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

Introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365

By Marielena Zajac, Marketing Specialist

It is all anyone in the Microsoft Dynamics community has been discussing. Since Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella’s announcement back in July, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has caused quite the stir among partners and customers alike. Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP cloud solutions together into one unified, cloud-based application platform. Nadella’s main takeaways to eager customers were that Microsoft Dynamics 365:

  • Helps organizations move from monolithic application suites to purpose-built, SaaS applications with intelligence built in
  • Integrates Microsoft Office 365
  • Introduces a customer centric business model to build what you want and buy just the capabilities you need, while ensuring all roles have access to all the data they need to be successful in their jobs

All this buzz has consumers asking, “what is Dynamics 365?” and “what does this integration mean for my business?” More importantly, what sets Dynamics 365 apart from the competition?

It’s Purpose-Built

According to Microsoft, Dynamics 365 provides customers a modern and familiar experience with built-in insights, intelligence, and workflow. It allows customers to choose the exact functionality that they need, which can be selected from a huge catalog that include sales, marketing, customer service, field service, project management, accounting, and much more. Dynamics 365 merges current CRM and ERP functionality into one comprehensive, cloud-based collection of apps and services for business.

Dynamics 365 apps are independently deployed and bring together the full power of Microsoft’s enterprise offerings. With these business apps, customers can start small and only pay for what is needed, and from there expand their arsenal.  The app catalog includes built-in insights, predictive intelligence, and workflow optimization, among many other selections. All of these will be delivered through simple, easy-to-use mobile experiences with offline capabilities.

It’s Productive

Dynamics 365 will provide an immersive user experience with Office 365. Microsoft states that there will be a deep integration between Dynamics 365 and Office 365 that will connect the structured workflow of business apps with the unstructured work of collaboration and productivity. With Dynamics 365, all information you have can easily be uploaded and shared on Office 365, and it is offered across web, mobile devices, and the PC.

It’s Intelligent

Power BI and Cortana Intelligence will be natively embedded into Dynamics 365 to attain actionable next steps and predictive insights for customers everywhere, making this the AI product that everyone will be eager to demo. Cortana will enable cross-sell recommendations to help sales reps predict which products and services a customer will need, and uses tools like sentiment analysis to check on the likelihood of closing a deal. Meanwhile, the Power BI components of Dynamics 365 align big data and analytics to enable every user to gain their own analytical insights. With Dynamics 365, comprehensible data is always at the user’s fingertips.

It’s Adaptable

In an industry that is constantly evolving, you need a system that can be easily adapted. Dynamics 365 supports existing capabilities that any Dynamics CRM or Dynamics AX user is running today, and has introduced Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, which are powerful new extension capabilities that work across all the data that’s been stored in Dynamics 365. Specifically, Microsoft Flow automates workflows across applications, while Microsoft AppSource offers SaaS applications that cover a huge range of requirements. To view Edgewater Fullscope’s  AppSource apps for the manufacturing industry, click here.

The new Common Data Model surfaces all the data stored within Dynamics 365 across a set of custom entities that model data across all the different business apps. This feature allows you to seamlessly extend and accelerate all of your business apps as well as all your productivity solutions.

With Dynamics 365, customers can get the job done quickly and effortlessly while adjusting to a changing environment at a moment’s notice. As Satya Nadella said during the reveal of Dynamics 365, “The motivating force behind everything we do and everything we build is to empower our customers to make things and make things happen. Together with our customers and partners, we are reinventing business processes for a world where devices, data, intelligence and connectivity can be everywhere.”

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 has deep manufacturing experience that can help you combat your toughest operational business challenges.

For more information or to request a demo of Microsoft Dynamics 365, call at 770-772-3121 or visit www.fullscope.com

Food Safety: Can You Survive a Recall?

Edgewater Fullscope spends a lot of time talking with industry leaders in food manufacturing. They tell us about their pains, concerns, and the things that keep them up at night. One of the big things we hear about is the dreaded food recall, and it always comes in at the top of their worry lists.

