General News

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25
May

What technologies enable effective collaboration? 

Top 3 technologies for successful collaboration

Collaboration within the workplace changed when the pandemic hit. Many had to work from home and businesses faced a growing pressure to keep productivity levels high. Businesses turned to technology to increase collaboration and keep their businesses agile. Cloud technology and third-party hosting services have continued to evolve, making them more accessible to SMEs. 

Here are Monpellier’s top tools for effective collaboration  

 

Virtual meeting rooms  

Following the pandemic virtual meetings have become a part of everyday life and according to Microsoft’s daily Team’s usage reports they are here to stay.  

All virtual meeting software should have a chat function, a whiteboard function to jot ideas down, a file-sharing function and breakout rooms. Also, businesses should consider security features and connections with other apps to make sure their virtual meetings are as productive as possible.  

One example of such software is Microsoft Teams. It features breakout rooms, a whiteboard function and integration with Microsoft Word and Excel. Businesses can use Microsoft Teams to hold meetings and share files for everyone to collaborate on.  

 

Cloud computing  

The days of emailing colleagues for the most up to date version of a document are gone. Cloud computing enables employees to access documents stored in one place. Employees can organise the workspace through different folders and lists, so documents are easy to find. People can access, edit and share documents without the need for multiple copies, saving time while increasing collaboration.  

Microsoft has a selection of options for document storage including One Drive and SharePoint. 

 

Customer Relationship Management  

Collaboration isn’t just internal, being able to collaborate with your clients and audience can develop lasting relationships. 

A good CRM can improve customer service by integrating all communication such as phone calls, emails and social media. As well as gaining more customers, a good CRM retains existing customers by building a detailed profile of their preferences. Combining this with data about how they behave empowers your business to drive customer engagement.  

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM features functions such as sales, marketing and insights for a deeper understanding of the customer. Dynamics 365 CRM also has AI to predict the best customer to reach out to and the best actions to take. Furthermore, it integrates with Microsoft Teams linking chats to different sale records for improving customer experience and training new staff.   

 

Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, One Drive and Dynamics 365 CRM can all help improve collaboration in your business.  If your business is looking to implement virtual collaboration solutions, we can help you understand your options, and pricing and help you choose a solution that is right for your needs.  

If you want to know more about the different software mentioned, click on the links for SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics 365. Or if you want to speak with our expert consultants, click here and see how we can help.  

16
May

Business Process Automation in 2022

Business Process Automation: The current state of automation in 2022

Businesses have constantly looked for ways to automate processes, to save time and money whilst increasing output. Over the past 20 years, technology has enabled businesses in all industries to automate repetitive processes. In 2022, these automation technologies have become inexpensive enough for all businesses to take advantage of the benefits that automation provides.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of automation, some areas for automation and how your business can get started with automation in 2022.

 

Benefits of automation

Speed up processes and eliminate human error – Business Process Automation streamlines repetitive processes, with a solution working 24/7 to complete tasks. This frees up time for employees, enabling them to spend more time doing work to grow the business. Similarly, as manual data entry is prone to human error, automation ensures that all tasks are completed accurately.

Connect disparate systems and data – As businesses have become more reliant on technology, they collect a massive amount of data from several systems. Whilst this data enables better decision making and delivers valuable insights, it can be difficult to connect systems together. In 2022, many automation suites have a variety of connectors enabling businesses to get the most out of their data.

Simplify compliance – Businesses can simplify compliances with automation. As automation runs on exact rules, it ensures that workflows comply with any regulation, and it can also help with audits and record keeping.

 

Areas for automation

Sales and Marketing – Many processes can be automated within sales and marketing to help businesses win new customers and provide better customer experiences.

From a marketing viewpoint, automation can streamline email communications, social media, and other campaign elements, whilst building a stronger journey. Most marketing automation suites connect with a business’s customer relationship management (CRM) software to store data in a single system.

A simple example of how marketing automation can work is an email registration automation sequence. When a prospect registers for an account on a business’s website, they receive a personalised sign-up confirmation. It has their name and details of how to use the services the business offers. Marketing automation suite records each touchpoint, and can to create bespoke customer experiences.

For a sales team, can use automation book meetings or demos. Microsoft Bookings is available with all Microsoft 365 licenses and can enable individuals to select a free time slot and book a call with a sales team member. It automatically adds this event to both parties’ calendars, enabling employees to spend more time selling and less time doing administrative tasks.

Customer Service – Although human interaction is necessary to provide excellent customer service, automation can still help the process. A common method of automating customer service is using a chatbot. There are solutions that can empower businesses to create intelligent conversational bots to improve the customer experience. Microsoft Power Virtual Agents is one of these technologies.

Internal Systems and Processes – Business automation can transform internal systems and processes for any department with the use of Microsoft Power Automate.

Power Automate is a low-code automation solution that enables businesses to automate repetitive mundane tasks with hundreds of pre-built connectors. Some common internal processes to automate include holiday request forms, Active Directory deployments, approval process and employee onboarding. However Power Automate is such a powerful solution so it is possible to automate any processes within a business.

 

How to get started with Business Automation in 2022

As automation technology has become viable for businesses of all sizes, now is the time to stop doing mundane repetitive tasks and start taking advantage of automation. If you want to find out more about how your business can benefit from automation, contact us today.

To find out more products we offer, visit the link HERE.

12
May

Three areas Pegasus CIS can help your construction business 

Manage your employees, stock and reporting with Pegasus CIS  

Managing your construction finances and contractors can be challenging, add to that a lack of skilled workers, increased material costs and the pressure to adopt modern methods of construction, and your business could be at boiling point.  

Contract costing solutions such as Pegasus CIS can help with all aspects of contracting while following HMRC’s Construction Industry Scheme.  

Monpellier will explore three areas CIS can help your construction projects.  

Manage your employees, contractors, and subcontractors  

You may want to employ a contractor on top of your usual employees or even a subcontractor for your construction project. You can see their working contracts, timesheets and their payment terms all within CIS to make sure monthly return reports are correct to avoid penalties.   

