05 Sep 2018

Maximising your Microsoft Dynamics NAV system with bespoke development

Microsoft Dynamics NAV “out of the box” provides a system that you can then develop to perfectly fit your business’s needs. Our talented development team at Synergy Technology talk about how additional bespoke development work ensures you maximise the functionality and effectiveness of your ERP system.

What is the reason for requiring bespoke development?

“Bespoke development for Microsoft Dynamics NAV can cover almost any requirement that any business using Dynamics NAV may need.

It’s derived from the 80/20 rule. Basically Microsoft Dynamics NAV “out of the box” delivers about 80% of the framework to meet any clients’ needs, and bespoke work fills in the gaps. It tailors the Dynamics NAV system to encompass all the business’s processes and functionality that is specific to their market.

Every industry, every business and every process has different requirements. It would be impossible for a generic version of Dynamics NAV to meet all these complex requirements. If it did, it would be exorbitantly expensive, impossible to keep up-to-date and end up including modules and functionality that would not be utilised by the majority of Dynamics NAV users.

That’s how bespoke development starts – making the system a perfect 100% fit to the client’s specific needs.”

Dynamics NAV has been designed to support client specific enhancements that work alongside its standard functionality and can be tailored by developers to suit a wide range of requirements. Development work can cover anything from integration between Dynamics NAV and third party add-ons or modules, developing sophisticated reporting systems that combines data from several systems linked to Dynamics NAV. Development work can eliminate repetitive time consuming manual data processes with automated functions that equally reduces the risk of duplication of data and improves data accuracy.

Some examples of Dynamics NAV development includes:

  • Integration with website systems
  • Courier system integration
  • Integration with credit card systems such as SagePay
  • Integration with hand held devices used in warehouse management systems
  • Tailoring reports and documentation to reflect the company standards
  • Even something as specific as integrating ticket management and seat allocation for a sports arena with data used in the Dynamics NAV system.

 

Basically bespoke development ensures that systems work seamlessly and effectively between stock, logistics, client, supplier and payment programs and functions that all share the same data. Other bespoke work is adding functionality to the existing Dynamics NAV system, or maximising the value of the data within in the system by creating informative, up-to-date reporting.

Developing bespoke work usually involves incorporating Dynamics NAV into existing third party systems or a new system that the client wants to start using.

The key is understanding what the client is looking to achieve from the system

“We don’t look to reinvent the wheel. Listening to our clients, understanding their needs, and determining the best most cost effective solution is our priority. To find the best solution we always offer the most effective and perfect fit.

When we look at the bespoke development, we aim to find the best solution for the client, and focus on ensuring that the development work can also be adapted for future requirements. By considering the client’s long term plans for their systems we can make sure that any bespoke work is not isolated but forms part of their future needs.

Often development work it is not as complicated as a client may first think. The requirements may be simply fulfilled by introducing functionality that already exists within Dynamics NAV that is not being utilised by their team. Training and technical support may be all that is required to improve the system. Additionally, development work to improve a client’s system to meet their requirements can be resolved by integrating into Dynamics NAV third party add-ons that already exist.

A further example of improving the system is when coding functionality exists outside the Dynamics NAV system, e.g. an Excel spreadsheet or an Access database, created by a single user that may be very complicated and difficult to maintain, and if the user is away or leaves the organisation, cannot be updated. In this case, a few day’s development work brings the functionality back into Dynamics NAV and it can then be utilised by all the team and not dictated by a single user.

We once identified a user that updated a very complex spreadsheet by copying and pasting data from Dynamics NAV into spreadsheets to provide a weekly report. The user would take up to half a day every week to update the information, with no guarantee to the accuracy.

By explaining that with just two days’ development work to automate the process directly from Dynamics NAV, the same process could be achieved with a click of a button and maintaining 100% accuracy in data, providing also an immediate time saving process and the outlay of the development work was covered within the first four weeks’ usage.”

