Challenge In a time of significant growth and with new strategic plans for expansion, one of our international retail clients found that their brick-and-mortar point of sale (POS) systems couldn’t keep up. The POS and logistical systems’ back-end SQL and complex code resulted in significant issues that impacted both their day-to-day operations and their strategic plans, including: Significant system downtimes with POS systems Delays in data transmission Inaccessible and incomplete information for stores Minimal system integration abilities It was time to ditch the monolithic legacy systems and move to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that could bring all their systems and data together and give them the insights they were looking for. The organization knew they needed to move quickly — Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, was rapidly approaching. Leadership knew they couldn’t afford significant interruptions, downtimes, and outages during their busiest, most profitable time of the year. Additionally, the client's plans for expansion, including new stores across the nation and internationally, required data communication and the right POS system. The client identified Microsoft Dynamics ERP as the platform of choice because of its extensive features and adaptability and hired a third party to implement the system. However, the implementation was unstable, and they were left with unmet expectations for how the platform could serve their organization. Frustrated and ready to throw out Dynamics 365 completely, they turned to Fusion to help. The client was confident we could work together to create the right solution. Solution When Dynamics ERP is implemented properly, it can have a significant impact on your business including driving optimal performance, accelerating operational impacts, and ensuring business agility. Once their systems, processes, and data were connected, we were confident that Dynamics ERP would provide the business intelligence and adaptability they were looking for. Initially, the client focused on “stores-within-stores,” starting with one nationwide retailer and operating on their legacy POS and physical cash registers. In addition to multiple integrations, including loyalty programs, gift cards, and inventory systems, we also worked to get the right data into their systems and create processes to ensure data would be transferred and stored overnight to ensure accuracy for inventory in their stores the following day. To make that happen, we re-wrote their nightly processes for POS data (including sales numbers, customer data, employee information like clock-ins, etc.) into BMS to improve speed, minimize issues with downtimes and outages, and simplify scalability. We configured the proper systems for the client’s business processes, including architecting and implementing JDA supply chain software, integrating multiple websites, implementing Azure Data Factory to facilitate data movement, and rewriting processes and reports to improve efficiency. Given the success of the first set of stores-within-stores, we worked with the client to incorporate additional stores and data into the nightly process by engineering the third-party feed into their existing process and systems.
Digital solutions about Cloud
Challenge A state agency governing child services, programs, and policies was undergoing a significant transition and wanted to modernize their technology and data platforms to better fit their new goals. As the agency worked to transform some of their core agency functions, questions arose regarding their data landscape, specifically surrounding architecture for delivering traditional reporting and BI and analytics in a modern landscape. The agency was focused on one primary business case — enabling more proactive case management. Case management impacts stakeholders statewide and is highly regulated compliance with federally mandated timeframes. Their goal was to take their regularly updated raw data from their operational environment and bring desired analysis to life, resulting in insights they could use. The agency decided that they wanted to use Amazon Web Service (AWS) as a platform, but they had limited code developer resources skilled on the AWS platform. They were also dealing with significant bottlenecks created by process issues and backlogs at different levels of the agency and other departments involved. Fusion collaborated with Amazon to help the agency envision and showcase the capabilities of AWS to deliver a modern data platform that would integrate seamlessly into their ecosystem and build a foundation for the future. Solution First, we completed an assessment of the current data landscape and processes to enter and analyze data. This included: Identifying child support cases within the state that had exceeded federal timeframe compliance rules and cases that were approaching the federal deadlines Pinpointing bottlenecks in processing at the agency and caseworker levels that were leading to compliance issues Understanding where and how data was currently being entered and utilized throughout the agency We created a data model design that supported BI analysis of current cases and an analysis of trends over time. Given the limited developer resources for AWS within the agency, they needed a solution that would allow them to transition their current skills and extend additional skills capabilities effectively. Based on the model design for their immediate use case (case management), we architected a solution to integrate different subject areas from their core systems and provided a modern data reference architecture to guide platform migration — all implemented in the AWS cloud environment. The solution included standing up native AWS services including (IAM, VPC, S3, Lambda, Glue, Glue Catalog, Aurora Relational Data Service (RDS), Redshift, and QuickSight) to: Provide an S3 landing zone for the semi-structured extracts of full and delta data from their operational systems Establish raw (S3), curated (RDS Aurora-PostgreSQL), and enriched (Redshift) environments for the data as it is processed from a transactional arrangement of string inputs into a strongly typed and structured format for reporting Design data models and build databases in each of the environments Demonstrate additional AWS-specific capabilities for future use cases involving volume growth
Challenge Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, like Microsoft Dynamics AX, is a critical tool many businesses use to manage day-to-day functions. It allows integration to a single database and interface and customization to industry- and company-specific data and applications. This leading oil cooperative implemented Dynamics AX to create an environment where internal users (employees) and external users (clients) could operate within an enterprise application. But after the implementation, the organization quickly recognized that their return on investment (ROI) was not as they expected — because they weren’t maximizing the solution with the proper licenses and correct role assignments. They were ready to reap the full benefits of their investment and knew they needed a partner with expertise in Dynamics AX implementation and customization. They turned to Fusion. Solution The first step was to assess the existing installation, configuration, and customization of the current Dynamics AX implementation. We simultaneously collected usage information and reviewed customizations, a crucial factor in a successful platform. By interviewing key staff members, Fusion was able to understand better how they utilized Dynamics AX daily and create an outline of prioritized next steps. Now we were ready to tackle the licensing. We discovered that their existing licensing was set up so that many employees (system users) were given higher, more comprehensive levels of licensing than were required for their roles. For example, many employees that only needed role-based access for a particular function were assigned a full enterprise license. Not only was there a significant cost difference for the full enterprise license, but the company was spending additional time and resources to try and tailor the comprehensive licenses to the limited roles. Once Fusion discovered the incorrect licensing issues, we created a detailed license matrix that maximized the distribution of enterprise, functional, task, and self-service licenses.
