Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog in response to reading McGladrey’s Manufacturing and Distribution Monitor, Microsoft Dynamics AX Activity Reaffirms Positive News on the Economy, that focused on the parallels between McGladrey’s survey of mid-market executives and my personal observations in the ERP Marketplace. I was reading this morning’s press release of the McGladrey Manufacturing & Distribution Monitor Update and I once again began drawing lines between the responses executives gave on questions regarding market outlook and the ways our Microsoft Dynamics AX professionals are being asked to help our clients.

Much of the press release on the report focused on the unfavorable comparisons between the survey responses from the Spring of 2012 and the newest release. For sure, executives of mid-market manufacturing and distribution companies have a much less optimistic outlook than they did less than a year ago. However, being that I focus on how this would affect how our clients might want to utilize their Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 ERP system, I keyed in on two of the overriding themes in the report:

  1. Low Expectations for Adding New Employees
  2. Although with Lowered Expectations, Still Projecting Increases in Sales

Coupled together, those two trends mean that the same number of employees will be asked to accomplish more in a market that is still struggling to get back to prosperity. When executives consider this situation, the smart move is to shift the focus of your best people to spend more time on strategic endeavors and automate the more repetitive, non-value-added tasks. It only makes sense that if you do not have the ability to increase headcount, but do want to put more effort into growth, you need to replace some of the more time consuming activities with programmatic processes.

Considering that McGladrey’s Microsoft Dynamics AX team is continuously and increasingly, being counted on to deliver solutions related to this scenario, the findings of the new report come as no surprise. Here are some examples of work we have done in the last few months alone for our valued clients:

  1. Replaced a manual Travel and Expense Reimbursement System with Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 Expense Module. Utilizing the web-based employee portal for report entry, expense rules, and workflow for approval, we have eliminated the paper trail, reduced manual checks, and automated the payment process.
  2. Implemented a Purchase Order Approval system integrated with workflow and company e-mail. This allows all purchase requests to, based on limits and department, be automated to the proper approver and be approved with the click of a mouse.
  3. Replaced a manual asset tracking system with Dynamics AX’s Fixed Asset Module. Previously, firm had worked offline with a 3rd party accounting firm to provide direction on depreciation values each month. Implementing the module with the proper data and rules turned running depreciation into an instant process each month.
  4. Set-Up Multi-National Consolidated Reporting in AX2012. Previously overseas entities had been consolidated offline in Excel. By adding the additional legal entities into AX and uploading a monthly trial balance, the consolidation was automatic.

The overriding theme of all of these improvements and many other projects we have done is replacing a repetitive daily, weekly, or monthly task with an automated system. These simple process changes have freed up numerous employees to focus on what their executives need them to: strategy and growth.

By: John Hannan, McGladrey – New York Microsoft Dynamics AX Partner