Summit North America Preview: A growing dairy business looks to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations for next-level performance

July 19 2019

Editor's Note: MSDW is a media sponsor of the Summit North America 2019 event.

Before there is ice cream or yogurt or low fat milk, there is butter fat. And dairy industry businesses face unique challenges in optimizing the use of that butter fat, along with the other elements of milk. For the Tillamook County Creamery Association in Oregon, geographic expansion across the country has led to the decision to improve their support of dairy-specific manufacturing, finance, and other requirements by migrating from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO).

Robin Finnell, Continuous Improvement Coordinator at Tillamook, will be at the User Group Summit North America, October 15-18 in Orlando, Florida, and spoke with MSDW about her organization's migration efforts and how Summit plays a role in their use of Dynamics 365.

Upgrading the dairy operation from NAV to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Finnell first got involved with the Tillamook County Creamery Association over 10 years ago. The Association was an early adopter of Dynamics NAV 2009 and she helped with the implementation. In parallel with her work with the Association, Finnell also leads the Portland AXUG chapter and the SIG for FDA regulated manufacturing. Tillamook is already in stores as far east as Colorado and Texas, and now, as the association is expanding to the east coast, the need for additional scalability has led them to migrate from NAV to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO). Their expected go-live will happen over Labor Day weekend.

We do dairy balancing which is really interesting – breaking milk down into base components like protein, butter fat, water and other solids. We have to pay our patrons based on those percentages. How much butter fat is in the milk is key. The more there is, the more we pay because it's good for ice cream and it goes further when we're skimming out the milk or the cream. Those types of data points were areas we weren't able to manage as well in NAV.

Also, from a food manufacturing standpoint, being able to trace things the way we'd like for potential recalls, we were [only able to do in NAV with manual, time-consuming processes]. There are a lot of considerations in migrating to D365FO, but mostly for us would be the ability to explode the milk down to the base components. It's something that is unique to dairy, so other dairy manufacturers nderstand the implications, but other industries don't. The partner we have has a dairy vertical that they built for AX and D365 and we're really excited for being able to implement that. The piece our partner built has been in use in AX for several years. I'm excited about that for our costing and payments.

There are several things within cheese and how we run our formulas and how we make our cheese blocks that are going to be really good. We were really excited about catch-weight, but we haven't got it where we want it yet. That will be one of the challenges for us and other cheese companies in implementation.

At this year's Summit event, Finnell will be presenting a session with a colleague focused on "cleaning your closet" before moving to D365, which will offer recommendations to other users around a new implementation.

Make sure you're not customizing going into a new implementation. Definitely map out your business processes and make sure how you do it is as close to best practice as you can get it. Look at your partner and ask 'Why do we do it this way?' Ask people on the floor the reason why they [follow a particular process]… Is an extra step worth customizing for? Don't be afraid to push back about how something is done. You don't want to challenge someone with 20 years' experience on the floor [but you have to].

Comparing notes with others

At Summit, Finnell expects significant interest in topics such as AI and bring-your-own-device (BYOD), as well as continued discussion from last year about the transition to Dynamics 365. With systems like NAV 2009 about to become fully unsupported, these will be pressing issues for many.

I'd like to really get involved in some of the reporting sessions. I like to see the customer showcases to see how companies are using the same things as us. They'll use the same system or workspace but in a completely different way. This opens up new avenues for us when we get back. Also security and how other companies are handling it. It's a little different for D365 and NAV. We didn't have very tight security because of the way our workers were set up. It was easy to go in and change information, which could be very frustrating. I think also I'd like to see some costing overviews. We're changing over to standard costing. How's that working for others and are there any pitfalls?

For those still considering coming to Summit, Finnell had this to say:

I think that Summit North America is absolutely the best investment you can make in your system. Being part of the community and going for that training, they're shorter break outs, not deep dives. It allows you to meet and network with other people who know some of the pitfalls you may be facing. It's probably the best avenue of information I've seen. I've gone to NAVUG Summit three times and this will be my second D365 Summit. It's worth every penny your company spends to get there.


User Group Summit North America delivers the can’t-miss annual conference for users of the Microsoft Business Applications platform – featuring education on all versions of Dynamics 365, AX, CRM, GP and BC/NAV. With credible peer-to-peer knowledge exchange at its core, this event provides focused learning and networking as users gain instrumental solutions for their everyday Microsoft Dynamics challenges and larger organizational goals. In every industry and across the globe, Summit is well known as a premier user-centric experience. This year, Summit promises to be the biggest and best event ever – with more sessions, deeper insights, additional networking and plenty of unique new on-site activities.

Join us for User Group Summit North America, October 15-18, 2019, in Orlando, Florida!

Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

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About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. Rosencrance has over 25 years experience as an reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years.

She has covered a variety of IT subjects, including Microsoft Dynamics, mobile security issues such as data loss prevention, network management, secure mobile app development, privacy, cloud computing, BI, big data, analytics, HR, CRM, ERP, and enterprise IT.

Rosencrance is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.

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