Managed Services

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

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 How out of date is your CRM software?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.

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Author: Shannon Sheldon, Engagement Manager

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

Is Supporting Microsoft Dynamics In-House More Expensive Than Outsourcing?

By | Managed Services

Why would you use an outsourced Microsoft Dynamics consulting firm to manage your Microsoft Dynamics applications, rather than hire IT staff to do the work internally? Isn’t outsourcing support going to be much more expensive? Those are questions we are frequently asked and glad to answer.

Many times our clients have internal power users, and perhaps even have an internal resource as their first line of Dynamics application support. But they still use MCA Connect for Dynamics application support, and here’s why:

  1. Breadth of skill sets – One person cannot possibly know everything there is to know about the Microsoft Dynamics application, prior project decisions, internal policies, interaction with the overall technology infrastructure and everything else that goes into supporting an enterprise-wide business application. We use a team approach so our clients have both functional and technical expertise available to them. We can also bring in other industry and functional specialists as needed.
  2. Depth of expertise – A Microsoft Dynamics partner who supports the system every single day can stay on top of changes in the application and the technical environment. An application support team can see trends across customers, and stay on top of updates from Microsoft.
  3. Hidden inefficiencies – The most expensive part of supporting your own Dynamics application is the cost of those hidden inefficiencies. You may not know that these missteps are costing you money, because you never even considered that there might be an easier, more efficient way to approach the problem. Consider these questions to consider:
    • Do you have the Dynamics workload to keep fulltime resources 100% utilized?
    • When a problem does occur, can you pull in additional resources, cover off hours or multiple time zones?
    • Will you even be able to access the specialty talent needed locally?  Not to mention the hiring, training, outfitting, and managing the team.
    • Will your organization rest on one or two key individuals or have accountability from an entire professional services organization?Allow MCA Connect to run your cost center as a profit center.  Our dedicated teams This is our business and we’ve been doing this with our dedicated teams for years leveraging industry best practices all the while providing our customers with a known predictable cost.  No surprises.
  4. Less downtime – Managing your system regularly and proactively means less emergencies and less downtime. We can schedule updates during slow periods to minimize disruption to the business.
  5. Less frustration – Few things are more frustrating than technology that’s not working correctly. Employees appreciate having an expert to turn to when the system isn’t operating properly. In an ideal world, customers would never be impacted by system issues. By having an outsourced service team available to you, you take an extra step toward increasing customer satisfaction and improving employee morale.

As a managed services provider for Microsoft solution, we want you to save money. We want you to save smart, and realize that DIY (do-it-yourself) does not always produce ROI (return on investment.)

Written By: Darryl Perkins, Managing Director, MCA Connect Managed Services

Verifying Your Inventory Count

By | Managed Services, News

How to verify you inventory count in Microsoft Dynamics 365 We’ve written a couple of articles recently about inventory counting best practices using Dynamics 365. For quick reference you can find them here:

Is your inventory count accurate? As you reach the stage in your physical inventory process where the counts are being turned in, there are 4 questions you need to ask and answer – and you need to do it in this order. Each question should have policies attached to them so your inventory count processes stay consistent over time.

  1. Did everything get counted?
  2. What should we recount?
  3. How can we compare the actual count to what our system has recorded in it?

Let’s examine each of these questions in more detail.

Question 1: Did everything get counted? Each method of inventory counting has its own method of inventory count verification. Directed Count – Use visual aids. Using the cycle count journals within Dynamics 365, you would give each user a list defined by area, zone or location. Only print the items that are shown to be in those areas. The best way to verify that all items have been counted is to use a visual aid such as a “sticky dot.”  You would verify accurate counting by walking through that zone and visually verifying that every item is marked with the sticky dot.

TIP: Make sure you have a policy for handling “found” items that are not listed. 

Blind Count – Use tags. If you are performing a blind count using tags, we recommend you use tags where a perforated piece is left with the item counted and the piece returned is numbered so that you know what numbers were handed out to each counter.  By doing this, you can utilize the tag counting functionality found within Dynamics 365 and mark tags as being returned, missing or damaged. Obsolete / Slow Moving Inventory – Decide on write off. How many times does a business have to count the same thing, yearly, before it is determined that these items are (1) taking up needed space and (2) costing the business money to keep them on hand and maintain them on the financial books? Evaluate whether you want to write this inventory off.

