Archive for January, 2015

Project success factors

January 31st, 2015

ERP implementation projects vary in expectation, scope, size, and complexity and risk.
So its no surprise that there are various proposals, duration, cost and different degrees of success and failures.While numbers vary, failure rates are high and even worse overall customer dissatisfaction is even higher. Its always surprising to me that new erp adopters somehow feel that the guidance of professionals and the evidence of many years of erp implementation experience don’t apply to them.

Experience is always important and helps to build a framework which guides the implementation project from inception to conclusion. All projects have a similar framework, you have to have some sort of organisation, some sort of definition of requirement, some design some build, some testing, some training and so on.

Each project an, project team and company is also very unique. Companies have unique cultures. They have different approaches to how optimize the trade off between the long and the short term, between optimisation of profit, quality and service, They have different ideas about empowerment, and knowledge sharing and control and segmentation of duties. Some have fixed polices and budgets, others are more agile and adaptive. Companies all to often indulge in wishful thinkng expect erp to subetitute for managerial shortcomings in such areas.

Implementation partners also confuse the process- they claim to have an agile philosophy but implement every customer the same way. While an accelerator or blueprint or core build makes sense for rollout across the same group where operations are similar e,g a retail chain, or a franchise, in a staple industry e.g. making bricks – it does not necessarily transfer so well to: another group in the same vertical, or across a group with diverse verticals, or to a group which is more fashion or design orientated.

Team roles vary and members have unique personalities, and hugely variable experience and skills both in their day to day functions and for project implementation. Often functions are in daily conflict-sales want instant production flexibility, manufacturing wants long runs. Purchasing wants to buy in bulk at a low cost, finance wants to conserve cash and reduce carrying costs. Marketing want to run a large tv advertising campaign manufacturing want the money to build a new factory. So it may take time to build a team. Often team members don’t know how their own business works outside their own function.
Change management and team building is a process. You have to do something for it to work. Its not enough to throw people together and talk about it for 10 minutes at the kick off. Those with ideas may not be the best documenters. those with most knowledge may not be the best trainers. Those with most project experience may not understand the business.

Managers have a unique style of leadership which impacts employees and creates unique interactions between the vendor and users. One individual in authority can overshadow decision making. Often IT or finance led projects do little for the operational areas who fid themselves tied up in layers of security and approval and budget control bureaucracy. Other mangers may sit on the fence until they see whether the project tis a failure or a success.

Companies strive for a unique competitive advantage which impacts the solution deliverables. The point important to understand. Even with a proven implementation methodology, there are variables within each unique implementation project which need to be managed to achieve a successful go live.

A Clearly Defined Project Scope Document – The goal of the project scope or user story document is simple; define how the “out-of-the-box” software will be used and agree what customizations or workarounds (if any) are required to fill in the gaps between the capabilities of the software and unique needs of the customer.
While the goal is simple, the creation and execution of the scope document is often a complex exercise. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, there are differences in interpretation. As an example, a WMS might have specific cycle count capabilities. However, the customer’s expectation of what cycle counting provides may be different from that of the software. If this gap isn’t identified in the project scope then the delivery of cycle counting will not be satisfactory to the customer.
Second, it is very common for the customer to identify and document 95% of their operations. But it is the 5% that comes up at testing or after Go-Live that causes considerable problems.
Report definitions are left late and it turns out the out of the box report is not so useful, and necessary data is not captured in the transaction to create new report, and now re-engineering is needed.
So expect to invest time in the early stages of a project in enough training to understand the out of the box features and to do early protoyping different options. Plan a detailed walk through of every screen and function of the software is performed.
Detailed Security and report definition just be done as part of the design not be bolted on afterwards.

A gap is not identified, if it is not documented. Once the scope document is finalized and agreed to by the any issues that arise that were not covered in the scope document are understood to be handled as out of scope changes. Before you ask for a customisation define the test script – that is the easiest way to avoid later dispute and to minimize rework.

Understand the respective roles of the customer and the implementation partner – It takes two hands to clap. Its customer’s project not the partner’s. Its not construction project built to an external architect’s design with a fixed set of plans.

What is expected of the Implementation partners – are they just hired to perform specific tasks like install and configuration of a standard design ads fast and as cheap as possible, or to lead change, and to introduce best practise. Does it make a difference what skills and experience are needed to meet the different objectives of the different project and expectations of each customer?. If implementers are expected to be obligated to perform those tasks competently and within the project budget. then the customer also has the obligation to assign the correct resources an skills and to take the timely decisions necessary to meet the project objectives.