It also has a subcontractor ledger that includes the requirement from HMRC Construction Industry Scheme. It can verify subcontractors manually or automatically. After verification, Pegasus CIS recognises if they are paid in net or gross.  

Manage your stock  

Pegasus CIS allows you to see and manage your entire stock from all your warehouses. You can reserve stock for an upcoming project and set a period to deliver stock to the site which helps with project timings. Everyone can see the all the information regarding stock meaning fewer mix ups and saving time.

Along with this function, it automatically manages your finances. Relevant cost of the stock will be given to that project including VAT, storage holding cost etc.  

All these functions are managed within the Pegasus CIS Stock Control module.  

Manage your reporting  

You can export data to Microsoft Excel with Pegasus XRL saving time over manual data entry. This also allows you to further analyse and create graphical representations to understand the data better. 

The Pegasus XRL function appears on Excel as a button within the main menu banner. Clicking on this will activate the XRL wizard suggesting bespoke reports and analysis so you can create detailed reports about projects. 

These are just three areas in which Pegasus CIS can help your construction projects run smoother. If you want more details about the functions of Pegasus CIS, please follow the link HERE  

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us HERE and we will be happy to help  

 

5
May

How moving to the cloud can benefit not-for-profit organisations

Key cloud modules and advantages for NFPs

Over the past two years, many not-for-profit organisations have adopted new cloud technologies to enable remote and hybrid work. This may have been the implementation of Microsoft Teams to communicate during COVID, or other solutions that enable NFPs (not-for-profits) to deliver essential services. These technologies are the first step in the journey of moving to the cloud. Further adoption technologies can fundamentally change the way NFP organisations work, meaning those who rely on them can receive better services.  

In this article Monpellier will discuss what is meant by cloud computing, the benefits of moving to the cloud for not-for-profit organisations, and how these organisations can continue their journey to the cloud. 

 

What is the Cloud? 

The cloud refers to servers that are accessed via the internet and includes the software and databases that run on those servers. There are three key cloud models that are important: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. 

Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS are applications that are hosted on cloud services that user’s access over the internet. Examples include the office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) within a Microsoft 365 subscription. 

Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS, is a model whereby businesses do not pay for hosted applications, but rather they pay for the elements necessary to build their own applications. This includes the infrastructure, development tools and operating system. These are delivered over the internet, through a public cloud provider, such as Microsoft Azure. 

Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS, is a service that offers storage and networking resources, similar to renting a server. This is the most complex model; however, it offers the most flexibility.  

 

Benefits of SaaS for Not-For-Profits 

  • Productivity – One of the many SaaS offerings is the Microsoft 365 suite of applications which is a perfect solution for those looking to increase productivity. With a Microsoft 365 subscription, users have access to office applications, including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, cloud storage with OneDrive, and the ability to use Teams for communication and collaboration. As this is a cloud offering, all these applications are designed to work together, to increase productivity and make collaboration within an organisation, or externally, easier than ever. 
  • Security – All organisations are at risk of cyberattack. In recent years, cybercriminals have targeted many charities and NFPs, as they typically have less security. With a SaaS solution, such as Microsoft 365, there are many in-built security features that keep businesses safe from attacks. Furthermore, businesses can use multi-factor authentication within Microsoft 365 to stop 99.9% of account compromise attacks. 
  • Flexibility – Many not-for-profit organisations are looking to adopt a hybrid work model in the coming months. Such a model has many benefits for employees and businesses alike, however without the right technology, it is difficult for employees to work effectively. Cloud solutions are perfectly designed for hybrid work.  

 

Benefits of IaaS and PaaS for NFPs 

  • Scalability – With cloud services, businesses can increase or decrease the amount of resource as required. For traditional on-premises infrastructure, if a NFP needed to increase storage space on their server, or the load is going to increase due to a short period of temporary workers, the entire server would need to be upgraded. With a cloud server, NFPs can temporarily increase the amount of resource to accommodate these changes and decrease it when necessary. This is especially beneficial to organisations that are looking to grow quickly. 
  • Security – If a NFP has their own servers, they are responsible for ensuring that it is secure, both in initial configuration and updates to the operating system and applications. This is a complex process and requires costly security expertise. If the system has poor security, it can result in a data breach. Cloud solutions allow for advanced security configuration, and the Azure public cloud is monitored 24/7 by a large team of security professionals. Cloud services still need to be regularly updated to remain secure, but this can be outsourced to a trusted IT provider. 
  • Cost Savings – Traditional on-premises infrastructure requires a significant capital investment, and over time the infrastructure will need to be upgraded or replaced. Many NFPs cannot afford this initial investment, which can lead to sub-par performance and a poor user experience. With a cloud solution, businesses only pay for the resources they use, which significantly reduces the capital investment and provides better value over time. 

 

How to Move to the Cloud 

Regardless of whether your NFP organisation is looking to move to the cloud with a SaaS, PaaS or IaaS solution, there are many benefits for businesses and users alike. Implementing a new technology can be the catalyst for immense growth and can provide a better experience for those that rely on your essential services. Although moving to the cloud may seem like a daunting task, we are here to help make the process as efficient and effective as possible.  

To find out more about how your not-for-profit organisation could benefit from cloud technologies, contact us today for a free consultation here.  

 

21
Apr

How does Microsoft Power Platform utilise Identity and Access Management?

Features of Microsoft Power platform’s Identity and Access Management System 

Microsoft Power Platform integrates IAM (identity and access management) for employees to work productively. It is essential that they have access to the files and tools required to do their job, but it is also possible for an employee to have too much access, which can lead to major security issues. IAM is the process of managing and authenticating user identities and what they can access.  

In this article, we will discuss the basics of IAM, and how the Microsoft Power Platform utilises this.  

 

What is Identity and Access Management? 

Identity and Access Management contains processes, policies, tools to define and manage roles and access rights of both users and devices. 

The users may include customers, employees and contractors while the devices may include computers, mobile phones, servers, IoT devices, etc. The IT systems include SaaS applications, on-premises applications and file storage.  

