Microsoft Dynamics in the Agriculture Industry

From trying to feed the world’s growing population with limited land to changes in people’s diet habits, the agricultural industry faces many challenges. These challenges are pressuring the industry to turn towards technological changes and digital transformation.

Digital transformation has the potential to change many different aspects of agricultural operations. Microsoft is eager to help agricultural companies make those changes and digitally transform.

“Microsoft’s strategy is to build products and services based on a mobile-first, cloud-first approach, and to deliver a flexible platform of integrated offerings.” -Microsoft

In order to increase productivity in the agriculture industry, digital transformation is the answer. It is where the future is heading in order to better reach company goals and optimize operations. Microsoft Dynamics is here to empower companies’ employers and make their systems last longer as the organization grows.

To read more on how Microsoft can lead your company in the agricultural industry through digital transformation, download this whitepaper: Empowering the Agriculture Industry: How digital transformation creates new opportunities

Microsoft Dynamics in the Chemical Industry

There are many challenges that companies in the chemical industry face. From lack of efficiency to security concerns, these issues need to be faced.

Microsoft is here to help chemical companies digitally transform. Digital transformation is the most effective way for companies to overcome their top challenges. It is not only about the high end technology, but also the people and processes that get companies where they want to be competitively.

“Microsoft delivers business value with:

  • Big Data and advanced analytical tools to interpret real time data
  • Greater mobility for field sales personnel
  • Trusted cloud services to aggregate and process data sets in a secure manner
  • Enhanced productivity and collaboration tools that connect personnel with their work anywhere, anytime, on any device” -Microsoft

Digital transformation is where the future is heading in the chemical industry. If companies take the step to make the change in digital transformation, their long-term goals will be more attainable. Microsoft has the expertise, the body of partners, and a portfolio to best empower chemical companies with the software to set them apart from the others.

To read more on how Microsoft can lead your company in the chemical industry through digital transformation, download this whitepaper: Empowering the Chemical Industry: How digital transformation creates new opportunities

The Power of Potency in Dynamics 365 for Operations

By Emir Dobraca, Edgewater Fullscope

In order to streamline operations and boost profitability, it is important that chemical manufacturers properly manage potency. It can be a powerful thing when it’s automated.

After all, you pay your raw material vendors based on the percentage of active ingredient or concentration of what you receive. From there, all production recipes are based on a specific nominal concentration of the material being used; inventory is valued based on the actual concentration. The more precise all of this is, the more money you save in the long run.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations has added a number of fields around potency to improve its definition and automate its use in the manufacturing process. Key among these fields is “base attribute,” a generic term that refers to the key active characteristic of the product. This characteristic is an existing batch attribute of a fractional or integer type that defines this item as a potency item. The “Target” field is the standard or nominal value upon which this item is defined, costed and priced. Finally, how the attribute value is to be recorded (e.g., upon purchase or production receipt with information from a certificate of analysis, or by a quality order result) is documented.

Dynamics 365 for Operations uses this information to provide Batch Balancing to speed and improve production. A batch formula is defined interactively based on the concentration of a key ingredient or ingredients. The user selects inventory lots and based on the lot’s current potency, automatically calculates the required inventory quantity of the active ingredient. Once all of the active ingredients in the formula have been fulfilled, the Balance Batch Ingredients function determines the quantity needed for the compensating ingredient and for the filler, and finally creates a pick list based on the adjusted formula for the warehouse worker to use to select the materials for production. This eliminates the need to guess quantity adjustment of non-active ingredient components in the formulation that are impacted by the actual quantity of active ingredient picked.

Check out our video: Top Five Challenges Facing Specialty Chemical Manufacturers and How to Solve Them

For example, a manufacturer is producing a batch of given compound that requires potassium chloride as a key material. If the potency of the potassium chloride is more or less than required, a quantity of water or other neutralizing material need to be adjusted. To prevent human error, companies don’t want the operator to have to do the math for that calculation. Dynamics 365 for Operations automates the process and makes it simple for the operator to come up with a properly balanced set of ingredients. As each batch is launched, Dynamics 365 for Operations provides a screen for the operator that shows every ingredient and its actual concentration. It shows batch number, quantity and attribute value. Depending on which inventory batch or lot is selected, when the operator hits a button to balance batch ingredients, the system automatically recalculates the formula based on the lots selected. This procedure helps ensure quality, reduce costs, and eliminate waste.