Summary Well-known for their distinctive in-store experience, our client, an international retail giant, needed to scale their digital ecosystem to support ongoing expansion into new markets. To modernize legacy backend systems and future-proof their online customer experience, the retailer looked to Fusion Alliance for help. Our team designed a composability framework that took the client from an API first commitment to flexible API modernization — with dramatic results. Jump to results >> Challenge Our client’s new CEO wanted to replicate the brand’s in-person experience with a digital presence that could easily evolve and scale to fit current and emerging markets. With an eye toward a new push into Asia, the company needed a solution that could easily and quickly reach – and resonate with – millions of new customers. The client understood that replicating a flourishing in-person shopping experience online would require a significant digital transformation. They were ready to tackle the technology challenges and were committed to an API first mindset going forward, but with so many modernization options available, they weren’t sure where to start. They enlisted Fusion Alliance to design and implement new technology architecture, with the end goal of an improved global presence. Solution To meet the client’s goal, Fusion stepped in to design and implement a flexible, scalable, modern technology ecosystem. Like most organizations, our client’s existing technology portfolio contained a patchwork of idiosyncratic systems and aging legacy platforms. But simply replacing the hodge-podge with another monolith wouldn’t deliver the kind of connectivity, resilience, and global extensibility that the client’s vision demanded. Instead, our team recommended an API first strategy to bridge the gap between existing applications and a future-focused, rich integration architecture. Phase 1: An API First Strategy Because the client’s outsourced API functionality limited their flexibility, we recommended an API modernization strategy to bring the integration back in-house. This approach allowed for flexibility in new development, as well as the ability to re-design and re-architect as needed. To translate “API first” into action, we collaborated with the client’s internal teams to design a roadmap that aligned internal business objectives with concrete steps toward digital transformation. The roadmap covered three key areas of focus: Designing the reference architecture: To drive toward a modern, scalable architecture, our team researched, socialized, and agreed on a go-forward combination of essential capabilities, platforms, and components. Establishing key business capabilities: While many of the client’s existing processes and platforms were adequate for the current state, we identified key business capabilities needing additional support for channel modernization. Platforms and tools analysis: Equipped with the desired reference architectures, the team explored a variety of software packages across IPaaS, marketplace, API management, and other COTS/SaaS to accelerate the future program effort. The resulting blueprint surfaced possibilities and equipped the client to make clear decisions around their API modernization immediately, while positioning the brand to grow over the long-term. Phase 2: Pilots & Acceleration Equipped with the blueprints to drive the integration modernization program, our team laid out the key infrastructure needed to drive API first success. We selected and deployed an API marketplace, the heart of the future integration topology, and began exposing mission-critical APIs in that direction. The team layered in other modern platforms, including Confluent Kakfa, to accelerate the modernization plan. We produced, exercised, and shared the key accelerators and templates needed to enable future federated delivery models across all business units. Integral to the overall program, we established a center for API enablement across all technology and platform teams. We created an API marketplace document repository and hosted API first training sessions. Ultimately, implementing API modernization is an organizational change project. Our work not only laid the technical groundwork and built out a modern API ecosystem, but also gave the client the knowledge and confidence to be successful from day one — and well into the future.
