Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), is a leading global provider of derivatives trading software and execution solutions for professional traders. Headquartered in Chicago, the capital city of the global futures markets, Trading Technologies employs hundreds of people in their offices worldwide, including in New York, Stamford, Houston, São Paulo, London, Geneva, Frankfurt, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney. Trading Technologies distributes its software and solutions to end users through more than 100 firms, including 19 of the top 20 U.S. futures brokers, and are proud to have the world's premier investment banks, brokers, Futures Commission Merchants (FCMs), hedge funds, proprietary trading firms and other trading institutions as customers. Nearly 15,000 products are tradable across numerous product types via TT's platform – including futures, options on futures, fixed income products, and cleared and OTC energies.

Download PDF version: Trading Technologies' Microsoft Dynamics AX Case Study

Background

Since 1994, Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT) has been at the forefront of electronic trading and is one of the most successful futures trading software and solutions companies in the world. With operations in 11 offices across 9 different countries, Trading Technologies has experienced positive growth over the past 10 years and continues to expand its global footprint.

In 2010, Trading Technologies identified their disparate legacy business systems as impediments to sustained performance. Executives decided to lead the company into a period of transformation that would align the company’s people, processes, and technology investments more closely together, globally, to achieve more efficient and effective processes, and to gain information insight advantages.

Roger-Mills“It became apparent that our old IT platform did not have the functional capability, scalability, or data visibility we needed to maintain aggressive, profitable growth for the company,” notes Roger Mills, Executive Vice President of Finance at Trading Technologies. “We were dealing with multiple systems that were not integrated across global entities. Many processes were being done in spreadsheets, including corporate consolidation. And we lacked the ability to perform robust analytics and reporting on real-time data, which slowed down corporate decision making.”

Trading Technologies recognized the need for a single, enterprise-wide business management system designed to manage the complexities of a global organization by consolidating and standardizing processes and providing visibility across the enterprise. Executives also prioritized the need for a comprehensive, real-time view of the entire organization for financial reporting and quicker, more informed decision making.

“On our old platform, information was very basic and not deep. When you wanted to do any analytics, every question or request turned into a ‘mini project’. And sometimes they were not so ‘mini’,” comments Mills. “We had a real need to streamline many of our processes (with an emphasis on automating as much as possible) and bring more information to our fingertips.”

Trading Technologies began their ERP search that year in an effort to adopt a scalable and supportable business system that would enable high growth and global expansion. After evaluating multiple ERP packages and software vendors, the company chose Microsoft Dynamics AX over Oracle because the underlying Microsoft technology would fit with their existing systems, be more familiar to use, easier to deploy, and less costly to sustain and manage. Furthermore, with Merit Solutions leading the implementation project, TT executives knew they had a trusted partner who could deliver both their ERP and process transformation projects.

MERIT'S SOLUTION

Merit Solutions worked with Trading Technologies to explore the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics AX and how it could be used most effectively to meet the transformational goals of the company. Prior to implementation, Merit Solutions collaborated with TT’s IT team and created a systems blueprint, design, and implementation roadmap that would align Trading Technologies’ IT investments with their organizational strategies and goals.

“Through our due diligence process, we met Merit Solutions,” said Mills. “Merit took the time to work through the needs of our business and understand the goals of the company. They had a strong implementation road map which included process maps, prototypes, and proof of concept designs. Merit Solutions customers can feel confident they are getting individualized, detailed plans regarding their exact implementation process.”

Trading Technologies then worked with a team of highly skilled and qualified consultants and engineers from Merit Solutions to replace their legacy systems with Microsoft Dynamics AX, a fully integrated ERP system. Microsoft Dynamics AX has helped TT improve the accuracy of the information upon which decisions are based because each module of the software is tied together and information flows freely among them, regardless of location. All employees now have access to the information they need to make the right decisions at the right time – and drive business success across the organization.

“We wanted to invest in a platform that was growing in its functionality and we saw that Microsoft was making huge investments into Dynamics AX rendering it as a premier ERP solution for businesses of all sizes,” notes Mills. “We have thoroughly enjoyed the integrated platform functionality provided by Microsoft Dynamics AX. We now have access to real time analytics, FX conversions for foreign entities, and consolidations within the system as opposed to Excel consolidations. Workflows for A/P have given us real-time visibility into invoices/approvals and what the status of each is; we no longer have invoices sitting on someone’s desk waiting approval. And connections to our bank means cash flow accuracy.”

In addition to implementing a new ERP system, Trading Technologies also worked with Merit Solutions to optimize business processes and establish a foundation for a successful business transformation. With a clear understanding of how TT’s business processes could align with the people and technology solutions that support them, Merit Solutions was able to identify opportunities to streamline processes, reduce waste, and automate manual, redundant, or critical business procedures. These optimized processes have enabled Trading Technologies to increase efficiency and productivity, improve speed and agility, and maximize profitability.

