  different security profiles to align,

- what if you wanted to sell some, or all of your business?

- will the IT investment add to your balance sheet as an asset from an investor’s perspective?

- how will the annual maintenance support costs vary if running different systems?

- do solutions come from the same vendor? does he have similar contracts with all the software authors? You do not want multiple different vendors changing prices, support SLAs etc nor to have each blame the other’s software when something does not work.

This is a cautionary tale



Free Gartner report -budgeting, planning and forecasting

May 11th, 2010

Many finance evaluations make the mistake of including budgeting, planning and forecasting (BP&F) functionality as part of their evaluation of core financial management applications. IT professionals and finance users must understand why this is the wrong approach, and how to correctly conduct these evaluations.

Synergy  is pleased to offer you this report from Gartner that will help ensure you adopt the right evaluation approach when considering a budgeting, planning and forecasting solution.

Key Findings

‘• General ledger (GL) applications can manage budgetary control procedures, but their data structure means they cannot support sophisticated BP&F functionality (like top-down spreading, scenario creation and forecasting). Also, they cannot support driver-based planning.

• Corporate performance management (CPM) applications have matured; they offer powerful BP&F functionality.

 • BP&F applications are “loosely coupled” to underlying ERP applications, rather than “tightly integrated.” Download the complete report from Gartner in PDF (no registration required, single click download)

Please contact us for a free copy

For more information about Prophix go to the main website product pages.

Security and Authentication in Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Connectivity and Firewall Port Requirements in On-Premise Deployments.

May 8th, 2010

The E2 team at Microsoft has released another informative whitepaper: Security and Authentication in Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Connectivity and Firewall Port Requirements in On-Premise Deployments. You can download the document at the Microsoft Download Center.

Many data centers include firewalls between the end-users and the servers and other integrated systems that support an implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. This document provides guidance on the connectivity requirements between Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 and other systems to assist readers with proper firewall configuration in customer environments.

CRM Toolbar

May 8th, 2010

Here’s a quick highlight of what the Basic CRM Toolbar has to offer:

1. New Activity creation: Quickly create new Activities from this dropdown  rather than from the relevant Account, Contact, Opportunity, etc. Click Save & New at the top of the screen when tocreate  more than one, and you can create 10 Activities in less than 2 minutes.

2. New Record creation:  By creating a new record from here, you can save time by not hunting for the entity listview.

3. Go To: This allows you to only click once and land on the location to which you want to navigate. Are you going to Duplicate Detection Rules inside of to Settings? This would take you three clicks to go to.

When you use the Go To, you only click once –  scroll down to Settings, Data Management, and then Duplicate Detection Rules.

4. Tools: Are you trying to import 500 Leads into the system? Do you want to run a Duplicate Detection job in one click? . No need to travel all the way to the Settings areaSet your personal options? .

5. Advanced Find: CRM – Advanced Find to search for just about anything inside of CRM with a few simple lines of criteria. Editcolumns or  export anything you pull to Excel in a flash. And it’s real-time…

Do you like the toolbar, but work from Outlook? The Basic CRM Toolbar is there, too! Look for the CRM ribbon among your toolbars at the top of Outlook.

Update Rollup 10 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Available for Download

May 8th, 2010

Continuing on its commitment to deliver the best value in the industry to more than 22,000 customers and 1.1 million users, the May 2010 service update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, available at no additional charge for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online customers, focuses on improving the connectivity of the business to other systems, data and people through developer tools and resources. Key details include the following:

Expanded language support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The May 2010 service update is the first wave for moving Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online into international markets with multilingual capabilities for North American customers who have departments or teams with French, Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese language requirements.
New Portal accelerators. The service update adds new Portal accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. These accelerators include Event Management, eService and Partner Relationship Management and allow organizations to extend their reach and extend the power of CRM to external constituents.
New developer tools and resources. The service update provides new developer tools in the updated Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Development Kit (SDK) to enable the connection of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online with other on-demand and on-premises applications and services such as Windows Azure.

Microsoft announced that it is slated to expand the next release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to 32 global markets in the second half of 2010. I

National ID Card

May 6th, 2010

Applications submitted to the various governmental departments and banks across the country will shortly be rejected if the applicant has no ID card,” Eida higher committee deputy head Dr Ali Al Khouri said.

With the threat of services of traffic departments being denied, around 5,000 people registered for the card on Monday. 

Application forms are now available online at and at various printing and post offices, where applicants can provide documents, fill out forms, pay fees and make appointments to visit a registration centre for the final steps.

At registration centres, applicants will only be photographed and fingerprinted, which will take no more than five to seven minutes, he said. Currently there are 22 registration centres and 25 preventive medicine centres, which also offer registration services.

Two hundred new registration devices will be deployed to mobile centres to serve labourers.

Children younger than 15 need not apply for the cards in person.

The existing 25 medical centres, where residents are tested before receiving their residency visas, will also serve as registration centres.

By the end of this year, applicants wishing to obtain residence visa or renew it will be required to produce the ID card. The government also plans to combine it with the driving licence and the labour card. There are plans to add features to the ID cards, such as a so-called e-purse, an electronic signature and a Metro fare-paying facility.

Decision day for Britain

May 6th, 2010

British election result tomorrow – there seems to be little belief that any party will tackle the real problems - the prospect of a hung parliament may open the door to electorlal change but right now a strong government with a clear manadate for action would be welcome news not only to Britain but to the rest of Europe which has more than enough problems of its own and does not need any more market uncertainty.


May 6th, 2010

Microsoft’s latest ASP.NET 4 released with Visal Studio 2010 has improved the performance and Search-engine Optimization (SEO).  Some of  the most important new features in ASP.NET 4.

  • Output cache extensibility
  • Session state compression
  • View state mode for individual control
  • Page.MetaKeyword and Page.MetaDescription properties
  • Response.RedirectPermanent method
  • Routing in ASP.NET
  • Increase the URL character length
  • New syntax for Html Encode
  • Predictable Client IDs
  • Web.config file refactoring
  • Auto-Start ASP.NET applications
  • Improvements on Microsoft Ajax Library

Infor FMS SunSystems Report Server v1.08

May 4th, 2010

Infor FMS SunSystems Report Server v1.08 now available.

This release provides compatibility with SunSystems 5.4 and supports the latest technology platforms including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.  Report Server 1.08 is supported on MS SQL Server only.  Report Server is available in English only, but supports the running of reports in other languages.