A problem that all customers face is that an implementation project is above and beyond their normal work or company role. Nobody ahs the luxury of a full time project team sitting around. For many manager’s due to competitive pressures they are already stretched and overloaded due in their full-time role. Within the project, the manager must assume additional roles which take considerable time and effort and new skills. Few companies really understand this workload nor do they properly look a the constraints – they expect a partner to provide a detailed time and cost plan, before design is done and without any consideration of their won resource constraints(holidays exams, maternity, exams, audits , visits exhibitions, month ends, other projects…) nor do they seek ways to address those constraints with e.g. temporary staff, or temporary lightening of routine workloads, or paying for the consultant to do more of the work..

If the new roles are outside of the comfort zone of the employee(s), then they will attempt to shift the responsibilities to others and often back to the implementation partner. A warehouse manager spending an additional 20 hours per week testing may not be able to cope and will try to shift that effort to the vendor. This causes the vendor to consume budget hours more quickly which then results in cost overruns and the testing which should be done under the careful scrutiny of the customer is less likely to be successful. It is important to define the roles, responsibilities and expectations of the project team up front. The Project Charter should be created up front and be signed by the Executive and the project team- Maybe 5% of project teams get around to do this. Those tend to be the successful ones.

A realistic timeline – which is based on realistic resource availability and realistic scope – with a short as possible path to completion –
“Time kills all deals”. Projects that are planned to be long often lack focus and urgency short term. Those projects lose momentum, and struggle to allocate resources for such a long time, must contend with staff turn-over, and change in business needs and change in solution technology – eventually the initial design eventually become irrelevant leading to failure.

It is also problematic when a project is rushed to completion with only half the work done. Like Goldilocks, the project team must develop a timeline that is “just right” balancing the need to complete the project tasks thoroughly while striving to minimize delays. This is easier said than done. First, determine the timeline required to do the project tasks. A critical chain approach plans fast but builds in contingency. Each milestone is completed and signed off before the next starts.
Determine the possible Go-Live dates (notice the plural). Find the Go-Live date that fits the timeline but also allows you to schedule “flex” or “catch-up” blocks before critical milestones. These blocks drive the project back on schedule.
Customer Dedication to the Project – I can’t over emphasize the importance of the entire customer team being dedicated to the success of the project. And yet there are projects where members of the executive management team provide little or no assistance to the success of the project because they didn’t vote for it. There are internal politics between departments resulting in resources not being adequately allocated at key tasks. All too often there is a picture painted by both customer and vendor that it is the almost sole responsibility of the vendor to do the work. This approach almost guarantees failure. A successful implementation project requires dedication from upper management and throughout the department stake holders. A project needs a project champion. Everyone in the business is impacted if management is tied up so they all need to understand its importance to the company and to their future. That needs a communication plan.

Prototype and Test, – Your project plan timeline should have one of its largest allocation of time set aside for training and testing. Prototyping identifies how changing parameters can better impact operations. Testing investigates specific scenarios and data to identify and problems before Go-Live. It helps to identify process variations that might have been missed in the Scope Document. It provides training reinforcement which, in turn, makes users more proficient on the system. Create a large and high quality volume of test data – this is useful training practise. A good test will involve hundreds (yes hundreds) of transactions as will a good pilot dress rehearsal. You can test inquiries, reports, and response time with a few transactions.

Progress Meetings – At the end of the day, the customer should want to know whether the project is on-track or failing. Regular status meetings keep lines of communication open between the team members. These should be short (10 to 15 minutes) but can be longer if there are important issues which need to be discussed. At a minimum the team should review the project plan providing an update on tasks that were assigned during the previous week and an overview of tasks assigned for the upcoming week. Tasks that are no longer on schedule need to be addressed immediately and a plan created to get the tasks completed and the project back on track.

Steering committee reviews are also needed to review risks, resources, constraints, budget, scope changes, policy decisions where users cannot agree, etc.

Even more important is the post go live support- and what happens next. Users are frightened of new systems, They need hand holding to avoid early rejection. As they get familiar personalisations and fine tuning needs a rise. Initial month ends in areas lime inventory close, financial close, payroll runs neall ed expert guidance.

Once the system is operational system maintenance tasks become important. Staff turnover, new upgrade releases , wider use of system feature and enhancement of operations, new customer or statutory demands means there should be periodic reviews and expected investment in system maintenance and enhancement. Will the same consultant be around to do this?. How stable is that partner, and his team? Are they local, offshore or freelance? What is the worthwhile premium for a system that works. What does the reference evidence show – does the partner consistently deliver, what is his support track record?

