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  • Effective Shipping Container Management in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

    When distributing product globally, it is paramount to effectively track shipments and associated costs. For a client of ours, who sourced and manufactured product internationally for sale in local markets, specifically tracking containers was critical to their business success. A legacy solution was ineffective at providing the visibility and detail required to ensure operational excellence. With Dynamics 365 Business Central, Corterra Solutions built a solution to track, report, disposition container movements globally through various technologies. Read more about how we did it below by downloading the case study.

  • Team Member Spotlight: Michelle Moffatt

    We are delighted to spotlight one of our talented team members, Michelle Moffatt, who joined Corterra Solutions as a Business Systems Analyst in June 2022. Michelle has a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and a passion for providing quality support for ultimate customer satisfaction. In her short time with Corterra, Michelle has successfully worked with clients to implement and maintain various Microsoft Dynamics 365 modules, while adapting to specific client needs. She has also demonstrated her skills in data analysis, user training, issue resolution, and user permission management. Michelle is an effective communicator and a problem-solver who can deliver strategic and effective solutions to all challenges. We are grateful to have Michelle on our team and we look forward to seeing her grow and excel in her role. She is a valuable asset to our company and our clients. Q&A Q: What is your favorite part about working at Corterra Solutions? My favorite part about working for Corterra has been the opportunity to work on several projects that are vastly different. As this is my first job post graduation it has been extremely beneficial to my growth as a consultant to be able to learn the different aspects of how D365. I have been fortunate to be able to work on implementation of current D365 modules, creating new business processes within D365, the back-end permissions of D365, as well as recently learning the Kronos system. Each project is always a different experience that allows me to learn and grow. Q: What are three words to describe Corterra Solutions? Determined, Creative, Resourceful. Q: How do you like to spend your time when you are not working? I love playing board games and going to trivia nights with my friends. Q: What are some interesting things about you that people might not know about you? I love reality tv! Growing up my family always watched Big Brother, Survivor, Hells Kitchen and more. That has always been an interest of mine, and now my friends and I do a survivor draft every season to make it even more exciting!

  • Boost Your Productivity with Microsoft AI Tools: Image Creator and Copilot Chat

    Microsoft offers various AI tools, including Copilot Chat (formerly Bing Chat) and Image Creator, that can assist anyone from accountants to developers in different aspects of their work. These tools provide innovative solutions and boost your productivity in unique ways. Keep reading for a couple of quick tips for solving real-world problems to boost your productivity with Microsoft Image Creator and Copilot Chat. Troubleshooting Using Copilot Chat Copilot Chat can be a valuable tool in speeding up the troubleshooting process. It allows users to directly paste in an error message from code and receive suggested next steps and possible causes for the error message. This saves time and provides specific guidance for resolving issues. Take the example below when given an error message from Dynamics 365 Business Central, Bing returns a nice response directing you to answers. Search engines were always a way to find information, but the chat powered search goes to another level. Rewriting Text Using Copilot in Edge In addition to troubleshooting, Copilot can also be used to refine and rewrite text. Users can prompt Copilot in Edge with a specific text and receive a more professional or polished version as a response. This can be helpful when crafting important messages or documents, providing inspiration or guidance for improved communication. It's worth noting that when using AI-generated text, it's paramount to review, personalize and modify. By incorporating certain phrases or keywords from the AI-generated response, users can craft their own message while maintaining a professional tone. Incorporating is bolded in the previous sentence as I put this paragraph into Copilot, and I preferred the word choice it had over my own. Image Creation Microsoft's Image Creator, accessible via Bing, allows users to generate images based on specific prompts. Users can provide details such as the subject, art style, and other attributes to create customized images. This can be a time-saving feature when preparing materials for presentations, blog posts, or other visual content. The below image was generated with this tool depicting a warehouse in a cartoon style. However, it's crucial to review the images generated by the tool to ensure they are appropriate and align with the intended message. Users should be aware of any potentially inappropriate symbols or patterns that may appear in the generated images. Proceed with Caution These tools are great, but you need to proceed with caution while using them. Primarily, do not input any proprietary information into these tools. Leaks of proprietary information have occurred before unfortunately at some rather large organizations (potentially the device you are reading this post on). Secondarily, always review the content generated. AI has been known to “hallucinate” by completely making up very detailed responses that are factually incorrect. It’s right often, but wrong enough to be aware. In a Nutshell Microsoft's emerging AI tools have the potential to revolutionize the way we work and enhance employee productivity. By simplifying workflows, automating tasks, and providing innovative solutions, these tools can unlock creativity and boost efficiency like never before. Whether it's through intelligent virtual assistants, predictive analytics, or image creation, Microsoft's AI tools offer exciting possibilities for professionals looking to stay ahead in the fast-paced business world. As we continue to embrace the power of artificial intelligence, it's important to explore and harness these tools to make work more enjoyable, rewarding, and ultimately, more productive. So, why wait? Note: Much of this article was created using original content from Corterra team member Will Parker and fed into a few tools listed below. Go Charlie. for general marketing content. Bing Image Creator. Created two images in this blog. Copilot Chat in Bing. Inspiration, minor proofreading.