The goal of IAM is to ensure that users’ identities are authenticated, and they can access the right tools necessary to work effectively. 

 

How does Identity and Access Management work within Power Platform? 

IAM solutions typically manage three tasks: identification, authentication, and authorisation. 

Identification 

The user will be identified by entering their login credentials which are stored within Azure AD then Microsoft will check security groups and permissions to identify who is trying to login. 

Authentication 

Microsoft Power Platform uses multi factor authentication handled within Azure AD to ensure you are the correct user. 

Azure AD multi-factor works by requiring two or more authentication methods. This includes something the user knows such as a password, along with a trusted device such as personal phone, or biometrics such as fingerprint or face scan. The users can choose different methods on how they can authenticate themselves. 

Authorisation 

Finally, Microsoft Power Platform will manage the authorisation of a user’s access. In the admin centre, administrators can create different groups so employees can have the right access for development work. Administrators can view and manage all resources created within the environment and manage different users.  

When solutions from Power Apps, Power BI. Power Automate and virtual agents are published, different security groups can be set for the end-user, which is similar to the development stage. The management of the company may have total control over the solution whereas employees can only view certain data. 

 

How Monpellier can help your business 

Microsoft Power Platform has a comprehensive Identity and Access Management solution for employees to work productively and abide by data laws. Monpellier can create a cloud-based solution for your business that has a complete and customisable IAM.

To find out more about the Microsoft Power Platform, click here 

Or contact one of our consultants here to see how we can help your business.  

5
Apr

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central – construction

4 Construction phases Microsoft Business Central can manage 

The UK construction industry has been hit with new building legislations, increasing inflation and material transport issues in 2022. However, managing these changes smoothly can help minimise project disruptions.  Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can be your all-in-one construction ERP solution to ensure prompt and informed decisions. 

In this blog, Monpellier will cover 4 areas MSD365BC can help your construction business. 

1. Planning

Set key performance indicators and budgets during the planning and designing phase of a project so you can keep track of progress and cash flows within Business Central. 

Vital documents such as building layouts, risk assessments, examinations reports, and much more can be stored in Business Central. Set permissions for increased privacy so clear and consistent information can be accessed by relevant people remotely. 

2. Scheduling 

Microsoft Business Central integrates with third-party apps to add visual elements to scheduling and provide additional time management tools. Set up different jobs needed throughout the project with descriptions, start dates and end dates, the project owner as well as equipment and materials needed.  

Team members can access Business Central and mark when a task is finished which will notify the rest of the team. They can also request time off which can be approved by the project manager remotely.  

3. Logistics 

Business Central handles purchasing and delivery of both building materials and equipment. Assign serial and lot numbers to materials, then log the time of arrival to the site and amount. Register details of fixed assets and log movements to and from storage allowing complete management of logistics. 

Combine this with the schedule set during the planning stage to make sure the correct materials and equipment arrive on time. Set alerts if late arrivals occur, or incorrect equipment and materials arrive on site. 

4. Reporting 

Automate document generation by setting template designs based on your company’s brand guidelines. Then use data from schedules, logistics reports, or finances to fill out and complete various documents. Choose your output format and share it automatically by email or a link to your cloud storage system to save time and effort. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central could be the solution you have been looking for to unify your processes and data.  

Find out more information about Business Central here 

Interested in finding the right solution but unsure of what software is right for you? View our contact information, here and speak to one of our specialist consultants today. 

28
Mar

Transform your manufacturing processes with Power BI

Top 5 ways to improve efficiency and management with Microsoft Power BI 

Manufacturers are facing increasing costs so many organisations are looking to Industry 4.0 and other ways to increase productivity and help mitigate rising costs. Data management tools such as Power BI can help accelerate productivity by giving your business access to insightful data, giving you the means to make impactful decisions.  

Monpellier has gathered together our top 5 reasons Power BI can transform your manufacturing process.  

1. Inventory Management 

Inventory management is at the heart of every manufacturing business. With the use of inventory codes and material locations, Power BI gives your manufacturing business insight into a multitude of data including quantities, stock arrival times, storage availability and information on stock that hasn’t moved in prolonged periods of time.  

2. AI  

Power BI ‘s AI predictive modelling helps with project timings and efficient production line management. Input past service records of all machines into the database and Power BI can use AI to predict the next scheduled maintenance, saving time and money. 

3. Project Management  

Monitor when tasks are completed to keep track of progression through various stages of production and get notified about unexpected delays. Use past project times, the materials used, machines used, staff involved alongside AI modelling to predict project times. 

4. Cash Flow Visualisation 

Connect sales and cost data to create various charts to understand where costs arise and potential areas that could be reviewed to reduce costs.  

5. Equipment Monitoring  

Machine maintenance and downtime can be costly. With IoT sensors and Microsoft Power BI manufacturers can analyse the live feeds and update the correct people with possible issues and ultimately give more accurate utilisation results.  

For more information about Power BI, click here or contact us for a free consultation with one of our experts.

21
Mar

How Microsoft 365 has changed the modern office

Innovation, Integration and Collaboration 

The creation of Microsoft’s productivity suite has completely transformed the modern office. Through Microsoft 365 cloud technology you can edit in real-time, access your work remotely and have the reassurance of Microsoft’s centralised security. 

 

What is included in a Microsoft 365 Licence? 

 

Top 5 features of Microsoft 365  

1. Real-time editing 

Cloud storage services such as OneDrive saves files online allowing remote access to files along with real-time editing with peers without the need of saving multiple copies or emailing back and forth. 

Hot tip – Set permissions so documents can be securely shared with those with the right access.  

2. Online Meetings 

Microsoft Teams allows team members to meet, call and collaborate remotely. 

Hot tip – Team members can create their teams, or chat with individuals with the ability to share and edit files from the local computer or OneDrive. 

3. Mobile access 

Mobile technology enables collaboration on the move. All files and apps are accessible as well as the capability to respond to different conversations and join meetings. 

Hot tip – Schedule meetings within Outlook and add useful files for participants straight from SharePoint or OneDrive whilst on the move.  

