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Microsoft Dynamics: Have you filled one of the biggest functional gaps?

Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics AX are two powerful, highly-functional, and successful business management solutions as evidenced by the millions of users around the world who use these ERP systems every day. Although both of these solutions include a significant amount of sophisticated, built-in functionality, Microsoft never intended for them to do everything. There will always be “gaps.” Certain functional gaps exist in Dynamics for a reason. That's why both solutions support not just the ability of customers and partners to add specific, custom features, but also the ability of ISVs, or independent software vendors, to integrate an entire solution with Dynamics—often referred to as a third party add-on. Obviously, some custom features and some third party add-on solutions are useful to some customers, but not to others. For example, a global manufacturing company doesn’t benefit from an add-on solution for beverage distributors. Conversely, the beverage distributor doesn’t have much use for material safety data sheet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Msds functionality.

Certain gaps in Dynamics are more critical than others. Some third party add-on solutions, however, fill critical gaps that add value to any customer’s implementation of NAV or AX. One example is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Data_Interchange

Another is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Document_management But not all document management solutions are created equal. For example, in a future post, we will review why even http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharepoint Microsoft SharePoint doesn’t fill the document management gaps that exist with AX and NAV.

For this post—and with a nod to Mark Twain—we’ll turn our attention to some of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics document management statistics. The size, volume, and costs associated with the document management gap.

Doculabs estimates that only 10-20% of an organization’s information exists in a “structured” form (primarily data in a database). Examples include CRM and ERP solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics. That means 80-90% of an organization’s information exists in an “unstructured” form—examples include paper, emails, and faxes—so the lack of a document management solution in your Dynamics implementation is a very big deal. In many organizations, the volume and velocity of unstructured content in physical and electronic form can be enormous - and overwhelming. According to IDC, each year, a company of 100 people prints 900,000 pages, copies 400,000 pages, sends 100,000 pages and spends 8,170 hours circulating documents. According to Giga Information Group, a document is photocopied an average of more than 10 times. The volume of “unstructured” electronic content—email and email attachments—is high and growing in importance.

IMERGE Consulting estimates 60-70% of business-critical data is transmitted via email and characterizes email as “the leading piece of evidence requested at civil trials today.” Just accurately and consistently filing the documents and emails related to a transaction can be a nightmare. For example, without appropriate document controls, these filing processes will vary from person-to-person and from day-to-day with the same person—even for those organizations that have taken the time to put written policies in place. The average company spends US$20 – US$30 (or more) just to file a document (numbers vary among studies). And all of this assumes that after the filing process occurs, people across the organization will be able to find these document when they need them. That’s rarely the case. Companies spend an average US$120 in labor to find a misfiled document. One out of every 20 documents gets lost. Many analysts associate the costs of managing documents with the time it requires. After all, "time is money". Forrester Research estimates that between 40% to 70% of an employee's time is dedicated to the management of documents PwC estimates that the average employee will spend as much as 50% of their workday searching for documents and approximately spend 25 hours re-creating each document they can’t find. In addition to the time/cost of filing, finding and re-creating documents, the use of inefficient, uncontrolled, and insecure physical and electronic document processes frustrates an organization’s personnel, creates mindless data entry tasks that have no “real” value and that lead to poor morale, and often expose organizations to hard-to-calculate http://apps.americanbar.org/lpm/lpt/articles/ftr07044.html legal liability.

Don’t even get me started on the fallacy of an organizational http://www.archives.gov/frc/scanning/why-scan.html disaster recovery plan that omits scanned documents. Finally, as you might imagine, the size, volume, and cost associated with the document management gap only increase when an organization is publicly-traded (dealing with issues related to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarbanes%E2%80%93Oxley_Act SOX compliance is a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer engaged in complex national and international transaction is in a heavily-regulated industry such as pharmaceuticals, energy, aeronautics, etc. that have unique http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governance,_Risk_Management,_and_Compliance GRC issues Enhancing Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Microsoft Dynamics AX with an embedded document management solution. We often see companies migrating to Dynamics because they’ve grown big enough to need more sophisticated business functionality in areas such as finance, business intelligence and supply chain management. Many of them have ”managed” just fine shuffling paper documents around, and the need to automate and control document processing workflow hasn't risen to the top of the priority list. But a growing company processes an increasing number of documents—and paper-based document processing slows you down and costs you money. Microsoft Dynamics won’t solve these problems. In the best case scenario, the inefficiencies, costs, and risks associated with unstructured content such as paper, emails, and faxes remain the same. More often, the situation becomes worse. In fact, the document management gap that exists with NAV and AX is especially critical because the companies that rely on these solutions often deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of complex transactions every day. Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think to enhance your Dynamics installation with an embedded document management solution, and its ROI can be substantial.

I won’t turn this article into a big promotion for the Datahaven for Dynamics solution. Microsoft makes it very clear—on its own website—that http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/erp-buy-ax-software.aspx Dynamics AX and http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/en/gulf/partners-certified.aspx Dynamics NAV are designed and intended to be enhanced by third party solutions.

Suffice it to say that we can show anyone in an organization—from the C-level executive suite to the data entry staff—the value and benefit to them in their job function that can be achieved by enhancing Dynamics to include an embedded scanning, OCR, and workflow solution.

Take a look around our website and watch our pre-recorded demos or sign up for the next Datahaven for Dynamics overview webinar.

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