In house or external You may be happy with your in house implementation but are you really qualified to judge? You may not know that you don’t know enough. Is the server and database really optimised and maintained? Are you still driving a Ferrari in first gear without knowing how to tune the Sat Nav, or radio,

There tasks it makes sense to do in house e.g adding new users, taking back ups, fine tuning workflows and security, data retention policies, update of costs and prices and budgets, external reporting etc.
However self medication and surgery can be dangerous. Maybe be not now but in 3 month or 1 2motmnhs alter when] slow running code or overblown tables start to hit performance or database back ups shoot up in size. Or worse you start coding or working manually when there is out of the box functionality readily available. You develop new code but who does the best practise checks, the documentation, the move form dev to test to live, the recompilation. And yes those are some of the reasons why projects fail.

A recent survey indicated that senior mangers are broadly equally happy with successful erp projects form any of the major software authors i.e. a round 85%satsifactiion . However when it came down to end users there as a significant i.1. around 20% preference for Microsoft systems. Whether the end user adopts the system willingly is a major factor in both the short and the long term success, especially when new users are taken on and expert users leave.

Power BI for Dynamics: Ax, and CRM – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

January 27th, 2015

Power BI is a cloud service that lets you share, collaborate and access your Excel reports anywhere on any device.
This toolset is regularly being updated with new features e.g.: – dashboards, new visualizations, support for popular software-as-a-service applications, a native iPad app and live “hybrid” connectivity to on-premise SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models.

Dynamics Ax provides in built cubes and Power BI for Power BI use- ( see our Dynamics Ax HR and Payroll Powwr BI demonstration.)

Power BI dashboards
Users can create personalized dashboards to monitor their most important data. A dashboard combines on-premises and cloud-born data in a single pane of glass, providing a consolidated view across the organization regardless of where the data lives.

Users can easily explore all their data using intuitive, natural language capabilities and receive answers in the form of charts and graphs. They can also explore data through detailed reports that target specific aspects of their business. Visuals from these reports can also be pinned to their dashboards for continuous monitoring. As part of this experience new visualizations have been added including combo charts, filled maps, gauges, tree maps, and funnel charts.

What is Power BI Q&A?
Use natural language queries to find answers in your own data.
With instantaneous natural language querying, Q&A interprets your question and immediately serves up the correct answer on the fly—in the form of an interactive chart or graph. And these visualizations change dynamically as you modify the question, creating a truly interactive experience with your data
Start with a question, and have fun traveling through your data refining or expanding your question, uncovering trust-worthy new information, zeroing in on details and zooming out for a broader view.
You’ll be delighted by the insights and discoveries you make.

Power BI Q&A presents your answers in the form of visualizations. As you type a question, Power BI Q&A picks the best visual to display your answer; and the visual changes dynamically as you modify the question.

The experience is truly interactive…and fast! Powered by an in-memory storage, response is almost instantaneous.

Connectivity to New Data Sources
• Exchange: Support for connecting to your Microsoft Exchange account and retrieving information about your Mail, Calendar, People, Tasks and Meeting Requests.
• Dynamics CRM Online: Power Query’s OData support to consume OData feeds from Dynamics CRM Online.

also Facebook, Salesforce, Sybase etc.

Connect live to on-premises Analysis Services models

With the new Power BI connector for SQL Server Analysis Services, customers can realize the benefits of a cloud-based BI solution without having to move their data to the cloud. Customers can now create a secure connection to an “on-premises” SQL Server Analysis Services server from Power BI in the cloud. When users view and explore dashboards and reports, Power BI will query the on-premise model using the user’s credentials.

With this hybrid solution, organizations can continue to retain, manage and secure their data on-premises, while securely enabling users to benefit from that data via Power BI.

Mobile Apps
A wave of native mobile apps for Power BI. These apps will allow users to access their Power BI dashboards and reports through immersive mobile experiences for iPad, iPhone, and Windows tablets. The first of these – the iPad app is available today and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, with other platforms following in the coming months. All Power BI mobile apps enable users to share insights and collaborate with colleagues so that they can take immediate action, from anywhere, anytime.

Power maps

King Abdullah has died – long live His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

January 24th, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died early on Friday and his brother Salman became king, the royal court in the world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam said an official statement.
His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1am this morning,” said the statement carried by state television yesterday.

Abdullah, said by the Saudi embassy to have been born in 1924, had ruled Saudi Arabia as king since 2005, but had run the country as de facto regent for a decade before that after his predecessor King Fahdsuffered a debilitating stroke.

