Automotive Manufacturers Sell More with a Better Bid Response System

By | CRM, Manufacturing

Do you want to win more bids?

You need a better bid response system.

Without a strong automotive manufacturing bid response system in place, your team is going to be spending too much time putting together quotes that may be late, not competitive, or not complete, and seeing far too few sales successes as a result.

Bid response is a major challenge for most automotive manufacturers.

If you don’t respond well, your competition will, and you won’t win.

If you do respond, you’d better win… because the bid response takes a significant amount of company time and resources.

An automotive manufacturing bid response system like the one we’ve built using Dynamics 365 for Sales can help you win more bids by:

  • Creating one single solution to globally manage all bid responses
  • Coordinating efforts across departments – Sales, FP&A, Engineering and Production Planning
  • Centralizing pricing and all response documentation for quick and easy reference
  • Enforcing standards to create better consistency
  • Automating the approval process
  • Improving employee efficiency through familiar Office 365 tools
  • Analyzing what’s working – and what isn’t

You’ll be able to see every opportunity at every stage of the bid response process, which helps you analyze which opportunities need more attention, and can improve accurate sales forecasting.

Ditch the spreadsheets. Get a professional bid management system that helps you win more business.

8 Ways CRM Helps Manufacturers Improve Business

Learn More

Author: Mark Schindler, Sales Representative

Why Field Service Automation Software is Essential

By | CRM

Field service automation software used to be a ‘nice to have’ option for manufacturing companies and professional service providers. Field service workers routinely showed up at job sites with a clipboard of paperwork and the inventory they needed to complete the task at hand. Once they were done, they had the project paperwork signed and moved to the next job.

While many field service-based companies today still run their business that way, those companies are at a distinct disadvantage.

If that scenario describes your company, this is what you’re missing!

• Faster payment from customers – Electronic routing of signed paperwork can cut DSO invoices by 7 days or more.

• Increased first-time fixes – Ensuring your field service workers have the right parts, but also the equipment history and access to maintenance guides, increases the opportunities for you to finish the job the first time, improving customer satisfaction and increasing worker efficiency.

• Improved operational efficiency – From optimizing dispatch to increasing service call capacity, companies can improve overall efficiency by 10-20% – at least!

• Reduced costs – Leverage scheduling and routing to ensure the most applicable field technician is deployed for the job. This leads to reduced length of site visits and number of revisits.

• More revenue, new revenue streams – As more OEMs push service back to their suppliers, and service companies work to create and manage profitable Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Field Service Automation software provides an efficient way to know exactly what’s included and excluded in your company’s warranties and SLAs. Stop your field service teams from giving away services because they’re unclear what the customer is entitled to. Additionally, field service technicians have more visibility to customers than anyone else within the company which allows them to identify opportunities for new revenue streams such as obsolete items and lack of spare parts.

• Happier customers – Your field service personnel may be the only company representative your customers ever meet. Help your field service workers make a great first impression by keeping in constant communication with customers about project progress, and when your staff is expected to arrive. Creating happier customers increases your wallet share and market share.

Considering new field service automation software?

Asking the right questions is critical. Download our field service evaluation matrix to decide what software is best for your business.

Download the Field Service Evaluation Matrix

Author: Marty Heward, Solution Architect

What do CFOs like about Dynamics 365?

By | CRM, ERP, Manufacturing

CFOs are constantly balancing the company’s limitations of today with the possibilities of tomorrow. They look for hidden risks and ways to capitalize on unseized opportunities. With these priorities in mind, let’s look at how Microsoft Dynamics 365 meets the evaluation criteria for CFOs.

What we hear from CFOs about what they value in Dynamics 365:

1. Dynamics 365 is industry specific. Yes. Even as a broad software application, Microsoft has created hundreds of industry-specific features. ISV partners have extended Dynamics 365 into niche industries even further (you can find these Dynamics 365 industry solutions on AppSource). Microsoft partners, like ourselves, tie the solution together by providing industry-specific consulting services and support. CFOs are vocal about their preference for ERP solutions that have been proven in their industry, with consulting resources who can add value from day 1 of the software project.

2. Dynamics 365 is globalized. ERP software solutions running in geographic silos often run into trouble. When your supply chain is global, your ERP solution needs to be available in multiple currencies, multiple languages and follow-the-sun support services.

3. Dynamics 365 is scalable. With Dynamics 365, you buy what you need today, and add as you grow. You can add additional Dynamics 365 applications to extend functionality – like Sales, Field Service, Project Service Automation and the like. You can also add users and additional services. If you were to merge or divest a business unit, your ERP software adapts to the size and scale you need.  That means you’re never over purchasing just to ‘future proof’ your technology investment. When you’re ready to grow, your software will grow with you.

