5 Reasons Oil & Gas Companies Choose EnergyCONNECT

By | ERP

With all the name changes around Microsoft Dynamics 365, plus all the Microsoft Partner-developed solutions, it can be difficult to understand all the solution offerings and how they are built and delivered. In this article, let’s break down the components of EnergyCONNECT.

What’s EnergyCONNECT?

EnergyCONNECT is a set of solutions that extend the functionality of Dynamics 365 for the Oil & Gas Industry. EnergyCONNECT is designed for oil and gas companies involved in:

  • Oilfield Exploration and Production
  • Oilfield Services
  • Midstream Operations

What do the EnergyCONNECT applications do?

Why choose EnergyCONNECT?

Companies choose EnergyCONNECT over other oil and gas ERP solutions on the market today for these 5 main reasons.

1. The Microsoft Platform.  With EnergyCONNECT, you get all the standardization and availability of a Microsoft solution. It’s built to work with the Microsoft Azure cloud, Office 365, SQL Server, Power BI and all the other Dynamics 365 and Microsoft productivity applications.

2. The Microsoft Eco-System. In addition to the solutions available from Microsoft itself, a multitude of ISV software solutions are available to extend Microsoft Dynamics functionality.

3. Standardized and Supported Software.  With EnergyCONNECT, you get industry functionality without paying to build and maintain custom code.

4. Access to MCA Connect’s Energy Experts. We’ve worked with nearly all the major oil & gas companies, and many of their subsidiaries, partners and suppliers.

5. Full Spectrum of Dynamics Services.  MCA Connect is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with a wide array of services – from developing your business strategy, to understanding metrics with business analytics, to outsourcing your Dynamics 365 application support, we’re a technology partner you can depend on long-term.

If you’ve been looking for a better Oil & Gas ERP solution, we encourage you to take a closer look at Dynamics 365 and EnergyCONNECT.

Discover the 5 Keys to Unlocking Strategic Value from your next Software Implementation

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Author: David Huether, VP Engagement & Alliance Management

Would you use 40-year-old ERP software?

By | ERP

In 1977, ERP software was called MRP software, which stood for Material Requirements Planning.

At the time, most MRP software was custom developed on big mainframe computer systems that were expensive to build and maintain. Seeing the opportunity for packaged software solutions, companies like Lawson, JD Edwards, and Oracle were founded around this time.

The SQL server relational database had yet to be invented.

What else was happening in 1977?

  • The Dow Jones industrial average was 831.
  • Gas was 65 cents a gallon.
  • Star Wars became the biggest summer movie blockbuster of all time. The camera George Lucas used to film Star Wars is less powerful than the cameras most people have on their smart phones today.
  • Atari introduced the Atari 2600 video game system, which didn’t become popular until Space Invaders was introduced in 1980.
  • The first all-in one personal computer, the Commodore PET, was introduced. It had just 4 kilobytes of memory.
  • Apple II computers were also released in 1977, also with just 4 kilobytes of memory.

ERP Software has been re-invented.

The technology landscape has changed dramatically over the last 40 years. Internet. Email. Mobile Phones. ERP software has changed too, but some of the older ERP software programs are still built on decades-old code, and use out-of-date business processes.

Just in the last YEAR, the cost of cloud storage has decreased significantly. Today’s modern ERP systems like Dynamics 365 are in the cloud, connected, providing greater supply chain visibility and nearly real-time insight through predictive analytics and machine learning.

Re-invent your business.

You have an opportunity to re-invent your business as you implement Dynamics 365! Add more innovation to your products. Add new services. Streamline efficiency.

Not sure where to start? Talk to our Business Transformation team about your business goals and ideas. We’ll show you how to align your people, processes and technology for maximum advantage!

Is your company ready to embrace modern technology?

Request a Readiness Assessment

Author: Doug Bulla, VP Business Development

5 Things to Know About Moving from a Legacy System to Dynamics 365

By | ERP

Do you know your existing ERP system is out of date, but you’re still not sure if you should make the switch? The average traditional ERP on-premise deployment is at least two versions out-of-date, but many are even further behind.

And even if the software version has been updated, many ERP solutions are still using a code base that is 30-40 years old.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that a lot has changed technology-wise in the last several decades!

5 Things you need to know if you’re considering Dynamics 365.

1. You won’t need servers. The entire Dynamics 365 eco-system is available as a service / subscription in the cloud.

2. You’ll barely need IT staff. Well, you’ll always need IT staff, but the new breed of IT personnel will work on valuable projects instead of administrative tasks. Your Dynamics 365 system will automatically be backed-up and kept-up, significantly reducing overhead cost.

3. Your teams can be anywhere in the world. The beauty of cloud-based software is that it’s available on any device at any time. Work from home. Work from Paris. Work in French and in Euros. Or in the US and in Dollars. The global supply chain has never been more connected.

4. Getting support is easy. Fewer and fewer IT professionals and software consulting firms know the older ERP systems, and underlying technologies. By contrast, “everyone” knows Microsoft and you have layers of support options from Microsoft partners like us and from Microsoft itself.

