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Posted: 7/8/2008
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Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Using Business Software in Class Puts University at Forefront of Innovative Education

Copenhagen Business School (CBS) focuses on developing strong links between the research and business communities. When students at CBS requested skills in business management software, the university contacted Microsoft to see what would work best in an educational setting. Through Microsoft Dynamics® Academic Alliance, Microsoft provided software and links to consultants who developed and helped teach a class on Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0. Now, students have the opportunity to combine theoretical concepts with the practical technical skills that employers expect from university graduates.

Situation

Founded in 1917, Copenhagen Business School (CBS) is an international university that combines academic research with practical business studies. CBS has more than 1,100 academic staff, 500 administrative employees, and around 15,000 students in undergraduate, masters, PhD, and continuing education programmes.

The opportunity to study innovative technology along with traditional academic subjects draws pupils to CBS from all over the world. Part of the core education strategy at the university is to listen to the needs of students and partner with the business community. When the use of business management software increased in local and international business, students requested a hands-on course. Administrators at CBS saw this as a good way to strengthen links with local industry and give students the skills they will need after graduation.

According to Frantisek Sudzina, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Applied Information at CBS, there was a clear need for instruction in business management software. “Industry has an increasing need for employees with these skills, so in keeping with our reputation for innovative education, CBS needed to offer some courses,” says Sudzina.

Solution

In 2007, the Centre for Applied Information Communication Technology started researching software. Administrators were familiar with the Microsoft® Academic Alliance programme, which gives educational institutions access to the latest Microsoft Dynamics® solutions. The university was attracted to this programme because of the free licensing agreements and the advice and benefits Microsoft could offer. Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance put the institution in contact with Tectura, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and developer of Microsoft Dynamics education modules. Tectura also developed the tool QuickStepz, which automates installation and configuration of Microsoft Dynamics AX. These factors, combined with Tectura’s extensive experience of delivering Microsoft Dynamics, rapidly convinced the centre that it had found the partner and the technology that best met its requirements.

Tectura representatives met with administrators at the Centre for Applied Information to gain an in-depth understanding of the type of knowledge and skills the university wanted to deliver. “Tectura talked us through all the options, after which we selected Microsoft Dynamics,” says Sudzina. There were several reasons for this decision, not least the flexibility of the software that makes it easy to install and configure. Critically, it can be customised to a specific industry. CBS runs international programmes in English and Danish, so the multiple language capabilities were also an important feature.

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* Deployment was quick and easy. This was important because we had to get the system up and running fast. *

Allan Mik Bjørnsfort
Project Manager,
Tectura

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Tectura worked with the university IT team to install Microsoft Dynamics AX, on Microsoft SQL Server® database software. Allan Mik Bjørnsfort, Project Manager at Tectura, was keen to minimise disruption to day-to-day activities at the centre: “Deployment was quick and easy. This was important because we had to get the system up and running without affecting existing classes.”

Sixty-five students enrolled in the first class. “That’s a lot for one teacher, so we started a ‘train the trainer’ programme,” says Bjørnsfort. “I went to CBS and trained four instructors.” During the week-long training session, the instructors learnt how to use the system, ran exercises, and prepared assignments.

At the end of the week, the instructors had prepared a training programme with two important features for such a large class:

  • Students could work on the modules together in class, at their own pace.
  • Data for student assignments was already pre-loaded into the programme.

The course, called ERP Systems, consisted of 10 three-hour lectures and eight three-hour computer lab sessions. Students were divided into three classes while Bjørnsfort and the CBS instructors moved between the classes instructing groups in turn. “This way of teaching was new to me, but the students liked it,” says Sudzina. “They were actively engaged and this style of learning neatly complements existing professor lectures.” Students learnt how to use modules for different business practices such as general ledger, sales, purchasing, general accounting, and finance. They also set up fictitious businesses and worked in groups investigating and analysing aspects of the programme and business practices.

Students could use the server on campus, or download Microsoft Dynamics software onto their own computers to customise the programme without affecting other students. “We had several theoretical companies set up on the server. Students worked together representing different companies and each of these companies was saved separately on the same server. It worked out really well. The different student companies started interacting, selling products and offering services to each other,” says Sudzina.

The success of the first class has attracted interest from many other students and has convinced administrators at CBS to continue offering courses in Microsoft Dynamics AX. “It would be good to offer two separate courses,” says Sudzina. “One class could be geared towards students who want a general overview with a business administration focus. A second could have more of a technical emphasis for students studying business information systems or computer science.”

Benefits

Developing a class on Microsoft Dynamics helped CBS provide the modern education that students need to prepare for work after graduation. In addition to providing students with a better education, the class raised the status of the university, and increased training and research opportunities for professors. Industry also benefits from a pool of potential employees who are more skilled in business management software.

