Australian manufacturer completes first global Dynamics AX09 upgrade

Scheduled for release second half of 2008

Australian metal products manufacturer, WH Williams, is the first organization in the world to upgrade from Microsoft's Dynamics AX 4.0 to the new Dynamics AX 2009 (formerly known as Dynamics AX 5.0).

Microsoft consultant ePartners Australia and WH Williams were selected a year ago to work with the software giant in the early testing of AX 2009 prior to its worldwide release which is scheduled for the second half of 2008.

Training was provided to the ePartners Australia consulting team by the core AX product and development teams at focus sessions held at Microsoft in Redmond, USA and Copenhagen.

WH Williams undertook the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) upgrade with a user account of 40 (30 concurrent) with a heavy reliance on feature areas such as production, shop floor control, master planning, trade and logistics, CRM and financials.

The manufacturer of custom made metal products also has the enterprise portal installed and has begun to configure Web-based role centres for internal staff, customers and suppliers.

WH Williams CEO, Dean Williams, said the company selected the ERP system two years ago after evaluating software from SAP and Oracle.

He said it replaced an existing eight year old system the company had outgrown.

"The ERP system went live on time after eight months of planning; the final upgrade to AX 2009 was completed in 11 days," Williams said.

In addition to seamless integration with other software packages in the organisation, he said Dynamics AX caters for unlimited future expansion.

Since moving to Dynamics, Williams said the company has a totally integrated system from quotations through to the shop floor.

"Customers have the ability to track orders, right down to the operational side of the order," he said.

"This has provided us with the ability to capture job costs in real time allowing us to accurately invoice immediately.

"We plan to enhance the software even further by building role-based browsers on the latest portal technologies."

ePartners Australia has undertaken more than 12,000 Microsoft installations and the company's managing director, Stephen Madeisky, said staff have been able to gain a lot of AX 2009 experience in the past year.

Madeisky said working with WH Williams has provided the opportunity to work with the new features Dynamics in a live environment.

As part of Microsoft's push into business applications, the company's focus is on integration with other Microsoft programs.

Forrester principal analyst Ray Wang said while Oracle and SAP still have a stranglehold on the mass-deployment enterprise-level ERP market, Microsoft wisely sticks to the mid-market space due to the scalability of the Dynamics suite and the lack of certain large-enterprise ERP functionality such as HR plug-ins.

However, he said it is too early to speculate as Outlook and SharePoint were once positioned as somewhat segment-specific but they are now pervasive in the enterprise, both big and small.