Celebrating 10 Years of AXUG Summit

Yes, it’s true. Sunrise Technologies has been attending AXUG summit, the premier event for Microsoft Dynamics AX users, since the event’s inception in 2004. AXUG kicks off their 10th annual meeting on Tuesday in St. Louis, Missouri. We’re very excited to chat with our customers and fellow AX users!

To us, it’s amazing to see how AXUG’s member base has grown from only 25 companies and 50 members in 2004, to 2,800 companies and 14,000 members in 2014. Check out the infographic below, which shows some of AXUG’s highlights over the past decade:

 

Whether you’re new to the AX community or an old hand at Microsoft Dynamics AX, there’s something for everyone to learn at AXUG Summit. We love to go because it’s a great opportunity to catch up with customers and colleagues. Heather Essic, Sunrise Technologies’s Chief Administrative Officer, says “I am most excited about our customer dinner during AXUG Summit. It is one of only two times per year that we can really connect with a variety of customers in one place.”

Even though AXUG Summit is focused on Microsoft Dynamics AX, there will be plenty of cool business intelligence demonstrations. If you don’t have time to stop by the booth, you can check out our partner showcase event on Friday. Our Business Intelligence director, Brandon George, is hosting “Beyond BI: Crafting a Story of Value from Your Dynamics Data,” a session devoted to curating one’s AX data into visual and actionable dashboards using tools from Microsoft and MicroStrategy. Brandon will also be leading and participating in several other events throughout the week.

We are thrilled to be a part of the AXUG community and can’t wait for what the next 10 years will bring!

 

Our Second iTunes App

As you may recall we released our first app, Sunrise BI, in iTunes, this past April. This iPad app allows users to experience feature-rich data that spans multiple roles. It’s really a sandbox of dashboards for users to experience themselves with pre-loaded data that is useful for professionals in retail, customer service, finance, sales, and sourcing.

Just a couple of weeks ago we released our second iTunes app, Sunrise Global Support. This one is an iPhone app that can be used by our Global Support customers. Our business intelligence team used MicroStrategy Mobile to create an engaging experience that allows our customers and staff to take immediate action with their support data, right from their phone. Customers can analyze their ticket activity and sort tickets by status, priority, or support representative, as well as contact their Global Support team from within the application.

Screenshot from our new Global Support App

Global Support provides customers with an exclusive support team for their Microsoft Dynamics AX Solution. Support resources consist of Support Analysts, Development Resource Services, and Infrastructure Technical Services. With these services, Sunrise Technologies’ customers can create an infrastructure that supports their Microsoft Dynamics AX environment 24/7, while eliminating the need to hire in-house technical experts.

With the app users can see a high level visual overview of support ticket activity on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, as well as allowing authorized users to search and view details on a specific support ticket. Customer satisfaction is a priority to us and we will continue to provide services that help make our customers jobs easier.

If you are a Global Support customer of ours I’m sure you know about the app already. Not a Global Support Customer? Reach out to me at meghan.parsons@sunriseconsult.com to learn more!

 

From 4 days to 4 hours: how we saved time and money with Concur and MicroStrategy

Concur app screenshot

At Sunrise Technologies, we help our customers every day along their journeys towards operational efficiency and excellence through the use of technology. However, we don’t always take time to examine our own internal practices through periods of extreme growth and success. It’s easy to just keep rolling along and ignore our own advice.

For many years, we struggled with a very manual process of putting our consultants’ expenses and receipts together for our customers. As the company grew from 10 consultants to over 70, our process became a huge burden. We were spending roughly 4 man-days printing, compiling, checking, and scanning receipts. 70 traveling consultants can produce over 2,000 receipts in a 2-week billing period!

Screenshot for Concur app

If you’re a current Sunrise customer, you already know that we recently took the plunge and implemented the Concur Expense Management solution. Concur made life so much easier for all involved. Our consultants can now take photos of receipts with a mobile app provided by Concur, which also reads the receipt using OCR technology and inputs the critical information into the app such as the vendor, date, and total. The app enforces company-wide policies for attaching receipts and submitting reports. Back in the home office, we can now review and approve all reports online, with the reassurance that the software is mandating a matching receipt image. No more printing and compiling!

However, our MOST important consideration in this decision was our customers. In fact, if we couldn’t make this transition seamless and easy for our customers, we would not have done it. We needed a clean and efficient way to bill the expenses back to the customer and to provide a detailed report of each consultant’s expenses, including receipts. Concur delivered the functionality we needed to track billable expenses and receipts per customer.

The final expense report needed to be functional, but it also needed to look nice and represent the craftsman-like quality that our customers expect from us on a daily basis.  We opted to use MicroStrategy to generate these documents for us. Our internal MicroStrategy consulting team was a joy to work with and they got the project done quickly.

The end result is amazing! MicroStrategy runs automatically during each billing cycle to generate, compress, and post the final reports on an internal server, which was already in place to house our expense reports for auditing purposes. Now we simply attach those reports from the server into our normal email to the customer. The process impact to the customer is minimal.

