ANEGIS provides the full range of ERP implementation services. Our teams of consultants, developers and technical support staff are all highly experienced in the ERP implementation process for both on-premises and cloud deployments.
DevOps/ALM agile methodology
Amongst other things, a successful project requires a strong project methodology.
We follow a recognised approach based on clear stages: initiate, investigate, design, build, transition and support.
ANEGIS uses Microsoft DevOps Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) to manage the product lifecycle, so reducing risks and increasing efficiencies. Microsoft DevOps allows us to apply proven practices in ALM: managing source code across teams; developing, building and testing the application; planning projects; tracking work; and reporting work progress. DevOps provides version control, a build system, CMMI, Scrum, agile planning tools and metrics for managing software development projects.
ANEGIS is one of the only companies implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 to use DevOps and have working build, test and deployment scripts, enabling us to implement projects faster and more efficiently.
Pipol is represented in more than 60 countries allowing us to provide you with a single point of contact for every stage of your business transformation – from identifying the problem – to strategy – to execution. As a Pipol Alliance partner, ANEGIS can offer you the functional competencies and the global presence required to support you wherever you’re located.
For years, Pipol has helped international organisations with implementations across the globe to harmonise processes, data and systems to drive business productivity and growth. Pipol’s unique sourcing model enables us to choose the best team, because we are where your business is and because we have vast experience and have done it dozens of times before. Together, we can help you too.
ERP in the cloud
Compared to an on-premises system, a cloud-based solution can add direct and indirect business value as well as delivering cost savings. Business value includes new functionality, automatic upgrades, simplification of support processes and better data-storage security. Costs may be reduced in areas such as the dedicated IT resources necessary to maintain an on-premises system.
In considering a move to the cloud, it is necessary to evaluate the conditions under which your organisation can allow data to leave the building and the country. These restrictions will originate in any internal policies for the protection of the privacy of the data and in national restrictions regarding the processing of data respectively. Some hosting providers, such as Microsoft, already have the relevant certifications in place.
Financial considerations are the most common drivers when choosing the type of ERP system. The cost reduction associated with a cloud-hosted ERP system is sometimes presented in an oversimplified manner, but certainly merits investigating. In most cases a strong business case can be made for moving the ERP system to the cloud.
An ERP cloud solution can improve scalability. The hardware can easily be expanded (ensuring that data volumes can grow with no impact on performance), and infrastructure components can be enhanced in terms of capacity. By focusing on the right technical issues, the move to a cloud-based ERP solution can reduce complexity, simplify the maintenance of the existing infrastructure and make it easier to scale the solution.
ERP in the digital age
Today, we are in the middle of a transformation, which digitalises everything, disrupts entire markets and produces huge opportunities. This new digital world is challenging key growth parameters and creating opportunities based on vast amounts of information providing real-time insights that drive quality decision making.
An ERP system acts as a bridge between the old processes and the new, bringing visibility and unity into practice. ERP is essentially an integration tool that structures workflow and allows different internal and external tools to share and exchange data and offer instant updates. ERP is designed for sharing information with customers and suppliers and can be adjusted to facilitate collaboration between different internal and external entities.
A modern ERP solution is designed to structure business-critical company information, consolidate it and make it readily available to the people who manage the company’s value chains. It also acts as a framework for the company’s infrastructure, its business model and best practices. ERP integrates with or frequently comprises BI, CRM, Supply Chain Management, Big Data Management, e-commerce and other areas of business. It is in fact the backbone of the company’s operations and transactions. This makes ERP the perfect vessel for sharing your corporate DNA and business structure across the countries where you choose to operate.
An ERP solution should allow you to move fast in a fast-moving business environment. Whether you operate in a local setup or a globally distributed environment, your ERP solution can provide you with a uniform structure that allows you to add new features, new product lines and new business processes and apply changes simultaneously in all your locations.
In a disruptive and rapidly changing world, an ERP system provides strong management tools and an embedded, structured system for facilitating change.