Hands-on Experience Reflects Real Business Processes
Students who take the ERP Systems class get hands-on experience of the latest business management software and leave with the skills that employers need. “Students who take this class have an advantage when they seek employment after graduation, especially in Denmark where there is such great demand for graduates with these skills,” says Bjørnsfort.

Tectura and other local companies also benefit when students leave university with knowledge in business development software. “It’s difficult to find new recruits who know Microsoft Dynamics,” says Bjørnsfort, “We normally spend the first few weeks or months of an internship getting people up to speed. Now we have the opportunity to hire graduates who are extremely well-grounded in the skills that they require. It’s great for new hires, because they can start quickly on more rewarding projects, while we save time and resources.”

Academic Alliance Gives University Access to Free Software
For many universities, the most up-to-date software for technology instruction is often prohibitively expensive. Through the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance programme, Microsoft gives free software licences to education institutions for educational and research use. Universities can install Microsoft Dynamics on their servers and students can install the software on their own computers.

“We got a great product at no cost with excellent service,” says Sudzina. “We didn’t know how many students were enrolling in the course in advance, so we had to request the licences at the last minute. Microsoft provided additional users within three days. To provide that level of service free is impressive.”

Instructors Increase Their Knowledge and University Profile
Instructors at CBS have also had the opportunity to widen their knowledge through the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance. For instance, Sudzina and his team have plenty of advance warning of training sessions relevant to the courses that they teach. “Once you’ve got a solid grounding in a subject, you still need to build on that knowledge and keep up to date with the latest developments in that field,” he says.

Tectura also provided training for instructors. The day-long pre-teaching seminar focused on:

  • Technical aspects including how to make templates and how to customise data.
  • Teaching techniques, which focused on encouraging students be more creative, to work on their own, and in teams.

“I learned a lot about the software. Critically, the training also helped me better understand how to transfer this knowledge to our students,” says Sudzina.

Instructors were also invited to attend Microsoft Convergence EMEA, an international conference for Microsoft Dynamics customers. “This was a good way to find out about the latest Microsoft Dynamics updates,” says Sudzina. “Now I’ll be informed about what’s already happening in the field when I ask questions or make suggestions to Microsoft or Tectura.”

Microsoft Dynamics Programme Informs University Research
In addition to teaching at the Centre for Applied Information at CBS, Sudzina is conducting research on a project called the Third Generation of ERP Systems, funded by the Danish national advanced technology foundation.

“The hands-on experience I have had with Microsoft and Tectura has given me great insight into the challenges companies face and how they use Microsoft Dynamics,” he says. “The original goal of this project was to work out how to decrease total cost of ownership for end users. However, the contact I’ve had with customers through the Academic Alliance programme has allowed me to expand my research. For example, users not only expect the processes within Microsoft Dynamics to be industry-specific, but they also expect to see industry-specific terminology within the application.”

Students Connect with Industry
One of the main reasons CBS introduced business management software into the curriculum was to give students practical education that addressed the business requirements of their future employers. Studying Microsoft Dynamics does just that. During the class, students work on case studies based on real companies, proposing solutions and analysing company data.
In addition to helping teach the class, Tectura representatives were available to answer students’ questions. “I was pleasantly surprised that the Tectura representatives answered questions outside class, in their own time,” says Sudzina. “It was a great way for students to have contact with people in the industry who use Microsoft Dynamics AX on a daily basis.”

Microsoft Dynamics AX Is Easy to Install and Use
Students who brought portable computers to class were able to install Microsoft Dynamics AX on their own computers without any instruction from the teacher.

The tool QuickStepz developed by Tectura makes the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics even quicker. Instructors spend less time preparing templates and students are able to rapidly learn how to customise the tools they need. From the point of view of Tectura, they also benefited from student feedback to QuickStepz. Using this information, the company can further refine future editions of the software.

Microsoft Dynamics

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:
www.microsoft.com/dynamics

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 Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance, visit the Web site at: http://www.microsoft.com/education/academic_alliance.mspx

For more information about Tectura products and services, call +45 7010 5000 or visit the Web site at: http://www.tectura.com/

For more information about Copenhagen Business School products and services, call +45 3815 3815 or visit the Web site at:
http://uk.cbs.dk/ 

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 1600 employees

Organization Profile

Copenhagen Business School (CBS) was founded in 1917 by the Danish Society for the Advancement of Business Education. The university now offers degree programmes in Danish and English.


Business Situation

As the use of business management software became more widespread, students at CBS requested courses to better prepare them for employment after graduation.


Solution

CBS developed a training programme on Microsoft Dynamics® in partnership with Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance and Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Tectura.


Benefits
  • Reflects real businesses processes.
  • Increases instructor knowledge.
  • Informs university research.
  • Connects students with industry.
  • Easy to install and use.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0

Vertical Industries
Higher Education

Country/Region
Denmark

Business Need
Financial Management

IT Issue
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Tectura

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