King Salman had named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir, rapidly moving to forestall any fears of a succession crisis at a moment when Saudi Arabia faces unprecedented turmoil on its borders. (The rise of ISIL in war-torn Syria and Iraq brought to the kingdom’s frontiers a militant group that vows to bring down the Al Saud dynasty. Meanwhile, in Yemen, the Iran-allied Shi’ite Houthis have all but seized power and plunged the country to the brink of total chaos, opening space for al Qaeda, which waged an insurgency in Saudi Arabia from 2003-06 and nearly killed a top prince in 2009. The problems continue against an overarching backdrop of bitter rivalry between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and its arch regional foe Shi’ite Iran and bumps in Riyadh’s key relationship with the United States. Meanwhile the oil price has more than halved since June, leaving the kingdom likely with its first planned budget deficit since 2009 and navigating difficulties with some other OPEC members that disagree with its strategy not to defend prices..

Many World leaders expressed condolences. President Obama saluted the late king’s commitment to close US-Saudi ties. “As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions,” Obama said in a statement. “One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”

President George H. W. Bush , described Abdullah as “a wise and reliable ally, helping our nations build on a strategic relationship” .

King Abdullah pushed cautious changes in the conservative Islamic kingdom including increased women’s rights and economic deregulation this drew criticism form both progressives and hardliners, nut he did much to move his country into a more modern world particularly with regard td degree education of women and oversees education to give exposure to other cultures, King Abdullah played a guiding role in Saudi Arabia’s support for Egypt’s government after the military intervened in 2012, and drove his country’s support for Syria’s rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.

King Salman, thought to be 79, has been part of the ruling group of princes for decades and is expected to broadly continue the main thrusts of Saudi strategic policy, including maintaining the alliance with the United States and working towards energy market stability. A physically imposing figure, Salman controls one of the Arab world’s largest media groups. He believes that democracy is ill-suited to the conservative kingdom and advocates caution on social and cultural reform, according to a 2007 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

As one of the so-called “Sudairi seven” – the brothers born to King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, by his favourite wife Hassa bint Ahmed al-Sudairi, Salman has been at the centre of royal power for decades. (One son, Prince Sultan bin Salman, became the first Arab astronaut, flying on the US space shuttle Discovery in 1985. Prince Sultan is now the kingdom’s tourism minister while another son, Prince Abdulaziz, is the deputy oil minister.)

For nearly 50 years Salman was governor of Riyadh Province, a role that involved working closely with both conservative traditionalists and liberal technocrats as he oversaw the development of the Saudi capital from a small desert town to a major metropolis. In a royal family that bases its right to rule on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, Salman is reputed to be devout and relatively outward-looking. As governor of Riyadh from 1962 until 2011, Salman had more to do with foreign governments than many senior royals

During his five decades as Riyadh governor he was reputedly adept at managing the delicate balance of clerical, tribal and princely interests that determine Saudi policy, while maintaining good relations with the West. A reputed moderate with a deft understanding of the competing demands of conservative clerics, powerful tribes and an increasingly youthful population, Salman will also have the final say on social and economic reforms started under Abdullah.His crown prince will be his youngest half brother Prince Muqrin, a former intelligence chief who was appointed as deputy crown prince in March.

Saudi Arabia, which holds more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil, also exerts some influence over the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims through its guardianship of Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest sites. Incoming kings have traditionally chosen to appoint new ministers to head top ministries like oil and finance. In a country where the big ministries are dominated by royals, successive kings have kept the oil portfolio reserved for commoners and insisted on maintaining substantial spare output capacity to help reduce market volatility.

A fitting tribute reported form a Saudi businessman in Jeddah told Reuters: “People are very sad because they loved him very much. He was a father figure, sincere, and truly a king. He was always trying to be the arbitrator. He kept his word and was known for his loyalty.” Most of us would be happy with such a judgement. Meanwhile the important role of KSA in the economic prosperity and stability of the region cannot be underestimated and we wish His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud every success.

Windows 10 -wow!

