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Getting Closer to your Customers… more Field Stories

Continuing our previous blog post “Digital Transformation for the C-Suite“, we now turn our focus to another Field Story: a printer company. This company sells high-end, custom printers with the accompanying high-end inks and consumables. They are on an old version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and have determined that the cost to upgrade is astronomical.  The cost of these solutions is not just the cost of the upgrade (labor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) but is also the cost of the IT infrastructure, IT Management, Security, Compliance, GDPR, and this list goes on.

I entered into a management consulting arrangement with them to define a path-forward that includes Dynamics 365 Business Central as a SaaS solution (in the multi-tenant Microsoft Azure Cloud). Moving customer to the cloud is something I have done since 2010 and so this engagement only has a few wrinkles, such as deprecating customizations and reports as well as mapping ISV functionality to the future state.

That part was fairly routine. The usual questions around security, uptime, redundancy, compliance and features came into play. The digital transformation conversation was the most exciting. This company sells to dealers and therefore, their customers (who use their printers) were not readily known to the business.  Enter Dynamics 365 Business Central + CRM functionality. With the Common Data Service, yes your ERP and CRM systems can talk to each other without the special need for integrations.

The result is a system where the customers are known to the business, while maintaining the relationships with the dealers and ecosystem. This ends up being the “cake and eat it too” option for the business where they break down silos of information and provide their end customers with support, returns, quality and experience leadership.


Dynamics 365 — What are the ERP Solutions and why are they important?

Continuing our post from “What is Dynamics 365“: we now explore the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP Solutions of Business Central and Finance & Operations.  Both of these systems are ERP Solutions.

Business Central, essentially the modern version of the longstanding Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution, is the premier solution for the mid-market. For about 17 years now, Microsoft had four competing, legacy solutions called Dynamics NAV, AX, SL and GP.  NAV is Business Central and AX is Finance & Operations… and much more!

It would have been a great step forward and a parity step with NetSuite and IntAcct had Microsoft just simply web enabled their product. However, their solutions, out of the gate, are much more. You see, Microsoft knows it “owns” the Office environment with Office 365, Outlook, Excel and other tools we all use today.  Therefore, out of the gate, customers can enable their business to work directly from Outlook to meet customer demands, quote product and provide services. This is the secret sauce that, knowing NetSuite like I do, NetSuite doesn’t have.

Therefore, customers who are on Legacy SL and GP have a path forward — to Business Central.  For approximately 50% of the customer that is using Dynamics SL and GP, standard Financials functionality with maybe a couple of ISV or Third Party applications, the path forward is pretty straight-forward. We have proven migration strategies that can bring you to Modern in a methodology that delivers results quickly.

For the 30% or more that have more complexity, some inventory needs, more ISV’s or other complications, an ERP Modernization Assessment / Management Consulting engagement can provide you with the Roadmap, clarity and direction you need to move confidently to Business Central.

For the remaining customers, your path will require more Management Consulting to achieve the results you need.  This may include s Software Selection engagement and sometimes this includes actually staying on your current ERP, bringing it more modern and centralizing the functionality.  The destination may or may not be Business Central.

This is where Finance & Operations comes in! I have performed more than a few F&O migration assessments. They have historically been Legacy SL and GP customers who have outgrown their current ERP system.  These customers know they need to consider a larger platform such as Oracle, SAP, Workday or Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. In one such engagement, with a construction company in Florida that has nationwide operations, I led the initiative to centralize over a couple of hundred disparate systems into one consolidated, combined ERP system (still the Legacy SL system) while preparing for Finance & Operations.

Combining Microsoft’s strategy of leveraging the entire Office 365 platform with the power of both Business Central and Finance & Operations, I have found a home for most of my customers through a Management Consulting engagement. Your journey will be as unique as your business and our commitment to you is to give you a Roadmap and a Future — one that includes a truly modernized ERP solution.

Digital Transformation for the C-Suite

You are a member of the C-Suite of your company. Could be a big company with revenue of $350 million per year or you may be a CFO of a small company. Either way, you are wondering “what does Digital Transformation mean to me?”.