On average, our consultants went from spending 90 minutes on expense reports to only 30 minutes! Concur was easy to learn with its intuitive user interface, and is very convenient to use while traveling. This is a huge win when we consider that our consultants are typically working on these reports on the weekends. In the home office, we completely eliminated our dependence on paper and greatly reduced the time spent preparing the expense reports. Our customers now have an end report that’s easier to read and has the look and feel of other Sunrise documents, thanks to MicroStrategy.

We look forward to the next step in our journey towards improvement….stay tuned!

 

Don’t Miss Exciting Happenings at AXUG in August and October 2014

Guest Blogger: Jared Church, Customer Account Manager

In working with our AX customers every day, I am constantly reminded of the value of continuing education around the product. There’s no better place to do that of course than at AXUG so I wanted to make sure I reminded you of 2 events you don’t want to miss.

  1. AXUG Carolinas Chapter Meeting
    Are you in the North Carolina area? Come join us atAXUG Carolinas Regional Chapter Meeting in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday, August 13th from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm. On the agenda, an informative education session on Reporting and Business Intelligence from Sunrise Director of BI, Brandon George.

Full details about the meeting can be found here: http://www.axug.com/events/axugCarolinas081314?_cldee=amFyZWQuY2h1cmNoQHN1bnJpc2Vjb25zdWx0LmNvbQ%3d%3d&urlid=5

  1. AXUG Summit
    Join Sunrise Technologies and hundreds of Microsoft Dynamics® AX users at AXUG Summit 2014, October 14-17, in St. Louis, MO. (http://axugsummit.com)! Offering a wealth of practical ideas, collaborative learning, in-depth knowledge and unsurpassed networking, AXUG Summit is the must-attend for Dynamics AX users. We are a Platinum Sponsor this year and we will be in booth #1028.

Attendees will benefit from:

  • It’s a great opportunity to chat with Sunrise owner and President, John Pence, as well as Microsoft MVP, our very own Brandon George!
  • More than 200 interactive breakout sessions, most led by fellow Dynamics AX users, which provide many opportunities for group discussion… Arrive with questions and leave with answers and solutions!
  • Distinct learning tracks—ranging from Finance and Reporting to Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management—so you can focus on what’s most important to you.
  • Plentiful opportunities to network, interact with and learn from others who use Dynamics AX every day.
  • Stirring keynote presentations that will inspire you to accomplish great things.
  • Optional activities, such as pre-conference training through AXUG Academy, to get the most from your AXUG Summit experience.

Why Attend AXUG Summit?
We recognize that AXUG Summit 2014 is just one of several Dynamics AX conferences you may be considering attending. So why choose AXUG Summit?

  • It’s the only Dynamics AX conference designed and led by users, for users… Every attendee is focused on Dynamics AX; learn how they’ve overcome the challenges you face every day.
  • Interactive learning at its best… engage in lively group discussions and give-and-take—and return home with practical ideas you can implement right away.
  • It focuses on the technology you’re using right now to help you get maximum value from your current solution.
  • Thousands of years of combined knowledge and experience… With about 1,000 attendees, you’ll benefit from plenty of unique perspectives and knowledge from Dynamics AX users like you.

Register today!

Save thousands of hours and dollars off any Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 with QuickStart!

Guest Blogger: John Pence, President of Sunrise Technologies

During 2013’s Q3 meeting I divided our employees into groups and kicked off a massive idea generating session. There were some great ideas born that day that have made implementing our customers’ own great ideas even more powerful.

My team is spread out all over the globe and this is one of the few times every year we are all together so it’s important to make sure a little magic happens.

One fantastic idea that was generated that day was to package years of best practice workflows, design documents, configurations—all sorts of goodies, really—into one executable file that would bolt onto AX.

This tool was developed exclusively for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3, and we decided to call it QuickStart, because it lets our implementation team and clients hit the ground running allowing for faster and lower-cost startups of the 2012 system.

This new tool offers several benefits I’m proud to share, but most importantly it will shave thousands of hours off of any implementation because of:

  • Over 350 configuration settings to establish a system ready for customer solution design
  • Over 60 business process design documents based on best practices, each of which are mapped to detail SOP documents for workflow configuration and testing
  • QuickStart also facilitates intelligent copying of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 instances to reduce testing and validation time.
  • Best Practice base: Order to Cash, Procure to Pay, Product Creation, and Production workflows

The entire process is integrated within Life Cycle Services to fully utilize the state-of-the-art tool within Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3. It essentially marries Life Cycle Services and Sunrise best practice implementation methodologies together into the system. The coolest part is that at any given time, you can actually see a quantitative measure of how the project is progressing and where bottlenecks exist.

After design and configuration, the Sunrise QuickStart solution speeds up data loads and testing by using preconfigured data mappings that exploit the capabilities of the Data Migration Framework while making the process easy for clients to map simpler, less normalized files.

Major Wins & Go Lives for Sunrise Technologies in Q2 2014

Guest Blogger: Jared Church, Customer Account Manager

Despite not having all of the media releases worked out to share official names and logos, I needed to share some fantastic news with our clients and community.

