Adding new products to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 can involve thousands of item entries and as many challenges. One mistake can lead to flawed entries, inaccurate margins, and at worst deliveries that are riddled with errors. Companies on a growth path that may be transitioning to more complex ERP need more than a fix. They need to capture increasing data volumes and extremely granular data. All data must be fed into automated systems accurately and quickly, and emerge as centralized information available to all internal teams and often external entities. And just as critical, data needs to be reusable across the entire supply chain. If you’re like BERG, that increasing load extends to adding items that lead to complete and accurate products. So here’s how one manufacturer tapped into their sales and product configurator to keep growth moving and get their focus back on track.
Product Data Management: Making toys turned into too much work, not enough play
BERG designs, produces and sells robust outdoor toys such as go-karts, trampolines, balance bikes and beach wagons. They’ve built a strong reputation and worldwide success producing products that outlast a childhood of rowdy playtime. When BERG decided to replace their old ERP solution with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and later with Dynamics AX 2012, they discovered that growing the business included more complex product management. Dynamics AX gave them lots of rich ERP functionality, but they needed to manage product information that impacted all departments and processes. We’ve already mentioned problems with item entries, profit margins, and product deliveries. Problems stemmed from not having a standard, but flexible workflow and UI that ensured all data went into the right fields. IT staff needed quick and flexible approaches to working with data that didn’t involve additional programming. Back-end staff configuring products needed the relief of not worrying whether information was accurate and replicable.
On the front end, sales success depended not only on guided workflow and clear UI, but also on seeing data that was clear and relevant. Otherwise, quotes could land in ERP with missing or inaccurate items for costing, pricing, stock, time to delivery, and more.
Like many companies caught up in positive growth, BERG took a stab at resolving issues with Excel, various macros, and even Mastersheets, but workarounds landed them in a rigid process that made adding items for new products still time-consuming and painful.
Bringing back the pleasure of creating toys with a smart solution: e-Con
Errors resulting from faulty item entries ate up time, disrupted operations, and put the company in reactive mode. On more than one occasion, empty and inaccurate input fields led to emergency stock flights from Asia to Europe, while production ground to a halt. Like many smart companies, they changed course and began looking for a new way of working and technology that could support growth.
Once they began thinking at a more strategic level, BERG saw they needed an intelligent, automated process that worked in concert with their business system. They found the solution in e-Con, a sales and product configurator that fits into Microsoft Dynamics AX without a hitch. That smooth integration and a shared database foundation let information flow freely across configurator and ERP. e-Con also gave BERG an intuitive UI with all required fields for entering items, along with automated alerts and a guided workflow.
The process for adding new products has become bulletproof and much more accessible. Users can start e-Con from within Dynamics AX, and follow a clear process for entering all data needed for a product. The guided workflow points users to key areas that include ‘purchase’, ‘sales,’ and ‘logistics’ in the correct order. Logic is built in to ensure questions reflect choices accurately. For example, if a user chooses ‘add semi-finished product,’ questions about translation and select sales fields are automatically disabled. If they choose ‘end product,’ they’ll be sure to answer those questions and fill all fields. e-Con offers logic and intelligence that can enable any company, not just BERG, to enter new products that are complete and error-free within minutes.
And relax—e-Con ensures all product information is in the right place (and that it’s always right)
There are many details companies won’t worry about with e-Con at the helm: item number, search name, product name, net weight, tara weight, translations, pricing (costs and sales). . . even information related to warehousing, QTY, and other details that only automation can always keep straight. e-Con even calculates fields for Barcodes and other areas you wouldn’t expect to be covered in one tool. And it’s all based on current, accurate base data in Dynamics AX—errors really do vanish along with complexity.
More time for toys using e-Con to add products—and that’s just one area
BERG offers one example of how a configurator can relieve the burden of adding new products with accuracy. And that confidence has led to the company using e-Con to enhance item models. Other companies are also seeing that e-Con’s robust calculation capabilities and flexible automation can turn a tangle of problems connected to growth into quick and intelligent processes.
There’s much more to e-Con than the ability to configure quotes and orders. We’ve taken care to develop a tool that helps companies handle Master Data Management for product development, manufacturing, distribution, and sales:
- e-Con integration with Dynamics AX connects quote through production data and processes
- e-Con’s rules engine can house all complex item data types and is always current
- Intuitive UI and automated alerts and prompts ensure correct, complete data input
- Built-in logic disables/enables fields to eliminate confusion of incomplete or irrelevant entries
- Calculations are real-time for all variables and cover virtually any item or complex scenario
- Items can be entered into AX within minutes, with no repeat data input
- Centralized, role-based data and changes can be accessed across the supply chain
- Data, configurations, quotes, orders, and more can be store and re-used
Want to discover more? Contact us–we’re like to explore how e-Con can meet your specific needs.