Inventory Management Issues at the North Pole

from our correspondent: Ivor Sackful

Dateline: December 12th

Location: Lapland – 67° North


Wishing to escape the cold weather I have travelled to Lapland. Here I am reporting on a truly fantastic Dynamics NAV implementation. At this time of year the system is really singing, as orders are stockpiled ready for the annual global delivery. Last Christmas the mastermind of this operation – Saint Nick – admitted that life was getting on top of him:

“I’m not getting any younger, you know…” remarked the bearded wonder. “… and if you think about it I’ve got the warehousing and logistics nightmare of all nightmares.”

“My customers don’t start ordering until November, and some of them leave it until the night before. When the orders come in they are from billions of customers and for tens of billions of items. Of course, before I can even accept an order every single customer has to be credit checked! Good girl, bad girl, good boy, bad boy – you know the score."

Nick decided it was time to change.

“So last January, rather than put my feet up, as I usually do, I thought no, its about time I got an ERP system. And not any ERP system, no, this one had to be special. Multi-national – of course, but also I needed handhelds for all the Elves in the warehouse, at QC, packing and dispatch. Magic is all very well, but you need a backup, that’s what I say. I mean, one little piece of magic going astray and I could be delivering pizzas on Superbowl Sunday by mistake. It’s as easy as a sprinkle of fairy dust getting caught in a slight breeze.

“Now, delivery routing was an absolute MUST. Using the Bing API I plotted the exact location of all the chimneys in the world. It’s all very well going round taking pictures of people’s front doors, but that’s no good to me. And then tight integration to a Windows Phone 7  fitted right in the slay telling me where to go next. Have you seen the weather over Birmingham right now? Now that’s what I call cloud computing.

“Lastly, there’s keeping track of all the little children who need presents. Integrated NRM is what I needed – Nipper Relationship Management. Luckily, and after a somewhat disturbing search on the Internet, I found what I was looking for on PinPoint. With the integration to NAV 2009 R2 out-of-the box and free too, the decision was a no-brainer (as people with small brains like to say. Ho Ho Ho!). You know, people say that Santa Claus is all about the sack, but I couldn't do any of it without the STACK”

I thought it was all too good to be true, so took a look around Grotto Inc., Santa’s facility here in the far north. And something was wrong. I saw toys, yes, by the lorry load and more elves than you could shake a pogo-stick at. Laptops and handhelds abound, but no server room. Had they gone back to relying on magic, after all? This was surely a sham. I confronted the head man.

“This is all a sham, surely" I said, sternly

“No, no, no. And don’t call me Shirley” (I had fallen for the obvious Leslie Neilson tribute).

“You see Mr Sackful, its all hosted. You can’t run a sophisticated IT system like the one I need without the most professional of data-centres at the heart. I get 99.9% uptime – far more than I could get in-house. My elves are fantastic, have magical powers and can work all the hours that God sends. But, lets face it, not even they can keep up with Microsoft’s product release schedule. No, time to call the professionals. And… let me let you in to a little secret… It saves me money”

“Why so Santa?”

“I only pay when I’m using the system. Using my special powers I worked out that under the SPLA agreement I could have the system on a per-user, per-month basis. So I pay for November and December and then the rest of the year its as free as a flying reindeer.”

So, Santa seems to have it all sorted – servers, systems and logistics are all in the sack. What could go wrong?

“Ah, well” Santa interjects. “There is the payment for my services.”

“Payment Santa? Have you gone mad?”

“Let me just say this: Mince Pie, Glass of Sherry, Carrot for Rudolph. No payment terms, no credit. Strictly on delivery. I’m not running a charity you know!”

This is Ivor Sackful signing off from Lapland. Next stop – Miss Muffet’s Tuffet PLC – where we’ll be looking at Web Services.

All the best to the NAV Channel in 2011

Steve Farr

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