Microsoft released Dynamics AX in 2002 and it is one of several enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions manufacturing firms rely on to manage their business operations. Over 20 years later, it has become the primary ERP component of the Dynamics 365 suite of applications.
“The last few upgrade projects we have worked on have involved moving organisations to Dynamics 365,” says Jen Johnson, senior director of manufacturing life sciences industry at Avanade. “Back in the on-premises days when organisations purchased software like Dynamics AX, they owned the software, installed it on their servers, and performed large-scale customisation. However, firms are now recognising that there are new tools within Dynamics 365, such as Microsoft Power Platform, where solutions no longer need to be customised.”
According to Johnson, the AX upgrade allows manufacturers to improve machine efficiency and overall productivity.
“Just a 15-minute shutdown has a huge impact on the production schedule,” she says. For manufacturers, it is no longer the primary accounting, sales, procurement and operations functions that are driving use cases. “Using tools like predictive maintenance to understand when manufacturers might experience a failure in their equipment, not only improves operational efficiency but also increases the quality of the outcome. Through preventative maintenance using connected machines and equipment, all managed through Microsoft Azure on Edge, firms can realise value much faster. The AX upgrade is the foundation to this, then you can bring in other capabilities in the cloud for continuous improvement out on your shop floor and in your back office.”
Drawing on her 20-year career in consulting, Johnson notes that many manufacturers still find it challenging to successfully adopt standardised processes.
“People get attached to how things currently work, so moving such a large platform like ERP to the cloud requires organisational change management,” says Johnson. “The last thing organisations want to be doing is throwing user interface changes at their workforce without helping employees to recognise its value. This will lead to them viewing new technology as something that interferes with their daily activities.”
Avanade, a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, provides services and solutions to help manufacturers with change management when they migrate to Dynamics 365.
“Focusing on change management and understanding its future impact on the business is integral to everything we do,” says Johnson.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.