Microsoft Dynamics


MannKind Corporation Implements Life Sciences ERP and Quality Solutions

Merit Solutions’ client MannKind Corporation (Nasdaq: MNKD) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic products for patients with diseases such as diabetes.

We recently sat down with Van Kwok, Associate Director of MannKind, and asked him to discuss his partnership with Merit Solutions.

Why did you decide to change your ERP / accounting solution?

As a publicly traded pharmaceuticals and manufacturing company, MannKind Corporation needed a system that would not only handle our daily operations from financials, inventory control, manufacturing, and production – the solution also needed to satisfy SOX and GxP compliance requirements as well as meeting the stringent FDA requirements we are subject to.

Why did you choose Merit Solutions for your Microsoft Dynamics implementation?

Merit Solutions has the in depth knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics products and the implementation experience as well as their expertise in the Life Science space that exceeded our needs as a partner in implementing ERP and quality solutions.

How would you describe Merit Solutions’ Life Sciences Industry experience?

Merit Solutions has a number of subject matter experts and consultants in the field of Life Sciences. Merit has been successfully supporting a number clients in the industry, and we are pleased to have Merit as a partner in implementing solutions and providing ongoing support.

What underlying business issues have Merit Solutions helped you address?

As a publicly traded company, SOX compliance is a high priority for our business operations and financial reporting. The issue of being able to provide information to auditors is critical, and the solutions from Merit have provided us with the functionality for this reporting requirement. Lot Track and Traceability is another critical functionality for our business in tracking our inventory, from raw materials to finished goods. Merit has also provided us a solution that enables us to comply with regulatory forward and backward traceability requirements.

How does Merit Solutions compare to other consulting firms you have worked with?

Merit has an excellent track record of providing outstanding customer support and delivering successful project results and solutions for MannKind. They have an excellent team of professionals – their responses are prompt and their solutions are effective.

How else has Merit Solutions helped you comply with FDA requirements?

Merit has assisted us in putting together Audit Trails, Materials Log Management, and System Security to control the electronic data integrity and comply with the FDA 21 CFR Part 11 requirements.


United Way Streamlines Processes and Continuously Improves Performance


What underlying business issues have Merit Solutions and your Microsoft Dynamics software addressed?
"The biggest improvements are that our employees are more productive and our operations are more efficient. We’ve been able to streamline business processes and continuously monitor and improve performance."

How does Merit Solutions compare to other consulting firms you have worked with?
"Merit Solutions is the best consulting services partner we have used, period. Merit has always been just a phone call away, and they have done an exceptional job with just about everything we’ve asked them to do. They have delivered all of our projects with high quality and reliability. I would trust Merit Solutions to help me implement Microsoft Dynamics in the future!"

What do you like most about Merit Solutions?
"Merit Solutions demonstrates an exemplary level of commitment. I never feel as though team members’ goals are just to complete projects, but rather to complete projects with the highest possible standards of quality. The level of professionalism displayed by all of them is very admirable… Merit is a group of individuals that simply do not know the definition of "good enough". They set the highest standards of quality for themselves, and always strive to surpass them."

When you work with Merit Solutions, are your projects delivered on-time and under budget?
"We have engaged with Merit Solutions on numerous occasions for our systems implementation, consulting, and technical support. Merit Solutions has always completed our projects within the defined budget and project timeline."

What would you tell someone considering Merit Solutions versus another Microsoft Dynamics Partner?
"Merit has always met our expectations and needs. I’ve never been disappointed by Merit Solutions. The consultants’ knowledge of the software and our business has helped us streamline processes and improve our business. The entire Merit Solutions team has always been helpful, courteous, and has done whatever needs to be done to make our partnership successful."

Click here to download the complete United Way Case Study (PDF).


Demo: Microsoft Dynamics Business Analyzer for Windows 8

Last week we wrote about the release of the Microsoft Dynamics Business Analyzer for Windows 8. This week we thought we would share a quick demo of the app.

We hope you download the app and let us know what you think!


Sure Step Online Project Wizard “ Architecture Overview and Benefits

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online Project Wizard adds the ability to create specific Sure Step projects in a partner or customer’s SharePoint environment all from within their own SharePoint environment or SharePoint Online.

In Sure Step, projects are a collection of documents, tools and templates that follow the Sure Step implementation methodology. When creating a new project, Sure Step Online Project Wizard will always retrieve the latest content ensuring that project documents are up to date. As the documents reside on SharePoint, it enables easy collaboration of the whole project team.