The benefits of bespoke development

The main benefit of bespoke development work is to streamline processes within the client’s business that also results in increased productivity, and offering major time saving benefits.

Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Save time – bespoke work in Dynamics NAV often creates time saving benefits to the users.
  • Better control of data – using the same data source across systems.
  • Reduce errors – by automating repetitive processes.
  • Simplify processes – thus saving time and releasing employees to focus on other tasks.

 

Synergy Technology has the technical resources to develop your Dynamics NAV system

Synergy Technology is a highly skilled accredited partner of Dynamics NAV. We have a dedicated Dynamics NAV technical team with extensive working knowledge of the software who are able to apply practical and customisable business solutions using the application.

Our technical team can also offer your business ongoing guidance, advice and support to ensure Dynamics NAV is scalable and adaptable to the changing needs of your business, including the implementation of additional applications such as mobile warehouse, advanced business reporting, document management and e-commerce systems. To discuss your development needs for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, please contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050 or send us an email today.

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08 Aug 2018

Five tips for businesses preparing for a digital tax system

The HMRC has indicated that by 2020 there will be a digital tax system.

Making Tax Digital is a key part of the government’s plans to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs – meaning the end of the annual tax return for millions. Digital record keeping software will be linked directly to HMRC systems, allowing customers to send and receive information directly from their software.

Eventually paper records will no longer be sufficient and it will become mandatory for almost all businesses (self-employed, partnerships and limited companies) and landlords to use accounting software or an electronic spreadsheet to keep accounting records. The day will come when paper accounting records will cease to meet the requirements of tax law. It is important that SMEs are ready to meet the requirements set out by HMRC along the way.

Here are our five tips for making sure you and your accounting system is ready:

TIP 1: For SMEs is it imperative that your operating system and accounting software is set up to create records and store data in a digital form.

TIP 2: Check your accounting software is set up to function over the cloud and has the capacity to be accessed and updated using mobile devices.

TIP 3: Make sure you have a secure internet service and your team are trained to use data over the internet safely and securely.

TIP 4: To meet the first deadline ensure your system can create a VAT return from digital records and provide HMRC with VAT data on a voluntary basis.

TIP 5: Make sure your software partners have a product road map for updating your software to comply with a digital tax system and ensuring it will include necessary adjustments to keep up with developments from HMRC. Your software needs to be able to receive information from HMRC via the API (application programme interfaces) platform. This will allow HMRC to send ‘nudges’ to the business/agent.

Read our BLOG >> Getting ready for Digital Tax for business

For further information contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050.

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23 Apr 2018

Realise your business intelligence

Often, the image surrounding Big Data and business intelligence focuses on how giant corporations can hoover up an extraordinary amount of information, feed it into powerful computers that spit out a stream of crucial analysis and insights that the corporation uses to save itself billions.

According to a recent report by Research and Markets:
“the global big data market for small and medium-sized enterprises will grow at a compound annual rate of annual rate of 43 percent until 2018.”

While certainly a cliché, there are big companies harvesting incredibly large amounts of data, putting it to work and achieving great results. However, Big Data is not only reserved for ‘big companies’. More and more small and medium-sized enterprises are capitalising on the advantages that Big Data gives their business processes. By harnessing a large volume of data, and based on the right analysis, SMEs can:

  • Improve knowledge of what makes customers tick
  • Find new entries into markets
  • Reduce costs
  • Uncover new insights
  • Make better and more precise business decisions

‘Little’ Big Data – how to make it work

Analytics is the essential component when it comes to making your data work for you.

For SMEs, smaller data sets gleaned from social media, email marketing programmes or CRM tools can provide customer patterns and marketplace trends or reveal overlooked opportunities, which can be turned into important business insights.

