Monday, 4 January 2010

Managing Lean Manufacturing using Microsoft Dynamics AX2009 by Scott Hamilton – a review!

This book contains exactly what the title suggests, if you have knowledge of lean principles and an interest in using Microsoft Dynamics AX in a manufacturing environment this book is essential reading.

The recently released Lean module for Microsoft Dynamics AX2009 gives manufacturing organisations a choice as to how they implement production within their ERP system. There is now an alternative to the traditional manufacturing approaches involving planned orders generated by master planning. Kanbans or lean orders can now be used instead; the new Lean module makes these visible within the ERP environment. There are a number of potentially confusing and conflicting choices to be made in this Lean software environment, and Scott Hamilton guides the reader as they set about commencing their lean journey.

Lean principles are generally based around the concept of a pull generated from sales demand. This creates the need to manufacture, purchase or move products and components to satisfy the demand. This is straight forward to comprehend in a make to order organisation, but what happens where organisations hold stocks of finished goods or semi-finished components? In most manufacturing organisations this will be the case. This book explains the alternatives available and how to mix the different possible approaches.

What about the traditional ERP tools such as Master Planning, Forecasts, Routings and Planned Orders? Are these all redundant in an AX2009 Lean implementation? My view is generally not. In his earlier book “Managing Your Supply chain Using Microsoft Dynamics AX2009” Scott Hamilton demonstrated a thorough understanding of all of these principles and this enables him to explain concisely how they all can have a place alongside the new Lean tools. It is to be expected that most organisations will want to use existing traditional approaches alongside Lean principles; the reader is guided in the way a company may do this.

There are two things which this book is not. It is not an introduction to Lean. There are many other titles which will introduce the reader to Lean. My personal recommendations would be “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt and “Lean Thinking” by Womack and Jones. You really need to read books similar to these before considering the detail of how to implement the Microsoft AX2009 Lean module. Nor does this book replace the software documentation that is available for the AX2009 Lean module. It is up to the reader whether they read Scott Hamilton’s book before or after they study the software documentation. I would recommend an iterative approach. Start by making yourself aware of the options available within the software documentation. Then I would read the book to work out what is relevant for your particular organisation. Identify the most relevant sections of the software and then undertake appropriate hands on training using the documentation. Finally I would revisit the book to confirm that a thorough understanding has been obtained.

This book concentrates on the aspects of Lean which users will probably be interested in first. This is specifically Kanbans which are covered in great detail. Other topics such as Lean Order Schedules and Lean Accounting are included but in less depth. Understandably the scope is limited to the current Microsoft release of the Lean module and does not extend to include the additional functionality available from eBECS in their lean add-on modules.

In summary this book is an invaluable resource in understanding the new AX2009 Lean module, we should be grateful that it is available so soon after the release of the software. The text is concise and factual and the many diagrams explain the scenarios and tools available. To read what other people think of this book I suggest you consider the reviews available on

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