I met with Chris de Visser for the 11th episode of the Business Central Manufacturing Show. Chris is from the Netherlands, but lives in New York and works as CEO North America for Continia. Before taking that role, he successfully ran the American business of Sana Commerce in Northern America. As such, Chris does not represent a partner being specialized in manufacturing with deep vertical know-how. Instead, he brings a lot of experience with horizontal topics such as sales and process efficiencies that are crucial for any company, and hence also for manufacturers. Hence, I took the opportunity to fly a full circle on back-office process efficiency, which includes administrative processes as well as sales and even marketing efficiency and effectiveness.
This is the 10th episode of the Business Central Manufacturing Show. This week, I spoke with Christophe Billard, who is from France, but lives and works in Spain. After working as a business demand planner and in supply chain management for pharmaceutical and FMCG companies, Christophe became an ERP consultant 15 years ago. Since then has helped many manufacturing companies to fully embrace the power of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. In our conversation, we looked at best practices when implementing an ERP, getting started with MRP, and introducing an MES. Throughout this round-trip, Christophe's advice for manufacturing companies stayed consistent: do not try to take it all. Instead, start small with balanced information, before you then unleash the power of these systems by constant fine-tuning. He repeated this advice when we looked at the similarities of a successful wrestler and a successful manufacturing company.
For episode #9 of the Business Central Manufacturing Show, I met Mike Fontaine from Canada. He is a solutions expert at VOX ISM, and has 20+ years of experience with ERP software and manufacturing. Actually, Mike used to work with manufacturing companies as a buyer, a scheduler, and a production planner. After spending some minutes on the experiences that Mike gained working for manufacturers (quote: "I actually was the MRP system of the company"), we found ourselves chatting about scheduling. Interestingly enough, we did not speak scheduling software, but scheduling concepts. A major lesson learned is: we need to spend more time dealing with scheduling concepts. If we break down scheduling success, it is software PLUS concepts (neither just software nor just concepts). The scheduling concepts we discussed range from "applying how baseball works to scheduling" to the "frozen, slushy and wet schedule". Last, but not least Mike also shared some thoughts on why he is driving the Best Manufacturing Apps Conference (BMAC) 2020.
Michael Hering from Germany was my guest in episode #8 of the Business Central Manufacturing Show. As Industry Manager Concrete, Michael is responsible for COSMO CONSULT's products and solutions for discrete manufacturing. The conversation turned out to become a box of chocolate with manufacturing ERP best practices. We looked into a variety of aspects such as lean management and the IT required for it, artificial intelligence in manufacturing, concrete steps to make when implementing a manufacturing ERP system, and future data strategies if supply chains might become shorter again. Michael provided concrete tips & advice to not only each of these "pieces of chocolate", but to even more pieces.
The Visual Resource Viewer (VRV) was our guinea pig with which we learned how to build visual scheduling extensions for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. In terms of developing software, for us it was a landmark app. It followed our approach to start small, and learn focused. However, a development guinea pig not necessarily translates into a commercial success. In case of the VRV, the market resonance showed that a static (i.e. non-interactive) resource Gantt chart may be great for development (testing) purposes. However, it falls short in providing true customer value. Hence, we retire the Visual Resource Viewer (VRV) with immediate effect.
I met Guus Krabbenborg from The Netherlands for this episode of the Business Central Manufacturing Show. He was my first guest without a dedicated manufacturing background. However, he is a highly-experienced business trainer and consultant with a well-earned reputation in the international Microsoft Dynamics arena. He has managed and co-owned several software companies and was Sales Director for Navision Software in The Netherlands. Guus and I quickly came to the topic of digital transformation, and I learned that transformation is the hardest of the implied challenges. However, Guus didn't end up making this clear in a provocative way. Instead, he gave seven insanely concrete and practical tips of what companies can do to achieve that transformation journey. These tips are not only inspiring, but they are also hands-on and ready-to-go aka ready to get applied. Starting this Friday ;-)
This week, I had the chance to interview Robert Jolliffe, CEO and President of Sabre Limited from Canada. He has been an ERP consultant in the manufacturing space for over 25 years, starting immediately after graduating University of Toronto Engineering. His two uncles and his father owned and operated manufacturing businesses, and hence manufacturing is in his blood. In our conversation, Robert not only explained the phrase "secret sauce" to me, but also made it very obvious, why manufacturers would do wrong if they try to search for the secret sauce of a product such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. However, we did not end up with searching for the secret sauce ... we also looked ahead into industrial revolution number 4 and the return of cottage industries.
I met Bart Pattijn from Belgium for the fifth episode of the Business Central Manufacturing Show. He is ERP consultant at Christiaens BV, and actually didn’t start his career in an IT company. Instead, he initially was a production manager in several food companies. Hence, he has plenty of real-life experience when it comes to manufacturing and planning. He has been working with Navision since 2004. Our conversion quickly became very hands-on, and Bart managed to unveil two underestimated superpowers of Business Central to me: this is the upgrade-ability and the extensibility. Both in combination enable manufacturing companies to achieve more with Business Central, and to cope with the ongoing need for speed and need for change.