Information systems are used for managing a wide range of key business functions—from human resources and payroll, to supply chain management and customer relationship management. Graduates with an in-depth knowledge of these systems have distinct advantages when it comes to competing in the job market. To give its students the best possible employment chances, Latvia’s Transport and Telecommunication Institute (TSI) implemented business management solutions Microsoft Dynamics® AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which automate and streamline financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes. Today, computer science students learn to administer the Microsoft Dynamics systems and develop value-added functionality. Management students are also learning about how the technologies can support more effective management decision making and drive new operational efficiencies.
It’s all very well teaching students about business management systems in theory, but there’s nothing like hands-on experience to prepare them for the real world of work. This is a view shared by the Transport and Telecommunication Institute (TSI), the largest non-state higher education establishment in Latvia. The institute, which was founded in 1999 on the site of the old Riga Aviation University, has 300 academic staff and 4,500 students studying for undergraduate, masters, and PhD programmes.
To ensure that students can compete effectively in today’s job market, the TSI wanted to give both management and computer science students an in-depth knowledge of leading business management systems. Prof. Boris Misnev, Vice-Rector for Academic Programmes and Director of Computer Science Programme at the TSI, says: “We need to train students to administer, use, and maintain the latest technology tools for business management—particularly as they’re likely to encounter them in a real-world setting almost as soon as they enter the job market. The industry needs people who are not only familiar with the theoretical aspects of business management, but who can also use software to deliver real business results.”
||In today’s rapidly changing world...new graduates...who are able to work with Microsoft business management software quite simply have more employment opportunities when they graduate.
||Prof. Irina Jackiv
Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs,
The college needed a system that is widely recognised and capable of streamlining a wide range of processes—from human resources (HR) and payroll, to supply chain management and customer relationship management. It wanted to deploy the technology and integrate it with the educational curriculum to help computer science students become experts in administration and developing new, value-added functionality. In addition, it wanted to train management students to use information systems for improved decision making and greatly enhanced operational efficiency.
In 2007, the TSI Laboratory of Applied Software Systems began searching for a leading business management system to support its educational goals. Based on its excellent relationship with Microsoft and its status as the first Microsoft® IT Academy in Latvia, the college approached the local Microsoft subsidiary for advice. Nadezda Fila, Head of Academic and Professional Programmes Department, and Head of MS IT Academy at TSI, says: “Microsoft recommended that we deploy Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0,” says.
Under the terms of an Academic Alliance Agreement, Microsoft provided free software licences for the college. With support from Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Aston Baltic, the TSI deployed and tested Microsoft Dynamics AX on its local servers and uploaded demo data automatically to create a virtual business for TSI students.
Once this critical step was complete, Aston Baltic installed Microsoft Dynamics AX on more than 110 devices across the TSI, including teachers’ computers and those in the computer science laboratories. “The installation of the software was fast and easy,” says Fila. “So much so, in fact, that we later migrated the software to a different hardware device with no help from the partner.”
Microsoft participated in a number of training courses for TSI employees, helping them learn to use the technology as quickly as possible. These included general courses such as Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, as well as specific courses on Microsoft Dynamics AX modules such as Trade and Logistics and Warehouse Management. Staff who attended these courses shared their knowledge with colleagues during a series of internal training sessions and additional training materials were made available in the institute’s library and on the intranet.
Professors at the TSI quickly integrated Microsoft Dynamics AX into a number of key courses. These include Information Systems in Logistics, Information Systems in Management, and Information Systems in Business. Students taking these courses work with Microsoft Dynamics AX in a laboratory setting, as well as attending lectures on business management system capabilities. During the first year, more than 130 undergraduate and postgraduate students participated in courses that involve Microsoft Dynamics AX.
As a second phase of the project, the TSI deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM with support from Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Columbus IT. In the 2009 academic year, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 was integrated with the Information Systems in Business course for computer science students, which involves laboratory work for system administration and workflow creation. Certain elements of this course were designed by Columbus IT consultants.