The benefits of the cloud and Big Data

When we talk about recent technological innovations, the cloud is never far from the conversation. The thing about Big Data is, there’s a lot of it. So, companies need to be able to handle the bandwidth that the continued cycle of collecting, analysing and storing a large amount of information will cost. This is especially true for SMEs. The cloud is a far more cost-effective platform when implementing Big Data analytics and allows SMEs to control how they scale their data function.

For example, imagine you are a medium sized company whose flagship product is doing well. With the right analytics, you can study who is buying your product and start to build a profile of your ideal customer, demographic, etc. Naturally, you want to figure this stuff out fast because a rival company is gaining on your market share, so Big Data will be crucial. Similarly, if your product is not doing well, analytics can help you gain insight into why.

Synergy Technology can help you develop your BIG Data strategy. Our business applications all include data reporting modules to help you maximise the amount of business intelligence you can gain from your data.

Getting started with business intelligence

Beyond the question of budget, storage and physical capacity to engage with high volumes of data, one of the keys to utilising Big Data effectively as an SME is preparation:

1. Define your goals

Are you looking to increase customer satisfaction or to get a better sense of your competition? One of the first steps to make big data work for an SME is through defining what it is you want to achieve from your data strategy.

2. Start with the data you already have

Most SMEs have data stored across several different areas – information is often isolated from other information. By bringing these isolated sources together you can consolidate your data and build a strategy. Imagine, as a small retailer you could look specifically at the relationship between social media conversations and buying trends.

3. Create a centralised view of your data

Make your data easier to discover and access. Once you’ve identified the various sources of data you hold, you can bring that data together in a single place. For example, many organisations opt to build a customer data hub, where information is gathered one everything to do with customers, helping analysts to pull out customer insights.

4. Fire up the dashboard and get analysing

Once you bring the data into a single location, you can put the dashboard to work. Using the same customer data hub example, you should be able to test your key performance indicators against communications data that you already had. You will be able to see previous orders, email and phone correspondence, and who you have been in contact with. You can review recordings of previous calls and turn that experience to a more positive customer service in the future.

5. Refine and retune your process

It might take a teething period, but once you are up and running you’ll know what works best for your data strategy, and can tweak it accordingly. Based on a specific workflow you can be sure of what customers are expecting and in that way predict customer behaviour, which will enable you to enhance your business processes and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Synergy Technology can advise you how to maximise on the business intelligence you can gain from your data call us on 0345 456 0050 for further information.

Click on this link : Read our Business Talk online

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10 Apr 2018
01 Apr 2018

The Cloud in Practice – a Guide for SMEs

The opportunities to use the cloud are countless and SMEs are, of course, seeking to use hosted workspace services that meet their individual needs. This will differ by sector – a manufacturing company will have different computing needs to a marketing agency for example.

However there are many commonalities to doing business no matter where your business focus lies and, unsurprisingly, it is in these areas the uptake of cloud-based computing has been highest.

This includes core services such as productivity applications – most notably Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics 365, collaboration services and data time and money. Cloud-based email, website management and social media management tools are also commonly used by SMEs.

More specialised services such as customer relationship management (CRM), HR and accountancy applications are less prevalent at present although growing steadily in popularity. Though many organisations identify a need for these, the uptake to hosted applications is slow.

Needless to say security is also an issue that concerns many businesses hesitant from accepting hosted solutions as the way forward. More and more software providers, including Microsoft are now adopting the new philosophy with a focus on security: “mobile first, cloud first”.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 therefore becomes a cloud management solution that enables businesses to adopt the best features of CRM and ERP and to combine both services on a single platform under a single data model, but in a totally secure environment.

By moving to this solution, you can design and deploy across board, all customisations within the systems to Dynamics 365 for phone, tablet and web applications. Dynamics 365, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics CRM are available as on-premise installations or “in the Cloud” – also known as Software as a Service (SaaS).

The number one benefit of SaaS is that you can access the system anywhere you have an internet connection and your data is always up-to-date. Fast implementation, no internal system management responsibilities required nor expensive servers or operating system software and you can access the data from any device that supports internet browsing.