Keeping employees informed and connected is foundational for any successful business. Discover how Bob Evans Farms used SharePoint Online, Power Automate, and other Microsoft services to connect employees and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs. Challenge Bob Evans Farms delivers fresh farm-to-table food to grocery stores all over the nation. Their employees work in corporate offices, production plants, and transportation facilities. For things to run efficiently, they need all of their employees to have ready access to relevant and current information. It was important to provide accessible and streamlined communications and a modern, but secure, way for people to stay in touch and collaborate. Bob Evans Farms was using a “traditional” intranet for internal communications and document storage, but the system was cumbersome, difficult to search, and only corporate and select facility employees had access. They recognized the need for an updated system, with modern capabilities, to achieve their goals. Their leadership asked current users for input and based on that feedback were able to identify and quantify several key areas for improvement. The most significant pain points included: Most users weren’t using the intranet, and for those that were, it was mostly to access static HR and benefits documents There was no effective search functionality, so employees couldn’t easily find content The content was stale, mostly outdated, and there was no standard process for updating A lack of connectivity between the intranet and other systems resulted in employee confusion about which systems to access and when they should be used Ready to create a communications platform that was more user-friendly, provided modern content capabilities, and allowed more efficient communication across the entire company, Bob Evans Farms reached out to Fusion. Fusion Alliance has been an excellent partner in helping us build our new Intranet by leveraging the SharePoint Online platform. From day one, the team worked hand-in-hand with our IT and Business Partners to help us best utilize our O365 applications. Andy Norman, Director Business Relationship Management & Enterprise Reporting, Bob Evans Farms Solution With the primary objective of easily and quickly connecting employees to who and what they need, our first step was to group requirements and pain points into four categories that map to Bob Evans Farms’ pillars: Team engagement Employee resources Company information Community involvement Additionally, the team established the following guiding principles for the solution: Keep the first iteration simple — It was important to keep the new system simple and intuitive to ensure an easy user experience and make it more likely that employees would use the system. Focus on content, not on features — One big issue users had was a lack of ‘findability’ and search options with content on the site, so we recommended paying significant attention to the content auditing, optimization, and infrastructure. Develop a content governance process — Most departments expressed that they were too busy to regularly review, develop, or update intranet content. While their communications team is there to lead the content process, the departments needed a process in place to notify teams when content needed to be updated. We recommended each department come up with a “content quarterback” to lead this process. Solve the intranet and 3rd party system integration issues — We suggested that they simplify and streamline how their supply chain, sales, and QA/safety teams access documents that are currently housed in different server platforms/environments. Once the initial assessment was complete, we worked with the Bob Evans Farms team to identify their content goals for the new site. They wanted the site to include four main content themes, including: team engagement, employee resources, company information, and community involvement. After completing the content inventory and providing our recommendations, we built a proof of concept (POC) SharePoint page to highlight their new themes and the potential that leveraging the Microsoft landscape could bring to their intranet site. The next step was to focus on the creative development aspect of their intranet site. We completed a UX assessment to understand their current user experience and provide recommendations based on their goals for the new site. We also created three different designs for their homepage to see what best captured their brand and expressed the purpose of the site. As a non-techie, I appreciated Fusion spelling things out in layman’s terms, and their creation of, and excellent adherence to, schedules. We always knew where we were in the process and when things were due. They made what could have been a long and difficult process easier by continuously providing insight on the upcoming steps. Geo Money, Director of Communications, Bob Evans Farms Additionally, we created a roadmap with recommendations on the content and features that needed to be prioritized for the initial intranet launch. This included recommendations for subsequent site updates so they can continue to elevate their site as they move forward. The technologies implemented included: Office 365 – SharePoint Online Power Automate Flow SharePoint Framework (SPFx) web parts and customizers Modern and reactive user experience Information architecture and governance Modern pages and page templates Page and document approval workflows The team’s Agile approach through assessment and proof of concept demos while using out-of-the-box tactics and customized components helped us achieve our goal of keeping our employees informed and connected in today’s workplace. Andy Norman, Director Business Relationship Management & Enterprise Reporting, Bob Evans Farms
Can a bracelet really save your life? See how wearable devices resulted in improved care quality and patient outcomes for some of our most vulnerable populations. Challenge Nursing homes have consistently struggled with staffing ratios, and it has only worsened with the pandemic. With a caregiver shortage, nursing home administrators are having to find new ways to keep their patients — a vulnerable, elderly population — safe. That’s where BioLink Systems came in. Nursing homes need to constantly monitor patient vitals to ensure they are providing the appropriate care and can intervene as quickly as possible if there is an issue. But that can often be difficult with large patient loads and patients that sometimes cannot communicate their needs to staff. And with an elderly population, things can spiral out of control quickly if they aren’t caught in time. By constantly monitoring a patient’s vitals, nursing staff can address concerns quickly and mitigate potentially catastrophic events with the patient. BioLink Systems had initially created a device that could attach to an adult brief to monitor urination levels and the patient’s body position. However, they quickly began experiencing issues with their prototype and realized that although it demonstrated their capabilities, it was not ready to take to production. They needed to fix these issues quickly, so they reached out to Fusion Alliance for assistance. Solution The first step was to fix the proof of concept (POC) to create a new demo to get the necessary funding for the project. However, even after the initial fixes, BioLink realized they needed to start over. The POC had to be rebuilt including the software, like web pages and portals, but also the hardware and firmware. Our solution was to architect a full-blown IoT solution from scratch. With the initial POC, all of the data was on-premise. But with the new architecture, we moved everything to the cloud. We were able to ensure each patient had a unique identifier and that all data was encrypted, safe, and HIPAA compliant. In addition to re-creating their initial adult brief wearable, we created a wearable device to monitor patient vitals, including body temperature, oxygen levels, and heart rate. Accurate data in real-time Once we had a solution for collecting patient data by wearable devices, we needed to ensure that it was transmitted to the right people at the right time. To do so, we created smart hubs that were spread around the facility to upload data to the cloud in addition to web portals and a mobile application for caregiving staff. The web portals allow caregiving staff to check-in at nursing stations