By integrating Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM into its study programmes, the TSI is maximising students’ employment opportunities. Today, people who are able to implement, manage, and operate the latest business management systems are especially in demand in the Latvian job market. As an additional benefit, the TSI is becoming known as one of the best higher education providers in Latvia in the fields of computer science and management, helping it attract a greater number of high-quality students than ever before.
Improving Employment Opportunities for Graduates
Through successful integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM with the educational curriculum, TSI has successfully bridged the gap between academic learning and industry experience. In doing so, it is helping students significantly improve their career prospects. Prof. Irina Jackiv, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, TSI, says: “In today’s rapidly changing world, employers are more demanding, wanting new graduates to have practical, hands-on experience. Those who are able to work with Microsoft business management software quite simply have more employment opportunities when they graduate.”
Fostering Strong Connections with Industry
By working with Microsoft Latvia and local Microsoft partners, TSI has created enduring partnerships with technology experts in the region. Microsoft partners visit the college regularly to deliver guest lectures on business management systems, providing additional opportunities for students to draw on real-world business experiences.
Dr. Gennady Gromov, Head of the Transport Technology and Logistics Department at TSI, says: “Our connections with local industry give students access to practical knowledge and experience that will help them overcome challenges when they enter the job market. Meanwhile, Microsoft and its partners benefit from a large pool of skilled candidates who can fill roles in their own organisations, while maintaining direct contact with students who will create demand for their products and services in the future.”
Reputation for Quality and Innovation
The integration of business management systems with the educational curriculum has cemented the reputation of TSI as one of Latvia’s leading higher education providers. In addition, TSI study programmes have been accredited until 2014 by the Latvian accreditation commission, which is a critical seal of approval for all higher education institutes in the country.
Prof. Misnev says: “The accreditation commission was very impressed by our use of Microsoft Dynamics technologies for both computer science students and management students. Integrating this technology with our curriculum has enhanced our image among students, employers, and other educational institutions.”
A Highly Flexible Solution
Microsoft Dynamics was customised quickly and easily to meet several specific TSI requirements. Boris Prudchenko, Sales Director at Columbus IT, says: “We needed to give students access to the system without wasting time adding their details one at a time from the Active Directory service. We achieved this by developing a simple add on—inputting students’ details in batches and uploading them to the database in real time.”
In addition, technical staff at the college quickly adapted the system to incorporate Latvian, Russian, and English: three languages most commonly used by TSI students. Mihail Savrasov, Head of Laboratory at TSI, says: “Time and time again, we were impressed by the flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics, its ease of customisation and its seamless integration with other software packages.”
New Collaboration between Faculties
Microsoft Dynamics software is helping the computer science and management faculties work together in new and exciting ways. “While technical students administer and maintain the system and learn how to develop new functionality, management students are learning how to get the most out of the solution on a business level,” says Savrasov. “This symbiosis is strengthening cooperation between our two faculties, creating a single intellectual focus around the use of Microsoft Dynamics for the benefit of all students.”
New Opportunities for Academic Staff
With support from Aston Baltic and Columbus IT, TSI academic staff have expanded their knowledge of installing and maintaining Microsoft Dynamics and a range of other Microsoft technologies. In addition, professors at the college have gained extensive experience of systems integration based on access to a number of leading technical experts in the region.
“Learning new skills is a huge force for motivation and job satisfaction,” says Prof. Misnev. “Our academic employees have received professional training on Microsoft Dynamics AX from three of the leading specialists involved in our implementation. What’s more, staff are involved in the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance community and Microsoft Dynamics Convergence Academic Preconference, giving them unique opportunities to connect with other educators and exchange ideas both locally and globally.”
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success.
For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to:
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: http://www.microsoft.com/
For more information about Aston Baltic products and services, call (371) 67843300 or visit the Web site at: www.astonbaltic.lv
For more information about Columbus IT products and services, call (371) 67542945 or visit the Web site at: www.columbusit.lv
For more information about Transport and Telecommunication Institute (TSI) products and services, call (371) 67100660 or visit the Web site at:
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