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online Project Wizard is a SharePoint hosted Silverlight application which harnesses the power of both SharePoint and cloud-based content storage. It can be hosted either on your local SharePoint 2010 environment or on SharePoint Online.

After a simple one time process for manually deploying the Project Wizard to the desired SharePoint environment described in the User Guide, Sure Step project can be created on the same site collection or any other accessible locally. (If the site collection resides on another SharePoint farm or web application additional configuration of the destination web application is required. This will be described in one of the later posts.)

Each time a Project Wizard is started it retrieves the configuration information and checks for compatibility. Only if a new version is required (which actually means that there were significant changes to the Sure Step content metadata model) a user will have to download the latest version and redeploy it to the destination SharePoint environment before continuing with the project creation.

Project Wizard retrieves the latest content metadata and generates the options offered in the wizard itself. Content as well as all the options offered in the Project Wizard are dynamically loaded from the Sure Step Online content repository. This enables seamless update of the Sure Step content, addition of new tools and templates, new solutions, project types and languages. This architecture ensures that each time a project is created using the wizard, it will contain the latest content available from Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online without the need to regularly download and install client and content updates (which can be around 400MB for each language).

The Sure Step content is categorized into seven (industry related) solutions, six Dynamics product lines, five project types for implementation engagement type and numerous accelerators for diagnostic phase and optimization offering. An inventory of more than 750 tools and templates are available for use on each project with partial translation in nine languages. Projects are created for a specific Solution, Dynamics Product, Engagement type and a selected Project Type or accelerator. New project contains copies of all Sure Step documents applicable to selected criteria.

Sure Step Online Project Wizard can be deployed on the following environments:

  • Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online

To start using the Project Wizard in your SharePoint environment, download the Online Project Wizard and follow the instructions from the Sure Step Online User Guide.

More info and the links to resources can be found here.


Benefits of Micrsoft Sure Step Online

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is a customer lifecycle methodology for all Microsoft Dynamics solutions (AX, GP, NAV, SL, CRM and CRM Online). Besides delivering guidance, project management discipline and field-driven best practices, Sure Step also contains a huge collection of tools and templates to be used in all phases of a Microsoft Dynamics customer engagement.

Last autumn Microsoft announced Sure Step Online, which enables you to:

  • View the complete Sure Step methodology, including all tools and templates.
  • Create and manage customer projects based on the Sure Step deliverables on SharePoint.
  • Link to online marketing, training, and other resources on PartnerSource and CustomerSource

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online is a new approach to using the Sure Step methodology. Instead of having a client application with a set of content language packs, Microsoft developed a Silverlight application available on Partner Source and Customer Source. As the Sure Step Online is cloud-based, you no longer have to regularly download and install client or content updates (around 400MB for each language) to have the latest tools and templates, Sure Step Online will always contain the most recent content, and be available from anywhere, always.

Some of the advantages of the Sure Step Online include:

  • Using the latest guidance and content available online without downloading and installing the client.
  • Ability to access and share content quickly from anywhere. All you need to have is an internet connection, a browser with a Silverlight plugin and access to Partner or Customer source.
  • All supported languages are also available. Besides English, Sure Step Online offers (partial) methodology and templates in Chinese, Danish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
  • Ability to point users to a specific guidance page or template, which will eliminate the need for them to download the whole methodology to locate the specific content/guidance.
  • Ability to create customer projects on your local SharePoint instance, partner hosted SharePoint or SharePoint Online. Projects created using Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online Project Wizard will always contain the latest templates.

Of course, if your prefer to do so, you can still download and use the on-premise Sure Step 2012 client with the latest language packs.

Sure Step Online is available for partners and customers on the following location

For more details, please refer to the Sure Step Online User Guide.


Productivity Is Key to Profitability

Sales productivity is built on twin pillars: efficiency and effectiveness. To be a high-performing company, the sales organization requires both. The key isn’t to bring on more people to make your company grow. The key is making the ones you have more efficient and effective.

Efficient means they are discriminating in how they spend their time, less on activities such as:

  • Account maintenance
  • Administration
  • Travel
  • Planning

Effective means they spend more time on high-value sales activities and are more effective at those activities, such as:

  • Needs identification
  • Solution development
  • Product demos
  • Proposal development
  • Closing (negotiating, pricing, contracting)

A survey of 841 sales professionals at 500 companies with large sales forces (2,000 employees) showed that salespeople at high-performing companies spend 40% more time each year with their best potential customers and 30% less time on administrative tasks compared to salespeople at low-performing companies. High-performing companies demonstrated faster sales growth and better financial performance compared to industry peers. (Driving Profitable Sales Growth: 2006/2007 Report on Sales Effectiveness, Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

With any challenge comes opportunity. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is uniquely positioned to provide measurable business benefits for sales organizations.

