The next step up
Following the implementation of the latest update to the Microsoft Dynamics Nav, Taqeef’s Ayham Housain and Levtech Consulting’s Anilesh Kumar discuss the platform’s changes
An instantly recognisable name within the Middle East’s refrigeration and air conditioning market, Taqeef’s operations in the region date all the way back to 1972.
Starting work on modest projects working alongside Fujitsu General Middle East, reportedly the first company to introduce A/C to the Middle East, Taqeef is today active in 18 different locations across the UAE, Iraq, Iran, and Jordan.
Covering all type of A/C systems from small window split ducts, to variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems and chillers, the company portfolio caters to the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. In the UAE alone, the refrigeration and air conditioning firm employs a workforce of over 450 individuals, while its numbers across the rest of the region number over 200.
Back in 2007, Taqeef brought on Levtech Consulting, a technology consulting firm specialised in Microsoft enterprise technologies, to deploy Microsoft Dynamics Nav. Part of the Microsoft Dynamics family, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is designed to tackle a number of business functions for small to medium-sized enterprises.
Being highly customisable to boot, the platform included modules for management of finances, customer relationships, supply chains, sales and project management.
Prior to the initial implementation of Dynamics Nav back in 2007, Taqeef’s operation relied solely on an accounting package.
“When we used the accounting package, the sales people were not involved in the system. It used be just an accountant, who would make the invoices and orders. With ERP, everybody is involved,” explains Ayham Housain, IT director at Taqeef.
“Then when we were looking at Nav, it had a number of strengths that we were looking for. If you want to gauge a system, you will use an evaluation process called ‘feature per dollar’. How much you are getting and how much you are paying.
“Microsoft Nav gives so much flexibility, because it was module-type licensing. You could add anything that you wanted at any time. Cost-wise it was more justified,” he adds.
Following Taqeef’s adoption of Microsoft’s ERP platform, the company continued to work with its implementation partner, Levtech Consulting, on strengthening its IT capabilities, tweaking the system to suit its needs, as well as deploying additional modules.
Now, almost a decade on, Taqeef has collaborated once again with Levtech to upgrade their back-end to the latest Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016.
“Looking at the main benefit of the system, before management could only see the numbers … now they are able to see so much more information and data. They are able to see for example the percentage or ratio of success quotation, how many quotations we are making, how much we are winning. All in the financial modules,” explains Housain.
Additional features in the latest iteration of Dynamics NAV includes tools for budgeting, a new function that is ideal for Taqeef’s finance team who were previously relying on platforms such as Office Excel. The easy-to-use system gives users a comprehensive view of the budget and manages expenses with proper GL accounting.
Another finance capability added with the update lies with cash flow management, a process that was previously conducted manually by Taqeef, as many factors had to be considered and calculator in order to devise the final scenario.
Furthermore, Dynamics Nav 2016 added improvements on workflow functionality, which can now be defined by function and roles.
Coupled with web-accessibility, managers can access the platform via their mobile devices, receiving, reviewing and approving projects, while out of office or traveling abroad.
For Housain and the team at Taqeef however, one of the more impressive aspects of the latest iteration of the ERP platform is that due to the abundance of features now present, very little in the way of customisation needs to be done.
“At certain point, as an IT person, customisation is a nightmare — you don’t want to go for customisation unless you are forced to. Whenever I see the new system is going to cover much our customisation, I might consider dropping what it can’t cover for a certain level and taking the new solution which is out of the box,” commenting Housain.
The IT director went on to explain that it was previously the case that Taqeef needed to add its own tweaks to the service module in order to cover everything that the business needed to operate. Then when upgrades are typically released to market, it is difficult and often impossible to migrate those changes over. Faced with the prospect of having to rebuild customisations again from scratch, sometimes it is simply better to remain on the old platform.