Larry Velez

Larry Velez

Larry Velez brings over two decades of experience in technology leadership to Data Masons. Previously, he served in a Director level position with Microsoft and senior technology roles for Forrester Research and Gartner. His experience building channel partnerships and coordinating delivery teams will greatly benefit Data Masons’ partners and customers.

Microsoft Dynamics Community, EDI for Dynamics 365, Dynamics 365 For Operations, Summit EMEA, EMEA

Nearly 2,600 IT professionals visited Amsterdam during the last week of March 2019 to learn about the last ERP upgrade they’ll ever need to implement - Microsoft Dynamics 365. Those currently running Dynamics 365 will all be running the same version by the end of 2019. After that date, Microsoft will roll out continuous improvements via periodic updates, thus adding more value to this already impressive ERP platform. This message was communicated during the Microsoft keynote presented by: 

  • Cecilia Flombaum, Worldwide Lead Business Application Partners 
  • Kees Hertogh, Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Business Applications Group 
  • Muhammad Alam, General Manager, Business Applications Group 

The concept of a “final Dynamics 365 upgrade” has numerous benefits and at the same time some challenges. A balanced message was delivered during numerous breakout sessions led by subject matter experts from Microsoft, Microsoft partners, and Dynamics users. Attendees also gained knowledge about technology and solution partners that can solve a wide array of business challenges spread at the exhibition area, sponsored in part by Data Masons. SummitEMEA2019_2

Every company using Dynamics can benefit by upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365. In general, some of the key benefits include 

  • Eliminate large periodic upgrade projects. Historically, companies faced Dynamics ERP upgrades every few years because products no longer met their business needs, or to take advantage of new technology that could improve the business. In some cases, ERP upgrades are disruptive, and the costs of recreating or upgrading customizations in a new platform are high. Avoiding heavy lifting could eliminate downtime and costs. In addition, a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform like Dynamics 365 provides businesses with many benefits including improved application management, high availability, lower cost of overall ownership, application mobility, and a modern user experience and improved development environment. 
  • New capabilities with every update. Microsoft is developing software at a rapid pace to add new features and functionality, with the goal of systematically meeting business requirements with standard software. Microsoft’s release schedule is April and October, along with monthly cumulative updates. The April 2019 release touts 350 new capabilities and 6 new applications to complement ERP, CRM, and Power Apps. 
  • Embraces partners. Value Added Resellers (VARs) play a major role helping customers upgrade and keeping them updated.  Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) such as Data Masons can now more readily deliver innovative software capabilities that customers can implement much more quickly than in the past. At the same time, Microsoft is enhancing the partner program to help VARs improve their delivery skills. ISVs now have better integration options to meet customers’ business needs.   

Many companies have already elected to upgrade to Dynamics 365 from earlier versions of Dynamics. These early adopters of Dynamics 365 provided valuable firsthand experience of best practices for upgrades and that information was shared by a variety of speakers.  Some of the messages included the following points: 

  • General readiness. It’s been over a year since Dynamics 365 has been released to production, and there is plenty of feedback for Microsoft to work through. For example, some companies are reluctant to give control” to the Microsoft cloud. Instead, they deploy on premise, which unfortunately keeps some heavy lifting” tasks inhouse. Others had high expectations for standard software to cover the business needs but had to make more customizations than anticipated. Partners and ISVs also encounter bottlenecks in deploying software to the cloud, or degraded ISV/ERP performance in specific business process scenarios.  
  • Business process migrations. Companies have unique processes, and previous Dynamics ERP versions were customized to support the business. Understanding what was previously done, and determining if the customization must be redone, is a typical consulting effort a VAR can perform for a company. The challenge comes in the number of customizations and rewriting the customization in the new Dynamics 365 framework that restricts access to core code but enables the extension thereof. For example, core code extensions need to be submitted to Microsoft to work them into a release. One can conclude that the more customizations historically made, the more time and effort will be required to complete the upgrade. 
  • Speed of change. Partners will need to stay on top of the new software capabilities, quickly determine how customers can benefit from it, and establish a commercial model with customers to support the ongoing changes. It is unlikely that the current slow approach of agreeing changes will lend itself to speed required to deliver benefits to customers. Concurrently, customers will need to become more agile to adopt the changes, and creative on compensating partners that help them. 

The upgrade to update the paradigm shift has benefits and challenges for companies. Microsoft is increasingly demonstrating that it will not stand still in innovating products and removing obstacles for future adopters.  

As a certified Microsoft partner, Data Masons has an established approach that can help customers make this shift faster, starting right now. 

Our approach is simple.  

  • Eliminate all ERP customizations historically required to support EDI or non-EDI integration. 
  • Up to 25% (estimate) of historical customizations can be removed from the upgrade process. 
  • Updates can be made without impacting EDI or non-EDI integration. 
  • Changes required to maintain integration compliance is covered in the subscription fees.
  • Continuously develop capabilities that simplify EDI for the business and its users. 

If you want to know more, please ask for a consultation by clicking the button below, or emailing us at dmsales@datamasons.com.

