Category

CRM

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.

REQUEST A FREE VALUE ASSESSMENT

Author: Doug Bulla, VP- ERP Business Development

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

By | CRM, ERP

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.

RECEIVE YOUR FREE QUOTE ESTIMATE NOW

Author:  Darryl Perkins, Managing Director- Managed Services Practice

ERP and CRM Systems Work Better Together

By | CRM, ERP

As a Microsoft Partner who has been selling both Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM systems for quite some time, it’s interesting that more of our customers don’t integrate their ERP and CRM functionality.

On one hand, ERP and CRM are different in many ways.

  • ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning – The ERP system handles most of a company’s linear business functions. ERP systems often enforce strictly defined processes and procedures for accounting, operations, procurement, manufacturing, shipping and the like.
  • CRM – Customer Relationship Management – The CRM system is typically used to manage the sales, marketing and service processes within a company. These processes are often unstructured and individualized.

On the other hand, your employees are interacting with the same vendors, customers and products.

Why use ERP and CRM together?

Combining your ERP and CRM systems enables you to:

  1. Improve operations by understanding the complete customer journey and product lifecycle
  2. Reduce labor costs by eliminating duplication of effort
  3. Reduce mistakes made through transcription errors
  4. Improve & automate employee collaboration across departments
  5. Improve customer satisfaction by increasing relevant, personal engagement
  6. Get actionable insights quicker
  7. Duplicate what’s working (and eliminate what isn’t)

By combining ERP and CRM, never again will you say things like, “Seems like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” Everyone in your organization will have a better understanding of how their role impacts the rest of the organization.

Written By: Will Moseley, VP of CRM Business Development

Which Field Service Software is Right for You?

By | CRM

Enterprise field service software is surging in popularity – and for good reason.  It has proven to be an effective way to cut costs and create new revenue opportunities, increasing overall profitability.

However, all field service solutions are not created alike. As you begin your research, ask yourself:

Which features are most important to you?

Different software solutions have different strengths. Knowing what you need up front will help you prioritize areas where you need to investigate deeper. For example, most field service software solutions offer some sort of scheduling, but how sophisticated does the scheduling need to be? Do jobs need to be assigned not only based on availability but also on other factors such as technical certifications, geography, urgency or a weighted factor of multiple criteria? How closely do you need to monitor the inventory on your trucks, schedule recurring work, or invoice and capture payment in the field? Be sure the capabilities that are important to you are accommodated in the solution you select.

What do you value in an implementation partner?

Sure, you don’t want to overspend, but how much are you willing to trade off in quality and risk? If this is the first time you’ve implemented field service software, having an experienced partner can be the defining difference in the success of your project.  A qualified implementation partner should be able to help you tailor the solution to the unique needs of your industry and your specific business processes without reinventing the wheel.

Are your expectations realistic?

How will you measure the success of your project? Software is not a silver bullet that creates instant results.  Spend some time understanding the areas in which you expect to improve efficiency and how you expect to measure those improvements. Brainstorm how you can generate more revenue.  Focus on the areas your customers value most.

Evaluate Which Field Service Software is the Right Fit

Not sure which Field Service solution is right for your business? Use our Free Evaluation Matrix to help guide the best decision.

Download the Field Services Software Evaluation Matrix

Written by: Will Moseley, SVP- CRM Business Development

mcaConnect Achieves Microsoft’s Elite Partner Status

By | CRM

Microsoft awards global systems integrator with Gold Cloud Platform and Silver Data Platform Competencies

DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)–mcaConnect is proud to announce achievement of two new Microsoft competencies: Gold Cloud Platform partner status and Silver Data Platform partner status.Gold Cloud Platform status is the highest competency attainable associated with Microsoft Azure, or the cloud. Achieving this status means mcaConnect is a Microsoft Azure solutions capabilities expert and has met the advanced criteria this competency requires, including numerous customer references and individual staff certifications.

“mcaConnect is proud to earn the highest standard of Microsoft’s Cloud capabilities,” says Claude Watson, Chief Executive Officer for mcaConnect. “We work hard to differentiate our business and capitalize on the growing demand for infrastructure and solutions built on Microsoft Azure. Gold status gives mcaConnect access to core benefits that other partners may not receive, which also benefits our customers.” Microsoft’s Silver Data Platform recognizes partners that excel by becoming a trusted and powerful provider of Microsoft SQL Server deployment planning services. Providing these services allows mcaConnect to work with customers looking to create a business intelligence solution or migrate to the latest version of the SQL Server.

“Achieving Silver Data Platform partner status benefits our customers in terms of the service and technical expertise they will receive from mcaConnect,” explains Mark Hatting, Managing Director for mcaConnect’s Business Analytics team. “This is an important accomplishment for our team as we continue to strive to demonstrate an outstanding level of commitment to customers’ technological needs, both today and in the future.”

mcaConnect’s achieved Microsoft competencies now totals four: Gold Enterprise Resource Planning, Gold Cloud Customer Relationship Management, Gold Cloud Platform and Silver Data Platform. As mcaConnect continues to diversify its product and service offerings outside of ERP and CRM, additional Microsoft competency classifications are to come.