Specifically, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps organizations:

  • Increase time with customers.
  • Improve close rates.
  • Shorten sales cycles.
  • Achieve real-time insight.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


Get Improved Customer Loyalty with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Looking to improve customer loyalty and retention? Want to boost profitability along with way?

We can help”with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online®.

Focus on great customer service – rather than learning new technologies – with reliable and accessible customer care functionality in a familiar Microsoft® Outlook® application. Plus, with access to complete case and customer data, you can respond to cases faster and improve customer retention.

Enjoy access to world-class, scalable customer service technology without a world-class investment in infrastructure”because Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is hosted in the cloud. What’s more, because it’s delivered by subscription via the internet, there’s no hardware or software to purchase or maintain, and no deployment cycle either, so your agents can be up and running quickly.

Download your complimentary CRM Comparison Guide to discover what sets Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online apart!


Food Quality Management ERP Software

Why Quality Management ERP Software for the Food Industry? Quality Management in MAXFood for Microsoft Dynamics AX enables food companies to improve the safety and quality of food products throughout the supply chain, while reducing the cost of quality. These companies will be able to enforce operational standards, automate key safety requirements, and track materials and products at all stages – enabling fast, automated recalls if necessary.

Perform quality tests and track results.
Set up tests, procedures and steps according to your food quality management requirements, and enforce quality rules and controls according to in-range and out-of-range test results.

Ensure food safety.
Manage product traceability data “ from supplier through distribution, and all stops along the way – to be able to rapidly respond to and implement an accurate product recall.

Make continuous improvements.
Use industry-standard statistical analysis tools to analyze trends and predict problems to product quality, while making quality improvements throughout the supply chain.

MAXFood for Microsoft Dynamics AX Quality Management Capabilities:

  • Lot Track and Trace Reporting
  • Food Recipe Controls
  • Quality Management Role Centers
  • Cost of Quality Management
  • Microsoft SharePoint Controlled Documents Management
  • Non-conformance Management
  • Lot / Sub Lot Tracking
  • Product Recall Procedures
  • Food Safety Reporting
  • HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point)

Learn how MAXFood ERP Software can help your organization overcome the most common food industry business challenges today.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Productivity Enhancements

Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides numerous enhancements to help users enhance their productivity.

One key productivity enhancement that deserves some attention is dynamic marketing lists. In previous versions, Marketing Lists were static which meant that users had to create new queries or run existing queries each time they wanted to execute a marketing program to get a current Marketing List. Now with Dynamic Marketing Lists, when the list is set to Dynamic the marketing list is automatically based on a query at the time of execution which ensures the marketing list is up to date.

The Total Record Count enhancement now allows users to see the total number of records return in the result set without having to scroll from page to page. While not the sexiest feature, it is something that many customers and partners will greatly appreciate.

And two related enhancements that are worth calling out are email attachments and rich-text emails. In previous versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, users had to create workflows to send out bulk attachments. Now with just a click, users can choose to Attach File and instantly send out bulk email attachments.

Along similar lines, in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 enhancements were made around rich-text formatting. While previous versions provided basic text formatting, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 provide more in-depth options for rich-text and in turn allowing users to better personalize emails.

All of these enhancements and many other enhancements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 help users spend less time on time consuming tasks and more time on their core competency.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Business Auditing

Better meet SLAs and achieve operational efficiencies flow with system-wide auditing.

Auditing data helps organizations quickly and effectively track changes and improve accountability.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 provides the ability to categorize, manage, and audit data — both at the macro and micro level. The system-wide auditing capability provides a global view of all the changes made to the data in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM database and allows filtering on a wide range of parameters.

For example, a customer service organization could check the audit trail of a specific case, see when the case was received, when the status changed, when it was escalated, and when it was resolved. And when necessary they could then use that information to prove they met their specified Service Level Agreement (SLA) obligations. But that audit trail also helps them identify any inefficiencies and improve operations.

Or a sales organization could use the auditing feature to ensure that sales staff are following a specific sales process or to ensure that the sales reps are following up on sales opportunities within an internally agreed timeframe.

By default, auditing is enabled across all fields, but you can also tailor this setting to fit the specific needs of your organization.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.