4. Intranet  

SharePoint is a cloud-based service to create, store and share content online. Creating a company intranet that connects employees with different pages allows everyone to stay up to date with company news, job training, industry news and much more. 

Hot tip – SharePoint has comprehensive search abilities that allow employees to find important information at the touch of a button.  

5. Security  

Microsoft 365 has unparalleled security giving the ability to meet key international, regional, and industry-specific standards and terms, with more than 1,000 security and privacy controls.  

Hot tip – Create password policies that require users to reset their passwords after a specified number of days.  

 

Future Development 

  • Microsoft Loop = Coming later this summer Microsoft Loop is designed to supercharge your project management. Find out more.   
  • Microsoft Mesh (for Teams) = A version of Mesh is already available but 2022 sees the release of the Teams integration update. Microsoft Mesh uses virtual reality for meetings enabling people to connect, work on 2d/3d content and feel connected with actual eye contact and facial expressions via holographic technology. To stay on top of Microsoft news, tips and Microsoft newsletter signup HERE to not miss out 
8
Mar

What is Microsoft Loop?

Microsoft’s collaboration revolution

Back in November 2021 the Microsoft Ignite conference was practically vibrating with excitement following the announcement of Microsoft’s latest collaboration offering, Microsoft Loop. Fast forward to today we are still waiting on an official release date, but we do have some early features that you can try out now and lots of information regarding what’s to come.

What is Microsoft Loop?

Microsoft define Microsoft Loop as an application that “combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across apps”. But what does that mean? Microsoft Loop will integrate with all your existing Microsoft 365 applications giving you the power to share, edit and synchronise content across your team.

Ignite Video Introduction to Microsoft Loop 

 

Microsoft Loop is made up of three elements: Loop Components, Loop Pages, and Loop Workspaces.

Loop Components – individual components such as a table or a piece of text. Components can be shared within Teams chat, email and documents.

Key Feature = Permissions can be set to decide who can only view and who can edit.

 

Loop Pages – collaborative documents with multiple Loop Components, so everything that is being edited is synchronised and organised within one place. When a Loop Component is created, a Loop Page will automatically be created storing that loop and a link will also be generated for access.

Key Feature = Loop Pages lets you access and restore earlier versions just in case an error has occurred.

 

Loop Workspaces – a standalone app where multiple Loop Pages can be created but also other types of content can be added such as documents, links, and other types of content. Loop Workspaces if perfect for specific projects as your team can keep track of their tasks in real-time.

Key Feature = different tasks can be set, and all related documents, Loop Components and Loop Pages can be added to the tasks so everyone can edit at the same time.

 

Microsoft Loop screen images

Features Available Now

Loop Components can be utilised by Microsoft 365 Commercial licence holders across apps like Teams, Outlook, and OneNote. Look for the Loop logo to create a new component and start collaborating.

Loop components

 

What’s Next?

Microsoft have an estimated release date of the first half of 2022 for the full release of Microsoft Loop. To stay up to date with all the latest Microsoft news, tips and advice sign up to our monthly Microsoft newsletter. Sign-Up HERE

4
Jun

5 Reasons your SME should be using SharePoint

Build a low-cost solution to meet your needs 

You can’t escape the phrase ‘Digital Transformation’ this year and although the adoption divide between sectors is reducing, the SME market is still lagging behind. This could be for a number of reasons but one of the most common factors is value. SMEs are more likely to make smaller investments dictated by value, meaning that functions such as accounting and sales are usually the first to get the digital treatment with other areas such as general admin, marketing and operations coming later.  

This is where a solution like Microsoft SharePoint fits perfectly. It’s low cost and designed to scale with your business needs. We’ve gathered our top 5 reasons we think SMEs should be using SharePoint. 

 

Collaboration 

The modern office has changed so much since early 2020 and many companies now have hybrid working. When you factor in that your SME might also have field employees as well as those splitting their time between home and the office and you have a complex variety of needs. Or do you? SharePoint Online can be accessed from anywhere and any internet-enabled device meaning that all employees can get access to the information they need quickly and in real-time. When you then combine other elements such as Microsoft Teams and Power Automate your solution becomes even more intuitive and makes collaborating on projects, documents, tasks and meetings truly painless. 

 

Engagement

You might not currently have a central location for all employees or you might but your solution could be rigid or outdated, regardless of your situation intranets can be tricky to get right. We have found that the best way to create a well-used intranet is to make sure the key players are involved in the conception phase. Find out what your business really needs and how each department manages their individual processes. This way when you begin building your SharePoint intranet it will have all the areas and integrations needed to keep employees coming back to it day after day.

 

Integration

SharePoint integrates with all Microsoft products (Office 365, Teams, Power BI, Power Automate, Dynamics 365 Business Central) and a whole host of other solutions via out-the-box or custom connectors. You can also have custom apps built (at a low cost) using Power Apps that add additional functionality within SharePoint. Custom apps can be developed to do pretty much anything, some common examples for SMEs are holiday management solutions, stock control, interactive expense forms and KPI trackers. 

 

Scalable

Many SMEs start by introducing SharePoint as a document management solution. Then as needs arise the structure is ready and waiting to be scaled up. The platform has the capability to deliver even the most complex internet portals so no matter your requirements SharePoint is flexible enough to serve you. 

 

Protected

A common misconception associated with SharePoint is that it’s not safe due to it being cloud-based. Protection for SharePoint is two-fold, first of all you have the protection implemented by Microsoft which includes access security, application security, data security, physical data centre security, and network security and then you have the protection provided by your organisation. We have more information on the best practices to protect your SME here

 

It can be hard to imagine the possibilities of SharePoint without seeing examples working in real life, because of this we offer free demos and consultations designed to aid SMEs in making digital adoption steps at a pace and budget that suits them. To book your demo simply complete our contact form or call us on 0191 500 8150. 

10
May

QuickBooks versus Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Can Microsoft compete in the SME market?

On the surface you might not put the two products together as Dynamics 365 Business Central is more than just an accounting package, however, many small businesses start with an accounting-only package and then add more solutions resulting in a higher monthly cost. 

