Q&A WITH STRATEGIX EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: WILLEM BOTHA

Q: How can the new release of Microsoft Dynamics AX streamline a business, increase productivity and cut down expenses?

A: Microsoft Dynamics AX is a comprehensive solution, which enables everyone to know what everyone else is doing. Every employee in the process knows exactly where and in which phase the process is, and in which part of the process everyone else is, because the system makes this possible. Microsoft Dynamics AX helps to boost productivity in that it enables everyone to do his or her job on time and in the allocated time; it also makes collaboration easy and effective because it is such a streamlined system. It allows a company to cut down on expenses, because it allows each employee to do more and be more productive; the business processes can also run faster because everyone does what they need to do at the right time.

Q: What sets the new release of Microsoft Dynamics AX apart?

A: Firstly, it’s the first enterprise solution of its size that is completely cloud-based. Secondly, it has existed for twenty years, with the amount of innovation not often seen in other products. Thirdly, it’s a Microsoft product so people are already familiar and comfortable with the interface.

Q: How does cloud technology change the way that Microsoft Dynamics AX can be used?

A: People are experiencing more and more time pressure and the accessibility of data in the cloud via mobile devices at any time, in any place means that people can make the most of time that would usually be wasted, e.g. commuting to and from the office or waiting for to pick up their children after school. It allows for the use of flexitime, which can be scheduled around their most productive times of day, which might not be during office hours. It also makes it easier for managers to allocate and communicate work to employees, see where their targets lie and how they are performing. It gives people who are constantly on the road due to the nature of their work the flexibility to work when they are travelling and not at the office.

Q: In which ways can Microsoft Dynamics AX improve a company’s profit margins?

A: We’ve already seen how employee productivity can be increased. Secondly, if you know exactly what’s going on in your company, it makes decision-making faster and more certain. Decision-makers are more likely to make the right decisions for the company. Lastly, speed of decision-making and processing leads to faster customer turnaround times.

Q: How safe is the new release of Microsoft Dynamics AX and how often does it need to be upgraded?

A: As a Microsoft product, it comes with the same security capabilities as other Microsoft products such as Office; it works on the standard Microsoft Active Directory protocols. With the new Microsoft Dynamics AX model, upgrades can take place automatically, e.g. Exchange. These upgrades can be applied as they are released by Microsoft, but the customer still has the choice whether to have these upgrades implemented. Upgrades are done via the cloud, so you get a notification that an upgrade is ready and given the choice whether you want it to go ahead and upgrade. When you buy the licence for the relevant software programme, the upgrades are free when you’re connected to the cloud – it is part of the cloud cost.

Q: Which other cloud-based benefits are there to the new version of Microsoft Dynamics AX?

A: By its nature, it offers an off-site total disaster recovery benefit. Your scalability of use is a lot faster – as you are working on Microsoft’s cloud, the server scalability is virtually infinite. You can basically go as big or as small as you want.

Q: How long does the new release of Microsoft Dynamics AX take to implement? What does the implementation process entail?

A: Microsoft has issued a number of tools to improve speed of implementation. It is known as Microsoft Lifecycle Services. It gives the implementer or partners (that would be us) a whole tool box comprising which questions to ask, how to ask these questions, how to manage the project, and so on. It’s pretty much as fast as Microsoft is able to make it.

The standard implementation time would be no less than three months but can take up to a year or two, depending on your organisation’s requirements.

The process begins with an analysis phase followed by a deployment phase and then it’s go-live. During the analysis phase, we go to the customer, sit with them and use the tools provided by Microsoft to do the analysis. We only determine the projected period and time for deployment after this analysis. We can also do the deployment in phases, depending on the needs of the customer.

best“We are determined to deliver the absolute best service that we can. We are definitely more service-driven than any other company I’ve ever worked for and this is actually one of the reasons we started Strategix…”

Q: How do virtualised applications feature in the implementation of the new version of Microsoft Dynamics AX?

A: As we implement the system in the cloud, we are already working on virtual servers so it is automatically virtualised. The customer can, however, also have a private cloud – a basic cloud they can create and to which only they have access – where they can virtualise the system in whichever way they want.

Q: How much training will employees need to use the newly implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX solution?

A: If the employee is familiar with working on an enterprise resource management (ERP) system, it should be reasonably easy to use the Microsoft Dynamics AX. The benefit is that the new version of Microsoft Dynamics AX looks similar to the other Microsoft products, so working on the updated version is easy. While most people don’t like change and tend to resist it, with this solution employees will see something they are used to, and this familiarity makes them more open to using it.

Q: Will Microsoft Dynamics AX really save a company money in the long run, and how?

A: Companies that handle a lot of stock and companies heavily involved in customer service benefit as systems are clearer and more streamlined, so fewer employees are needed to run them. Increased transparency and accuracy leads to improved stock control and turnaround times and better communication with customers, leading to improved customer satisfaction. This all also implies fewer hours having to be spent per service, saving you valuable time.

Q: What does your average work day look like?

A: It starts with coffee! I then have a look at where my team is in terms of their projects. We allocate tasks for the short and medium term, with long-term tasks being discussed once a week or month. The rest of the day is spent meeting with customers or working on my own allocated projects, as well as providing my team with technical support.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: I would say the part of my job I enjoy the most is getting to know the workings of new companies. I find it extremely interesting to see how different people go about implementing ERP. ERP is a basic process, but I find that people and companies nonetheless all have a unique approach to the processes. What I enjoy about this is the challenge to see if these different and unique approaches can be made to fit in a standard AX model or any of our other ERP products. Lastly, I love meeting new people; I think having that element makes our job more interesting as the job itself involves the same processes all the time.

Q: What sets Strategix apart from the competition?

A: We are determined to deliver the absolute best service that we can. We are definitely more service-driven than any other company I’ve ever worked for and this is actually one of the reasons we started Strategix – we saw a gap in the service-delivery side of ERP.

Secondly I think that Strategix has a very unique culture; I don’t think there are many companies out there with a company culture like ours. We aren’t overly corporate – we have a more open, laidback policy compared to other organisations.

Q: What is your proudest professional achievement?

A: The achievement of which I am the proudest would be being part of starting and growing Strategix. We’ve been working on Strategix for the last 12 years and it just keeps on growing. The company is at a point where it just works. The processes work. The people work. It’s just all come together so well. We’re at a stage where we feel like we’ve arrived. We’ve grown the company to where it’s at that point of critical mass – it just keeps on growing by itself now.

On another level, I am happy in that I am able to balance my work and my family life, which is important. The achievement lies in the fact that Strategix is at such a place that it allows me to spend time with my family.

Q: How would you describe Strategix in three words?

A: Unique, driven, innovation.

LEARN HOW STRATEGIX CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS BY LEVERAGING OUR EXPERTISE WITH MICROSOFT DYNAMICS AX. CONTACT STRATEGIX TODAY AND SPEAK TO WILLEM.