5. Building the right solution is easy. Instead of being “locked in” to fixed processes, Microsoft Dynamics 365 gives you the opportunity to grow, changing features and functions as you need them. Buy what you need, when you need it.

Request a Free Readiness Assessment

What are you waiting for? Make the move! We’ll even help you determine what your company needs to do to get ready for a new ERP solution like Dynamics 365.

Request a Readiness Assessment

Author: Doug Bulla, VP Business Development

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.

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Author: Mark Schindler, Software Sales

Top 10 Signs your Company Needs DataCONNECT for Dynamics

By | Business Analytics, ERP

DataCONNECT is a data warehousing solution for Microsoft Dynamics that enables you to create a single source of validated company data you can trust.

Is DataCONNECT a wise investment for your organization? Let’s count down the top 10 signs your company should look into DataCONNECT:

10. You have no idea whether the information in your Microsoft Dynamics system is accurate or not. Maybe…maybe not. Hard to tell. I should go ask Joe…

9. You still have lots of information that’s never been put into Dynamics. Extra information is stored in spreadsheets, specialty databases, old ERP systems, and other line of business systems.

8. You just bought Microsoft Dynamics and don’t have an easy way to populate your new Dynamics system with records from the prior system. DataCONNECT includes data extraction and data import functionality for historical and archival data.

7. You just bought Dynamics and want to keep the new system clean, but still compare data from the prior ERP system. And…you want to be able to drill down into the historical detail.

6. It takes forever to run reports.

5. By the time your reports have finished being created, the information in the report is already obsolete.

4. Your budgets and forecasts are consistently inconsistent and they don’t have the detail you need.

3. You’ve invested in Business Analytics tools, but the underlying data isn’t reliable and can’t easily be shared with the rest of the team.

2. You want to benchmark and manage your KPIs, but creating the right data model is too large of an investment or too complicated.

1. You just want your ERP data to be correct, and easily accessible – preferably without spending hours managing and manipulating data.

DataCONNECT provides one version of the truth. It’s fast, reliable, and we don’t know what you’re waiting for.

Learn more on how DataCONNECT can improve your business.

Download the Fact Sheet

Author: Mark Hatting, Business Analytics Practice Director

5 Ways to do More with Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations

By | ERP, Managed Services

So you’ve taken the plunge and moved onto Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. How can you do more with what you have?

  1. Connect your email account.  Use the SMTP Mail Setup window so you can send and receive emails from documents within Financials. A newer feature using the Exchange Online Connector also allows you to log the emails in the user’s Sent folder.
  2. Define regular and “exception-based” workflows.  Dynamics 365 provides you with tons of ways to automate your work day and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Route requests for authorizations and approvals by dollar amount. Send out critical alerts via email or text message. Defining workflows takes some time up front, but will save you plenty in ongoing administration and preventing embarrassing mistakes.
  3. Create on-boarding and off-boarding templates. Similar to the workflow suggestion, you likely have processes for setting up new employees, vendors and customers. Create on-boarding and off-boarding rules and procedures to create a strong first impression and minimize security vulnerabilities.
  4. Create unique number sequences for records. With unique IDs, you can find and track cards, documents and journal lines throughout the system.
  5. Analyze to prioritize.  Using business analytics to identify your best customers, and most dependable suppliers will help you make better decisions about service levels and how to create differentiators in your business.

Are you leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations to the fullest of its capabilities? If you’re not sure, contact us to evaluate your deployment and let you know.

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Author: Doug Bulla, VP of Operations

Bridging the Gap Between Current Processes & Future State Lean Models

By | ERP, Lean, Manufacturing

When we work with clients to implement lean manufacturing principles, we typically use a software tool called LeanCONNECT (formerly called Areteium). With this tool, we can use existing manufacturing production data from any ERP system to identify existing plant floor inefficiencies. Running a variety of scenarios, we can create sophisticated future state lean models.

How do you build a bridge to the future state of lean manufacturing?

Step 1: Lean principles begin with leadership

The first and most important element of any transformation is to get executive buy-in. Lean manufacturing is an ongoing commitment and requires perseverance and adherence to the concepts and principles for the long-term. Lean manufacturing is less of a process, and more of a mindset. Nothing will derail a lean project faster than lack of leadership.

Step 2: Document the current value streams

Step two is to document your current processes, which in lean manufacturing are called Value Streams. You want to look at each process from beginning to end. Document how long each step takes. Note inefficiencies and areas of waste. Document the impact on customers, as well as your company. In lean, we often talk about takt time – how long it takes for a product to be produced. To calculate takt time, you’ll need to know:

  • The production schedule – how much time is spent in operation.
  • How much time is required for equipment maintenance, breaks, shift changes, and clean up.
  • How much customer demand/product is produced within that time span. Many businesses have cyclical demands, by time of day or seasonality, and this factors into your value stream calculations.