4. Dynamics 365 provides insight for innovation. Gaining a competitive edge requires having the knowledge of what to do, and the capability to act. Business analytics tools like Power BI provide almost real-time information in a context that makes sense to your business users. Because Dynamics 365 allows you to easily configure your software without coding, you have the flexibility to extend it to meet new business needs.

5. Dynamics 365 is always up-to-date and offers a great user experience. Because Dynamics 365 is a SaaS solution, available in the cloud, versioning is automatically taken care of by “the system administrators in the cloud.” Being cloud-based also makes Dynamics 365 inherently mobile, available via any mobile or tablet application. Studies repeatedly show that enterprise software project success depends on user adoption. By offering familiar tools that make it easy to collaborate with colleagues and work with other everyday productivity applications like Office 365, CFOs increase the likelihood of project success.

The bottom line for CFOs is that Dynamics 365 is a great tool to improve the bottom line, while reducing risk to the organization.

Is your company ready to embrace modern technology?

Request a Readiness Assessment

Author: Doug Bulla, VP Business Development

3 Ways Engineers are Staying on Top of Auto Regulations

By | CRM, ERP, Manufacturing

Automotive engineers involved in the sales process have a responsibility to ensure that your automotive supply company stays on top of the latest regulations. Changes in regulations often drive design changes, which changes cost structures, which requires an intense amount of communication and collaboration amongst the sales, finance and engineering staff.

How are Engineering heads managing regulation changes?  They manage by:

1. Staying informed of automotive regulations.

Websites like SEMA and SAE international publish automotive engineering standards, but also automotive engineering standards under development.  As the VP of Engineering, a critical part of the job is staying informed and finding ways to influence change internally as well as externally. Commit budget to go to conferences and network with peers.

2. Communicating automotive regulatory changes throughout the organization.

It’s not enough for you to know when a regulation has changed. Your team needs to understand as well. As a critical part of the engineering team, you may need to understand the impact the regulation change will have to cost, design, timing and production. You can also share regulation documents through Microsoft Team and SharePoint or use Dynamics 365 to automatically post notifications to other users who need to be aware of and understand relevant regulation changes so they know how to adjust appropriately.

3. Manage regulatory changes within the engineering project automation system.

Software applications like Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation enable engineers to define and track milestones for changes to the automotive part, and have status changes reflected throughout every stage of the process from sales to production. That will keep you ahead of production issues and be more proactive in communicating and resolving problems.  Project templates can also be developed and used to ensure consistency and adherence to best practices such as APQP.

Learn the 8 ways auto part manufacturers can connect the dots to improve marketing, sales and service.

Learn More

Author: Mark Schindler, Software Sales

Is a CRM Upgrade Right for You?

By | CRM, Managed Services

If you’re still running CRM on-premise, Microsoft has made a Dynamics 365 on-premise version available that might better fit your business needs.

Should you upgrade Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 to Dynamics 365? Or should you migrate to the cloud? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. How out of date is your CRM software?

Microsoft requires you to go through each upgrade sequentially, so if you are on Microsoft Dynamics 2015, you must first upgrade to 2016 and then to Dynamics 365. The days of installing one version of software and keeping it forever are over. Your software assurance plan enables you to keep your software current.

2. Why is your CRM software out of date?

Do you lack the resources to keep your CRM software up-to-date? Do you need to find a new CRM partner? Do you have extensive customizations and integrations that make an upgrade more complicated? An advantage of the cloud-based version of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service and Sales is that your software is always automatically kept current.

3. Do you have a CRM upgrade project plan?

A CRM upgrade requires putting together a project plan, identifying what systems will also need to be upgraded or tested, and who will do the work. Before going into a live production environment, the system needs to be thoroughly tested, especially if you decide to use the same SQL Server instance. You also need to have a plan in place of what you’ll do if the upgrade fails. How will you roll-back to the prior CRM system? Has your backup and recovery process been thoroughly tested?

4. Is the timing right?

Can you keep business operations running normally during the upgrade? The peak of your busy season is most likely not the best time for you to upgrade to new software.

5. How will the new CRM functionality improve business operations?

With every upgrade, you have an opportunity to improve your business processes. Some features that you relied on may go away. You’ll want to take some time to evaluate the differences between the systems, and how you can use new features to your advantage.

So…is a CRM upgrade worth it?

That’s your call. If you want help weighing your options, give us a call.

Which Version of Dynamics CRM is right for you?

