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DAFA

Lasernet makes Microsoft Dynamics AX so much better for DAFA

“We are pleased with our new MS Dynamics AX 2012 platform. But on the output side, meaning the invoices and purchase orders – known as reports in the AX world – we have chosen a different solution for self-management and changes in our prints. The standard documents from the AX are so deficient that we had to do something about them. In this area, we use Lasernet instead – and for many other things as well.”

This says Michael Findal Andreassen, who is head of IT at DAFA in Aarhus. DAFA has more than 350 employees around the world producing a wide range of products such as seals, gaskets and foam packaging, delivering customized solutions to companies in the greater part of the world. At DAFA, they have used MS Dynamics AX as their ERP system for many years, and when Michael was employed as an IT project manager in 2010, it was with the clear task to upgrade from the old AX version to the newest one, at that time the 2009 version. In the end, they decided to wait for the Dynamics AX version 2012, which they began using in August 2012.

DAFA

Documents the way the customers want them – without expensive consultants?

Although the new Dynamics AX 2012 version has many new features, it has many shortcomings on the output side. The CIO explains:

“AX has always had the problem that the standard printouts or external reports, as they are called, for example, invoices, order confirmations and delivery notes, rarely covers what we as a company want to send to our customers. So we have to make quite a few adjustments in them before we can send them to the customers.”

As an example of such an adjustment, he mentions the wish to have DAFA’s logo on many of the documents and that the order and number of data fields must be adjusted from country to country. This kind of work can be done with Reporting Services in AX, but it’s pretty expensive because it requires external consultants and developers to do it. Michael, who himself has a past history as an AX consultant, adds:

“It is, unfortunately, a fact that if you wish to change the reports you need to bring in the experts and they do not only charge a high hourly fee – it is also very time-consuming.”

Therefore, Lasernet is now used to adjust the external documents so that they become more customer-friendly and meet the needs of both customers and authorities. The adjustments happen automatically, based on the data Lasernet receives from the AX when invoices are printed, to give an example. But instead of printing the invoices, they are sent to Lasernet where they are adjusted according to the wishes of the recipient and forwarded in the format and in the way that the recipients prefer.

If a customer wants invoices sent electronically, Lasernet converts them to e.g. an XML or EDIFACT-record and sends them via email or an FTP. In this way, the processing of the AX reports going out of the organization has been automated, without incurring skyrocketing costs. Michael notes:

“With Lasernet, we can do most of the work ourselves, since it doesn't require any programming, just some simple ‘drag and drop’ work to tell Lasernet what to do with all the data.”

DAFA have several superusers that handle these tasks. They have been trained in workshops hosted by the consultancy company Tabellae for DAFA.

DAFA

Other ways to use Lasernet

The superusers also have, with the help of Tabellae, developed several other Lasernet solutions. One of the new Lasernet applications is a link between the customer data from the AX system and the CAD program SolidWorks. Michael tells:

“We have a design and development department who use the SolidWorks CAD system to produce more than 2,000 drawings every year for the development projects we have with our customers. Now we use Lasernet to add metadata from SolidWorks and AX 2012 to the PDF version of each drawing. Then they will be indexed by SharePoint and made directly searchable. So it has become far easier to search for the right CAD drawings based on e.g. customer name or project number.”

Another project with Lasernet is the printing of barcode labels to put on products that are produced and placed in stock at DAFA factories in Denmark and abroad. Lasernet handles this by getting the article numbers from the AX and converting them into a barcode following the EAN 13 standard and then printing them out on barcode printers at the individual factories.

What enabled it?

As an additional feature DAFA is, along with Tabellae, currently implementing a solution where invoices from suppliers come via email and in PDF format and are converted by Lasernet to match the data files of Dynamics AX. Or where invoices come in on paper, and instead of being manually keyed into the system is OCR scanned and converted to invoice data which then is imported into Dynamics AX. As these examples show, Lasernet became an indispensable and highly profitable tool for DAFA after only a few months. Michael is very happy with his decision to recommend the management at DAFA to buy Lasernet:

“Lasernet was recommended to me by several others in my network. So I invited Tabellae to provide a Lasernet demonstration. It was a convincing demo of an excellent product,” concludes Michael.

 

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