Sunrise Technologies has made significant investments in recent years to be THE experts in apparel, footwear; and home furnishings manufacturing, distribution, and retail technology operations and intelligence. If that wasn’t enough, we’ve also made significant investments to expand our global consulting reach with a growing presence in China and Switzerland.

All of this hard work is paying off and I hope you join us in celebrating this exciting news! We have added some really impressive customer wins to our lineup and are also excited to report that we have had Go Lives in 14 countries (including 5 in Asia alone) in just the last 12 months.

Exciting Wins Include:

  • One of the world’s largest clothing retailers, operating nearly 2,000 retail locations, including operations centered around designing, manufacturing, and distributing casual wear for men, women, babies, and children
  • One of the nation’s most recognizable brands for manufacturing and distributing law enforcement and sporting products.

Delightful Go Lives Include:

  • Dakine went live with Microsoft Dynamics AX and the Sunrise QuickStart in just 5 Months.
  • Atlanco has gone live with their Wave 1 BI project in just 8 weeks.
  • Secant Medical has gone live with AX2012.
  • James M. Pleasants Company has gone live with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 after an upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0

MicroStrategy Pricing Changes Make the Platform More Affordable and Attractive

microstrategy-logoWe have recently celebrated our one year anniversary of being a MicroStrategy business intelligence partner, and I’m excited to share some good news that could help you add some BI glitter to your intelligence arsenal at a lower price point.

MicroStrategy has announced a change in their current packaging and pricing that actually allows for more features and functionality to be purchased at a lower price point. Previously, MicroStrategy required roughly 20 products to get the full set of features.

Now, with the recent change in pricing and packaging, the number of products has been reduced to only four products that are necessary in order to receive the full benefits of the MicroStrategy platform.

Customer benefits of the revised packaging and pricing include:

  • Bringing the industry’s best analytics within reach of every user (All existing users get full product features at no additional fee)
  • Ensuring customers can realize the full value of the software, for present and future deployments
  • Enables MicroStrategy to provide their software at market competitive prices
  • Simplifies purchasing decisions for customers
  • Eliminates unnecessary configuration discussions

There is a nice write up, which explains the move, and highlights found here on the MicroStrategy blog: MicroStrategy write up

I have to take a moment to also plug my new blog, DataPrimes.com. If you followed me before on my now retired Microsoft Dynamics AX Blogspot blog, I hope you’ll check out my new side project where I’ll be blogging about business intelligence. In one of my posts over there, you’ll find a more detailed write up of the pricing changes at MicroStrategy.

Information system implementations are not IT projects

Guest Blogger: Chris Nealon, Supply Chain Consultant

If you ask the chef of a nuclear submarine what his primary duty is onboard he will reply “the safety of every crew member on this vessel.” Strange response from a chef, right?

I recently read Professor John Sullivan’s, Improving project outcomes through operational reliability after seeing him present the material at Wake Forest University. Sullivan’s work examines the relationship between High Reliability Organizations (HROs) like hospitals, or nuclear facilities and complex information systems implementations.

The major difference that Sullivan documents between HRO’s and complex IS systems like ERPs concerns the level of organization-wide support for the greater goal of the project. He underscores that the submarine chef’s level of accountability to the higher goal of submarine crew’s mission is unlikely to be matched by an employee of an organization implementing a new Information System.

Yes, Information System implementation failures do not carry the same gravity as HRO failures; HRO disasters yield tragedies like the USS Thresher and the Challenger Space Shuttle. Nonetheless, Sullivan highlights the similarities between HRO’s and complex Information Systems in terms of their expectations, risks, resource requirements, and consequences.

The wisdom that IS implementations can gain from Sullivan’s observations dictates that project managers should focus their efforts upfront and on education. Successful implementations hinge on a culture of understanding, reliability, communication, performance monitoring and ultimately, accountability. Simply stated, an information system implementation is not, and should not be considered an IT project; it is an organization-wide effort that relies on a comprehensive understanding of the overarching goal.

Sunrise BI app now available in iTunes

We are so excited to announce that we launched our very first iPad app!

The Sunrise BI app, for iPads, is now available in the iTunes App Store, and offers users an example of how you can turn business processes and information into a mobile app without any code or development. Just ask Brandon George, our Director of Business Intelligence, and he’ll tell you that we can take any of your data, create an engaged workflow targeted at any functional role on any device, and enable decision-to-action from anywhere. This app shows just that.

iTunesAre you a company looking to empower key decision makers with actionable insights across many disparate data sets? Wanting to process transaction data back to the originating source? Need to mobilize business operations? Try out the free iPad app here.

The Sunrise BI app is configured with sample data for an example fashion retail brand with dashboards preset to meet the common needs of five executive level personas:

  • Retail: Gain insight across region, channel, brand and category for company sales.
  • Customer Service: Fast understanding of shipping performance that impacts customer satisfaction.
  • Finance: Ability to dive across sales and COGS delivered from region, time, brand and financial dimensions.
  • Sourcing: Insight into product activity across receipts, returns and vendor performance across brand and product types.
  • Sales: Actionable analytics focused across regions, omni-channel and product categories for sales related insights.

Have you downloaded the app? Drop us a line and tell us what you think!

Available-on-itunes