Here are a couple of stories from the field…

First story, from a gasoline storage tank construction company. These are the people who renovate and startup new gas stations across the United States. They are, for many people, a very traditional company. I met up with them a while back and was seated in their board room. The table was cluttered with cardboard boxes and we needed to move them aside to have our meeting.

I began with an overview of what Digital Transformation is and why it is important to business today. I was stopped by the CIO… I found myself on pause. Was he going to say something like “get out of here with your digital message”? No. Exactly opposite. He states “I get the concept of Digital Transformation. These boxes we moved aside contain circuit boards (and he opened one) that connect our pumps to the Cloud to track real-time consumption, adjust pricing and schedule delivery of gas in its various formulations to the right stations in the most efficient way possible”.

Okay, he gets it!  Then, his question turned to: “how are you going to connect my business’s front end (sales) with the back end (ERP system)”? The conversation turned to Dynamics 365 and how the CE version can manage this part of their business and others.

For another story, please read on by clicking on Getting Closer to your Customers… more Field Stories

What is Dynamics 365?

Okay, let’s demystify Dynamics 365!  Are you ready?  Let’s break it down:

Dynamics 365 comes in three primary product categories:

1) Dynamics 365 CE (Customer Engagement) — this is the primary CRM Solution available from Microsoft which competes with and other CRM Solutions.

2) Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations — this is the enterprise level (for companies 350MM++ in revenue) ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Solution.

3) Dynamics 365 Business Central — this is the mid-market ERP Solution.

It’s that simple!  Done, right?  Okay, let’s explore a little more so you can understand the solutions better.

Dynamics 365 CE — remember this is general CRM functionality which includes marketing, leads, opportunities, pipeline, account and contact management.  I began working with this solution when it was CRM version 1.2 back in the 2003/2004 timeframe.  It grew as versions 3, 4, 2011, 2013 and other versions were released, primarily as on premise solutions.  Sometime around version 4 and 2011, you could get CRM both Online (called… CRM Online) or on premise.  It has now primarily become a CRM online solution, called Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 Field Service functionality came to Dynamics 365 in 2016 when Microsoft bought FieldOne — a premier solution for field service companies.  Built for a modern field service company’s needs, it includes sophisticated dispatch, scheduling, routing, services work orders and other aspects of the field service needs.  It continues to grow and expand as functional areas.

Dynamics 365 Project Service functionality came to Dynamics 365 in 2016 when Microsoft built this solution internally, for Professional Services Companies.  The solution is built for managing projects through skills and role management, costs and pricing matrices, resource pooling, automated scheduling, Gantt charting and task management.

Dynamics 365 Talent Management for companies focused on building a digital workforce, attracting the best candidates and managing the talent and HR aspects of the business successfully.  This solution provides candidate profiles, offer information and streamlines everything from interview to hire.

Dynamics 365 Customer Service gives you the ability to engage with customers through realtime chat, give your agents a comprehensive view of the customer journey and overall meet and exceed the demands of your customer.

Further, there are other functions and features all within Dynamics CE that immeasurably build your sales and customer service capabilities!

In our next blog post, we will talk more about the Dynamics 365 ERP Solutions.

Dynamics 365 — What are the ERP Solutions and why are they important?

Digital Transformation

Understanding Digital Transformation is essential to understanding the success of your business.  However, if you ask 12 different people “what is digital transformation?” you will get 12 different answers. Therefore, I am going to try to answer the question with practical examples that can help with this.  First, let’s explore the challenges faced by our customers today.

Today’s pressures on our clients include the continued and increased pressure on the organization to maximize operational ROI.  Looking at it this way, how can I not only build end to end processes in the most cost effective way but then how do I leverage that to build a tighter relationship with my customers?  That’s where the secret sauce is in digital transformation.

Cloud and Security are incredibly important today and will be more important tomorrow. Nobody wants to have their solutions fail, let alone become leverage for ransomware. Further, only so many Cloud Solutions Providers can put the security you need into the cloud.

Modernized, Cloud-enabled and Secured companies now need to maximize on the currency of the modern world: data.  Data that you collect can provide you with the insights and actions needed to build more business and connect with customer expectations!  That’s the secret!

Underlying this is Support and Services, provided on a consumption basis meeting the needs of your team to thrive!