  • Team Member Spotlight: Jamie Kenna

    Jamie has been with Corterra since 2020, when she was hired full-time after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Statistics. She started as an intern while she was still in school, showcasing her ability to learn and problem solve. Once on-board full time, she quickly became a critical team member supporting a global distributor and manufacturing client in the electronics industry. Her projects range from operational reporting to client support, as well as C# plugin development. Her work has automated client business processes and results in significant increases in productivity and information availability. As her knowledge of the systems, business, and technology has increased, she has taken on a more active role in leading and mentoring junior team members. In her current role as a Senior Developer, Jamie leads small development teams on solutions ranging from ERP application enhancements to data warehousing solutions to reporting needs. Q&A Q: What is your favorite part about working at Corterra Solutions? My favorite part about working at Corterra Solutions is the variety of work we handle. Each day we face new challenges in implementing logic to support our clients. I enjoy the balance between the technical aspects of our solutions as well as the creativity that stems from customizing the application. The fast-paced environment along with the ever-changing nature of IT allows ample opportunity for growth. Whether it's working on different projects, being introduced to new tools, or learning unique business processes— there's never a dull day in the office! Q: What are three words to describe Corterra Solutions? Innovative, welcoming, engaging. Q: How do you like to spend your time when you are not working? Outside of work I like to spend my time catching up with friends and traveling. Q: What are some interesting things about you that people might not know about you? My desire to travel comes from spending a semester abroad in college. Although I studied in Ireland, I was able to explore new cities on the weekends while visiting friends throughout Europe.

  • Team Member Spotlight: Joe Bonomo

    Continuing our Team Member Spotlight series, the spotlight here is on Principal Architect, Joe Bonomo. This spotlight will be a bit different. Joe was featured in the LAS @ Work series from the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Read the article below to learn more about Joe's experiences that lead him to his current role at Principal Architect.

  • Managed Service Center: Managing customer requests with Dynamics 365 Customer Service

    All businesses need the ability to efficiently and effectively track and report on customer requests. Corterra is no exception to this as a technology service provider. By utilizing Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Corterra has improved our internal request tracking and reporting to deliver the white-glove service we pride ourselves in. Read the case study for how we transformed managing customer requests and how it can help your business. Download by clicking the button below.

  • Benefits and challenges migrating to the cloud.

    Corterra has helped many clients in migrating their applications and systems to the cloud. In this case study, we will discuss our approach, the challenges, and the benefits of cloud migration, especially for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Read the case study by clicking the button below.