A large part of Dynamics 365 for Operations’ elegance and utility comes through its flexibility: even though the metals industry will use a different formula than those used by the dairy or chemical industries, each can build their own formulas easily with this new functionality.

For more information about potency within Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, download our whitepaper: Using Technology to Mitigate Risks in Chemical Manufacturing. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions.

Lean Validation? 5 Principles for Dynamics 365 for Operations

By Valarie King-Bailey, OnShore Technology Group, Inc.

Lean manufacturing is founded on the principles of optimizing processes and eliminating waste (muda). In basic terms, lean means creating greater value and quality with fewer resources. The same lean principles used to optimize manufacturing processes can be applied to computer systems validation to help minimize waste throughout the validation process while driving greater efficiency and quality.

Today’s validation engineers are tasked with validating business systems that are increasing in complexity and more demanding from a compliance perspective. Lean validation can be applied to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations (formerly Microsoft Dynamics AX) to eliminate waste and inefficiencies in the validation process while maximizing value.

We at OnShore Technology Group recommend the following five steps to preventing lean validation:

Figure 1 – Lean Validation Principles

PRINCIPLE 1 – IDENTIFY VALUE – Value derived from the validation process is greater software quality, enhanced ability to identify software defects due to greater focus, elimination of inefficient and wasteful practices, and the ability to implement, validate and deploy advanced technology in a more streamlined yet compliant manner.

PRINCIPLE 2 – MAP THE VALUE STREAM – Agile development processes call for optimized validation activities. For Dynamics 365 validation, we have examined validation cloud processes and mapped the value stream for greater optimization.

PRINCIPLE 3 – CREATE FLOW – Automation of the validation process is an essential strategy in eliminating waste. For D365, it is important to automate validation processes to ensure compliance and efficiency including test script development, execution, requirements management, incident management, requirements traceability and other activities. Although there are many tools on the market designed to address one or more of each of the document deliverables, only ValidationMaster offers a seamless flow of validation information from one lifecycle stage to the next. The system allows users to develop each requirement and link each requirement to a test script for automated traceability. The system automates the development of test scripts and allows users to directly export test scripts in company SOP-approved templates. Once complete, the recorded test script is seamlessly transferred to the ValidationMaster SharePoint-based portal for electronic review and approval. Once the script is pre-approved, it is executed (populated with actual results) and sent backs to the portal for review/approval. Forward and reverse traceability happens automatically and all documentation is archived in accordance with regulatory guidelines.   With ValidationMaster, you have a single source of truth for all of your validation assets and the ability to create flow through automation of the validation process.

PRINCIPLE 4 – ESTABLISH “PULL” – One of the questions I am most often asked is how much validation due diligence is necessary to validate a system. From a validation perspective, pull refers to the level of validation due diligence required or “validate-only-as-necessary.” Using this principle helps you to drive validation based on risk and compliance objectives. It is important to understand that all systems are not created equal. One must understand the difference between COTS systems such as D365 and bespoke (custom) systems. The validation strategy must match the type of system to be validated. Leveraging this principle will keep you focused on your compliance and risk management objectives.

PRINCIPLE 5 – SEEK PERFECTION – A core tenant of quality is continuous improvement. While you may never achieve perfection in the pursuit of validation and quality objectives, it is important to drive towards “level 5” validation that ensures a consistent, repeatable process for validation, automation of the validation process to drive efficiency and the elimination of wasteful processes that increase the burdens and cost of validation. Following the principle of “seeking perfection” is a lofty goal but in a practical sense necessary as you seek to validate today’s advanced cloud technologies.

Cloud-based systems such as Dynamics 365 and Azure represent a significant change in the way systems are deployed. The principles of lean validation help keep you focused on what is most important and helps you achieve your business and compliance objectives. Cybersecurity and validation strategies must be changed to keep up with the pace of changing systems environments. For more information about cybersecurity and validation in the cloud, check out our webcast featuring Valarie King-Bailey: Validating Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Azure in the Cloud, as well as our next three upcoming webcasts in the series.