The potential risk of data security is greatly reduced. With Microsoft your data is in one of the most secure environments conceivable, and much more secure than hosting your own data on premise. Alternatively your data and applications can be hosted on third party secure digital workspace services with the same level of peace of mind. Citadel secure digital workspace, provided by Synergy Technology offers this alternative SaaS service.

Preparing to make the move to Cloud

It is possible overall cloud usage is understated as many businesses may be using cloud computing tools without even realising it. Also, with such rapid growth in the market, demand is changing all the time. If your business hasn’t already taken the plunge, maybe now is the time to at least be considering it.

There’s no doubt your organisation could transition totally to a cloud environment, delivering many significant business benefits from lower costs and easier scalability to complete mobility and added security. However, there are many options to consider when migrating to the cloud. To discuss how cloud technology would suit your business needs contact Synergy Technology today to get started.

Most prevalent applications

If you aren’t a technology professional then it’s likely you won’t be aware of the changes the industry’s biggest brands are making to their services to take advantage of the cloud. Here is a run-down of the more notable business packages that are now readily available via the cloud:

Productivity software – For a small business it’s possible to run your main business functions in the cloud. Your core productivity software such as email and Microsoft Office have cloud computing counterparts branded Dyamaics 365. If you run a creative business, Adobe Creative Cloud offers their software from the cloud.

Storage solutions – Buying a server is a big capital investment for a small company, but cloud storage is now a viable alternative.

Accountancy services – Accountancy software providers have been quick to offer services for the cloud. Small companies can buy Sage on subscription. For mid-sized companies consider Pegasus Business Cloud if you have more complex needs.

Marketing software – There’s a wide range of powerful software and applications that help the marketer. Of particular note is CRM software such as SuperOffice that helps companies manage their client and prospect interaction and relationships to develop existing business and win new business.

Bespoke applications – Hosted services such as Citadel provides the platform to develop and deploy bespoke cloud-based applications. Using Citadel enables smaller businesses to fully leverage the cloud’s power and create new services that give them a competitive edge.

Exploiting the cloud with your IT provider

The role of your IT provider will depend on how much cloud-based computing you are going to do and how complex your business is and its requirements are.

Synergy Technology can advise you on setting up cloud-based services including:

  • Citadel hosted secure workspace : Which provides SMEs with a flexible, scalable alternative to in-house IT systems.
  • Pegasus Business Cloud : A flexible, secure and reliable infrastructure which is used to host Opera 3.
  • Microsoft Azure: Microsoft’s hosting service for Dynamics 365, a cloud base solution that unifies business applications (sales, service, operations, marketing, and finance) into one business solution.

 

We can check whether your business software is compatible with hosting services. As any movement into the cloud is likely to be gradual, it is important you receive help integrating the new services with your other business processes, which may not be currently in the cloud.

Ultimately, your organisation can transition totally to a cloud environment, delivering many significant business benefits from lower costs and easier scalability to complete mobility and added security. However, there are many options to consider when migrating to the cloud. To discuss how cloud technology would suit your business needs contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050 today to get started.

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28 Feb 2018

Keep your business afloat in bad weather

The sudden extreme weather that is causing disruption across the UK, prompts us to remind you of our article about adverse weather. Be it floods or snow, are you prepared? Tony Poole, the Managing Director of Synergy Technology warns not to be complacent, protecting valuable business data and reducing the risk of financial loss due to damage to IT equipment and the subsequent disruption to business is critical to SMEs, particularly in areas susceptible to flooding or affected by snow. It may happen again!

“The Environment Agency warns that climate change will increase the risk of more floods across the UK, leading to further problems for businesses and homeowners. Whether or not we can expect more frequent adverse weather conditions, business owners must remember it only takes a single disaster to potentially wipe out the whole business with the damage it can cause.” warns Tony.