About mcaConnect

mcaConnect is a Global Systems Integrator and Microsoft Dynamics Gold Partner that delivers and supports operational transformation to help customers achieve a competitive advantage. By combining product and industry expertise with proven strategic alignment methods, mcaConnect is able to consistently deliver innovative solutions that help clients realize their vision. Founded in 2002, mcaConnect has grown into one of the largest US-based Microsoft partners with offices throughout the United States.

Contact
mcaConnect
Kelsey Tranchina, 281-638-1025
kelsey.tranchina@mcaconnect.com

Why are you buying an ERP system?

By | CRM, ERP

No. Really.

Why are you considering buying an ERP software solution?

Is it because:

1.    You need to have SOMETHING to run your business:

  • You need to have accounting features to pay bills and receive money from customers.
  • You need to stay in compliance with laws and regulations.
  • You need to have some business processes in place to help things run smoothly.

OR

2.   Are you buying ERP software because it can create a strategic advantage that sets you apart from the competition and you realize:

  • Better insight means faster innovation of your products and services.
  • Customer experience can make or break your business.
  • Operational efficiency translates into bottom line dollars.

We only work with companies who fall into Answer #2. We want to work with companies who want to create strategic differentiation through a technology deployment.

Why?

Because customers who go into a CRM or ERP software implementation project with the mindset that they are going to crush industry norms are deeply engaged with the project and provide challenging opportunities for our consultants to grow their businesses and technology skill sets.  We love making a difference. It’s exciting to be able to compare the “before and after” of how their business was run.

Wanting a strategic advantage is important, but so is the project execution.

Lots of projects start out with a great strategy, but they fall apart due to 5 key reasons.  We’ve outlined these 5 reasons that projects underperform – and how companies can remedy those issues – in our eBook, “The 5 Keys to Unlocking Strategic Value From Your Next Software Implementation.

If you want to be a disruptor in your industry, learn the 5 keys – and if you want to learn more, contact us at 1-866-622-0669 or solutions@mcaconnect.com!

The trouble with data cubes

By | Business Analytics, Business Transformation, CRM

Data cubes are a vital part of today’s business analytics landscape. In geometry, a cube is 3-dimensional. In technology, data cubes can be multi-dimensional. Data cube technology allows users to slice-and-dice information in various ways to explore the relationship between data points.

While data cube business analytics tools are essential for analysis of business data across the enterprise, deploying them as the only source of modeled data is not sustainable. They represent an immense advantage over older tools, but still have a number of limitations.

  1. Building the data cubes can be a long, slow process.  Cubes can aggregate information from multiple sources. The more sources and the more data, the longer this process will take. Be sure you have dedicated some heavy-duty hardware to handle this job.
  2. Limitation of data fields. A cube is intended to be used for rapid analysis of limited data sets. Cubes are not designed to function with large data sets, and have a limited range of historical data as well as fields (dimensions) that can be loaded. Dividing large data sets across multiple cubes creates duplication and loading problems, resulting in very high maintenance and resource costs.
  3. You’re not looking at real-time data. The data that is pulled into data cubes has already been summarized. Detail can be found in the source system, but users can’t drill into it from the cube. The advantage of this is that analysts have a “snapshot in time” they can use as a benchmark, plus the system will run faster.
  4. Cubes must be optimized for performance. There’s an art and a science to aggregating all this data. If users are complaining that it is taking too long to manipulate data, you’ll need an expert on hand who can optimize the relational database design and find ways to improve cube performance.
  5. Cubes are not designed to be a data repository. Cubes being used as a sole data source for analytics and reporting will ultimately accumulate transactional data and fail to load. Reporting performance from them will slow gradually as the size of the cube grows.

Having worked with business analytics tools throughout my career, we decided to build a data foundation which operates as the data source for all cubes across different business functions. A single data model containing all data across AX modules enables users to build cubes rapidly because the dimensional model used to build a cube is identical to the dimensional model in the data warehouse.

DataCONNECT, mcaConnect’s data warehousing solution for Dynamics 365 and Dynamics AX, is able to be deployed extracting multiple data sources external to AX, such as payroll, billing, logistics, factory management, CRM, Excel, Access and more.

Combining all business-critical data into one single consolidated data model allows for diverse cubes to be built without requiring any transformation. For users not needing a multi-dimensional view of data, the data warehouse is also able to be queried directly from any BI Platform.

The DataCONNECT solution has several distinct advantages over cube technology.

  1. You retain the ability to drill down into the source data
  2. Lowest level of detail is always available
  3. Provides nearly real-time analytics
  4. Hundreds of leading and lagging business indicators are made available to load to cubes
  5. You get answers significantly faster than you would with building data cubes from the ground up
  6. Historical information can also be accessed

Want to learn more? Download the DataCONNECT fact sheet