Spalon is a full-service salon based in Edina, Minn. The company started 25 years ago and now has 280 employees across three locations in the Twin Cities. From hair and nails to skin and spa treatments, Spalon is all about the total rejuvenation experience.
It was early 2020, yet Spalon was still running on Windows Server 2008. Their accounting system, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0, still did the job but had also been in operation since 2008. Signs of age showed. When it became apparent that the server would likely crash within the next few months, the luxury spa’s owners reached out to a trusted ERP reseller to discuss options.“We went live Nov. 1, and I was already getting a sense that this wasn’t going well,” he said.
Since Senior Accountant Dean Wellman and his team in the business office still liked Dynamics NAV, an upgrade seemed the best option. Boyer & Associates recommended the team upgrade to the latest version of the product under its new name, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. The two-step process included an upgrade to the latest on-premise version and then a migration to the cloud version of the Software as a Service ERP.
Despite a statewide shutdown of salon services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boyer and Spalon teams met virtually throughout the spring to finalize plans for the upgraded ERP system. The project officially kicked off in early May and by June 1, the new system was live.
“It was more or less an upgrade, and I’m so glad we did that instead of getting a whole new product because we knew how NAV worked so we intuitively knew how this was going to work,” Wellman said.
Though many companies use Dynamics NAV for full warehouse or distribution operations, Spalon used a standard version for General Ledger only. That made the transition to Business Central much simpler and faster.
“I know there’s a lot more we could do … but for us it definitely did what we needed,” Wellman said.
Among its out-of-the-box features, the upgraded Dynamics 365 Business Central has built-in Power BI and AI capabilities. With these advanced features, clients can quickly create real-time reports to identify business trends, forecast more accurately and get a clear view of their financial situation.
“It definitely feels more up-to-date and easier to use and more intuitive … We like that a lot,” Wellman said.
Because the company uses a basic version of the system, there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles. That’s the way Wellman and his team prefer it. For Spalon, he said the biggest win was simply “knowing that we’re not going to crash on our server.”
The updated appearance of the screens was another welcome rejuvenation. Spalon’s old version of Dynamics NAV just looked older, with outdated screens where staff had to type in every piece of data. Business Central has a fresh appearance, and the AI integration speeds up searches and data entry.
“The old NAV was very clunky and an old-style system,” Wellman said, adding that Business Central offers “a more modern look and feel.”
While he was initially nervous about how they would be able to get the updated ERP system in place with everyone working from their homes, Wellman was pleased with the overall process and the result. The entire project, including training, was done remotely with meetings taking place over Microsoft Teams.
“That was just a different way of doing things,” he said. “We’re all learning how to be flexible in how we’re doing things.”
He said they never once had to push back their go-live date, and the consultant in charge of the product responded quickly to any questions or issues that arose. Overall, the business weathered the pandemic and came out with a new cloud-based accounting system to help them keep better tabs on their books.
“It’s exceeded what I thought it would. It’s really nice to have that and it was such an easy process,” Wellman concluded.