and in offices, and the mobile application is something they can carry around to check on a patient immediately and provide real-time feedback when they are alerted to a patient concern. These executions allow data to be transferred from the cloud to the portals and mobile apps where caregiving staff are notified with an alert of any patient that requires follow-up care. Improving patient care & outcomes Each patient device is outfitted with an NFC chip so once the nursing staff is alerted, they cannot dismiss the alert until they scan the chip on the wearable device and complete the appropriate assessment. If the alert is not dismissed in a timely manner, as identified by the nursing home administration, the alert is escalated to a new caregiver. This ensures that no alert is missed because a caregiver ise attending to another patient or busy, and interventions are completed in a timely manner. Personalized monitoring & care powered by machine learning Now that we have this data from patients, we can use machine learning to gain insights about a patient’s care and needs. Initially, the patient care staff will set thresholds for appropriate vital levels, but as more data is collected, the system will learn and be able to figure out what the normal levels are for that patient specifically and alert accordingly. Data security The POC device was acting as a Bluetooth beacon, so as we evolved and proposed a new solution, security was at the center of the entire project. We needed to ensure that the data transmission was completely secure and HIPAA compliant, but also that the wearable device had significant battery life so that data was accurate and consistent. To ensure a long battery life, we created a wearable and smart hub that doesn’t have any screens and only communicates via Bluetooth. You simply have to put the wearable device into pairing mode and it exchanges the encryption key through the cloud. Then, the encryption key is sent to the smart hub, and the data is all encrypted through the device and decrypted once it is in the cloud. In addition, each wearable device has its own dedicated encryption key so if one wearable is compromised, BioLink can simply address the issue that individual device without other wearables and data being compromised.
How one real estate company enabled corporate agility to gain valuable and actionable insights through data and analytics. Challenge Most organizations are brimming with data. Information about customers, products, services, and more. All this data can be a treasure trove to companies by allowing them to customize customer experiences and improve internal efficiencies. But, without the right strategy and technology, data can remain nothing more than a digital paperweight, providing little valuable insight for companies to act on. Our client, a large real estate investment firm, wanted more from their data. They were burdened by extensive manual data entry, multiple systems that held different information, and delays with reporting and analytics. They were also dealing with their data storage. Their on-premise infrastructure about to reach capacity, so they knew it was time to act. Like many companies, they found themselves asking if now was the time to move to the cloud. Ultimately, their goal was simple: enable corporate agility by implementing a platform that would ultimately allow them to gain valuable, actionable insights through data and analytics. Now they just needed the right tools and expertise to get there. Solution Cloud Solution We started with an assessment of their existing system and data sources to determine requirements for a data platform that would better provide stakeholders with the insights they need. Our client was looking at different cloud options and wanted to ensure their platform decision would work with their existing systems and allow them to improve their current processes. More than just a new implementation, our client needed the right data strategy in place that would allow them to meet their new business goals. Based on interviews with stakeholders and the results of the platform evaluation, we ultimately recommended a hybrid cloud model that would work with their existing infrastructure, utilizing Azure as a cloud solution and the Snowflake data platform. We created a roadmap that prioritized options for building out their data and technology strategy and a plan for getting from the current state to the updated future state. Implementation & Proof of Concept Armed with the recommendation and roadmap, this investment firm was ready for implementation. We worked with them to: Build out the new data architecture, data model, and ingest processes Identify and integrate new data sources into their analytics environment Create and refine data governance processes and information After the client was able to store and manage their data more effectively, we worked with them to develop dashboards and analytics reporting that would give them the insights they needed to make informed business decisions. Given its analytics and visualization capabilities, automation functions, and ease of customization, we knew that Power BI was the right tool for this client’s analytics needs. Because this real estate investment firm focuses on shopping malls, data from their shoppers was critical. They wanted to be able to track how well their properties were engaging with customers via different social media channels. We engaged with their marketing department to build out a dashboard pulling data from Facebook, Instagram, Chatmeter, marketing email interactions, and more.
Transformation through the Cloud: How DWA revolutionized their business processes and improved productivity
Learn how having improved file management structure streamlined business processes and improved productivity for DWA Healthcare Communications Group. Challenge File management is an integral part of any successful organization. Documented processes and resources for data ensures that items are saved in appropriate locations that are easy to locate, quick to recover, and most importantly, secure. Ideally, employees can save files easily and operate efficiently. But as technology advances, it is easy for companies to inadvertently create silos of file storage, wasting time and energy, not to mention licensing fees. And security should be of the utmost importance. Leadership from DWA Healthcare Communications realized that proactive steps needed to be taken to review their file management system and related processes. They partnered with Fusion Alliance to conduct a comprehensive assessment of all file management tools and the documented the processes that employees regularly took to save files. To design a more effective file system for DWA, it was important to fully understand their current system and pain points. We worked collaboratively with DWA stakeholders to complete a thorough four-step assessment framework. The overall project was met with positive company-wide reception despite the significant organizational change. We were thankful for the partnership and would engage in business with Fusion again in the future. – Kathleen Barrett, COO, DWA Healthcare Communications Group Solution With an assortment of on-premises file servers and an Office 365 instance that included SharePoint Online and employee OneDrives, our consultants found that employees had difficulty finding content within their different systems. In addition, there was significant content duplication, which caused not only confusion, but also an increase in required drive space. DWA recognized the need to streamline and upgrade. They sought a change that would allow employees to move through systems seamlessly and become more efficient. Our consultants suggested modernizing platforms and utilizing the following tools: Microsoft Stream Teams SharePoint Online OneDrive for Business Azure Updating to these platforms with appropriate architecture would allow DWA employees to store and share files in a way that is both convenient and secure. But new tools alone wouldn’t solve a related issue. After decisions were made about platforms, tools, and structure, we moved on to creating a solution for implementation and education. This included providing training materials and making sure that employees were able to understand the changes and feel confident in the new setup, along with ensuring that secure files, documents, and conversations were archived appropriately.