    ORIGINAL POST FROM 2019. Still applicable! Are you a small to middle market company looking to better leverage your data to make business decisions? Have you heard of Power BI and want to learn what it is all about? We want to help answer the common questions we hear from our clients regarding data analytics and Power BI. What is “data analytics”? We are all about data these days. But what does that mean? Businesses are finding new and competitive advantages by utilizing data analytics tools to gain insights into their data. The insights gained are endless. Some quick examples on the value of data analytics could include cost savings, time reduction, efficiency improvement, return on investment, understanding market conditions, sales performance and profitability, robust finance and accounting reporting, etc. Large companies are taking serious advantage of data analytics. But what about small and middle market businesses? The top questions/concerns we hear from clients are: There are many data analytics tools. How do I choose? How much time and effort will this cost us? I hear the term “Power BI” but what does that mean? To help address these questions, we want to share our perspective from both an accounting/ finance and IT perspective. We will dig into answering some common questions we hear from our clients regarding Power BI and data analytics. Note while reading: Always keep in mind the following key objectives/questions prior to investing time and effort into a data program: Data Objective – What value will this data provide? Data Execution – Who will own the data? Who will validate the data and ensure it is complete and accurate? Data Communication – How will we communicate the data? How will we act on it? Below are answers to the top questions we hear from our clients: 1. What is Power BI? How does it work? IT Response: Power BI is a business intelligence and data analytics tool from Microsoft that can deliver powerful visualizations and data insights. As an analytics and reporting tool, the platform was built with the end user in mind. Packaged within Power BI are hundreds of connectors, such as Excel, SQL Database, Share Point, Salesforce, Mail Chimp, and Quick Books, just to name a few. It can help to drive business decisions through insightful representations of data and offers the ability to pull data from different sources. It will mainly help in any scenario where a “total view” is needed of your data. Finance/Accounting Response: Power BI’s innate capability to connect data could be a low-cost alternative to expensive and sometimes ineffective system integration. Power BI’s ability to easily connect with popular financial, operational and sales packages reduces unnecessary costs and leads to an easily obtainable data set(s) to analyze. 2. I don’t have the time to spend learning and implementing a new data analytics system. What is the upfront time and costs of Power BI? IT Response: Power BI costs as little as $10/month per user. You must already have Office 365 to be able to use Power BI. The report writing tool, the Power BI Desktop application, is FREE. We suggest trying out the desktop application to get a feel for Power BI before incurring cost of purchasing licenses. In regard to the learning curve/time costs, Power Query is embedded and is similar in format to Excel. This allows for non-developer end users to make data manipulations logically. For example, data from different divisions are all stored in Excel spreadsheets. Power BI gives the capability to pull those spreadsheets together into one data set. Then with Power Query, add calculated columns, aggregations, relationships, etc. by pointing and clicking, not by writing code. Power Query tracks what you did and records it. The next time you need to do your reporting, simply point to the update spreadsheets and Power Query will repeat those steps you did previously. This is impressive and powerful. What used to require a developer can now be done by an end user with minimal training. Finance/Accounting Response: If the words “repeatable” and “automated” put a smile on your face, Power BI could be the thing of your dreams. Think of the endless monthly grind of reconciliations, financials statement prep and management/board reporting. Just within accounting, eliminating the standard monthly processes to incorporate system repeatable steps can save hours, if not days. Imagine these efficiencies across other departments? 3. I have multiple systems. How challenging would it be to integrate? IT Response: Short answer, compared to alternative data programs, integration is not challenging. Power BI is a great tool to pull data from multiple systems with many pre-packaged connections to common data sources and services. The data-modeling capabilities in Power BI allow for “Access”-like relationship modeling. Have Salesforce and Quick Books data? Use the connectors for Salesforce and Quick Books to pull the table you desire. Once that data is pulled, use the relationship modeling capabilities to relate the Salesforce data to the Quick Books. Have data on multiple servers? Data gateways allow you to connect to those disparate SQL servers and pull your data together. 