It should. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently estimates that each year, 76 million people will get sick, more than 300,000 people will end up in the hospital and 5,000 people will die from foodborne illnesses. If you tally up the cost of a recall to a food manufacturing company, it may be up to $30 million*, and this does not always take into consideration the hit to the brand, lost customers and legal fees.

A recall is always a possibility, so food manufacturers must plan and think about: “Can we perform recalls from an organizational standpoint? Do we have the technology in place? Can we deal with mock recalls? How does this affect our customers and how does this affect our vendors and the whole supply chain, starting with our employees?”

We’ve found that our food manufacturing customers also talk a lot about the global food safety initiative, or GFSI, compliance. They worry about things like, “Do we have the right systems that can manage compliance from start to finish across the whole supply chain? Are we able to move products upmarket and downmarket? Can we face the issues and constraints that we face as an organization on a day-in, day-out basis?”

In addition to their compliance, our customers have customers with compliance needs, which could be labeling or another unique requirement. Some things that we hear include, “Sure, we can handle the compliance requirements today, but what if we acquire someone, or introduce a new product line, or develop new recipes or formulas? How does that affect my compliance from an organizational standpoint?” From a company perspective you can’t – just because you’ve done a new acquisition — stop everything you’re doing from a compliance perspective. You must have a system in place that can manage through change while keeping historical data while keeping you compliant.

The last thing we hear is, “From an organizational standpoint, yes, we can perform our safety practices that are in place. We can ‘do’ these food recalls, but can we ‘prove’ this ability to the proper regulatory agency, most often the FDA?” A lot of the fear expressed by these organizations stems from their lack of confidence if asked to perform a mock recall.

Addressing Food Safety Issues with Technology

So where should food manufacturers turn to help tackle these challenges head on? Selecting the right technology platform, including an enterprise resource planning system (ERP), is the ideal place to start. Here are three major traits to consider in an ERP solution:

Look for a business system that’s compliant with regulatory requirements. Agencies typically look for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that have complete documentation control, including documentation from record management through quality procedures.  Choose a solution that can provide all of the history, including details of all safety inspections. You must be able to properly provide clean, audited records so the auditors can actually prove the safety recommendations work, and that the recommendations meet compliance standards. Make sure it can help you spot trends. These aren’t just trends with vendors and suppliers, but trends with customers, and more specifically, customer complaints. Tracking complaints will allow you to be proactive with issues that occur with product quality or packaging. Remember, if you’re not able to record that information, you’re unable to record and bring it forward.

If these are some of the issues that you’re facing, let us help. We are one of the largest resellers of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP, one of the fastest growing ERP solutions from the world’s leading software company. Sold only by partners, Dynamics AX is now available in the cloud or on premise. As for us, we have more than 20 years of experience helping process manufacturers including food processors tackle industry-specific challenges including conducting mock, or actual, recalls. With AX, we can help you:

  • Track all of your corrective and preventive actions for the marketplace as well as address instrument calibration, perform flexible sampling, maintain histories
  • Deal with the daily strains of food safety fundamentals and critical limits
  • Keep a register of product specs and your rework product details
  • Consider critical food safety limits
  • Track the validations and the inspections that you provide to the market.

*Source – Ernst & Young, October 2010 Report, “Capturing Recall Costs, Measuring and Recovering the Losses

Additional Information

Check out these additional resources on food safety and recalls:

Demo – Conducting Mock or Product Recalls with Microsoft Dynamics AX

Video – Food Safety: Can You Survive a Recall

Customer Video – Reily Foods Case Study

Request a Demo

Instrument Calibration: Fullscope EDGE for AX 2.0 for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3

November Blog Series: Tools We’re Thankful For

Insights From: Traci Didonna (Fullscope Product Architect)

What is Instrument Calibration?

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