Fortune 500 company empowers employees with easy access to the most accurate, up-to-date information. Challenge A Fortune 500 card services company providing loyalty and marketing solutions wanted to improve internal communications and design a virtual workspace for its more than 8,000 employees. The company had envisioned a user-friendly intranet that would allow employees to work together efficiently and securely, but the resulting site didn’t adequately fulfill those needs. The company asked Fusion Alliance to step in to bring the concept to life, and the resulting intranet site delivered on the promises of Microsoft SharePoint, including time and cost savings that were realized through streamlined workflow processes and effective document management. Background In theory, intranet sites help companies share information and improve communications. In reality, many sites don’t deliver and over time become a disorganized navigational maze due to a lack of governance, which further hampers productivity and collaboration. If your employees find it difficult to navigate your intranet and waste time dealing with administrative tasks, you lose productivity and money, putting your business at a disadvantage. Investing in a well-structured, well-thought-out intranet site with built-in governance controls provides you with a competitive advantage. An easy-to-use site yields efficiency, collaboration, and effective workflow. It empowers employees to have instant access to and make decisions based on the latest information, which affects not only productivity, but customer service. In an economy where customer focus is the order of the day, an investment in internal productivity is an investment. Having invested in an intranet that was not sufficiently meeting the workload demands of thousands of users, this organization decided to look for outside expertise to build a site that would be reliable, secure, and do what was originally intended. Companies that experience difficulty with new systems sometimes throw out their entire investment. This client understood the outcomes SharePoint could deliver company-wide and decided to remedy the issues of its out-of-the-box system. Solution Fusion stepped into the picture with a plan in place. We completed an inventory of content in the existing SharePoint site to distinguish current usage patterns and ensure the new templates would accommodate these patterns. We also conducted numerous stakeholder interviews to identify key content items needed for the redesign. The client wanted to build three different site templates, those for teams, projects, and pages. Using Agile and a proprietary project-management methodology called SureSolve, our team designed a new site for each of the templates and created a branded master page consistent with the organization’s style standards. We employed Agile development to create a site that can adapt and evolve with the changing demands of the employees, business, and industry. We designed and created a customized My Documents Web Part, a governance plan and content guide, and a site map and information architecture. Workflows were streamlined and processes put in place so that document and project management were no longer cumbersome. Our team also designed and implemented customizations and other features following Microsoft best practices, with forethought to ensure that those customizations did not hamper the client’s ability to upgrade SharePoint or move to SharePoint Online in the future.
When a non-profit focused on adoption and foster care found themselves wasting critical volunteer hours on manual data entry, they knew they needed a change. A cloud solution allowed them to simplify their systems and focus on their true mission. Challenge Hands of Hope, a non-profit organization focused on adoption, foster care, and children’s home support, was bogged down with having to manually enter donation information from their external-facing contribution portal and their back-end donor management system. With a limited administrative staff, they had to spend time every day to manually enter and reconcile the contributions from the portal, losing valuable time and resources that could be better spent furthering their mission. Manual data entry also increased the potential for errors that required additional time and effort to investigate and fix. For non-profits, donations are the lifeline of the organization, and Hands of Hope leadership knew they had to find a better, more efficient way to track contributions. They just needed technology expertise to execute a new solution. Solution They needed a low-cost, low-maintenance way to connect their two systems. Working with Hands of Hope, we evaluated multiple options and decided that Azure Logics Apps would be the best way to move forward. As a cloud-based solution that doesn’t require any specific coding, Azure Logic Apps allowed us to integrate their two systems and implement a new automated workflow quickly. For Hands of Hope, it was a perfect, budget-friendly solution that requires minimal long-term maintenance. In order to implement it successfully, we needed to complete some important planning steps first. This work included: Testing authentication Field mapping, which allowed them to understand what data needed to be integrated, including how many fields were involved and if the data was 1:1 or if it needed to be transformed Process mapping to identify data requirements to allow the integration to work for a variety of fundraising scenarios, including steps like schedule triggers, variables, data validation, etc. Understanding error scenarios Once these steps were completed, we created a workflow to: Retrieve data from one endpoint (the fundraising portal system) Transform and prepare the data Post the data to another endpoint (Hands of Hope’s back-end system) Because we used Azure Logic Apps to complete the system integration, the normally lengthy and complex process took only a matter of hours and required no manual intervention. This simple to use solution is exactly what we were looking for when we reached out to Fusion Alliance. The business process review helped us confirm the necessary requirements and the resulting integration will provide long-term efficiency gains. Suzy Roth, Hands of Hope Executive Director
Challenge Electricity is a lifeline. The massive impact of an electrical disruption makes it critical for energy providers to be armed with the right technology to minimize occurrences and mitigate risk. Seeking to update their technology per regulatory requirements, this well-known energy provider wanted to use the opportunity to do much more, such as adding functionality to optimize the overall solution and reduce costs. After partnering with Fusion for over a decade, it was a no-brainer to use our experts to take their technology, and their business, to the next level. Solution Modernizing this company’s platform was a tremendous undertaking. The organization was required to transition off of one platform for utility response and switch to a completely different platform to meet new industry regulatory requirements. But, they also wanted a solution that: Provided a configuration workflow that does not require code manipulation Provided a vehicle for “health checks” for uptime monitoring Added email notifications to enhance the system functions Fusion’s approach was to design a configurable, resilient Windows service that would: Securely communicate with the new platform Persist all messages from PJM to the file system Integrate with PJM through file drops Allow for health checks through a web service port Provide email notifications for both successes and failures Provide logging that can be later aggregated Fusion successfully implemented the solution before the tight deadline of the expiration of the legacy platform.