Download our comparison guide to learn the benefits of moving to Dynamics CRM in the cloud vs staying on-premise.

Download Comparison Guide

Author: Shannon Sheldon, Engagement Manager

Even old-school CFOs are demanding modern manufacturing technology

By | CRM, ERP, Manufacturing

“How do you achieve better profit margins?”

That’s the bottom line question for every CFO. Your job is to make sure there’s enough money in the bank to keep operations running smoothly, and to decide how your company will invest in its future.

Your company’s profit margins come from:

  • Controlling costs
  • Increasing revenue
  • Creating operational efficiency

In addition, you have to manage risk. You don’t want one mistake to wipe out your business – or set you back for years. Only technology has the capacity to consistently improve your business in all 3 areas.

If you’re in tier 1 automotive supply manufacturing, your business is depending on orders from the big automobile companies. Modern manufacturing technology can help you with:

  • Accurate forecasting – Sophisticated data models and predictive analytics can provide clear forecasts, enabling you to better manage inventory, cashflow, and production schedules to optimize operations.
  • Reduction in errors and product defects – Using IoT devices and machine learning, you can spot products more likely to fail or have defects. Automation workflows built into modern ERP and CRM systems speed up approvals and collaboration across global cross-functional teams.
  • Distributing knowledge across the enterprise – Collaboration is critical. Your sales, marketing, production, R&D and service departments each need their own insight to do their job. Role-based dashboards in your ERP and CRM system speed up collaboration, provide visibility into key performance indicators and identify issues early on.
  • Creating competitive differentiation – One way to increase profit margin and market share is to offer products and services that deliver greater value to customers. You need an easy way to customize and modify your business systems to adjust for changes in your unique business process.

One reason that even the most old-school CFO is embracing technology now is cloud computing.  With cloud software like Microsoft Dynamics 365, you’ll find new opportunities to improve profit margin.  Here’s why:

  1. There’s no big upfront costs for hardware or software – less capital expenditure.
  2. Cloud software is automatically updated and upgraded – less risk, less administrative overhead.
  3. Many industry and functional packages are available – if you buy a solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365, you have access to thousands of add-ons (less risk, less cost).
  4. Employees can access the system wherever they have an internet connection. That means your engineers in Michigan can easily collaborate with your factory in Mexico.
  5. Now, more data means more information and insight. Prior to the cloud, data would be discarded because it was too expensive to store. That information can now be used, and even combined with big data and historical data to provide even better information.

Is your company ready to embrace modern technology?

Request a Readiness Assessment

Author: Mark Schindler, Software Sales

5 Secrets to Improving Bid Responses for Auto Suppliers

By | CRM, ERP, Manufacturing

Automotive supplier sales reps and engineers spend a lot of time responding to RFPs (Requests for Proposals). With so much time and energy going into formulating each response, what can you do to increase the odds of winning the opportunity?

1. Build relationships. Become a supplier that automotive manufacturers trust to deliver on your promises. When other automotive suppliers swoop in to provide lower prices, your track record of consistent excellence and commitment to the automotive manufacturing community will set you apart from competition.

2. Keep innovating.  Car buyers want a reason to upgrade to a new vehicle. Car manufacturers want buyers to switch to their brand. One reason they attract new buyers is because of the products companies like you produce. From offering fuel savings to safety improvements to the latest upgrades in navigation and audio, the automotive products you create help drive new car sales. Having something your competitors don’t offer is a sure way to differentiate from the crowd.

3. Keep better track of the sales process.  When will that RFP be posted? When is it due? Who needs to be involved in the engineering, design and price costing process? The only way to properly manage the bid response process is to use bid management software.  There are too many moving parts to rely on Excel spreadsheets and homegrown Access databases.

4. Create re-usable templates.  As a software consulting company, we believe in building processes. Rather than re-creating the wheel with every new RFP, or digging through folders to find that one paragraph you needed, Dynamics 365 integrates with Microsoft Excel and Word templates to create consistent quotes, proposals and email communications.  Another advantage of using a system like Dynamics 365 for Sales to generate quotes is that costing and engineering changes can be made in one central location and will automatically flow throughout the organization.

5. Communicate changes.  Employees, suppliers and customers need to be notified as costs and design changes are made. Workflows in your bid response system and customer relationship management systems can help ensure the right people are being kept in the loop.

We hope these 5 tips will help you improve your bid response success!

Learn 8 Ways Auto Supply Manufacturers Can Improve Sales Success with CRM

Download this free whitepaper to learn the top 8 ways Automotive Suppliers are utilizing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement and MCA Connect to improve their Sales success.