ERP local implementation challenges
An international ERP project’s biggest challenge is often internal resistance from local users. This friction generally arises because of internal issues that affect the day-to-day relationship between headquarters and subsidiaries rather than any lack of desire to take advantage of a new ERP system. These tensions are likely to be exacerbated during periods of significant change.
Sociocultural differences often present significant, if more intangible, challenges for local deployments of an international ERP solution. Sociocultural differences can impact everything from communication and scheduling to decision making and organisational behaviours. To ensure a local rollout does not fall foul of cultural differences it is best to have a local consultant onboard from the start of the project.
Lack of effective communication between the local implementation team and other project participants may arise due to language difficulties. Simple misunderstandings can lead to delays and missed milestones, or even seriously derail a project.
Local differences in holidays, work hours and decision-making processes can all affect the planning and execution of local projects. Also, it should not be assumed that productivity levels are directly comparable between countries.
Technical and practical conditions also present challenges to local implementations. Local infrastructure, regulations, and data and resource issues may all require compromises. For instance, electrical capacity, internet access, mobile coverage and particularly broad-band capacity should be factored into the foundational architecture. Practical considerations may involve working around difficult political environments and visa restrictions.
When deploying locally, there will likely be issues related to formatting of external documents, electronic bank payments, HR and salary systems, as well as special structures for local accounts and local infrastructure, functionality, resources and compliance to local tax, VAT and other reporting requirements.
To guarantee a high level of performance it is important to ensure that the servers or cloud platform, and the rest of the infrastructure, are sufficient to handle the load per the number of users. A server in an ERP environment will usually require regular maintenance in order to keep up stable operational performance.
Implementing an ERP system across international boundaries is an opportunity to harmonise processes in an international company. The more you harmonise, the greater the foundation for synergies that can save you time and money. The very attempt to implement global processes, however, can increase any existing friction between headquarters and subsidiaries or distributors.
Care should be taken to mitigate these frictions and so achieve greater optimisation of global processes.
Using Azure DevOps
DevOps is a cloud service providing development and collaboration tools to support software development teams. It is a platform that brings together people, process and technology to deliver better and more reliable products. DevOps enables previously siloed roles – development, IT operations, quality engineering, and security – to coordinate and collaborate to better respond to customer needs and accelerate return on value and achievement of business goals.
DevOps contains a lot of built-in functionality to manage projects, automate workflows and increase productivity, including:
- Git repositories for source control
- Build and Release pipelines for CI/CD automation
- Agile tools covering Kanban/scrum project methodologies
- Many pre-built deployment tasks/steps to cover the most common use cases and the ability to extend this with your own tasks
- Hosted build/release agents with ability to additionally run your own
- Custom dashboards to report on build/release and agile metrics
- A built-in wiki
The application lifecycle
DevOps handles the four phases of the application lifecycle: plan, develop, deliver, and operate. Each phase depends on the others, and the phases are not role-specific, with each role being involved in each phase to a certain extent.
DevOps teams use the plan phase to conceive, specify, and describe the features and capabilities of the applications and systems they are building. They track progress at varying levels of granularity – from single-product tasks to tasks that span portfolios of multiple products. DevOps teams can plan with agility and full visibility by creating backlogs, tracking bugs, managing agile software development with Scrum, using Kanban boards, and visualising progress with dashboards.
Every aspect of coding is included in the develop phase – writing, testing, reviewing, and the integration of code by team members. In addition, that code is built into build artefacts that can be deployed into various environments. With the use of productive tools, the automation of repetitive manual steps, and small-increment iteration through automated testing and continuous integration, DevOps teams look to accelerate innovation without sacrificing quality, stability, and productivity.
The deliver phase is the process of consistently deploying applications into production environments. This phase also involves deploying and configuring the fully governed foundational infrastructure that makes up those environments.