Learn how Edgewater Fullscope, an award-winning Microsoft manufacturing partner with nearly two decades of experience, can help you combat your toughest operational business challenges with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.


Tackling Inventory Dimensionality and Variability with Microsoft Dynamics 365

By Stephen Sanderson, Edgewater Fullscope

Building Products Dimensionality Picture

In the building materials industry, variation of materials is inevitable and unavoidable. In fact, it is essential to understand that many materials are inherently variable.

For example:

  • Steel properties vary depending on chemical composition and method of manufacture.
  • Concrete properties change depending on type and amount of cement, type of aggregate, air content, slump, method of curing, etc.
  • Windows and doors have multiple dimensions, colors, UV characteristics to name a few.
  • Wood and manufactured trim, flooring and siding have varying properties such as dimension, species, grain, color and so forth.

Some materials are more homogeneous than others, depending on the nature of the material and the method of manufacturing.

You don’t want to take a hit on your profitability because you’re having a hard time tracking inventory dimensionality and variability. The cost of not knowing this critical data has never been greater.

But how do you handle variability?

  • Do you create SKUs for every possible variability? Not possible, as this would be an unmanageable number of SKUs.
  • Do you assign a general SKU to everything and then guess the variability? Not going to work.
  • Do you let your guys on the floor figure it all out? Never going to be accurate.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations (formerly Microsoft Dynamics AX), can effectively manage materials (raw materials, in process, and finished goods) with variable dimensionality or attributes to improve production planning and reduce waste, as well as plan and track inventory at the dimension and/or attribute level. In fact, it runs over any browser and is device independent.

Break down the silos between your business processes and applications with Microsoft Dynamics 365—intelligent cloud applications that connect data across sources, drive intelligent decisions and outcomes, and transform your building materials or industrial equipment manufacturing company from end to end.

Learn more about tackling inventory dimensionality and variability, improve profitability, and enhance customer service in our on-demand webcast: Building Materials Industry: Solving the Dilemma of Tracking Inventory Dimensionality and Variability

Data Management in Dynamics 365 for Operations

By Chris Jamison

When using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations (D365O) Data management – CustCustomerEntity for data export/import, and when financial dimensions are involved, there is a small setup step which must be done prior to export/import.

If this step is not done, the following error is displayed when trying to export/import:

“No active format for data entities has been set up. Set up an active format for each dimension format type.”

To see the customer’s existing financial dimensions, Access the customer list page https://<server&gt;<comp>&mi=CustTableListPage

Drill into the customer details using the Financial dimensions fast tab.

In this implementation, we are using 5 financial dimensions, as shown above. Not all dimensions are required to be filled.

In order to successfully export the customer record, we need to setup the format. This is found at General ledger> Chart of accounts> Dimensions> Financial dimension configuration for integrating applications (mi=DimensionIntegrationConfiguration).

  1. Add a new default dimension format. In this case, we name it “Customer import”.
  2. Use dimension format type “Default dimension format”.
  3. Select the financial dimensions which will be exported/imported as part of the Customers data entity.
  4. To maintain simplicity, I specifically ordered the financial dimensions in the same sequence (alphabetical) as they appear on the customer details form (shown on previous image).
  5. The system will display a format example. This is comprised of the selected dimensions separated by a hyphen.
  6. Set the format “Active for type”.

Now, when exporting the customer record, we see that the financial dimension is displayed properly.

Use the same format for entering data into a spreadsheet for import using Data management – CustCustomerEntity.

Important: Note that the hyphen separator is always required, even if no value is provided for a dimension (see first line, where both the first and fifth dimensions are not specified).

Need More Information?


Successful Business Software? What If You Had A Rating System To Help You Find One?

  1. Why would you search for successful business software?
  2. What does a successful business software platform look like?
  3. Where can I find a successful business software partner?

No doubt you have your answer ready for the first question, and maybe know what you want success to look like. But, possibly like others, you aren’t sure how you find a partner to work with for this business software need.   A partner that will listen to how you want to build your platform for a successful foundation on which to transform your business.

