There was a time when the phrase “works well with others” belonged primarily in school report cards. But in today’s complex and interrelated IT landscape, working together is at the heart of productivity, with businesses demanding solutions that build bridges between disconnected business systems and enhance collaboration.
Businesses depend on the efficient management of financial, supply chain and customer information to operate effectively in today’s global markets. With the recent release of Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010, organizations that deploy the latest desktop productivity software alongside their Microsoft Dynamics business solutions stand to realize considerable productivity gains and greater return on their software investments.
Anthony Cross, senior marketing manager with Microsoft Dynamics, says that the newest versions of Microsoft Office and SharePoint can connect with Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions to meet the need for increased collaboration and greater responsiveness. “Microsoft Dynamics, Office and SharePoint Server belong to an innovative family of solutions that are at the heart of any business — empowering employees to deliver greater insights into how their company is performing, simplifying processes that span multiple departments, and helping connect more seamlessly to networks of suppliers and customers,” says Cross.
Increased Access, Enhanced Productivity
In the past decade, technology innovations have redefined how users created and disseminated information, leading to a new set of challenges: How do companies quickly and easily locate and utilize the right information at the right time? Analysts estimate that workers spend up to 30 percent of their day searching for the critical data they need to make smart and timely decisions. Business workers across diverse departments in a company require access to their information around the clock and from wherever they happen to be.
This “anywhere access” to business data is now more easily available to Microsoft Dynamics ERP customers, enabled by a new technology spanning Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 called Business Connectivity Services (BCS). By linking commonly used Microsoft Dynamics ERP information, such as customer or supplier contact details, to BCS, companies can access these details offline in Outlook 2010 or SharePoint Workspace 2010.
“One of the great strengths of Microsoft Dynamics solutions is how they automate day-to-day mundane tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more value-adding activities. For instance, using the Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 solution, a warehouse manager can quickly detect depletion in supplies and order replenishments with just a few mouse clicks. What’s more, the Microsoft Dynamics solution can then send the purchase order for the new materials to Microsoft Word and e-mail it to the appropriate vendor,” says Cross.
Once information has been made easily accessible, it needs to be analyzed and understood. The majority of Microsoft Dynamics customers use Microsoft Excel to analyze their business information, and with Excel 2010 they can take advantage of powerful new analysis tools such as Slicers and Sparklines to bring the numbers to life and provide deeper insights into the nuances of business activities.
Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Dynamics now share a common user interface — the Fluent user interface (UI) — that makes them more consistent to use and easier to adopt.
hhpberlin’s Success: Using Integration to Drive Profitability
Companies across the world have started tapping into the seamless connectivity between Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 and their Microsoft Dynamics solutions with an aim to streamline processes and improve employee collaboration. Microsoft Dynamics customers including GE, Del Monte, KPN, Telus, Global Crossing, the United States Olympic Committee and Sony Electronics are already using Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 and experiencing increased levels of efficiency, productivity and returns on their IT investment.
Germany-based hhpberlin, a leading provider of fire-safety consulting services for large construction projects around the world, recently sought to improve its project execution solution (called Project Center), so employees could share expertise and work together efficiently regardless of location. To that end, hhpberlin deployed Office 2010 and a pilot of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to evaluate how the company could help its employees work together on global projects.
hhpberlin used Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage its sales process and accelerate project documentation and communication. Through its interoperability with Microsoft Office products, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps teams at hhpberlin create and monitor opportunities, manage customer contacts, and establish consistent sales processes. With Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics, hhpberlin employees can now spend more time focusing on their core business — fire safety.
Stefan Truthän, chief information officer of hhpberlin, estimates that the integrated environment will reduce the amount of time the company’s inspectors spend on post-inspection activities like documentation and report creation by 10 percent to 25 percent and help hhpberlin streamline the process of organizing and uploading project data.
“Two years ago, we averaged five active projects per engineer. Now each engineer is working on an average of seven projects at any given time. Our employees are instantly connected to everyone in the organization via Outlook, OneNote, and the integration of Office Communications Server in Office 2010. This promotes an environment of knowledge sharing and helps us retain our employees,” says Truthän.
Apart from higher profits and lower infrastructure costs, Truthän views the deep technology integration and automation of manual tasks as an opportunity to nurture a healthier work environment.
“Microsoft’s solutions form the foundation of every business process within our company. As a result of our strategy to standardize on the latest Microsoft technologies, our revenue has increased while the average number of hours worked per week per employee has significantly gone down. This is an important metric for us because we want our employees to enjoy a work-life balance,” adds Truthän.
Summing it all up, Cross notes that the symbiotic relationship between Microsoft’s business solutions and its business productivity infrastructure is all about driving simplicity, value and innovation for customers.
“With the Office and SharePoint 2010 release, Microsoft Dynamics customers will taste the future of productivity,” says Cross.