Contact Larry Velez, General Manager, EMEA

Dynamics NAV, Directions EMEA, Dynamics 365 Business Central

From 29-31st October 2018, the annual Directions EMEA event in The Hague, Netherlands attracted over 2,200 attendees. This partner-only event represented 60 countries in Europe, Latin America, and APAC, and focused on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Business Central. This is nearly half the partner community across 30% of the countries where Microsoft NAV, and soon Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Center, is and will soon be generally available.directionsemea_snip

Over 100 Microsoft staff were present and contributed to 3 keynotes, and many of the 150 breakout sessions which focused on best practices, common data services, and deep dive development workshops. The keynote speakers were Marko Perisic, GM Dynamics SMB; Toby Bowers, WW Business Applications and Industry; and Cecilia Flombaun, WW Business Applications Partner Lead. Some keynote takeaways were:

  • Large community. Microsoft Navision has a 31 year heritage with 220,000 customers and 3.3M users in 196 countries supported by 4,5000 .
  • Better user experience. D365 Business Central has better select, copy, paste, and search options, and systematically embedding functionality into Office 365. For example, users can export records from D365 Business Central to Excel, add more records in Excel, and update D365 with the new or changed records.
  • Synchronize "on prem" to the cloud. Microsoft D365 Business Central will be available on premise, and data can be synchronized to the cloud for uses to take advantage of mobility support, AI, and other features.
  • Roadmap. Releases twice a year with the next one having 100+ features, including expanding to new countries, simplifying code ("C/Side to AL") migrations, and others.
  • Replacing customizations with extensions. To migrate to D365 Business Central, partners should help clients replace custom code with extensions that can be used with D365. This will allow clients to stay up to date with Microsoft Cumulative Updates, which are released monthly.

There were many sessions presented by partners and skilled consultants. A particularly interesting session discussed the lessons learned from migrating customers on older NAV versions to D365 Business Central. Some key findings were:

  • Eliminate C/Side code by 2020. Many partners customized NAV2009 with client specific requirements. The community of consultants and developers have taken the challenge to replace C/Side code the modern AL programming language.
  • Converting customizations to extensions is challenging. Moving customizations to AL has challenges, but is a worthwhile effort to reclaim IP previously provided to clients. There are Microsoft tools to help, but these are not entirely flawless, requiring additional effort to get it right.
  • Three-step migration from NAV2009. To get to D365 Business Central, clients need to migrate from NAV2009 to NAV2013, then to NAV2015, and then to D365 Business Central. Again, there are Microsoft tools to help with the migration, but the process needs to be well managed and monitored for possible rework.

Clients and Partners working on these migrations should be looking at replacing customized processes with "off the shelf" and proven ISV solutions that can eliminate complexity, cost, and delays to completion. The ERP migration is complex enough, and likely to have unpredictable challenges. 

To minimize unknowns, customers should seek ISV solutions that provide predictability, speed to implement, and agility. Data Masons Vantage Point EDI achieves these items for EDI and XML integration with many proof points across the food, retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries. To find out more, click the button below to contact our General Manager for EMEA, Larry Velez.

Contact Larry Velez, General Manager, EMEA

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics AX, Dynamics 365 For Operations, Summit EMEA, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics 365

On the 24-26 April, over 1,300 people attended the annual Dynamics Communities user summit in Dublin, Ireland.

This was the first time the Microsoft Dynamics AX, D365, and CRM user community came together to network and partake in over 260 keynotes and sessions. Data Masons was a silver sponsor at the event with a stand and presented 2 sessions. (You can watch on-demand versions of the sessions here.)

The keynote sessions emphasized how Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM software accelerates digital transformation.  Several customer examples were provided, and the recent spring release of D365 is full of new features and functionality to enrich the transformation journey.  Microsoft announced that major software releases will occur in the spring of every year, followed by a minor release in the summer. A very popular demo was Power Apps, which allows companies to develop custom apps for mobile devices without any software development.

We really appreciate the ‘no software development’ statement because it’s what we do for EDI. This message seemed to resonate very well with nearly over 100 visitors to our sessions and sponsor stand at the event.

In our conversations, we learned about companies putting a lot of time and energy into planning, and execution of the AX to D365 migration. These companies are also aware that they need to rebuild the EDI interfaces because the solution used with AX will not work with D365. This is because Microsoft changed the interface to get data in and out of D365, and the ability to develop EDI functions in D365 are slim to none.

Companies from retail, chemical, food and agriculture, and various types of manufacturing were enquiring about a simpler and fast approach to EDI.  A great majority of the conversations were in the automotive sector that require planning and forecasting, and other logic that is not standard in AX or D365.  For example, a DELFOR planning forecast could be arrive daily, and from this forecast you need to decide what to ship, update the internal materials plan, and ensure the quantities shipped on either end is the same.  We also learned that Audi is asking companies to replace VD4905 to VDA4984 by the end of 2018.

It was a great experience to meet with so many like-minded people, and share with them our EDI Made Simple approach.  We’re looking forward to ongoing conversations with our new community contacts, and we hope that Irish Luck continues for the community with successful ERP and EDI implementations.