BENEFITS

Trading Technologies’ goal of using a familiar, integrated ERP solution to drive business transformation is now a distinct reality. Since its implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX and the underlying business process improvements, the company has seen the following benefits: improved access to data, more informed decisions, reduced time to close, increased efficiency and productivity, support for growth and global expansion, and better service to clients.

Better Access to Data

It's not enough to gather accurate and timely data – people need powerful and easy-to-use reporting capabilities and analysis tools to help them understand data, context, and trends. Microsoft Dynamics AX has given Trading Technologies’ employees fingertip access to real-time business intelligence across the enterprise. This makes it easier for all employees—not just a select few—to access, work with, share, understand, and interpret data and information from across the organization.

Trading Technologies also enjoys the cube based reporting functionality that exists in Microsoft Dynamics AX. According to Mills, “More accurate reporting and more immediate analysis is now possible through the business intelligence cube functionality that exists within Dynamics AX. The cube reporting capability allows us to view various details on the business in real time. The Dynamics AX dimension capabilities then allow us to slice and view the data from various perspectives. This enables us to make more informed decisions.”

Improved Decision Making

Access to real-time data and key performance indicators – no matter where it's located – is needed for rapid, effective decision making. With their legacy systems, Trading Technologies distributed 60-page documents containing their company-wide business intelligence information. This process took time to generate the BI insight, and even more time to sit down, sort through, analyze, and ultimately make decisions.

With Microsoft Dynamics AX, Trading Technologies has integrated all departments into one business system, giving executives accurate, up-to-the minute information about performance, costs, trends, margins, and more. By improving the accuracy of the information upon which decisions are based, TT has been able to make more informed business decisions, improve the company’s ability to act and operate on those decisions, and increase the ability to continually improve performance.

Reduced Close Cycle

“Since implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX, we are closing the books better, faster, and with higher control – with less staff,” notes Mills. “It used to take us 30 days to close our books; we have now gotten this number down to 12 days and are continuing to move it closer. This absolutely would not have been possible without Merit Solutions and Microsoft Dynamics AX.”

The ability to more quickly close the books and provide much more timely reporting results to management is a great benefit to Trading Technologies. There is much greater visibility to individual global entities and the ability to view the entire enterprise with multiple currencies and multiple locations positions them well to grow and expand as the market dictates. For example, since implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX, the company successfully expanded operations into Brazil.

Increased efficiency and productivity

Today, Trading Technologies is taking advantage of software that has unsurpassed usability, easier collaboration and communication, and comprehensive business insight capabilities. A familiar, easy to use, and fully integrated ERP solution, Microsoft Dynamics AX connects TT team members to the right processes and information across the company – making it easier to work, collaborate and make informed decisions more efficiently. Microsoft Dynamics AX also enables Trading Technologies to support flexible business processes, streamline and automate common business tasks, and facilitate better communication across organizational boundaries.

Support Cost-Effective Growth

Like most organizations today, Trading Technologies executives have a common aspiration – to continually grow their business. To reach this goal, they needed an integrated business management solution that could accommodate new business processes and scale as the company grew without significant increases to their technology investments or payroll. They also needed a solution that would remove the traditional barriers to international growth.

Microsoft Dynamics AX was designed to manage the complexities of a global organization by consolidating and standardizing processes and providing visibility across the organization. With Microsoft Dynamics AX, Trading Technologies employees across the globe share the same data, business rules, and processes in order to harmonize and streamline business practices. As noted above, Microsoft Dynamics AX has enabled TT to expand operations to new geographies with built-in, country-specific localizations in a single solution that also meets regulatory requirements for 36 countries.

When asked to summarize his relationship with Merit Solutions, Mills comments, “Merit Solutions has been very easy to work with over the past couple years. Communication is key to a successful ERP implementation. Our internal implementation team and Merit Solutions’ consultants were always communicating to ensure as smooth an implementation as possible. When both parties are engaged in the implementation with as high a degree of focus, the odds of success go way up.”

ABOUT TRADING TECHNOLOGIES

Trading Technologies, headquartered in Chicago, develops high-performance trading software for derivatives professionals, including proprietary traders, brokers, money managers, CTAs, hedge funds and commercial hedgers. The company’s X_TRADER software and related services provide direct access to 35 of the major international derivatives exchanges. TTNET™, TT's fully managed hosting solution, delivers maximum system stability and fast trade execution via hubs located close to the major exchanges in Chicago, New Jersey, São Paulo, London, Frankfurt, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney. For more information, visit www.tradingtechnologies.com.

ABOUT MERIT SOLUTIONS

Merit Solutions is a focused-strategy business process consulting and IT services company with a goal of being the very best at helping clients automate, grow, and transform their business using enterprise technology solutions. Our preference has always been to be deep, not wide, in what we do for clients, and to provide an overwhelming value for cost relationship that makes it easy for them to use our services repeatedly. Our clients are medium to global enterprise businesses that want to leverage Microsoft Dynamics and surrounding technologies to standardize business processes and eliminate risk – and then continuously improve their business. With more than 800 clients representing over a dozen industries spread worldwide, our longevity and success within the Microsoft technology is proven.