Download the Whitepaper

Author: Mark Schindler, Software Sales

Top 5 Engineering Auto Supply Trends

By | CRM, ERP, Manufacturing

As the auto industry embraces brave new technology like driverless cars, what does that mean for auto suppliers? How is the engineering department being impacted? What trends will be embraced over the coming 5 years?

This blog was written to help answer some of your questions. From our deep experience within the automotive industry, here are the top 5 engineering auto supply trends we’re seeing:

1. 3-D Printing

Engineering departments are becoming increasingly reliant on 3-D printing, and not always just for prototyping. Low-volume, high mix auto suppliers are turning to 3-D printing to keep production costs down.

2. Machine-based Learning for Connected Cars

As car manufacturers outsource more of their software development work for navigation systems, entertainment and security, engineers are increasingly relying on machine-based learning. Rather than programming all the variables, engineering departments are leveraging Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to create connected car technology.

3. Predictive Analytics

With already tight margins, automotive suppliers want assurance that they’re producing the right components. Using predictive analytics can help you build a collaborative R&D/Engineering relationship with the auto manufacturer that will differentiate you from other auto suppliers.

4. Strict Change Management from Sales to Production

The product pitched in the RFP often bears little resemblance to the first product to come off the assembly line. Auto supply engineering teams are using engineering change management software to ensure design, costs, safety and pricing stay in alignment every step of the way.

5. Engineering for Aftermarket Service

As the line continues to blur between OEM and supplier, automotive suppliers are being asked to become aftermarket service providers. Engineers must take into account FIT (failure in time) rates and service requirements on the products they engineer.

What trends and technologies has your auto supply engineering department embraced?

Identify gaps that could exist within your organization.

Request a Free Value Assessment to identify what gaps could exist within your organization and speak to a MCA Connect expert on how to best implement these trends in your department.


Author: Doug Bulla, VP- ERP Business Development

Do Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP go together like PB&J?


If you are already running a Microsoft ERP solution, like Microsoft Dynamics AX or Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, wouldn’t it make sense to add customer relationship management (CRM) functionality?

We’re sometimes surprised how many companies don’t use both solutions, so we decided to compile a list of 5 reasons why you should consider adding CRM, specifically Microsoft Dynamics, instead of other CRM solutions on the market today.

5 Reasons to Add Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality when you are already using Microsoft Dynamics ERP

1.  Improves customer engagement

When ERP and CRM are disconnected, there’s a high risk that your front office and back office are unaware of each other’s issues, which can be a recipe for a customer service disaster, like:

  • Promising out-of-stock product
  • Being unaware of quality control issues
  • Producing products that customers no longer want

Using an integrated Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solution gives you visibility into the entire customer lifecycle, and can make you situationally aware of critical events happening within an account.  You can see the entire customer lifecycle from initial touch point where they become a lead, all the way through sales, into manufacturing production or services, and finally into customer support.

2. Empowers employees to make better decisions

Each department retains control of their business area, but also has visibility into critical areas that impact the entire company. You can use this information to find patterns, trends and opportunities to get better business results.

SQL Reporting Services, PowerBI, Cortana Analytics and similar business analytics solutions can not only transform volumes of Microsoft Dynamics data into meaningful information, but can almost instantly disseminate this information to employees.

3. Helps optimize operations

Going “all Microsoft” means that your business management software is:

  • Easier to use. Because the system has a familiar look-and-feel, and works so well with the Microsoft Office 365 productivity solutions like Outlook, Word and Excel, you’ll see higher user adoption rates and less end-user training required.
  • Easier to maintain. Administrators familiar with Microsoft can quickly come up to speed on CRM. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is structured using a Common Data Model. That means that when vendor, customer or pricing information changes, the changes ripple automatically throughout the business systems.

4. Provides insights for innovation

Having deep insight into your customer and product lifecycles presents you with opportunities to transform your products and services to improve your competitive edge.

  • Where are you losing customers?
  • What else may they want to buy?
  • If you were to add a new product/service line, is there a ready market for this offering?
  • How can you differentiate from your competitors by delivering a better experience?

5. Is a safe bet for the long term

Microsoft is investing heavily in cloud computing and digital transformation offerings. According to their annual report, last year they spent nearly $12 Billion dollars in research and development. Microsoft Windows remains the market leader for operating systems. Office 365 is now used by more than 70 Million people every single month. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is strategic to Microsoft’s business plan, and these solutions will just keep getting better over time.

Adding Microsoft Dynamics CRM to ERP Makes Sense

Still not sure? Request a free readiness assessment to identify what gaps could exist for your company.