To zoom in, click on the image.

Question 2: What should we recount? Before your initial physical count begins, determine appropriate tolerances to determine when something requires a recount?  You can set either a dollar tolerance or a quantity tolerance.  Either way, recounts will occur when this tolerance level is reached. If you have chosen to utilize tag counting or cycle counting journals, once lines are in the cycle count journal, recounts can occur both prior to posting and / or by posting the original sheet and generating a new sheet for the same item(s) / location(s).  This should be an established procedure you have previously tested and determined.

To zoom in, click on the image.

Question 3: How can we compare what we counted to what our system shows? To verify your wall-to-wall inventory count to the inventory numbers in Dynamics 365, you would want to run a report showing the net change caused by counting journals (counting or tag counting). When using Tag Counting journals, you can run the posting process in “Simulation” to get the net change in count, however, this does not give you the net change in inventory value.

For the Counting journals, prior to posting you can run Print> Journal to get the On-Hand vs. Counted quantities.  This report does list the Cost price. In addition, one could export the results to Excel of the counts being compared to the original on hands and run formulas from there.

Returning to regular use of Dynamics 365 Your final question might be, “When will we return to regular use of our system?”. Once you have run your physical inventory count, verified its accuracy and made any needed adjustments in the system, only then should you re-open your system to allow for normal transactions to occur. If you need any help with this process, please reach out to the MCA Connect Dynamics 365 Managed Services team.

Author: Genie Engels

Which Annual Inventory Counting Method Should You Use?

By | Managed Services

Businesses run into the dilemma of doing a yearly wall-to-wall inventory and have asked “What is the best method for doing this within Microsoft Dynamics AX?”

There isn’t a “One Size Fits All” answer.

The most common method of conducting an annual inventory count is to use the Cycle Count Journal to enter and post your physical inventory. BUT… if you are using counting groups and last counted dates, this method can cause a dilemma.

Method 1: Use the Cycle Count Journal

You can directly create a cycle count journal for ALL items within your warehouse.  The same principles would apply to cycle count history in that the system will mark the date, from the line, as the last counted date.  If you are using counting groups and last counted date to generate your cycle count data, it may not be conducive to use a cycle count journal posting since it will affect the last counted date.

You can use the cycle count journal, up to the point of reconciliation and then export the lines that need to be adjusted, into another journal, such as movement, and make the adjustments there.  By using the value found in the “Quantity” column of the journal, this would serve as the amount that needs to be adjusted (+ / -).

Choosing the right method and the correct input is a business decision.  Utilizing Excel Imports, Atlas and scanning tools, to name a few, can make the process go smoother.

Method 2: Use Tags (Blind Counting)

If you are using tags to count with, you can use the tag journal to first control your counts.  How you would like to organize the tag journals is a business decision.  Keep in mind that a tag journal becomes a cycle count journal once it is posted.  No transactions are created for lines in a tag journal.

The following are some suggestions for using a tag journal:

  1. Create the tag journal lines in advance, with the tag numbers, and flag the tags as “missing.” In this way you can control which tags have not been accounted for when they are returned.
  2. Create journals by either warehouse or zone or rack, depending on your set up and change the description on each so you know which tags and journal are for which areas.
  3. Consider using Microsoft Excel® if you want to scan your information and upload the tags into a tag journal.

Once the lines are transferred to the Counting Journal and posted, the items will be marked in the Cycle Count History as being counted.  The next time it will be eligible for counting will depend on the set up on the counting group.

Method 3: Use the Movement Journal

If you are using scanners to process your inventory, you may want to consider using the movement journal.  By setting up a journal with a pre-defined offset account, your Finance team can monitor what specifically occurred while processing / posting the inventory.  As well, this journal will generate transactions as lines that are placed into the journal.  Initially, you will need to write down all of your physical inventory, prior to scanning the inventory back in.  A report of the written-off inventory would serve as a check list for what inventory is “missing” once the counting is completed.

What annual inventory counting method do you use? Any tips you’d share?