Teams define, in the deliver phase, a release management process with clear manual approval stages. Automated gates are also set up to move applications between stages until they’re made available to customers. The automation of these processes makes them scalable, repeatable, and controlled, enabling DevOps teams to deliver them easily and consistently.
In the operate phase, applications in production environments are maintained, monitored, and optimised. Teams can take advantage of the extensive telemetry available in DevOps, as well as the alerting features and visibility into applications and the underlying system, to pre-empt issues before they impact system users. DevOps tools help maintain system reliability, high availability, and maximise uptime while ensuring security and governance.
ERP cloud architecture
Dynamics ERP in the cloud takes advantage of the Azure platform, using features such as Azure Storage, networking, monitoring and Azure SQL Database. However, an Azure subscription is not necessary to deploy Dynamics ERP in the Microsoft-managed cloud.
The cloud architecture of a Dynamics 365 Unified Operations deployment involves a number of components:
Microsoft Azure DevOps – Azure DevOps is used mainly for code version control and to deploy a build environment. DevOps is also used to track support incidents and to integrate the Business process modeler (BPM) library hierarchy into a DevOps project as a hierarchy of work items. Azure DevOps is also used during code upgrade.
Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS) – LCS is a collaboration portal that facilitates the management of the application lifecycle of Dynamics ERP implementations, providing an environment and a set of constantly updated services. After the tenant administrator signs in for the first time an Implementation project workspace is provisioned in LCS.
Unified Operations (formerly Finance and Operations) – Unified Operations is deployed through LCS. A number of environments are available: development/test/build, acceptance test, performance test, and high-availability production.
Subscription – A subscription to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Unified Operations (cloud) gives you an online cloud environment (or multiple environments) and experience.
Licenses – Unified Operations apps, including Finance, Supply Chain Management, Retail and Talent are licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing and the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program. Organisations should purchase subscription licenses for their internal users, as well as for their affiliates' employees and on-site agents, vendors, or contractors, whether they access the applications directly or indirectly.
Azure Active Directory (AAD) – AAD is Microsoft’s multi-tenant, cloud-based directory and identity management service that combines core directory services, application access management, and identity protection in a single solution. Dynamics ERP uses AAD as the store for identity. Access to AAD is provided as part of a subscription to Unified Operations.
Tenant – In Microsoft Azure Active Directory, a tenant represents an organisation. It is a dedicated instance of the AAD service that an organisation receives and owns when it signs up for a Microsoft cloud service, such as Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365, or Microsoft Office 365. Every AAD tenant is distinct and separate from other AAD tenants. Any later subscriptions to the same online services or other online services can be grouped within the same tenant.
A tenant houses the organisation's user information, including passwords, user profile data, permissions, and related information. The tenant also contains groups, applications, and other information that concerns an organisation and its security. An organisation can have more than one AAD tenant.
Office 365 admin centre – Office 365 admin centre is the subscription management portal that Office 365 provides for administrators. It is used to provide management functions for users and subscriptions, as well as information about service health.
ERP implementation team
An ERP implementation team requires a variety of technical and organisational skill sets. The necessary size, skills and experience of the team will depend on the specific project and business objectives. Generally, the implementation team will comprise two levels: firstly, a steering committee of stake holders, including the CIO and CFO, will deal with overall planning and approval; a second level, the core project team will consist of project managers, key users, functional and technical consultants.
Every implementation project requires a C-level executive to provide leadership, guidance and oversight. They should be able to liaise between the steering committee and the core project team and drive the project vision.
A project manager needs to have a good understanding of the project’s technical and functional details. Working closely with all team functions, including external vendors, the project manager ensures the implementation stays on track day-to-day.
A solution architect will work with each department across the business to carry out an analysis of business processes and how they can be made more efficient through the implementation.
Our methodology applies agile tools and Dynamics 365 Sure Step to manage product lifecycle, reduce risks, and improve efficiency in all D365 (AX) projects.More about our metodology
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