January 24th, 2015

Microsoft lifted the veil on its upcoming Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft: Windows 10 will be free for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 users for 1 year after launch.
When the software is released later this year across desktops, smartphones, and tablets. Expect numerous changes:
– A modernized Start Menu, better multitasking with Task View, and UI improvements.
– Refreshed and more modern icons
– An Action Center provides instant access to common tasks like enabling or shutting off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other settings.
-Notifications are synced across devices, so if you dismiss something on a Windows 10 smartphone or tablet, then it won’t pop up again when you return to your PC.
– Microsoft has refreshed the appearance of settings menus everywhere with a much cleaner, easy-to-understand design.
– A new, Metro-style (and very sleek) Calendar app that’s consistent across PCs, tablets, and phones.
– Photos – weed out duplicates and “clutter” when you’re syncing photos from every device you own. Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage ismuch smarter about displaying a “simple view of all your photos.
– A new Photos app will automatically enhance and touch up photos, remove blemishes like red eye and ensure you end up with the right exposure.
– Windows 10 users can also expect new apps for: People, Maps, and Music.
– Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana provides powerful search and reminder capabilities to Windows 10. . Microsoft says “you’ll see Cortana as never before” In Windows 10, it will serve as the primary search tool for a massive audience of Windows users. Cortana ‘speaks’ with a natural, conversational flow.
– Belfiore launched into the first demonstration of Windows 10 on phones, showing off a new Messages app with Skype integration, a fully-adjustable keyboard, and other improvements.
– Microsoft has all-new, universal apps for Windows 10. First is Outlook, with the Word engine built in for comprehensive styling and extra formatting capabilities no matter from what device you’re checking email. Desktop users can also personalize Outlook with a background image of their choice
– Microsoft is working hard on a new web browser, referred to as Project Spartan. Highlighting something on a page is as simple as circling your finger around it — no Surface pen or stylus required. Using a mouse also works fine; click on any section of a website to type out a comment for sharing with co-workers or friends.
– A new Reading Mode puts articles in a layout that’s easier on your eyes
– Microsoft is also introducing a Reading List that syncs content across phones, tablets, and PCs for later. (Apple has had similar functionality in iOS and OS X for some time now- but what Apple doesn’t have in its browser is Cortana. Microsoft’s personal assistant is everywhere in Project Spartan. She’ll tell you the weather in the URL bar. Visit a restaurant’s website, and Cortana will provide a map, menu information, and contact details should you decide to head there for dinner.)

Power Bi Designer preview

January 22nd, 2015

The Power BI Designer is a new companion application for Power BI.

It is a standalone Windows Desktop application that can be downloaded from the Power BI site.

This application combines Power Query, Power Pivot Data Model and Power View into a seamless experience that will allow customers to build their Power BI elements in an offline fashion and then upload to the Power BI Service.

The Add-ins for Excel 2013 and later are still available and customers can continue to use that to model their data and build reports.

The Power BI Designer will be another option and allow customers with an older version of Office to be able to create reports.

New Ax 2012 R3 benchmarks demonstrate scalability and performance

January 22nd, 2015

New Benchmarks for Dynamics Ax with summary and detail documents for each benchmark.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Benchmark for Multiple Retail Workloads

– In 2014, Microsoft conducted a benchmark to measure the performance and scalability characteristics of the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 retail solution in a simulated retail scenario.
– The benchmark showcases the ability of AX 2012 R2 to handle various specialized loads concurrently, without compromising performance and scalability on critical business processes.
– The benchmark includes many functional scenarios across different client and integration technologies, thereby providing a view of retail back-end scenarios.

The following scenarios were executed to complete the benchmark:
• Trickle feed of point of sale (POS) transactions from stores
• Posting trade agreements to stores
• Publishing product assortments to stores, including converting pre-actions to actions

End-of-day processing of POS transactions:
• Inventory reservations were made for the imported transactions.
• Imported POS transactions were consolidated and aggregated, and then transferred to statements in a peak-load situation.
• Statements were processed and transferred to sales orders, and financial updates were posted.

Please find the benchmark documents here:

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Financial Benchmark
In August 2014, Microsoft conducted a financial benchmark of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 to measure the application’s performance and scalability characteristics for core financial functionality.

Multiple different workloads were simulated:
• A set of financial transactions was run concurrently.
• A batch of 500 general ledger (GL) journals of 1,000 journal lines each was posted in a separate test.
• A set of management reporter reports and scenarios was executed.
• A year-end closing process was run in a separate test.
• A consolidation process was run in a separate test.

The benchmark was modeled for two financial periods, previous period and current period. It assumed a customer in a closing state for the previous period while entering regular business transactions in the current period.
For the closing process (for example, the summary trial balance), some transaction data was created in the previous period before the benchmark run.

The defined scenarios were run with 500 concurrent financial users who generated load on the Application Object Server (AOS) instances by using the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Benchmark SDK.

The overall benchmark result shows the capability of Microsoft Dynamics AX and Management Reporter to handle core financial scenarios with volume data while maintaining good performance measures.

Please find the benchmark documents here:

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Day in the Life Benchmark for Retail and Distribution
Microsoft conducted a 24-hour “day in the life” benchmark of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 to measure the application’s performance and scalability characteristics when running retail and distribution workloads.

The benchmark ran a variety of functional scenarios that use different client and integration technologies, thereby providing a broad view of enterprise resource planning (ERP) workload performance on AX 2012 R3.

• The initial benchmark run showcased the daytime and nighttime activities at a complex customer installation that has 2,000 stores, each with 10 point of sale (POS) devices

. The benchmark modeled :
stock movement to replenish stores,
– use of a web storefront built on Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) services,
acall center doing order entry,
a mobile app that connected to Retail Server.
• The benchmark also simulated 3,000 concurrent users performing background tasks.
• Additional benchmark runs, increased the volume to 5,000 concurrent users and also increased the volume of POS transactions.

