Adfast selects MS Dynamics for financial reporting

A Montreal-based manufacturer has selected the latest version of Microsoft Corp.’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for both its accounting features and its similarity to Office software.

Adfast Corp., which makes adhesives, sealants and hardware, has six separate locations in Canada, four in the U.S. and one in China. It sells adhesives through its Adchem unit, caulking products through Dutab Inc., rivets and eyelets through Rivets Unlimited and manufactured goods through Robots Machinery.

But it has been using the same financial reporting software since 1988, and decided to replace it with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, which was released this week.

Dynamics AX 2009 lets Adfast consolidate its financial statements without the help of its accounting firm, said the company’s president, Lyne Dandurand.

She added the software also eliminates the need to run transactions between the subsidiaries.

“We didn’t have the planning, forecasting and statistics,” she said.

AX 2009 also has the batch and discrete processing for its manufacturing processes, Dandurand said.

“We have formulas for our chemicals, we do build machinery so we need a discrete processing.” Microsoft lets independent software vendors build additional functions – dubbed Microsoft Dynamics Industry Solutions (MDIS) – on to the software so they can sell it to manufacturers, said Joel Martin, product manager for Dynamics ERP at Mississauga, Ont.-based Microsoft Canada Co.

“We group together a bunch of the core modules that the majority of our customers use and call that Business Essentials,” Martin said. “Then we look at advanced users, things that extended the business’s operation out to their own partners and customers.”

The improved workflow in Dynamics AX 2009 helps companies make sure “the right people are notified for the right things,” said John Scandar, founder and executive vice president of Fullscope Inc., the Athens, Ala.-based integrator that is installing Dynamics at Adfast.

For example, he said, companies can set up a procurement program that ensures the correct people with the buying authority are authorized to buy goods, and that each purchase is sent through the correct approval process.

“From a financial perspective, the right people look at the right numbers at the right time,” Scandar said. “If there’s a (product) return of some sort the right people are notified on a return and their people are doing what they need to do to find out what the reason is.”

It also has role-based functions, which is one reason Adfast bought the product.

“The interface the user is dealing with is mainly built around their own roles,” Dandurand said, adding a purchaser can get a view of inventory while a financial person can look at figures such as cash flow.

She said Adfast is spending a total of $1.2 million to upgrade its ERP, though some of the money is allocated to IP phones from Nortel Networks Corp., designed to route calls over the company’s wide-area network and link to its business software.

“We want to be able to transfer a call from one location to another using skills of each individual in an appropriate manner,” Dandurand said, adding IP telephony will reduce the company’s long-distance bill.

“We were searching for something that we could interconnect with our ERP system so as soon as a customer calls the software recognizes the phone number and pulls out the customer file to reduce the amount of time it takes for customer service to locate the customer file and be able to answer the customer quickly.”

Adfast chose Dynamics CRM after looking at 15 different companies and narrowing it down to a short list of three. The other two shortlisted vendors were SAP AG and QAD Inc. of Santa Barbara, Calif.

Adfast made the decision after seeing software demonstrations and comparing prices.

It also has a familiar interface, which is a bonus.

“The interface is so much similar to Office, so it’s user-friendly,” she said. “It’s also easier to connect to mobile phones.”

Martin said the user interface is amajor selling point.

“Dynamics AX 2009 has that familiar look and feel of Microsoft Office and Outlook,” he said. “When you think about the time and effort companies put into rolling out a complex ERP solution, the biggest concern is, will people use it? By making it look like applications people are already comfortable with, that dramatically increases the uptake.”

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