Discover how a large, Ohio-based utility company reduced the risk created when employees use their personal devices at work and reaped the benefits of AMP. Challenge Doing things the traditional way can come back to bite you, especially when it comes to security. Traditionally, access to company data has been controlled by a company’s network, internally or on-site, and IT manages what devices and applications have that access. But today, with the increasing abundance of mobile applications and enterprise solutions moving to the cloud, companies are losing that control, resulting in an increased risk of a compromised device or data leak. For a utility company at which the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend was quickly becoming the norm, they face a new, insurmountable task: keeping their data secure. They needed a solution that would allow them to manage all company-owned and personal devices (both iOS and Android) that access company data, along with the types of information that could be accessed and protection levels. The company wanted to find a way to meet their employees’ needs, stay compliant with industry regulations, and keep their data safe. Uncover the journey this client took to get there. Solution An Ohio-based utility company already had a mobile device management (MDM) program in place through a third-party vendor, but the additional cost and lacking functionality left them looking for a different way forward. After careful consideration of different mobile device management solutions, they were ready to move forward with Intune, a Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) product included in their existing subscription. They turned to our Fusion team’s security experts for solution implementation and to help create a comprehensive MDM program. This EMS implementation entailed more than rolling out an out-of-the-box solution. In addition to setup and configuration, our team worked with the client to define and create device security and compliance policies. Additionally, we defined the initial model for data classification and identified requirements for information protection use cases. They were able to launch their new BYOD management solution to more than 250 people with immediate benefits. The implementation provided increased security and control by allowing centrally managed identity and access across all devices, the datacenter, and the cloud. In addition to device protection and management, this new solution would also allow them to control access to Office 365 and other applications.
PFC partnered with Fusion to transition from depending on legacy systems and manual processes to embracing new technologies and the cloud — transforming the way they operate and deliver customer solutions. Challenge Midwestern financial services firm Primary Financial Company (PFC) was more than ready for change. The company was operating successfully on three legacy technology platforms, but peak activity periods severely strained technology, employees, and resources. As a broker of millions of dollars in CDs daily, PFC needed a flexible technology solution that would adapt to future needs and align with business objectives. The company turned to Fusion Alliance for help. The tremendous success of that first venture led to three more initiatives, including data and machine learning work, to meet the evolving challenges and needs of the marketplace. Solution The relationship between PFC and Fusion Alliance is a story of tremendous ROI and a partnership of trust. PFC constantly seeks to improve the investor experience, and early on, we developed a collaborative, single-minded approach to meet PFC’s vision. Over the years, PFC has trusted our expertise to lead the company into initiatives and functionality whose value may not have appeared obvious at the outset, but which paid off immensely once implemented. First initiative: overhaul existing systems and streamline processes PFC’s work — managing an investment trading platform through which institutional vendors invest thousands to millions of dollars in federally insured CDs — is complex, especially in a highly regulated environment. All that PFC’s customer investors want is a reliable platform that provides access to new products and tools so they can expeditiously trade in real time. When we first began working with PFC, the primary challenge was to find a technology solution that would adapt to future needs. PFC was running operations using three disparate legacy systems. IT spent the majority of its time maintaining the systems and an antiquated web portal rather than adding functionality. Manual processes slowed productivity. Costs related to on-premises equipment, maintenance, security, and off-site data recovery were considerable. Starting on a clean slate gave PFC an opportunity to reevaluate processes, implement innovative ways to serve investors, and provide tools to enable insightful decision-making. Our Fusion team developed a single platform with a more functional web interface to replace the legacy systems. That streamlined and automated numerous manual processes, instantly increasing productivity. We convinced PFC that their business and technology objectives would be best met by migrating to the cloud. PFC took the leap, becoming one of the first financial firms in the nation to move to the cloud. The cloud eliminated on-premises servers, equipment, maintenance, and security. Off-site disaster recovery was replaced with cloud redundancy. An over-abundance of hard-copy documents were replaced with scanned PDFs stored in the cloud. All this freed up office space and created substantial savings. All told, the body of this work with PFC: Removed expensive, geo-redundant datacenters Enhanced efficiency, scalability, and reliability Created significant process improvements Boosted productivity Enriched client and employee experiences Increased brand confidence Widened market reach Mark Solomon, PFC President and CEO at the time, was very pleased at the conclusion of this work, which led to further partnering. New product lines and more When PFC later wanted to make adjustments to accommodate new product lines, it was a no-brainer to partner with Fusion. We added functionality, the necessary coding, and an easily-extensible framework so that PFC could push out similar new product offerings on their own, decreasing dependence on Fusion. Thinking of future needs, we advised PFC to implement Microsoft Power BI’s visual analytics to gain interactive reporting capabilities that could be used to make informed decisions. Interactive visualizations are now