Request a Free Value Assessment

Author: Will Moseley, SVP – CRM Business Development

The 5 “AHA” Moments for Managed Services Customers

By | CRM, ERP, Managed Services

When customers first begin using MCA Connect Managed Services to get Microsoft Dynamics application support, they don’t always fully understand how managed services really works.

Managed Services for Microsoft Dynamics is relatively uncommon, and our offering is different than what Microsoft and other partners offer for full application support.

What are Managed Services for Microsoft Dynamics?

When companies are first contemplating managed services, they typically have a lot of questions, both for us and to discuss internally:

  • Is managed services “worth it”? Will I add business value?
  • What’s covered / not covered in the managed services plan?
  • Who will I work with? How experienced are they?

Most of those details are covered in our SupportCONNECT brochure (and feel free to reach out if you have questions beyond that.)

Today I am sharing the 5 big “AHA” moments our customers frequently have once they decide to work with our Managed Services Team.

The 5 Big “AHA” Moments for Managed Services Customers

At some point in working with new managed service clients, many say something to us like,

“WOW! I just never realized…”

1.      “…how much faster/better I could get answers – with so much less stress!”

Anyone who has ever experienced a computer problem KNOWS how frustrating it can be to troubleshoot an issue.

Is it the hardware? Software? Plugin? User error?

Dealing with multiple support technicians from multiple vendors is never fun – especially if you have employees and management breathing down your neck to get the system fixed ASAP.

Using Managed Services gives you a single point of contact. Your service delivery manager works with our internal technical, functional, solution architects, infrastructure, and Azure experts; coordinates with ISV providers, and Microsoft resources, all the while keeping you informed. We do all the leg work to get you the answers and options you need to get the issue resolved with minimal effort, time and stress.

2.    “…why one FTE doing application support wasn’t enough.”

Often to cost-justify using Managed Services, companies will compare the costs of using outside consultants vs. internal full-time employees (FTEs). While this is a standard practice that makes sense in some ways, a lot of times we find our clients don’t have enough work to justify multiple full-time employees. In addition, finding all the required skill sets in one individual is nearly impossible.

A lean manufacturing expert who became a programmer?

That doesn’t exist!

(And if it does, I guarantee that consultant is crazy expensive!)

Every MCA Connect Managed Services client gets assigned three dedicated resources:

  • A service delivery manager
  • A functional lead
  • A technical lead

This team works as an extension of your team. One-third times three is greater than one, because you get the expertise and experience of three different people plus an entire organization backing them up. We are so confident in our team that we offer services on a fixed, unlimited basis.

3.    “…what a pain it used to be to get approvals for work we knew we needed to get done.”

Many companies move to Managed Services because of the predictable cost that they can easily build into their budget. Sometimes they forget what a pain it is to get approval to engage with an external consulting team to get work done.  Once you realize how easy it is to pick up the phone for support without worrying about the cost impact, you’ll feel a whole new sense of freedom. MCA Connect offers fixed price unlimited support to our service desk clients.

4.    “…how much the MCA Connect consultants feel like a part of our team.”

People are surprised how quickly our team feels like an extension of their own team. With so many employees now working remotely, face-to-face interaction is becoming less common everywhere.

When the initial implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX, CRM or 365 is complete, our Managed Services Team continues acting in the trusted advisor role.  Because every business is unique, we offer customizable plans.  You determine the level of support that’s right for your business.

Over time, you’ll get to know your dedicated Managed Services team almost as well as you know your own employees. We’ve had clients invite our team members to company outings, conferences, even send birthday cards!

Your Service Delivery Manager takes ownership of your project, not just being reactive to support requests, but as your trusted advisor thinking of ways to improve your overall experience and optimize your technology.

5.     “…how much MCA Connect would be involved in making recommendations, not just providing support and systems.”

People often equate Managed Services with Technical Support, but our Managed Services includes proactive work as well. Our clients use Managed Services to:

  • Clean lists for import
  • Manage a punch list of open items
  • Customizations & Enhancements
  • Suggest new ideas and solutions (Business Process Optimization)
  • Find ways to improve performance and overall efficiency
  • Security and licensing compliance
  • Code promotions, refreshes, and DB reviews
  • Perform upgrades
  • Conduct trainings

How do you support your Microsoft Dynamics solution?

Have you used a Microsoft Dynamics partner? Have you staffed up internally? What advice would you give to other companies weighing their options?  We would love to hear your feedback.

If you want an estimated cost of Microsoft Dynamics Managed Services support, use our quick Calculator.


Author:  Darryl Perkins, Managing Director- Managed Services Practice