Dynamics GP in Small Manufacturing: Barcoding, WMS, Bill of Materials

Oct 26 07:28 2010 Andrew Karasev Print This Article

In small manufacturing business, you typically assembly on order relatively small number of customized items with high customer price attached.

Under such conditions it is probably too complex to implement Dynamics GP manufacturing suite,Guest Posting better geared toward mass production and higher volume discrete manufacturing.  In addition to that, in our Dynamics GP and former Great Plains Dynamics consulting practice we found that small manufacturing firms often require custom processes to be implemented in Inventory Control (often custom features, attached to Serial or Lot Number), Purchasing and Sales modules.  Most of these features were programmed in Great Plains Dexterity to provide seamless integration with Dynamics GP user workstation interface.  Often we saw the needs to open several Great Plains forms for Barcode laser scanning or even introduce simple Warehouse Management System.  There were several cases, where small assembly firms associated their business success with opening internet ecommerce for B2B customers, allowing them to reorder online and see order status (where ecommerce extension for Great Plains is integrated in real or quasi real time and order status logic reads the status from SOP Order – especially such features if Order was fulfilled or allocated in GP terminology, plus shipment tracking number from UPS/FedEx).  Manufacturing itself is not really difficult, and there is no need to track such phase as equipment reset for new product.  Let’s review how all the above and more could be realized in Microsoft Dynamics GP:

1. For manufacturing routines we recommend Distribution Bill of Materials.  This module allows you to have multiple levels of BOM (including so-called phantom Bill of Materials, if you need several layers).  Bill of Materials is integrated seamlessly with such Distribution modules as Purchase Order Processing, Inventory Control, Sales Order Processing.  In some cases, customers decided to implements several modules of Manufacturing Suite for small to mid-size production company, but even there they had to deploy GP macros and workflow to automate relatively simple data entry for BOM transaction and post it all the way through to General Ledger.  So, even in these scenarios full set of GP manufacturing features was not really required and not implemented.  This is another reason for us to recommend consider distribution BOM, prior to jumping into full featured Dynamics GP Manufacturing Suite

2. Small Business Manufacturing specifics.  Here you do not have the advantage of standardized manufacturing software, as you would play that card in the case of large and traditional manufacturing mill or assembly plant.  The nature of small assembly and how it competes on the market place is in its business know-how (often kept in the form of family business secrets).  Considering these situations, you should expect some level of custom business logic to be reviewed and created for Dynamics GP Corporate ERP implementation.  Of course, it is always a good idea to stick to standard out-of-the-box accounting application package, but you have to implement what is required in your business model, and in our opinion small Dynamics GP Dexterity, eConnect or Modifier with VBA modifications are more reliable and cheaper options, comparing to have existing products to be purchased and customized for your needs

3. Barcoding technology in Supply Chain Management and Warehouse Management software components.  As we already mentioned above in relatively low volume production environment barcode scanning is pretty straight forward and you may decide to train your warehouse workers and truck drivers to carry netbooks with Dynamics GP user interface installed and cheap barcode laser scanner connected via USB port.  However, if your Barcoding needs go beyond that described family managed like environment, you may have to consider implement some of the elements of the Warehouse Management System (Barcode scanning driven Sales Order Fulfillment, Inventory Adjustments, Merchandise Replenishment).  Again, please note, that in Small business production environment you may have to stick to unique WMS procedures (the same to be said about Supply Chain Management), but we typically expect the magnitude of custom business logic to be introduced as being relatively low (it is cheaper to pay, say 50 hours for Microsoft Dexterity programming, versus purchasing expensive Great Plains WMS add-on for the equivalent of 300 hours with required implementation and data conversion)

4. eCommerce, especially B2B ecommerce shopping cart integration.  Life is not something frozen from the perspective of the technology (this would probably be relatively true statement somewhere in XVIII or XIX Century), in fact we are living in the time of technology revolution.  If you look back into 1980th and 1990th the important technology in merchandize reordering was EDI (Electronic Document Interchange).  In XXI century accents shifted toward ecommerce (Business to Business and Business to Customer ecommerce concepts).  Regarding Dynamics GP, there are several approaches to consider ecommerce integration: ecommerce add-ons, Integration Manager or direct eConnect programming (all three should be able to cover such popular ecommerce shopping carts integrations, as Magento/PHP/Linux, ASP.Net Storefront)

5. Dynamics GP Small Manufacturing in international aspect.  Here you may represent large multinational corporation with smaller manufacturing facility located internationally (Brazil, China, Latin America, Mexico, China, Korea, East Europe, Russia, Philippines).  It is really great news that you have Dynamics GP implemented as your US Headquarters Corporate ERP system.  International Corporate ERP market has to follow local or regional ERP localization rules and comply to the relevant legislation.  As a general advice, please note that Dynamics GP is localized in English speaking countries (plus French Canadian for Quebec/Montreal), partially in Spanish speaking Latin America.  There are also some localization versions in Arabic World.  In South East Asia and Oceania you might also consider this ERP application, but with some cautions about Unicode characters support (it is not available via Dynamics GP Dexterity), meaning that it is really difficult (or probably better to say not recommended) to implement Dynamics GP for the assembly facility in China (where the language is represented in hieroglyphs and requires Unicode)

6. Specific country request.  How about Russian Federation?  The answer would be negative, somewhere in late 1990th Great Plains Software contracted Sequoia Computers to localize Great Plains Dynamics for Russian market, but later on Microsoft Business Solutions reconsidered its Corporate ERP options in favor of Navision and then shortly after toward Axapta or Microsoft Dynamics AX

7. Specific Country Request.  How about Brazil?  We would testify that the historical time line was pretty similar to Russia, where Dynamics GP was sort of marketed around 2005/2006 (Alba Spectrum was contracted to do Brazilian localization for Microsoft Great Plains 7.5).  Later on MBS Brazil/Sao Paulo was short Navision recommendation period and then Microsoft Dynamics AX Axapta was forced to be recommended (around 2006 and 2007, current trend is favoring Dynamics AX)

8. To request further support, please call us 1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com We need to discuss your cards in order to recommend you the best solutions, which is not contingent to our preferences.  We serve you USA/Canada nationwide via remote support (web sessions and phone/Skype conferences).  Local service is available in Western Michigan, Chicagoland, Southern California (LA, Orange County, San Diego), Houston area of the state of Texas

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About Article Author

Andrew Karasev
Andrew Karasev

Andrew Karasev, http://www.albaspectrum.com Great Plains Dynamics GP and eEnterprise Certified Master, Microsoft MVP and consultant with 10 years and plus experience and expertise.  Alba Spectrum, 1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com.  If you are thinking to implement Dynamics GP in challenging environment, we recommend you to give us a call.  Our information portal is http://www.pegasplanet.com Pegas Planet

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