invaluable to PFC. We also recommended adding a single-sign-on option, more robust security safeguards, and extended data capabilities. At the time, PFC had not considered such capabilities but trusted Fusion’s expertise. A couple years later when such functionality was in demand, PFC was ahead of the game. Applying machine learning to improve sales In another endeavor, Fusion and PFC are using machine learning to improve sales targeting to forecast potential buyers and sellers of CDs. We will be able to ascertain with over 80% accuracy and 70% precision the likelihood of a particular investor buying a given investment. Analyzing user data to drive sales Today, the Fusion team is also helping PFC look at who does and does not purchase its products when interacting with their site. By analyzing the data, PFC can draw insights and identify opportunities to increase sales. Summary PFC is constantly thinking of the next step and partners with Fusion to help make it happen. For example, some recent developments included implementing push notifications so that PFC clients can receive alerts by text or email. PFC’s ongoing commitment to investor satisfaction and willingness to embrace cutting-edge technology creates a solid foundation for the company’s continual success. Our clients and employees have a greatly improved experience, and Fusion continues to be an invaluable partner to our company. (Former) PFC President and CEO, Mark Solomon
A leader in home and commercial cleaning services is sweeping in the savings after performing a Microsoft Dynamics licensing assessment. Learn why this assessment is an integral part of your software management. Challenge Managing licensing compliance can be an overwhelming and tedious process, but one that is entirely necessary. No company wants to willingly overpay for unnecessary enterprise licenses. And since paying too little often results in hefty fines (sometimes millions of dollars), they certainly don’t want to do that either. As Microsoft continues to focus on license reconciliation, companies using Dynamics are looking for ways to ensure compliance. One of the nation’s leading professional cleaning services had an upcoming Microsoft Dynamics software licensing renewal, and they needed to ensure that their licensing costs aligned with true usage. They were already using our Fusion Alliance team for Microsoft Dynamics support, so they asked us for help, a decision that certainly paid off. Fusion is a Microsoft certified partner and Gold Partner in many disciplines, including Application Development, Cloud Platform, Cloud Productivity, Data Analytics, and Datacenter. In 2019, Fusion was named one of the Top 50 Microsoft Solution Providers in a network of certified partners across the globe, by CIO Review Magazine. Solution As a Microsoft Dynamics partner, one of the services our Fusion team provides is helping clients true-up the money they are spending on licensing. Having recently taken over as partner of record for this cleaning services company, the licensing assessment we performed was covered under their Fusion Dynamics support contract. To perform the assessment, we conducted a round of interviews with Dynamics users in the organization. We spoke to everyone from the employee who pumps fuel into the work trucks and logs it in Dynamics, to line-of-business managers, such as warehouse and IT managers, all the way up to the CFO. We then ran usage forensics and compared that to licensing needs. The assessment revealed that the company’s licensing was not accurate. They needed fewer enterprise and functional client access licenses (CALs) than their current licensing fees reflected, so their expenditure for licensing would drop. We facilitated the paperwork and all communications with Microsoft to make the necessary licensing changes, a task that can be very time-consuming in itself, and the results were felt soon thereafter.
Having a new, qualified partner take a fresh look at seemingly unfixable challenges helped this global chemical manufacturer transform operations and decrease costs. Challenge A $5 million global chemical manufacturer was experiencing Microsoft Dynamics performance issues with their original Dynamics AX implementation and needed help determining how to move forward to gain additional functionality. But that was only part of the story. The company was also grappling with an unresolved issue where warehouse scanners were not assigning the right codes to the right products, providing an inaccurate view of inventory. Since the vendor who performed the initial Dynamics implementation couldn’t diagnose the problem, warehouse workers had to manually enter all data. Not only did that introduce human error, but the speed of production decreased, fulfillment time increased, and sales orders and purchasing/receiving were also adversely impacted. With their challenges snowballing, and having recently adopted Fusion Alliance as their new Dynamics support partner, the company turned to our team for answers and results. Solution Our client asked us to evaluate their Dynamics AX system, add functionality not available in their current Dynamics AX version, and address the performance and scanner issues. Based on their needs, our support team suggested performing a Dynamics AX CU 13 update. As part of the update, we fixed the integrations with third-party software, added additional custom code as needed, and addressed performance issues Our client has various partners, so we collaborated with both the client and their partners to get the job done successfully During the course of this integration work, we were able to identify and fix the cause of the debilitating scanner and inventory problem. The issue was in inventory dimensions, the backbone of Dynamics. Everything in Dynamics relies on inventory dimensions to perform account reconciliation, cost evaluation, and reflect inventory quantities accurately. We coordinated with the client’s sales, purchasing, and production teams to correct the accuracy of the inventory. After that, warehouse workers were able to resume using the scanners, and a domino effect of positive outcomes occurred. Productivity and warehouse activity increased, and one process after another became more efficient, including purchase receiving, production picking, production put away, inventory movement, transfer of stock to other warehouses, and shipping of product to clients. With the update installed successfully and other problems identified and resolved, we continue to remediate fallout from the scanner issue and provide additional assistance as part of an ongoing support contract.