QuickBooks markets itself as a simple, cost-effective accounting solution for small and micro-companies. Having been around since 2011 (UK-specific version) it’s hard to find someone who has not used or at least heard of QuickBooks. 

On the other hand, you have Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Not as widely known as QuickBooks, it was first released in 2018 and is Microsoft’s enterprise resource planning system for small to medium-sized businesses. 

Both solutions fit a wide variety of sectors and industries so let’s take a closer look at the positives and negatives for both.

 

Dynamics 365 Business Central’s Strengths 

  • Scalability: Business Central comes with close to 1000 more features than QuickBooks. At its core, you get Financials, Purchasing, Inventory, Operations, Warehousing and Projects and can quickly extend your solution by adding capabilities using pre-built apps or adding customisations. 
  • Customisation: Business Central runs where you need it, in the cloud or on-premises, with the same user experience no matter how you deploy. The mobile version gives you on-the-go access across Windows, Android, or IOS devices.

 

Dynamics 365 Business Central’s Weaknesses

  • Initial investment: As Dynamics 365 Business Central has to be installed and set up by an accredited partner there is an initial set-up cost associated, however, when you compare monthly user subscription prices a D365 Business Central licence at £52.80/user/month compared to a QuickBooks Online Plus licence at £30/user/month there is not a great deal of difference when you consider the functionality chasm between the pair.
  • Training: As a newer solution team members may have no prior experience with Business Central. However there are lots of free helpful resources online and as the solution is sold via 3rd party accredited partners each partner will have their own support offering and training materials on hand. 

 

QuickBooks’ Strengths 

  • Quick Deployment: QuickBooks can be run as a ‘single-tenant’ configuration, meaning you have the option to host the app on a private or public cloud. Furthermore, due to the age and popularity of the solution, there are lots of free support materials available online to help you with getting started. 
  • Low upfront costs: No installation costs and the very basic packages starting from £6 per month plus Payroll. 

 

QuickBooks’ Weaknesses 

  • Scalability: If you’re looking for a solution that can grow with your business and adapt to your changing needs QuickBooks doesn’t offer much flexibility. It comes with data and user limitations and is not suitable for those with robust inventory management needs.
  • No personal support: QuickBooks has a central telephone support offering which for businesses with more complicated requirements may not be sufficient. This differs from Business Central which is provided by a certified Microsoft partner meaning you get personalised support from a team that can get to know your business.  

 

Monpellier is a Microsoft accredited partner based in the North East and Cumbria, specialising in business solutions for the SME market. For more information regarding Dynamics 365 Business Central, a free functionality demo or a personalised quote please don’t hesitate to get in CONTACT.

10
May

Changing VAT rates

Manage VAT rate changes in Dynamics 365 Business Central

Following the UK’s exit from the EU and the ongoing challenges caused by COVID the capability to easily manage and change VAT rates has become increasingly important.

Changing VAT can be a complicated process in some accounting solutions but Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers a flexible setup and gives you the power to make changes to VAT with ease. 

As VAT is linked to multiple entities in Business Central including; customers, vendors, items, resources and general ledger accounts, any change impacts your data no matter how small.  Changes in VAT rates are usually scheduled to happen on a specific date and for a set time period, for example, the UK VAT for e-commerce changes that came into force on the 1st January 2021. 

 

Changing VAT Rates Preparation 

Before a VAT rate change date approaches it’s best practice to post and close all open orders. This puts your organisation in the best position to start new orders and/or documents following the change. Once this is completed you can move onto the creation of the new VAT setup and make the VAT switch on entities. 

 

VAT Posting Setup Rate

If you only have a few transactions or only deal in the industry affected by the VAT change you may wish to change the rate on the VAT Posting Setup. Choosing this option avoids changing the Posting Groups on items and G/L codes. 

Please note that this option is only suitable if you are able to close all open orders and documents before the switching date. 

 

The VAT Rate Change Tool

For more complicated scenarios Dynamics 365 Business Central uses the Microsoft VAT Rate Change Tool which can help with conversions of VAT rates on your master data, journals and orders. This comes in handy if you have orders you can not close before the switch date or orders that need to be processed over a longer period of time. 

 

More Information and Advice 

Monpellier is an accredited Microsoft partner. If you are interested in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central or require additional support or training please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of experts. 

 

For more details relating to Business Central try our informative summary blog

10
Mar

Eliminate time-consuming repetitive tasks

How adding automation can improve your workday

We all have them, small, repetitive tasks that we do each day or each week without thinking. But in an age of automation why do we continue to allow these tasks space in our working week? Monpellier has discovered that one of the biggest reasons is down to understanding what is possible. The topic of automation is so vast that trying to find that small section of possibilities that relates to your business and your budget can be difficult. 

In this blog, we are going to focus on Microsoft Power Automate and some of the common questions we get asked.

 

Q. What is Microsoft Power Automate?

A. Power Automate (formally known as Microsoft Flow) is an intelligent workflow application that enables you to connect apps and services to automate repetitive tasks. A workflow refers to a part of or a whole business process where documents, information or tasks are worked on. 

 

Q. What types of ‘flows’ are there? 

A. Flows can be automated or manual and triggered by different things. Automated Flows can be triggered by an event such as a contact form being submitted through the company website. You can also use ‘time’ as your trigger, for example, I want this report to be pulled every morning at 9 am. Manual flows can be set up ready for you to simply click a button every time you want that sequence completed. 

 

Q. How much does it cost to automate tasks?

A. A Business Basic Microsoft 365 licence gives you access to elements of Power Automate that can be sufficient to resolve many SME automation issues. The best way to implement lasting Flows into your business is to take advantage of our free consultation service. Use this time to discuss the tasks you would like to automate and other elements that unnecessarily take your valuable time. With help from one of our experts, you can get an accurate quote but more importantly a solution that works for you. 

 

Real-Life Examples

Ear to the ground It’s now possible to set up a Flow using Microsoft Power Automate to collect data for you. For example, if your company wants to find out what customers and prospects are saying online about your business, service or products you can trigger a Flow that will collect social mentions into a list on SharePoint for you. 