These scenarios generated load on an instance of Application Object Server (AOS). In this benchmark, some AOS instances are configured as multiple logical AOS instances in a cluster. Batch processes run simultaneously with online processes but on separate AOS instances.

AX 2012 R3 demonstrated the ability to scale up and scale out on the AOS tier, and on the database server.

AX 2012 R3 also showed the ability to handle a more complex business process flow smoothly. User experience measures were below 2 to 3 seconds for intensive posting operations, and line save operations averaged sub-second response times.

The benchmark results demonstrate the ability of AX 2012 R3 to concurrently handle more complex scenario flows with a very high volume, without compromising performance and scalability for critical business processes.

Please find the detailed documents here:

Windows 2003 end of support- ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai about special pricing for updates.

January 21st, 2015

End of support for Windows 2003 on 14th July, 2015 means no more updates, no more security patches. Don’t miss out on opportunities for success. Upgrade to Windows Server 2012/R2 today- ask us if you need help.

Save plenty with the HP ProLiant Servers and Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Bundles. Valid in UAE, Saudi, Turkey, South Africa, Qatar, Kuwait, Nigeria and Kenya.

SMB erp survey of buyers – what really matters

January 20th, 2015

Software Advice (, a review firm that specializes in ERP software, recently wrote to advise us of the key findings of a random sample of 250 SMB inquiries.

Since purchasing and implementing ERP software can be an intensive process that can take up to a year for companies to complete, its important to work with a company that takes the time to understand how software matches your current and future needs and alleviates the most important pain points in 2015.

For SMBs used to owner management, the time comes when a more formal command control structure to delegate work and to get feedback becomes essential to continued growth.

The owner manger who is used to having all the key knowledge and decision making authority needs to spend more time looking outward and evaluating different scenarios and less time micro managing systems, e.g. by using: budget controls, kpi dashboards, alerts, workflows and exception reports.

Knowledge has to be codified and stored so that the business can transition to the next generation of managers. Investors and auditors want to see formal controls, robust scalable platforms, with automation that allows the business to grow and manage acquisitions, or expand into new territories, or lines of business while reducing the relative % administrative overheads and better utilize the management skills

The UAE has a lot of owner managed companies, and also small sales offices of international companies that have outgrown their initial start up days. New technologies offer different competitive advantages – cloud, mobility, any time anywhere decisions- more powerful BI. Different licensing modules now put powerful enterprise solutions within their affordability range.

The key factor to consider is not the cost but what is the right rate of adoption for the available cash flow.
– What are the real business priorities and ROI, and will this be an investment in my balance sheet that adds value to my business?
– Will customers rate more highly if I deliver more consistent service and can demonstrate improved operational controls?
– If I cut down my estimation time can I get out more proposals?
– If I am already breaking even and making a profit and increase my business just 10% how significant is that to my total annual profit% if all my fixed costs are already paid?
– Will my business be more saleable, or more attractive to investors, or for an ipo, and at a higher price when it comes with a proven enterprise system for managing operations, IFRS compliance and statutory reporting, ?

Implementation cycles these days need to be shorter than buying cycles. Agile user friendly systems with a familiar interface that works in the same was other office tools points towards Microsoft-office 365, Dynamics CRM ,Dynamics Ax, Share Point. Learning curves are reduced and user acceptance and productivity increased. The modern architecture of these solutions allows rapid adaptation to the changing business needs that leverage an integrated technology stack all from a single vendor.

Some Key Findings:
1.Two-thirds of buyers do not currently use an ERP system, and 44 percent rely on a combination of disparate systems to execute ERP processes.
2.Fifty-nine percent of buyers cite the need to improve the integration of data between different business processes as a top reason for seeking an ERP system.
3.Forty-seven percent of all buyers cite the need to improve their customer relationship management (CRM) database as a reason for wanting to purchase an ERP system.
4.Among buyers currently using ERP systems, 24 percent cite lack of support and 19 percent cite cost as their primary reasons for wanting to switch to a new system.
5.Twenty-seven percent of buyers who do not currently use an ERP system cite company growth as their reason for wanting to implement one.

Dubai 360 – amazing views of the city

January 20th, 2015

A virtual city tour of Dubai is available for viewers through a new online platform.!s=1313-burj-khalifa-pinnacle-gigapixel&l=en

Details of wereon the Instagram and Twitter account of the emirate’s Crown Prince His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Sheikh Hamdan posted: “It is a groundbreaking website that will enable you to explore Dubai from anywhere in the world.” Debuting on the website is a 12 minute long video of one of the world’s busiest airports – Dubai International Airport.

