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Transforming wholesale businesses with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

by Steve Shebuski
Vice President of Digital Strategy & Solutions, Blue Horseshoe

The wholesale industry is facing rapid change. Mergers and acquisitions, product innovation, and the impact of B2C trends on the B2B space, have led wholesalers to feel increasing pressure to transform in order to compete. Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) is often the vehicle for a wholesaler's business transformation. However, many of the wholesalers I talk with are just beginning to scratch the surface with their use of D365FO and are missing opportunities to truly transform their business.

Although finance teams frequently use D365FO, the company as a whole may not be using it to manage their customer service, supply chain, and logistics. The feedback from end-users boils down to this: Wholesalers are aware of how the software can impact specific business areas, but they don't have a holistic view of how the platform can serve as the catalyst to transform processes across the organization.

When talking with wholesale companies, I try to help them focus on everyday activities that can create a competitive advantage for their business.  Then we identify where business value intersects with solution capabilities and create an environment that allows D365FO to solve problems and drive value. Some of the key areas of value within wholesalers are:

  • Process automation
  • Connected supply chains
  • Data extensibility
  • Analytics and business intelligence

Let's take a deeper dive into some of these areas.

Automate processes, manage exceptions

Every business has process rules, and that is especially true for wholesalers. Wholesalers routinely use people to manage workflows, approvals, orders, and invoicing. With D365FO, wholesalers can automate these processes and have their workers manage the exceptions, and not the entire process. They can set the business rules, process flow, and who to alert if something isn't going as defined. This allows teams to focus on the areas that need the most attention, and not just on completing tasks.

Here's a straightforward example of how automation within D365FO can transform a process that would have involved multiple people, from several departments, across different locations.

Step 1: A customer, who has a few past due invoices, places an order via EDI.

Step 2: D365FO places a temporary hold on the order and a notification is sent to specific individuals per business rules. This could include the sales rep and account manager. At this point, the organization can create another process to manage collections.

Step 3: Once the temporary hold is removed, the order is placed back in line to reserve inventory.

Step 4: The order is moved to the fulfillment processes.

Automating processes creates efficiencies while also reducing errors. You can set the business rules, create processes, manage exception with your people, and leave the execution to D365.

Connect your supply chain

Gross margin, operating expenses, and working capital are vital stats that help define a wholesaler's financial health. Wholesalers indicate the need for more clarity around the numbers. They want to dig deeper into their costs, and are interested in predictive analytics and machine learning.

It's all about the data but getting at these numbers is often complex for wholesale companies. Why? Because most companies have siloed, incomplete data across disconnected systems.

D365FO can serve as a foundational hub to make data a central piece of the business, since all the data is housed in one place. With recent enhancements and future functionality on the roadmap, wholesalers should consider moving from stand-alone point solutions to D365FO to manage more business functions – and their data. This includes more robust financial management capabilities and supply chain functions.

When a business uses D365FO to manage both finance and supply chain functions, the business users have immediate access to information like production times, shipping status, and final delivery dates. Arming your customer service employees with this type of information creates a better customer experience while offering the business more insight into what products your customers are receiving and when.

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About Steve Shebuski

Steve has 20+ years of experience as a Program Manager/Design Lead/Project Manager implementing both Microsoft Dynamics as well as tier I and tier II warehouse management and transportation software solutions. Steve's extensive experience in distribution, manufacturing, transportation and retail combined with his innovative approach to system architecture are the backbone of the solutions implemented and deployed by Blue Horseshoe.

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