 

Timesheet organisation If your company uses online forms you can use Power Automate to do a multitude of actions. You could set up alerts for every time a new form is completed or you could have all responses collected in SharePoint ready for you to report on.

 

Urgent – If you have remote team members that need to be notified of an urgent project or prospect development you can use triggers to send an alert or notification straight to the person in question. Say you are waiting for an important delivery but are between sites, the text can let you know immediately and allow work to continue without delay. 

 

If you have further questions relating to Microsoft Power Automate and how automation can help your business please do not hesitate to get in contact. Monpellier offer free consultations and are here to advise on the best solutions for your needs and budget. Contact Us 

22
Feb

How to protect your SME from Ransomware

Top tips to keep your data safe

Ransomware has been around for decades, but if this is an age-old problem why has it suddenly become a hot topic? We believe there are two main factors at play here. First of all the economic changes over the past 12 months have led cybercriminals to become more aggressive with their techniques and in turn, their methods have become more advanced. Secondly, with an entire country forced into remote and new ways of working, criminals have taken the opportunity to exploit chaos to gain access to otherwise relatively secure networks. 

 

We feel it’s important to highlight at this point that any business can become a victim of cybercrime. Phishing emails can be incredibly hard to spot and websites you use each day can become corrupted without your knowledge, leaving your data vulnerable. You may have heard of one scam in particular, the CEO scam, this phishing email is designed to mimic an email from an existing employee from within your organsiation in the hope of fooling an unsuspecting accounts or HR employee. The FBI are currently still investigating countless records of said scam and it is believed to have taken over $26billion* from innocent businesses across the world. But these cybercriminals don’t just target larger companies. A recent report by Beazley Breach Response found that UK SMEs were 71% more likely to be targeted as statistically they are more likely to be unprepared.

 

What are the most common types of ransomware?

Locker Ransomware – This kind of attack will freeze you out of your applications and device and deny you access to your data until you pay a release fee. 

Crypto RansomwareThis type is probably more familiar to most businesses. The ransomware will encrypt your data rendering it unreadable. Your business will then be prompted to make a payment, usually in Bitcoin, for a private decryption key that will let you regain access to your valuable data. 

 

All ransomware attacks can be catastrophic for any SME, rendering your operations completely dormant until a resolution is met. There is no fail-safe guarantee when it comes to protecting yourself against attacks and even companies that spend millions such as the NHS and Universities fall victim to ransomware. But what you can do is put your business in the best possible position to protect and recover if the worst should happen. 

 

Here are Monpellier’s top tips – 

Emails

Emails are the most common way cybercriminals gain access to your data. Always check the email was sent from a verified source (URL) and never fill in email forms, click links, or open attachments from unknown sources. You can also add a spam filter to your inbox as an extra layer of protection.    

 

Back-up

Your business’s best defence against malware is to continually back-up your data. It goes without saying that backing-up your business data is important but is it time to review your policies and back-up frequency? We recommend having two or three methods of back-up for your data. One of which could be stored in the cloud and another offsite to protect you against different types of attack. 

 

Operating Systems

Have you been ignoring your reminders? Yes, they are annoying but making sure all of your applications and software are up-to-date is important. If you have software that is no longer supported we would suggest you look at finding a new supported solution as cybercriminals often exploit security risks in older versions that are no longer maintained by the provider. 

 

Security 

Security comes in many different forms, from updating your passwords regularly to using two-factor authentication. In addition, to these daily security features, there are many cybersecurity management solutions on the market that your business may wish to consider. In conjunction with our partners at Trustack, we are able to advise on additional security packages to suit your needs and budget. 

 

Awareness 

This might sound like an obvious suggestion but you would be surprised at how many companies fall short due to what they presumed would be common sense. Keep all your employees up-to-date with your back-up policies, encourage regular password changes and share useful information relating to data security to keep everyone’s minds focused on safe practice.  

 

If you are currently using an accounting package that is outdated or unsupported check out our Business Owner’s Guide for replacing accounting software. 

 

If you want to talk to a member of the team about your current data processes drop us an email [email protected] or call us 0191 500 8150. 

 

* Knowbe4.com. 2021. CEO Fraud | KnowBe4. [online] Available at: <https://www.knowbe4.com/ceo-fraud#:~:text=CEO%20Fraud%20is%20a%20scam,sending%20out%20confidential%20tax%20information.&text=According%20to%20FBI%20statistics%2C%20CEO,now%20a%20%2426%20billion%20scam.> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

 

23
Jul

Microsoft Teams Announce Upcoming Functionality

Our favourite new features from the July update

Since March, businesses across the world have adapted and moulded their way of working to meet new challenges. Many of us have become a custom to remote working and Microsoft Teams has become a permanent fixture in our working lives, and with over 75 million daily users it’s no wonder Microsoft has dedicated time and resources to constantly improving functionality. 

The latest change was announced this month (July) and brings with it a whole host of exciting changes that will be introduced over the coming months. Monpellier has pulled together our top 5 features to look out for. 

 

 1. Together Mode 

The sight of our colleagues segmented into multiple boxes on our screen may have become the new normal but Microsoft has created ‘Together Mode’ to bring a more human experience to video conferencing. Together Mode uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place video feeds into the same shared background. The new feature can even make participants look towards the active speaker dynamically by mapping features. Once released Together Mode will initially be able to host up to 49 people at one time and will include a couple of possible backgrounds including a lecture theatre and coffee shop. 

 

2. Dynamic Stage 

The Dynamic layout will optimise and adapt the sizing of different video feeds to maximise screen space and create the most engaging set up for those on a video call. Furthermore, to avoid those difficult moments when people find themselves talking over each other Microsoft Teams have introduced the ‘raise hand’ feature which will create a yellow box around the person wanting to speak next. You can also now choose the chat bubbles feature to make chat appear over the video so you don’t have to keep the chat panel open. 