Dubai 360, the world’s largest interactive city tour, was officially launched yesterday at midnight. Being the first of its kind, the site allows viewers to explore every angle of the city from the comfort of their own home using fully interactive and immersive 360 degree panoramic photo, time lapse and video content.

With content filmed at the pinnacle of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, the site users can get a bird’s eye view of the city with sweeping panoramas down Shaikh Zayed Road and Dubai’s coast. Burj Khalifa, Pinnacle, Gigapixel

The Burj Khalifa is the ultimate symbol of Dubai’s growth and ambition. It’s a towering icon rising 2,722 feet that dominates the city skyline – and a dazzling architectural wonder, which affords the ultimate view of a bustling metropolis. The skyscraper, which officially opened on January 4, 2010, rises above it all. Soaring 160 stories, its record-breaking achievements include the world’s tallest building and highest outdoor observation deck. Step inside this centerpiece of Downtown Dubai to explore the At The Top observation decks; dine at the exclusive At.mosphere; and stay in the signature Armani hotel. Or, explore this panoramic view from the pinnacle of the tower – which has a symmetrical three-petal footprint based on the desert flower hymenocallis – and witness a skyline that blends nature and engineering, history and the future. From the azure shores of the Arabian Gulf to the man-made waterways and Palm islands, from the timeless beauty of Bastakiya to the distinctive sail-shaped Burj al Arab – this view from the very top leaves a lasting impression.

From there at the click of a button, viewers can travel to the luxurious Royal Suite at the Burj Al Arab Hotel and experience the gold-covered interiors, luxurious rooms and stunning sea view. A visit to Dubai Mall’s famous aquarium will allow users to swim amongst the sea creatures, or take a ride on Dubai’s Metro and view the city at speed.

Gulf News talked to Esmail Al Hashemi, Project Manager for Dubai 360, who pointed out that the project was completed under a team of 30 designers, photographers, and IT and graphic experts over a period of 18 months. Using the latest visual technology, the project was created by professionals equipped with best-in-class medium format, DSLR and video cameras. From helicopters to rooftops, the making of Dubai 360 provided the team with first-time access to some of the city’s landmarks.

The Dubai 360 team also developed a custom interface for the website, which enables viewers to interact with Dubai’s landmarks providing a number of viewing options including rectilinear and ‘Little Planet or fish eye’ view. People can also share their favourite views with their friends through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and email.

The site uses 1,298 pieces of panoramic video and photo content, giving viewers exclusive views of the city. Al Hashemi explained that while a very few countries enjoy a similar but simpler technology, their websites only cover a maximum of 30 locations. Dubai 360 has over 1,000 frames and different locations, and there are plans to continue updating the site to demonstrate the progress of the city, he said. The website is currently operating in English. However, plans to provide users with the option of viewing the site in Arabic are under way.

“With, whether you live in Dubai or are planning a visit, you can discover something new in the city every day,” he said.

FATCA and the UAE January 2015

January 12th, 2015

The governments of the US and the UAE have reached an agreement in substance, a model 1 Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).
The UAE has consented to disclose this status.

In accordance with this status, the text of such IGA has not been released and financial institutions in the UAE are allowed to register on the FATCA registration website consistent with the treatment of having an IGA in effect until December 31, 2014.

More than 100 countries including India, China and Russia have already entered into agreements with the US on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and with new FATCA requirements coming into effect on 1st of January 2015 applying to U.S. and non-U.S insurers and insurance brokers, large portions of the financial services sector are being affected.

After a relatively quiet four-year ramp up, America’s global tax law is now being enforced.

FATCA requires foreign banks to reveal Americans with accounts over $50,000 and considering the risks of being frozen out of U.S. markets, everyone is complying.

Firms that fail to comply with FATCA will be subjected to a stringent 30% withholding tax on any US sourced income even if they do not have any US customers.

The compliance aspects being forced upon financial services firms globally by the US tax authorities are complex and costly. It includes amending everything, from more thorough KYC requirements to changes in the account opening processes for new customers to take into account the new information required under FATCA, and systems will have to be updated to comply with the withholding taxes if so required. Insurers and insurance brokers will have to comply with new information gathering and reporting rules when U.S. insurance and reinsurance premiums are sent outside the U.S.

A Model 1 IGA is treated as ‘in effect’ by the US Treasury as of May 21, 2014. (
On 3 June 2013, the Governor of the DIFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Ministry of Finance which named the DIFC Registrar of Companies as the DIFC’s contact point for any international tax agreement entered into between the UAE and another country. FATCA is an example of such an agreement.