4. I have an old system, my data is inconsistent, and cleansing has never been done. Can Power BI handle my data? IT Response: While Power BI works best with “clean” data, data cleansing can be done right in Power BI. Power Query can be used to clean up the data without having a deep technical knowledge. Removing duplicates, unused columns, filtering out old/inconsistent data can all be done intuitively and repeatable. That being said, every situation is different. Power BI does not “obsolete” data/IT consultants, but it does give much more power to the end user than before. The best approach to dealing with “bad” data is to fix it in the source if at all possible. Fixing data in the source is always the preferred route. Finance/Accounting Response: It is best to assign a data champion to ensure data is both complete and accurate. In small to middle market companies – finance/accounting generally are the best option to validate the underlying data prior to relying on it. 5. Why Power BI? What can my data tell me? Data is everywhere but in many cases the ability to gain insights from the data in a cost-effective manner can be challenging. Power BI solves this issue. Historically, pulling data from disparate sources and creating meaningful visualizations would be only possible by a database professional. No longer is that the case. If you have a vision for what you want to see to measure the success of your team, department, division, or company, it can be accomplished in Power BI. From gauges, to line graphs, to summary tiles, Power BI brings data to life. See some real examples below: Sales Dept: Problem: Sales is concerned discounts and price reductions are impacting overall performance. A sales manager wants to understand the true gross -margin or profitability of sales per salesperson. Currently relies on a Salesforce report reporting total sales by sales person. Solution: Integrate or “connect” Salesforce data to financial data within Power BI. Power BI can incorporate cost per SKU/item sold to the Salesforce data by sales person. This results in a powerful report, including sales and gross margin per sales person. Accounting: Problem: Accounting has to manually prepare financial statements and management reports in excel on a monthly basis. The current financial system is not capable of meeting the company’s financial reporting needs. Solution: Integrate or “connect” results to Excel reports or the financial system. Once the desired format is setup in Power BI, a monthly process to load or sync to the financial system takes minutes. On a regular basis, financials and management reporting are formatted with respective illustrative exhibits (e.g. charts or other visual aids). These are just a few examples. Data is being used everywhere – from helping hospital and insurance claims understand operations to marketing departments looking to understand the return on their investment. Conclusion: Power BI is a “power”-ful tool to gain insights into your existing data. The learning curve and costs are manageable compared to the alternatives. When implementing a data program for your business remember these key objectives: Work with key stakeholders to understand the overall objectives and potential value of the data. Start simple! Develop a process for the data definitions, processing and analysis. Effectively analyze and communicate the results – and more importantly – act on the results! About the Authors Chris Cutrara, Cutrara Consulting is an industry “fixer”. He has over 18 years of experience, working extensively with companies going through change. He has a keen ability to quickly identify problem areas and implement new systems to create value for his clients. Joe Bonomo, Corterra Solutions, is an IT consultant using creative problem-solving techniques and technology to solve business problems. Throughout his career, Joe has a wide range of experience as a developer, business analyst, solutions architect, and manager. Joe has worked with all levels in an organization from manufacturing floor workers, accounts payable clerks, and C-suite executives, to name a few, giving insight to the challenge’s businesses face.

  • Enumlytics for Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain: List enum labels for reporting and integrations

    Enumlytics is a tool for Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain to aid reporting, analytics, and integration solutions external to the application. A list of enum data type values and labels are not stored anywhere in the database, nor is there a data entity to use in a data warehousing situation. This is problematic, as only the integer value of an enum field is stored in database transactions. Without Enumlytics, data analytics and integrations must rely on manual translations. While this may work for some time, the moment a new value is added to an enum, the report will have no label to show, requiring additional work to add another translation. Download the case study here to find our more and reach out to Corterra Solutions to get the solution.

  • SimpleCount for Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain: Simple Cycle Count Automation

    Imagine this scenario. The business needs simple cycle counts to be automatically generated daily or weekly. Sure, advanced warehousing has this capability, but do you really want to implement the complexity of advanced warehousing only for cycle count automation? Luckily, Corterra Solutions was able to solve this problem for a medium-sized manufacturer with SimpleCount for Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain and is ready to implement this solution for your business. Read the case study here for more information about the solution for simple cycle count automation in Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain.

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