Written By:  Genie Engles

Be a Year-End Prepper: 5 Steps to Closing the Books in Microsoft Dynamics AX

By | Managed Services

The end of the year is quickly approaching. It’s always such a busy time, especially for those of us in accounting. Not only do we have the distractions of holiday dinners, decorating and shopping, but we have to remember these Microsoft Dynamics AX accounting year-end closing procedures that we only do once a year.

Year-End Prepper Tip #1:  Create annual reminders in your Outlook calendar.  Include each of these steps.
  • What did you do last year?
  • Where are those reminders again?
  • How do I not forget again next year?

Don’t panic! We are here to help. Here are the 5 critical Microsoft Dynamics AX year-end closing procedures:

Step 1: Create a new fiscal year in Microsoft Dynamics AX

The process to create your new fiscal year is pretty simple.

  • In Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, navigate to General Ledger > Setup > Fiscal Calendars.
  • In Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 this is located in General Ledger > Setup > Fiscal Calendars.

Remember when you are creating your fiscal year, setting the periods correctly will save time and prevent headaches.  You are being asked to define the length of period. Do not be fooled into thinking “I have 12 periods in the year, so it should be 12.”  WRONG, this would give you an operational period that is 12 months long.  The correct answer would be 1 month.

Once you have created your year, don’t forget to put your periods on HOLD (or for you 2009er’s put them to a status of STOPPED).

Step 2: Create your closing sheet or create your year-end journal entries

For your year-end adjusting entries, make sure you are posting them to the 13th period so that they do not muddy the monthly operational data.

Year-End Prepper Tip #2:  Set a reminder mid-December to OPEN the periods for January.  This will ensure a smooth transition.

Step 3: Close the year and create a new opening transaction

After you have verified the ending balances, you are now ready to transfer the balances to the new fiscal year.  The good news is Microsoft Dynamics AX will allow you to repeat this process over and over, and you can set your parameters so only the final posting is reported in the accounts.  With this setting, you don’t have a mile long list of closing/opening transactions; it’s neat and it’s complete.  This process will close your profit and loss accounts to the Retained Earnings account and transfer your balance sheet accounts.

DON’T FORGET: In Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 you can choose to have the balances transferred with or without financial dimensions.

Step 4: Validate your 1099 data and vendors

Validate your vendors that are setup for 1099s and review your 1099 transactions in November and December!  Don’t wait till late January and scramble to get this done.  Remember, 1099s must

Year-End Prepper Tip #3:  Validate your 1099 vendors and transactions early!

be mailed no later than January 31st.

One of the easiest ways to review vendor 1099 eligibility and verify correct vendor master setup is to personalize your vendor list screen.  Add the following fields to your list screen and you will be able to filter and view all vendor information for accuracy and completeness.

  • Report 1099 – This is THE most important box to mark if you want to actually report 1099 data for a vendor
  • 1099 box – Choose the type of 1099 that the vendor should receive (you can have more than one type of 1099, but that has to be done on the vendor settlements for 1099s form)
  • Tax ID Type – This can be their EIN, SSN, Individual taxpayer ID or Adopted tax payer ID
  • Federal Tax ID – This is the number related to the Tax ID Type

 Optional fields

  • Check for W-9 and W-9 received

To validate and modify your 1099 data, run the vendor settlement for 1099s for each of the vendors and review the transactions.  (HINT: If you just want a report of the 1099 data, you can run this by going to: Accounts Payable> Reports> Tax 1099.)  You have the option to run the Tax 1099 in summary or in detail.  One very important report to run is the Tax 1099 Duplicate Taxpayer Identification Report.  This will tell you if you have more than one vendor using the same tax ID.

Step 5: Review 1099 vendor information quarterly

Just because it is year-end does not mean your daily workload disappears. Because you have a limited amount of time at year end to verify and correct data, it is a good idea to also perform a quick

Year-End Prepper Tip #4:  Be prepared!  The 1099s MUST be mailed by January 31st to the vendors.

check each quarter or at mid-year on vendor 1099 information.  This can be scheduled as a full review or by dividing up the alphabet and reviewing a segment each quarter. Correcting data and set-up problems through-out the year may significantly reduce 1099 stress. Below are some of the items you can do on a periodic basis.