 

3. Whiteboard

Whiteboard in Teams will soon be updated with exciting extras including faster load times, sticky notes, text, and drag and drop capabilities. This will make using Whiteboard in meetings much easier for those who don’t have access to a touchscreen or Surface Hub to participate. For more information regarding Whiteboard check out our Supercharge your Meetings blog – https://www.monpellier.co.uk/supercharge-your-meetings/

 

4. Transcript 

Although transcription is already available within Microsoft Teams the new live caption update will be able to identify who is talking and attribute the speaker’s name. This feature makes note-keeping incredibly easy and gives you a concrete record that you are able to review after each meeting to double-check that you are happy with what has been recorded. 

 

 5. Slash Commands

Slash commands aren’t a brand new feature but they certainly help you navigate Microsoft Teams as efficiently as possible. You can use a slash command to set your status to “online” or “away”. Alternatively, you can make sure you’re not missing out on anything important with /WhatsNew. 

Some of the best slash commands include:

/Files – Shows the most recent files shared with you on Teams.

/GoTo – Lets you jump straight to a channel

/Call – Initiates a call with someone else on Teams

/Help – Delivers assistance via T-bot

/Saved – Takes you to your saved messages

 

For more information regarding Microsoft Teams and other applications within Microsoft 365 give our team a call on 0191 500 8150 and make the most of your subscription.

 

6
Apr

Financial Business Support

What help is available for my business?

During these uncertain times increasing numbers of SMEs are under pressure to find support. Monpellier has gathered some of the top sources of help and advice at this time.

Information regarding financial SME support is changing rapidly. Here are the current schemes and options available as of 1st April 2020.

Deferring VAT Payments – The UK Government has offered to support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you are a UK VAT registered company and have a VAT payment due between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020 this offer applies to you. For more information click HERE

Self-assessment payments – If you are due to make a payment by 31st July 2020 but are financially affected by the corona-virus you have the option to hold off payment until January 2021. Please note if you can pay by the 31st July you should do so. Eligibility can be found HERE 

Self-employment Income Support Scheme – Also referred to as SEISS, has been designed to support self-employed individuals who have suffered income loss due to COVID-19. The scheme allows the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth up to 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. For further information and to apply click HERE

Sick pay support – SME with fewer than 250 employees will soon be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The reimbursement will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP and is currently being finalised. To keep up-to-date with the latest information regarding this rebate click HERE

Business rate holiday (retail, hospitality & leisure) – If you are eligible this scheme will automatically be applied to you. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to provide this support. For more details and to estimate your business rates click HERE
Cash grants (SMEs) – The small business Covid-19 grant has been increased from £3,000 to £10,000 as of April 2020. This is part of a £330bn package of support for businesses, equivalent to 15 percent of GDP.

Cash grants (retail, hospitality & leisure) – This grant is for businesses in the stated sectors and offers a grant of up to £25,0000 per property. For eligibility and how to apply click HERE

Interruption loan scheme – This temporary scheme supports SMEs by giving access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments as well as other beneficial support. Full terms can he found HERE

Commercial eviction ban – Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent. Further information can be found HERE

Helpful resources

We suggest reaching out to all of the below before you apply to double-check they are still taking applications.

NBSL – Business grants for North East based businesses. Visit the NBSL website.

North East Growth Hub – A useful resource containing business support information, advice and organisations that are providing funding, loans and financial help. Visit the North East Growth Hub website. 

Made Smarter – Support for Manufacturing businesses (North West) who are interested in digital development. Visit the Made Smarter website. 

For help relating to remote working including Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and keeping your team working efficiently while at home, Monpellier are here to help. Call us on 0191 500 8150 or drop us an email, [email protected].

18
Mar

Customer Announcement (COVID-19)

In light of the recent developments with the spread of COVID-19 in the UK; we wanted to reassure our customers and make them aware of the business continuity measures that are in place.

Planned work 

Unless advised otherwise, we plan to carry out all of our commitments for installation and project work, but will use remote working to complete any tasks if we feel it is appropriate. If, for any reason, on-site days need to be changed we will provide as much notice as possible.

Contacting us 

Should Monpellier face an outbreak where several or all our employees are required to self-isolate, we have put measures in place to ensure the business can still operate as normal and continue to provide our customers with the high level of service they have come to expect. In light of any disruption, customers will continue to be able to contact us via telephone and email. 

Remote working 

Every staff member has been set up to work remotely, so should we need to isolate the entire business will remain unaffected. 

Suppliers

We are in constant contact with all of our suppliers who have each implemented their own measures at this fluid time. 

 

During any developments over the next few weeks we will continue to update our website and will post further updates on our social media channels, which are detailed below:

www.monpellier.co.uk

Twitter: @MonpellierLtd

 

In the meantime, if we can be of any assistance to your own remote working plans then please get in touch.

5
Mar

Integrated Solution for Manufacturers

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

One of the most talked about trends for the next decade is digital integration. As accessibility to digital manufacturing tools, such as cloud storage, artificial intelligence and IoT sensors grows the concept of a ‘smart factory’ is becoming a reality. Manufacturers of all types can  benefit from digitally integrating their operations. 

Integration has been on Microsoft’s radar for a long time and they now have a vast, robust selection of solutions that all work together in perfect harmony. One such solution, which is priced for the SME market, is Dynamics 365 Business Central. 

This all-in-one solution includes modules for; Financials, Purchasing, Inventory, Operations, Warehousing and Projects. 

Let’s take a look at some of our favourite tools and functionality within Dynamics 365 Business Central…

 

Material Requirements Planning (MRP) 

To avoid ending up in that all too familiar situation of having too much of one item and not enough of another the MRP functionality within Dynamics 365 Business Central focuses on making tracking bills of materials (BOMs) flawless. It automatically generates order suggestions based on demand and sales, giving you accurate order suggestions at a glance. 

 

Scheduling

Our manufacturing clients often find the scheduling process the most stressful part of their business. Incorrect data or the slightest supply error and your whole schedule could suffer. Dynamics 365 Business Central slims down and simplifies the scheduling process with automatic production orders and purchase orders, action messages linked to balancing of supply and the option to set-up some items with individual reordering policies.