The goal of building to takt time is to eliminate non-value adding time and balance the workload of the operators and equipment. In addition to defining how long production takes, you must also account for things like:

  • Product defect percentages
  • Fluctuations in raw material costs
  • Inventory carrying costs
  • Reasons for downtime – changeovers, maintenance, etc.

Ideally, you’ll want to gather these metrics from data gathered over a significant duration in time. We use LeanCONNECT to pull in information from your ERP system, but you can use other business analytics tools as well.

Step 3: Start asking “what if”?

With so much information available, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Pick an area that stands out as particularly in need of improvement and consider your options:

  • What if we reduced customer defects? Could we charge more? How much would this impact our costs and profitability?
  • What if we added more capacity in this plant – or more resources to this shift?

Quantify the benefit you would obtain by achieving this future state lean model.

Step 4: Pick one area of focus.

Using your “what if” analysis, isolate one area of improvement. This quick win will help get the entire team on board with your lean manufacturing initiatives. Be sure to communicate your successes and the impact across the organization.

Step 5: Look long-term

Lean manufacturing is a never-ending journey of continuous improvement. Make sure your team is prepared for a marathon, not a quick sprint. Those small corrections over time add up to big savings for your company and added value to your customers. The key is to have cohesion and commitment to lean principles across the organization. From sales to production to shipping, each department must work in coordination with the rest of the organization.

9 Ways to Squeeze Manufacturing Revenue & Sweeten Profits

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Author: Phil Coy, Managing Director, Manufacturing Excellence

Why the Oil and Gas industry is Buzzing about Rental Management Software

By | ERP

The main thing about the heavy industrial equipment needed for oil and gas exploration is that it’s HEAVY – expensive to manufacture, expensive to move, expensive to maintain and work can’t get done without it. Without software, the accounting is complicated and it’s easy to miss out on revenue opportunities.

Have you experienced any of these problems?

  • Can’t see which equipment and orders are still unbilled
  • Equipment isn’t available to be rented because it’s being maintained or in the wrong geography
  • You don’t account for when equipment was actually returned, and bill properly for usage
  • Income and expenses aren’t applied to the fixed asset to get a full picture of asset value

That’s where Oil and Gas Rental Management Software is making life a whole lot easier. Instead of using scrambled spreadsheets and crumpled rental agreements, rental management software enables companies to:

  • Price each rental asset – by daily, weekly or hourly rate as well as by utilization
  • Measure rental use – how much time each asset has been rented, on standby or in operation
  • Link rental assets to fixed assets for a full accounting picture
  • Manage rental agreements
  • Track rented assets by location, usage and availability
  • Link to Project Accounting (optionally) so you can manage asset movement and scheduling

Adding EnergyCONNECT Rental Management Software to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations gives you a complete end-to-end picture of your business operations.  Stop the revenue leaks. Take control of your rental equipment.

Learn More About EnergyCONNECT

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Author: David Huether, VP – Engagement & Alliance Management

5 Ways to Increase Quality Without Increasing Production Cost

By | ERP, Lean, Manufacturing

Razor thin margins leave little room for production errors. Because product recalls and customer refunds are so expensive, you want to be able to consistently deliver quality products, but without adding to your production costs.

1. Define what product quality means.

How are your customers using this product? How do they measure the quality of your product? You can avoid over-engineering your product by understanding the quality standards of your customers. They may be willing to pay less for lower quality – or you may be able to charge more by increasing quality.

2. Create, document and follow established processes.

Create discipline around your business processes. Consistent routines deliver consistent results. One of the reasons most manufacturers have MRP and ERP systems is to enforce standardization. However, these manufacturing systems must be flexible enough to change as your business processes change. If people start working around the system, the software will not reflect the reality of the shop floor.

3. Hire good people and train them.

With your processes established, you need people who will follow the guidelines you set. You also need competent people to manage others and perform skilled labor jobs. If you can’t find people with enough experience, find people with a good attitude and give them opportunities to learn from your more seasoned employees.

4. Maintain your equipment.

Equipment problems can degrade the quality of your output. Preventative maintenance is the key to avoiding down time and lowered production quality.  Conduct regular checks and replace worn components before they break down. Many manufacturers are starting to use IoT sensors to detect issues early, by monitoring usage, heat variations and other deviations from baseline settings. Part of your maintenance plans should include having critical and frequently replaced spare component parts on hand. You’ll also want to make sure you have multiple people who know how to fix your equipment.

5. Create a clean, organized work environment.

Many manufacturing processes create residue – paint, oil, sawdust, metal filings, etc. This production “dust” can clog machines and get stuck to finished product.  Maintaining a clean production line can improve quality with little effort. Product can also get damaged by mishandling, being stored improperly, and in the shipping process.  Having an organized work environment can lower your risk of delivering damaged product.

What else would you add to this list? Have you found ways to increase production quality without adding to your production costs?

Manufacturers are Gaining a Digital Advantage

Running a manufacturing operation is no easy task. Gain a competitive advantage by embracing digital through Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Cloud.

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Author: Phil Coy, Managing Director – Manufacturing Excellence