  • Run the Tax 1009 Duplicate Taxpayer Identification Report quarterly and make corrections
  • Review 1099 information on the vendor list screen and make corrections each quarter
  • This will allow you to contact the vendor and make corrections well before the year-end rush

Being prepared for the end of the year will take loads of stress off you and your accounting team. Small steps done throughout the year to ensure data accuracy will make the entire year-end process seamless.

Need help? Reach out to the mcaConnect Managed Services team!

Written By:  Stacy Black

Healthy CRM. Healthy Business.

By | CRM, Managed Services
Are you regularly performing health checks on your Microsoft Dynamics CRM application?Wait…What’s a CRM health check?

A CRM health check is more than just the installation of the CRM Rollup Updates (Service Packs). A CRM health check includes tasks like:

  • Analyzing available disk space
  • Reviewing database and table size
  • Reviewing event logs
  • Documenting your findings
  • …and so much more.

Regularly performing CRM health checks ensures your system keeps running smoothly so your business keeps running smoothly. Dan Stein from our CRM Managed Services team recently ran a session called Healthy CRM. Healthy Business., which is now available on demand. He shared more than a few eye-opening stories. Watch this session and you will learn:

  1. How important it is to track trends. We all know how important it is to install Update Rollups, but you may not have considered the importance of documenting key variables each month – things like database size, form loading speed, number of suspended jobs, etc. When you monitor and document changes in your CRM system on a regular basis, it is so much easier to identify issues and resolve them quickly.
  2. How dangerous it can be to have un-caught workflow errors. (14:50 mark) One of the things you might not realize is that if your workflows are not running properly – and you don’t catch the problem early – you may find that you have inadvertently created HOURS of manual work to do. PLUS, you may experience customer satisfaction problems or lose opportunities because important alerts and follow up tasks didn’t get triggered.
  3. How your CRM health check can reveal deficiencies anywhere and everywhere. Your average IT professional doesn’t always know where to look and what to look for when doing Microsoft Dynamics CRM administration. But beyond looking at the database, software and hardware, you need someone to understand what the real root of the issue is. Sometimes it’s as simple as user training!

To contact the Managed Services team for help with your Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution, please contact us at  or 713-482-6880.

What is at The Center of a Good Application Design?

By | Managed Services

At the center of a well-designed application, whether it’s CRM, ERP or anything else that helps streamline your processes, is Usability, Scalability and Sustainability; it’s that simple. 


We can build an ambitious application and spend a lot of money doing it, but at the end of the day if there is no user adoption, it is time, effort and money wasted. Some organizations put in KPIs (key performance indicators) and other methods to implement mandatory use of the application (we see this a lot when coming onto a CRM or ERP implementation), but that yields poor quality data and a lot of unhappy users. If the application puts the users at the center of the design, however, then user-adoption is not only organic but also enthusiastic. When users enjoy using an application and see the value in it, not only are you gathering valuable data for your business intelligence, but also identifying hidden opportunities for efficiencies and new ways of revenue creation. Users are always the key to making an implementation successful and every good application will have users at the center of its design.


Too often we come across legacy applications that are rigid to change, not scalable, and simply do not make business sense anymore. Typically these have cost a lot of money to implement so we end up tolerating the application rather than leveraging it. To avoid this classic design pitfall that a lot of businesses have made, it is imperative to always question – is this application scalable? This design principle applies on both, macro and micro levels – from the time you are deciding on which application to buy, to the time you add something as small as a field on the form, it needs to be scalable.


As with everything in life, an application too needs to be sustainable. A sustainable design is when available support teams can cost-effectively support, maintain and grow the application long after it has been implemented. Often we come across CRM requirements that are very specific to a small step in the process and is unable to be met using standard out-of-box features. But before building a heavy and expensive custom-code to meet such requirements, it is important to stop and do a design principle check and ask yourself – is this sustainable? Simple and flexible designs are sustainable, a concise documented hand-over is sustainable, a well-trained support team makes an application sustainable, but it all starts with a sustainable design.

When making important application design decisions, always keep these three design principles at the center of your process – Usability, Scalability and Sustainability.

Want to see how we can help your business grow? Request a free value assessment and let’s get the conversation started!

Written by Nawal Mohsina
Principal Consultant, mcaConnect