 

Capacity Measurement

Many businesses have the goal to grow in 2020 but with growth comes increased capacity. Dynamics 365 Business Central tracking capacity alongside materials and projects to ensure you never overbook or oversell – or lets you know you need to add to your facility, materials and team.

 

Inventory Items

Keeping track of raw materials, component parts and sub-assemblies can be exhausting. Dynamics 365 Business Central can quickly track these items and ensure you have what you need at all times. Keeping on top of your inventory like this can dramatically increase productivity and reduce time wastage during the production cycle. 

 

Machine Centers

Machine centers are designed to help you manage the capacity of a single machine or resource. Within Dynamics 365 Business Central, Machine Centers lets you plan and manage capacity on multiple levels and had the capability to allow users to store more default information about manufacturing processes, such as setup time or default scrap percentage.

 

Dynamics 365 Business Central and Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. We lead with your business objective and take the time and care needed to plan, customise, implement, train and support the solution that will achieve your goals. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s February Issue.  

5
Dec

How strong is your foundation?

IT infrastructure

A strong IT infrastructure is essential in supporting your business’s overall goals. You need to trust that no matter what is thrown your way that you have a strong foundation to keep your operations running smoothly. 

But what falls under the term IT infrastructure? IT infrastructure consists of all elements that support the management and usability of data and is usually split into four categories, software, hardware, network  and servers.

Since 2001 Monpellier have worked with SMEs in Cumbria and across the North East to help advise, implement and support elements of IT infrastructure. When it comes to building a strong foundation Microsoft Dynamics 365 has you more than covered. Dynamics 365 is a budget-friendly Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution that can adapt and grow with your business. Perfect for businesses that don’t want to fork out large amounts for their own hardware and onsite server, Dynamics 365 is neatly and securely hosted on the Microsoft Azure Cloud. 

Dynamics 365 is a unified suite, making it a valuable base to your IT infrastructure. Unlike other full-suite software solutions, Dynamics 365 is modular so you only pay for what you need. This gives businesses options to scale up (or down) as their organisation changes. 

 

Applications from Dynamics 365:

Finance – Monitor performance in real-time, predict future outcomes, and make data-driven decisions to drive growth.

Operations – Use predictive insights and intelligence across planning, production, stock, warehouse, and transportation. 

Marketing – Increase customer demand for your products and services and improve marketing results. 

Sales – Go beyond sales force automation to better understand customer needs, engage more effectively, and win more deals.

Field Service – Optimise your field operations with built-in intelligence, remote monitoring, and tools that enable your technicians to deliver quality work

Customer Service – Differentiate your brand, Built-in intelligence delivers faster, more personalised service and adds value to every interaction.

 

These six applications are just a snapshot of what Dynamics 365 has to offer with other applications such as HR, Talent and Retail also available. 

From a user’s point of view, Dynamics 365 keeps all your systems unified and can ultimately reduce training and on-boarding, meaning a much shorter ‘learning curve’ for you and your team. Integration between systems becomes seamless and the size and complexity of your infrastructure stays firmly in your control. 

 

Dynamics 365 by Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation. 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s November Issue, 2019.  

2
Oct

Welcome to the fourth industrial revolution

The age of automation

Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution, (the first industrial revolution involved mechanisation through water and steam, the second electricity and the third nuclear power). The fourth industrial revolution is all about the internet and emerging technologies such as the Cloud, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. In summary, Industry 4.0 is the age of smart manufacturing and atomisation.

 

Industry 4.0 in practice

Manufacturing organisations are a wealth of data however, according to IDC, only 30% of manufacturers are currently investing in transforming the digital operations of their businesses. Monpellier believes this is due to the sheer scale of the data and processes held by most manufacturing businesses. The idea of digitalising all this information and implementing a future-forward solution is daunting, and in some cases not always necessary. Here are our top 5 tips for ensuring your business stays ahead of the curve during the Industry 4.0 revolution.

 

Assess

Firstly, you need to take the time to step back and assess. Spend time (don’t rush) taking stock of existing processes and software/ hardware. Map out how each process currently flows and how you would like it to flow (in an ideal world). After all this work is done, it’s time to reach out and speak to a specialist solutions provider. Your chosen provider can help you devise the best plan to fit your needs and budget, whether that’s a modern ERP solution, moving to the cloud or simply streamlining what you currently have.

Plan

Changing or updating your current solution in any way can cause teething problems. The best way to manage this is to start by assigning a small, invested team to manage the project from start to finish. Ensure your team is perfectly formed with key players from each department, communication is fundamental in the early stages to guarantee the new solution will satisfy the predetermined needs. During the planning stage, you may also want to take the opportunity to cleanse your existing data, this will put you in a much easier position going forward.

Connectivity

Industry 4.0 is all about smart manufacturing and making the most of new technological developments, which has led many organisations to move to a cloud-based system or hybrid architecture (a combination of cloud and on-premise). According to Aberdeen research, manufacturing early adopters are migrating faster than ever due to faster implementation speeds (61%), efficiency in total life-cycle costs (59%) and scalability (44%). Cloud connectivity truly resonates with Industry 4.0 as it supports the operational structure needed for optimal efficiency.

People

Roles once occupied by people are increasingly being handed over to robots and AI (Artificial intelligence), but where does this leave our current workforce? The reality is that humans will still play a vital role in manufacturing but there needs to be a shift in skills. To guarantee your business is ready for the coming change look to recruit people with skills such as knowledge of automation, data, analytics, programming and software.

Implementation

Why not start small? Some manufacturing businesses are kicking off their journey into Industry 4.0 by adding something small such as a sensor to their machinery. Even minor innovations like this can greatly influence a company’s success by gathering all sorts of intelligence. Starting small also gives you a longer period of time to convert your entire workforce to a new automated way of thinking readying them for future change.

 

Manufacturing solutions by Monpellier

Experts in providing custom solutions to manufacturing businesses Monpellier (based in Cumbria and the North East) deliver support and solutions across a wide range of areas from accounting & payroll to CRM and EPOS. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s September 2019 issue