When you go out to review or purchase – either for business or personal – many times you look for ratings … awards… To make this hunt for your best business software easier, Microsoft has given you help by recognizing the best in class in their annual Industry Partner awards Microsoft 2017 Industry Partner of the Year Awards

We’re so proud of this award as this is a testament to our amazing colleagues. Microsoft received over 2,800 nominations from 115 countries for the 34 global award categories. We had some stiff competition and are pleased that Microsoft rates us as a top partner, recognizing us as excelling in providing innovative and unique solutions based on their powerful Microsoft Dynamics solution. We are honored that Microsoft has acknowledged Edgewater Fullscope as winning or being a finalist in this category 6 times!   Empowering you to transform your business with this top rated business solution is our company DNA.

That’s our view of success! Would you like to start a conversation on how to build success with your business platform?

What questions can we answer?

Top Five Steps to Preventing Cyberattacks and Validating Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the Cloud

By Valarie King-Bailey, OnShore Technology

We live in an amazing time when technology is changing almost every aspect of our lives—at breathtaking speed. But with that speed comes increased cybersecurity threats. In fact, 74% of the world’s businesses expect to be hacked each year.[1]  The estimated economic loss of cybercrime is estimated to reach $3 trillion by 2020. And in recent years, life sciences, pharma and medical device companies have become highly sought-after targets of cyber-attacks due to the high revenues and substantial costs involved in research and development.

With the rise in cloud based software applications and apps available to the industry, employees sometimes inadvertently create an opening—clicking on links they shouldn’t or sending sensitive files by email to recipients they shouldn’t. It is mission critical to protect test data, formulas, patent information, trade secrets, and more from cyberattacks.

By now you’ve heard that Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP cloud solutions together into one cloud-based application platform. But what does that mean for pharma and life sciences companies when cybersecurity and validation comes into play? First of all, it is important to understand that Dynamics 365 and Azure in the cloud can be validated. The process for the validation of cloud applications differs somewhat from on premise applications, but the principles of validation endure. Secondly, the good news is that the validation process helps you become more protected against cyber threats.

Our validation partner, OnShore Technology Group, recommends the following five steps to preventing cyber threats and validating systems in the cloud:

  1. Establish Validation Procedures Including Cloud and Cybersecurity Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – You must have a SOP that addresses cloud computing and the outsourcing of validated IT infrastructure to an external cloud provider. You must also have a Cybersecurity SOP that addresses the need for Cybersecurity qualification and testing as well as how to address a specific cyber event.
  2. Know That Microsoft is Developing a Safe, Trusted, Responsible, and Inclusive Cloud – Microsoft provides online tools to assist you in understanding and documenting cyber-safety and compliance through its Microsoft trust center. This is a fantastic resource that provides everything you need to conduct the supplier audit, as well as special programs for security like the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage program.
  3. Automate Requirements Traceability – A mandatory validation activity is the traceability of validation test scripts to each user, functional, and design (if bespoke development) requirement. An effective strategy for validation is the automation of this process to ensure accuracy and compliance, as well as security against cyber-attacks.
  4. Conduct Cybersecurity Qualification (CyQ) – Validated systems include data essential to quality and regulatory processes as well as information necessary to achieve compliance. Therefore, the systems must be protected at all times. One cannot eliminate the potential for a cyber-attack, but you can minimize the probability of a cyber-attack by changing your validation strategy. In addition to IQ-OQ-PQ testing which is common for all validated systems you should also conduct CyQ (Cybersecurity Qualification).
  5. Carefully Install Apps – Apps are an excellent way to enhance Dynamics 365. Care must be taken to ensure that apps are thoroughly tested and are in compliance with current guidelines.  Apps should be treated like all other integrations.  You will need a strategy to address this challenge, with regression testing, as well as documentation of all apps.

Dynamics 365 and Azure represent a change in the way systems are deployed. Cybersecurity and Validation strategies must be changed to keep up with the pace of changing systems environments. For more information about cybersecurity and validation in the cloud, Join us for our upcoming webcast featuring Valarie King Bailey: Wednesday, May 24, 1:00 pm EST: Validating Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Azure in the Cloud.

An award-winning Microsoft manufacturing partner with nearly two decades of experience, Edgewater Fullscope can guide you into a move to Microsoft Dynamics 365. Our team’s manufacturing experience can help you combat your toughest operational business challenges.