Finally, we’d like to invite the D365/AX community to join us for a live webinar held with MSDynamicsWorld.com on EDI Integration Best Practices for Dynamics 365/AX on 5 June, 2018 at 12:30 GMT/14:30 CET.  Register here.

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, EDI for Dynamics 365, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics

Partnership to Benefit Microsoft Dynamics Customers in Automotive, Manufacturing, Food, Distribution and Retail Industries.

Chesterfield, United Kingdom; Amsterdam, Netherlands

eBECS, a Microsoft Gold Partner in Delivering and Managing Microsoft Total Business Solutions and Data Masons, a Microsoft Gold Partner providing Microsoft Certified EDI solutions for Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365, are pleased to announce their strategic partnership for B2B business.

“We share a common goal to address the rapidly changing supply chain needs of our B2B customers. By combining Data Mason’s cutting-edge EDI solution with our skills and industry expertise in ERP, we enable ourselves to offer an all up service to customers in this space. We are very excited about the opportunity this partnership offers.” said Sam Dharmasiri, UK Sales Director, eBECS.

Read the complete press release here.

Dynamics NAV EDI, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics, Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018

Microsoft NAV 2018 is here!  Many firms will be excited about the tighter integration to Office365, Power BI, Microsoft Flow, Dynamics 365 for Sales, and many others.

Another important feature Microsoft is emphasizing to customers is lower implementation costs. Moving from one platform to another is always challenging, and lowering the barriers to make this change is critical in order for customers to migrate new platform versions. This is especially important for customers who want their employees to leverage office productivity tools within their ERP processes.

For example, an easy productivity gain that comes to mind is to automatically save customer emails on the account record, and store documents on a Sharepoint site or library for employees to collaborate on solutions for that customer. Doing this without the extra steps we all take today, should make an appealing future for Microsoft Dynamics ERP users. 

To get started, many firms have to plan and execute an ERP migration.  During the planning stage the firm needs to assess the risks of disrupting order to cash, procure to pay, warehousing and logistics, and others external business processes with trading partners. This risk includes the assessment of effort to reestablish electronic interfaces with trading partners that may include re-writing a lot of code inside the ERP. This effort alone can discourage firms from migrating given historical experiences, or just sheer volume.

To reduce effort and risk with trading partner relationships, the company should consider segmenting the project in 2 steps.

  1. Establish trading partner relationships on the current NAV platform without ERP software customization.  This will give the firm assurance that trading partner interfaces can run on the current ERP. Concurrently, the interfaces could be improved to increase transaction transparency, identify problems faster, reduce time to troubleshoot problems, and engage the line of business for day to day process support.
  2. Connect to NAV 2018 or future Dynamics ERP with confidence. You can set up NAV 2018 with adequate time to optimize your business processes with the new capabilities offered the in the new release, and run pilot adoption programs to get the whole team on board. Once these are ready, you can switch to the new NAV 2018, or a future Dynamics ERP, knowing that trading partner relationships will work, or problems could be more easily isolated for troubleshooting purposes.

Segmentation of tasks is a common approach to managing complex projects. Finding solutions to achieve this split will benefit companies that want to steadily extract more value out the Microsoft investments they have made. 

Learn more about evaluating an EDI solution that simplifies Microsoft Dynamics ERP migrations. Let us know what you think by commenting below, or reach out to us to learn more. Read our Dynamics NAV 2018 press release here and learn more about EDI Made Simple® for Dynamics NAV in this on-demand webinar.

Dynamics NAV EDI, Microsoft Dynamics Community, Dynamics NAV, Directions EMEA

Meet the Newest Data Masons' Team Member at Directions EMEA in Madrid Oct 4-6, 2017

Dear member,

Many thanks for visiting this page. Here and in other posts you will find useful information about the automation of business to business transactions for our European friends and partners.

Whether the transactions are done with EDI, EDIFACT, XML, other industry specific protocols or custom formats, we offer deep experience and know how to help firms reliably make high volume transactions with suppliers, partners, and other business entities without customizations to their Dynamics ERP platform.

We have many years of success helping firms grow their businesses, and increasingly we are helping firms migrate faster to Dynamics 365 while simplifying their eCommerce strategy.

Data Masons is now open for business in EMEA. We will initially set up operations to help Microsoft partners plan, build, and drive robust B2B interfaces for their clients. This will allow us to grow our presence in Europe and help firms with local expertise.

Our participation in Directions EMEA will be to inform partners and consultants across EMEA about our unique and compelling approach to B2B and B2C business integration, and provide recommendations on how to help their clients.

You can also be assured that we are here for the long run. I’ve taken the role as General Manager EMEA after successfully building other businesses in EMEA including Microsoft online services such as Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business that are part of Office 365 today.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with former Microsoft colleagues and meeting new ones across France, Germany, United Kingdom, Western Europe, CEE, and MEA. 

I invite you to reach out to me during the event for an informal talk over your B2B initiatives, or just learn more about Data Masons. 

I’m looking forward to it.  Have a great event!

Sincerely,

Larry D. Velez
General Manager EMEA

Read the Full Press Release Here