See how a leading U.S. furniture retailer maximized its e-commerce platform and increased revenues through Microsoft Dynamics AX. Challenge When its website crashed on a major holiday, this large-scale furniture retailer knew there was an underlying issue that needed to be resolved. It turned the challenge into an opportunity to strengthen its e-commerce presence, improve system performance and customer support, reduce risk, and provide a more stable foundation for the company’s online platform. This company had completed a Microsoft Dynamics AX and Sitecore implementation, but the production environment did not meet their expectations. Instead, it resulted in poor user experiences, poor system performance at checkout on the e-commerce site, extended periods of downtime, and loss of revenue. Frustrated by these negative outcomes, company leadership reached out to our Fusion team for an architectural assessment of the Dynamics AX and Sitecore installation and an actionable plan to solve these performance and reliability issues. This furniture giant needed to evaluate its installations to make improvements and, ultimately, better serve its customers. Solution Like many enterprise organizations, this client selected Microsoft Dynamics to efficiently drive its operations, finance, customer service, and e-commerce platform. However, the implementation did not follow best practices, and that’s what subsequently led to issues. Our team set to work to evaluate the existing system configuration and performance characteristics against both Microsoft and Sitecore best practices. The high-level, symptomatic issues that needed to be rectified included: Slow or erratic loading of pages on the website A lengthy checkout procedure that would sometimes time out, causing customers to abandon the online shopping cart Unreliable checkout process Extended system downtime required to perform maintenance and updates With the evaluation complete, Fusion developed a detailed roadmap of recommendations and a suggested implementation to move this furniture business forward. A deeper dive The recommendations addressed performance, stability, operations, and efficiency. Each recommendation was categorized by: Expected usefulness Implementation timeframe Implementation risk Resource commitment These classifications allowed the organization to prioritize enhancements based on business importance and impact. Fusion advised which configuration and deployment changes would result in immediate performance or stability enhancements, with a view toward long-term support of the platform. With a roadmap in hand, our client was able to evaluate the system to make the changes necessary to support its strategic vision with e-commerce.
Sluggish technology and a system that crashed multiple times a day were significant challenges that Affinity Apparel faced soon after a third party implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP and e-commerce in the cloud. Customers were waiting, and orders needed to be filled, but the deployment was teetering on the verge of project failure. The company needed help from experts, and quickly. Challenge It wasn’t long after a third party deployed Dynamics AX 2012 and e-commerce in the Microsoft Cloud for Affinity Apparel, a leader in the uniform-manufacturing industry, that its systems became almost unusable. This was a time when there was not yet a Dynamics version in the cloud. Warehouse workers trying to access an order or print an invoice had to wait anywhere from 30 seconds to multiple minutes for a response. And website orders couldn’t be processed efficiently, if at all, for fulfillment once the transaction entered Dynamics AX. Other key issues involving purchase orders, invoicing, and warehouse functionality were inhibiting Affinity’s cash flow. That’s when Affinity joined forces with Fusion Alliance to perform a technology rescue that not only stabilized the environment but truly transformed Affinity, from operations and customer service to its bottom line. Solution Our Fusion team’s first priority was to perform an assessment. Immediately after, we repaired critical architecture, increased capacities, and improved inefficient custom code. We performed additional fixes and process improvements, including migrating Affinity’s entire Dynamics AX ERP system from one Microsoft datacenter to another. This transition improved database performance instantly and ensured the interoperability of devices in Affinity’s warehouses and fulfillment centers. We re-architected and configured the new environment to adhere to Microsoft best practices for Dynamics AX deployments. Customizations in the original implementation that caused over $1 million in orders to be hung up in the system were discovered and fixed. We also removed thousands of dollars of unneeded costs that were generated by misconfigured transportation management. After this initiative, Fusion took on the role of trusted partner and advisor, driving further innovations and efficiencies, particularly in the warehouse management and transportation management systems, and through customized websites deployed for Affinity’s e-commerce platforms. Today, Fusion continues to provide Affinity with Dynamics support. With Fusion as a trusted partner for our implementation, we have been able to stabilize our IT architecture, optimize our AX warehouse module and enhance our website capabilities to move from an extended implementation to growing our business. Steven Belongia, former CIO of Affinity Apparel
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