This can all be achieved through four key products:
Everything you need for day to day working along with tools to engage customers, improve communications and increase staff efficiency.
Dynamics 365 Business Central is Microsoft’s solution for small and medium sized businesses and is a ridiculously powerful and feature rich finance, CRM and operations system.
The Power Platform links data from Dynamics, Microsoft 365 and any other database to provide a central view of data which can create insightful reports and forecasts as well as automating key tasks.
With Microsoft’s hosting platform all of the above solutions available are hosted in the cloud, removing the need for your own IT equipment and provides an unrivalled level of security too.
Every solution will always be tailored to each business in a different way, but you can see from these four key building blocks that its more than just a possibility.
How can you make this happen?
The short answer: you need to conduct a process review.
This review will provide you with all of the ammunition you need to make a decision about your business software and IT.
Unless you’re an IT and software expert yourself, chances are that you’ll either need to rely on someone within your organisation for guidance and support, or will have to put 100% faith in the businesses you choose to talk to for the correct advice.
Whichever the case, here are the 3 steps you need to take to implement business software that drives your manufacturing business forward:
Step 1. Bring in some passion
If you’re looking at implementing new software within your business then you need to look at both the software and the company who will look after you in terms of installation, training and support. And it’s vital to find a business that cares. REALLY cares.
They need to care about you and your business, be passionate about IT and obsessive about providing outstanding support to your users.
Business software and IT solutions are not a one-off purchases. You will be working with these people for years to come. A typical business software solution lasts for around 10-15 years, so don’t make rash decisions about who you are partnering with.
The right partner will listen to your needs and will keep giving you advice on how to streamline and improve your processes in the future.
The software is important too, of course, but systems fail because they are poorly implemented, or users aren’t trained well enough. So, remember to treat your decision on the software and the software partner as the same thing.
Step 2. Review your process
Start by taking stock of your processes from beginning to end. I guarantee you’ll be shocked by the number of spreadsheets and manual processes that exist. What you uncover here will undoubtedly be enough to justify your software investment!
Once you are confident you understand your processes, remain open minded. Changing software to match your processes is rarely a good idea, but changing processes to match the software can have huge benefits. Removing the need for spreadsheets and manual procedures will speed up the entire process and will also provide the accurate reports you need.
Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mindset.
Step 3. Have a plan
No one likes change, right? Plenty of studies provide evidence of this. People are wary of new software as they feel it could affect their job and make things difficult in the short-term.
With this in mind, it is important to understand the best way of making changes within your business. Working with an experienced IT & Software Consultant will help you plan your software implementation so the transition from existing to new procedures is handled effectively and staff training can be carried out in an efficient and engaging manner.
Not everything has to happen tomorrow and it’s important to understand each and every step you need to take. That’s where a well thought out software strategy comes into play.
Planning for change: your software strategy
Once you’ve decided to look into a cloud based IT and software solution that can reduce your wasted time, eliminate unnecessary costs and drive efficiency, there are 3 factors you need to consider for your cloud strategy:
- Your current business needs
Any IT & software strategy needs to start with looking at the situation of your business today. You need to understand the role that software plays within your business at the moment, but most importantly where it fits within your current processes.
This process involves analysing the way you work with software, who uses software, what other systems it affects and, ultimately, the issues you are currently experiencing. This must be completed by someone who understands your business alongside a software expert, ideally someone not working within the business to maintain impartiality.
Don’t worry too much about where these issues are coming from right now (because your new solution will resolve these) but consider the impact of ageing equipment, recent changes in your business requirements, recent changes in the way people work and any problems caused by the support company looking after your current software.
From here, you should visually map out how your processes work, how software interacts with all areas of your business and, most importantly, where the issues lie.
- Your future business needs
What are your future business requirements? This could be upcoming major changes such as new acquisitions, new offices or new machinery, or could be as simple as accounting for staff growth.
Again, don’t worry too much about how the changes will occur, just consider the impact of these changes as these will affect the requirements of your software in the future.
Any future plans should be translated into challenges for your current software and processes. These should be represented on your visual process map so that any bottlenecks in your existing processes can be identified.
- Technology and total cost of ownership
The ROI of business software and IT solutions rarely stares us in the face. You have to work pretty hard to understand the impact of better information, quicker processes and happier customers, but there’s no doubting it is there.
If we can’t clearly see the ‘R’ then we’ll likely focus on the ‘I’ (or cost) that is needed to implement your solution.
One thing that can massively help with this is embracing Cloud technology. Cloud technology means you won’t need to buy a server to run your software and, therefore, you won’t have the maintenance costs of looking after it either.
Instead, Cloud software is installed on a server in a data centre and you access your software and data through a browser. Nowadays it’s as secure as it comes and the flexibility of being able to access information anywhere, anytime is a dream for business owners and remote workers.
By removing the need for a server and embracing Cloud technology, you’ll also see your initial outlay plummet.
Thank you for reading this article. We hope you found it helpful and thought provoking.