“Even if a flood is not necessarily on your doorstep and whether or not water damage is destroying your premises, it may affect the power supply to your business or accessibility to your office for your workforce. It is also important to remember that supplier catastrophes are as critical as your own, so know your supply chain too. It is therefore essential to consider how prepared you are to avoid an interruption to the daily running of your business, and the long term financial effects that adverse weather may cause to your business.

Many of these problems can be avoided by ensuring you are well prepared and that your systems are set up to cater for unexpected interruptions to the running of your business due to natural disasters.”

Based on his own client experience, here are Tony’s 10 useful tips to avoid disruption to your business due to flooding or adverse weather condition.

Ten Top Tips to keep your business afloat in the next floods.

TIP ONE :
Back up and storage of critical data

It is important to instil a regular data backup procedure. Power cuts, flooding and energy shortages will cause disruption, but preparation is key. As long as staff know in advance what to do if the worst happens, data can be saved. For organisations, a solid data backup plan is the best way to keep critical data protected; establishing a relationship with a trusted data recovery provider should also be an integral part of any disaster recovery plan.

Conduct a data assessment. Know your high-value data assets – where your customer information and other sensitive data is stored, which files are heavily used, who is using them and which departments and teams they align with. Try to restore data on a quarterly basis.

Prioritise what data you need to have on hand after a disaster and who will need to have access to it. And don’t neglect laptops, as most people do. Most disaster recovery plans are focused on protecting just the office server and business data stored at data centres.

Remember – never assume that data is irrecoverable. Professional data recovery services offer the expertise and tools required to recover data quickly and successfully.

TIP TWO :
Make sure critical applications are also accessible

Not only does your business data need to be backed up and accessed during a flood crisis, but business applications too. Make sure critical applications are also accessible. Protecting your data is not enough if you want to keep the business running during an event that causes downtime. Ensure critical applications can be virtualised in the cloud and are licenced for use in different locations or from different hardware and devices, should you have to change the location and computer equipment used, if your business office and IT equipment is affected by floods.

TIP THREE :
Keep sensitive electronic equipment high and dry!

It might seem obvious, but if your office is susceptible to the risk of flooding, keep IT equipment and cables at a reasonable height off the ground and store critical equipment on higher levels, i.e. first floor or second floor. Make sure that your team switch off and disconnect computers and electronic equipment at the end of the working day, leaving only the vital systems operating.

TIP FOUR :
Secure your data by using offsite servers

SMEs can actually improve their disaster preparedness by adopting a hosted workspace and cloud data storage which also greatly improves backup costs, recovery of data and boosts performance, and also reduces the requirement for office-based critical IT support.

Store business data in a secure cloud or hosted workspace and keep backups off site, in a safe location. How far off site depends on the risks you are worried about. Essentially, you are putting your business operational network into a hosted cloud environment and it is then delivered to you on-demand. The onus of responsibility for security, updates, redundancy, and failover and business continuity then rests with your hosted provider.

Cloud storage and hosted workspace providers such as Citadel digital workspace and cloud services, takes away the requirements for an in-house server and subsequent in-house maintenance and server-based IT support. Desktop hardware can be replaced with the most up-to-date hardware or mobile devices available on the market offering significant additional cost benefits and user flexibility.

TIP FIVE :
Reduce the risk of damage to IT and computer equipment

By implementing a hosted workspace you immediately reduce the computer hardware and IT equipment required onsite in your office and you can operate your business using much less desktop hardware. Therefore much less computer equipment is at risk of water damage due to flooding.

Most business applications for users delivered via virtual desktops have very minimal requirements, so any laptop or mobile device with internet access is likely to be able to access the virtual workspace.

TIP SIX :
Adopting a virtual environment where your team can work from any location

Creating a flexible workspace is king. By adopting a mobile workspace for employees, users of a hosted workspace can gain a full desktop experience from Internet-enabled devices as varied as tablets, smartphones or their home computers.