According to DIFC release as of 17 November 2014, “The reporting form will be available (for financial institutions) on the Registrar’s website at a time agreed and instructed by federal officials. Further instructions will be circulated as soon as the reporting framework is in place, and the guidance will be made available to DIFC entities as soon as it is finalised by the Ministry of Finance”.

Who will be affected by FATCA?
• Banks and deposit taking institutions;
• Trust company – Custodial institutions;
• Investment entities – those businesses involved in trading in transferable securities; money market instruments, foreign exchange derivatives etc.; individual or collective portfolio management or otherwise investing, administering or managing funds, money or financial instruments on behalf of other persons;
• Certain types of insurance companies that have cash value products or annuities;
• Family offices would be included in the definition;
• Certain holding companies or treasury centres.

FATCA objective

Disclosure of assets and income of U.S. taxpayers (US person) held with foreign financial institutions.

Definition of US person:
• a citizen or resident of the United States,
• a domestic partnership,
• a domestic corporation,
• any estate (other than a foreign estate) and
• any trust if:
1. a court within the United States is able to exercise primary supervision over the administration of the trust, and
2. one or more United States persons have the authority to control all substantial decisions of the trust.
How will financial institutions be affected?
If a Foreign Financial Institution (FFI) fails to address FATCA requirements promptly, all relevant US-sourced payments, such as dividends and interest paid by US corporations, will be subject to a 30% withholding tax.
The same 30% withholding tax will also apply to gross sale proceeds from the sale of relevant US property.
This will be inconvenient for the customers of the Foreign Financial Institution who will then need to claim refunds from the U.S. IRS after proving that they are non U.S. persons, and not liable for tax.

The definition of a Foreign Financial Institution which is an Investment Entity in Model 1 IGA covers:
• Investment managers;
• Investment advisors;
• Fund administrators.
However, the IGA includes a deemed compliant category for Investment Advisors and Managers, whereas an Investment entity established in a FATCA Partner Jurisdiction can obtain a status of Non-Reporting Financial Institution if it is a financial institution solely because it:
• Renders investment advice to, and acts on behalf of, or;
• Manages portfolios for, and acts on behalf of a customer for the purpose of investing, managing or administering funds deposited in the name of the customer with a Financial Institution other than an Non-Performing Foreign Financial Institution (NPFFI).

It is important to note that if an Investment Advisor / Investment Manager provides services of investment advice or manages portfolios of customers whose funds are deposited with the financial institution which is non-compliant with FATCA, or is located in a jurisdiction other than a FATCA Partner jurisdiction, the DFSA regulated Investment Advisor / Investment Manager might have FATCA reporting obligation for those clients.

According to a notice1 from the UAE Central Bank, at the start of 2014 banks and other financial institutions in the UAE must complete the following actions to facilitate the signing of the IGA:
1.Identify customer accounts that are a “US Reportable Account”, which is defined as a financial account maintained by a reporting UAE financial institution and held by one or more specified US persons or by a non-U.S. entity with one or more controlling persons that is a specified U.S. person (implementation date: 19 November 2013).
2.Adopt FATCA’s due diligence procedures for identifying and reporting on US Reportable Accounts and for payments to certain nonparticipating financial institutions (implementation date: 1 January 2014).
3.Prepare relevant systems for establishing electronic connection to the Central Bank’s FATCA Reporting System, currently in development. All banks and other financial institutions should expect to be contacted for this purpose during the first quarter of 2014 (implementation date: 1 March 2014).
4.Be prepared to register via the IRS portal to obtain a “Global Intermediary Identification Number” (final registration date: 1 November 2014).
5.Adopt reporting procedures specified in the IGA (first report for 2014 must be sent to the Central Bank by 1 August 2015).

The Central Bank, with help from a US law firm, will provide legal support and conduct workshops to assist banks and other financial institutions in implementing the FATCA requirements.

New FAQ on IGA registration issued by IRS

On 22 December 2014, the IRS posted updated FAQs regarding IGA Registration to the FATCA website. This update acknowledges Announcement 2014-38 and addresses whether Reporting Model 1 FFIs in certain jurisdictions need to register and obtain a Global Intermediary Identification Number (“GIIN”) before 1 January 2015. This update confirms that a jurisdiction which was treated in 2013 as if it has an IGA in effect, but which has not yet signed an IGA, retains such status beyond December 31, 2014, provided the jurisdiction continues to demonstrate firm resolve to sign the IGA that was agreed in substance.
New Form W-9 and accompanying instructions released by IRS

The IRS has published on its website a new revised version of Form W-9 (revision date December 2014) as well as the Instructions for the Requestor of Form W-9.

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