Your business programs, applications and data delivered from the virtual desktop can therefore be accessed from any location – not just the office, so employees can even work from home.
If flood risk is imminent, encourage workers to take their laptops, work phones and other vital equipment home each night.

If creating a mobile office solution works for your business, just make sure in advance that your employees have a suitable Wi-Fi connection at home and that your insurance policies cover both the employees and company equipment when working from home.

TIP SEVEN :
Prepare a back-up workspace for business

In the case of flooding or a similar disaster affecting your office, if your employees still need to work collaboratively from one location, then ensure you have access to an alternative office location. Temporary office space leases are available with options to access:

  • Executive meeting room access
  • Wi-Fi, IT and phone support
  • Reception services

 

So make sure you have already a record of suitable temporary office services (think carefully about their location) which have the capacity to meet your business needs and can offer you office space at short notice.

TIP EIGHT :
Keep things running

When storms and other natural disasters strike, small businesses are especially vulnerable to power outages. While larger companies may have multiple locations that can pick up the slack while operations at one site shut down, the same is usually not true for the typical small business, particularly businesses in rural locations where the priority for reconnection may be lower than for nearby town centres.

Small businesses can combat these potential issues by installing a generator. Two basic varieties of generators are available. Automatic, or standby, generators that are permanently connected to a building’s electrical system. When the power shuts down, those generators automatically detect the problem and restore power to the building. On the other hand, portable, or backup, generators run on gasoline or diesel and have to be manually installed once a power outage occurs. While automatic generators require little or no work for the business owner, portable generators are typically less expensive.

TIP NINE :
Prepare a Crisis management procedure

To prepare for any future threat to your office being affected by flooding, prepare an effective disaster recovery plan. During a chaotic emergency in which there is flooding, fires or power outages, your team may not have the time to follow a long, complicated plan.

A plan must identify crisis management team members and set out their roles and responsibilities. It should also establish processes that:

  • Engage the right people at the right time
  • Maintain effective communication
  • Manage information and resources to keep the business running
  • Promote timely decision making

 

Think through the most likely threats to your business, cover all aspects, as well as natural disasters such as flooding keep in mind everything from human error to component failure. Most disasters happen without warning. This is what makes them so difficult to deal with. The actual disaster is not going to happen regularly, it’s going to be more chaotic. You need to be prepared.

TIP TEN :
Have a practice run!

Once you have considered all of the tips, make sure that your plans and preparation for running your business in adverse weather actually work, and don’t wait for the next spate of floods to see if your business sinks or swims! Try it and try it again. If you plan, the likelihood is that your business will stay afloat!

Would you enjoy working in a rural environment?

Nateby Business Park, Cartmell Ln, Preston PR3 0LU

Synergy Technology is based in Wyre House, Nateby Business Park which is located in the stunning rural setting of Nateby. Working from a converted barn complex the Synergy Technology team enjoy the balance of working in a stress-free environment with a calm countryside location yet still operating a fully professional IT business. “Our office environments were designed from the outset to be disaster ready. We have an onsite generators, fibre and lease lines, CCTV with 24 hour onsite security, yet all set in a tranquil environment with nothing but beautiful views to fill your vision and inspire your team.” says Tony.

“We should encourage more businesses to set up office in rural areas to engender a more calm and welcoming working environment for employees” he adds. “Reducing the stress of commuting to crowded and expensive office locations in the city and town centres can only be beneficial to both the business and employees.”

“Our rural office can operate independently in adverse flooding or similar situations.  Says Tony, “By adopting a hosted IT system and engendering a mobile workspace it is the ideal solution to meet these requirements. I welcome any local business to come and take a look at our rural premises and determine the benefits of a peaceful rural office location. We have office space available for your business, and we can also discuss your business IT and data security, in fact, we can offer you a complete business solution.”

Footnote: For businesses located in areas prone to flooding, The Environment Agency provides a comprehensive guide for SMEs “Would your business stay afloat? A guide to preparing your business for flooding” 

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