Today is Thanksgiving 2011 here in Minneapolis, MN, USA.  More than 97% or our 250 or so Dynamics clients have renewed their annual plans.  We have slightly more Dynamics SL clients than Dynamics GP clients so, as you would guess, most clients renew their plans on both sides.  ERP/Accounting Software has a reputation for being “sticky” due to the expense and disruption of change and in this economy not too many are buying or changing systems.  Most are upgrading because it costs less and they can migrate all of their data-rather than only some of it.

So if you are a Dynamics SL client right now-what do you have to be thankful about on this day of thanks?

There are many reasons and I want to share them with you.

1. Dynamics SL still has by far the best Multi-Company capabilities of any ERP system I’ve seen-both Microsoft Dynamics-wise and generally.  …and I’ve seen many.

Dynamics SL allows you to have multiple companies open, at the same time.  This may seem trivial to you if you are casually shopping for software, but as a user, not having to close my 3 screens in company A to answer a question about company B is huge.  The ability to share or not share vendors, customers and a chart of accounts is useful-not just nice.  Does anyone really enjoy updating a vendor’s address 4 times when that vendor does business with all 4 of your companies?  Why not have just one vendor record in one database?

You probably are only slightly aware that you have the ability to run your companies in one database or in separate databases.  Having the power to automatically create due-to and due-from transactions on the accounts receivable side as well as accounts payable and general ledger is practical.  What about having multi-company in the project series too?  You are lucky.  Many of the better accounting products, including Dynamics GP, require Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) to provide the type of functionality you are getting natively.  Do some of your firms have different fiscal years?-no problem.  Group them in different databases and allow the ones with the same fiscal year ends to share vendors, customers, chart of accounts, etc.

2. How about those grids?

Ok, so you only have one company and maybe a smaller real estate company…you don’t have enough offsetting journal entries to get too excited about the multi-company capabilities.  Well then, how about those grids?  Many ERP products, want to avoid forcing you to scroll so they create a simple “Quicken-like” data form that does not allow you to copy and paste from other grids such as an Excel worksheet.  The clients that like creating their Journal Entries in Excel, love the ability to simply copy and paste those excel grids into Dynamics SL journal transactions.  To get the data out of a Dynamics SL grid?-simply press the Excel button (in the figure below) to export to grid or if you are not on Dynamics 2011-copy and paste.

Do accountants like Excel?  Do accountants like grids?  Is Steve Ballmer easily excited?

One of the other nice things about the grids is that almost every Dynamics SL user owns customization manager.  You can, in minutes, remove all of the fields you don’t need that are causing you to scroll to the right so that you have both visibility of all your data and the ability to cut and paste from grids.

 

Export to Excel Button                        Highlighted fields in grid you can remove in minutes if they cause unneeded horizontal scrolling.

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Click to Enlarge.  Dynamics SL Journal Entry Screen showing typical Dynamics SL grid, ability to export to Excel with one click, and fields to remove with Customization Manager.

3. The Project Series.

Microsoft has marketed Dynamics SL primarily as a project-centric product.  …and for good reason.  The project and task fields exist in most grids or data entry screens-including the one above.  Projects are not an afterthought that pop up in unrelated additional screens.  They are designed into Dynamics SL from the start.  Want to issue inventory to a project-no problem?  Want to integrate both revenues and costs from your sales orders into your projects-again no problem.  Core functionality like this is not something you find in some of the newer cloud-based systems or even other ERP systems generally speaking.

4. Quick Query

Those of you that used to use Dynamics GP and due to merger reasons for example may have had to switch to Dynamics SL-you miss your Smartlists don’t you?  Those of us that work with both products knew what the Dynamics SL community was missing and are thrilled with the addition of “Quick Query” in Dynamics SL 2011.  Just like Smartlists, Quick Query allows you to create your own queries without the help of IT because the tool has been made so simple that it does not require that you know database table or field names for your data.  It’s easy and useful.

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Click to Enlarge.  This example shows Quick Query data viewed from prior years data-before Quick Query even existed.

 

5. Strong distribution modules

Yes, this can be a double-edged sword.  The Dynamics SL distribution modules, especially Order Management, are so capable that they can take longer to configure.  But let’s face it, Process Manager in Order Management can replace a whole person with its automatic printing of pick tickets when inventory is received and was on back order.  No more checking every day to see which back orders can be released for shipping.  Prioritizing inventory by customer can also be automated-saving lots of time from a person every day.

6. Customization Manager

Customization Manager is inexpensive and useful.  Who doesn’t have fields they don’t want to remove in heavily used data entry screens?  Who doesn’t have fields they want to add and report against on screens.  By giving you multiple user fields for numeric, date, and string fields-Microsoft has provided you with the ability to add fields without custom programming.  With minimal help, you can even add a possible value inquiry (F3) inquiry into that field you just added.  Crystal Reports allows you to grab data from that field and put it on your existing reports and even new reports.

7. Partners with deep experience

At Boyer we have over 100 years of collective Dynamics SL experience.  We have individuals that focus on support, programming using the Dynamics SL toolkit, training and consulting as well as sales.  This is not unusual.  Many of the solid partners nationally are firms that like Dynamics so much that they never really wanted or needed to pick up other Dynamics products.  That depth and experience creates quality and speed-to-answer.

8. The Microsoft brand and commitment to improvement with a roadmap into the future (see roadmap below).

 

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Click to Enlarge.  Please note that Dynamics SL 8 is now called Dynamics SL 2011 and this will be continue to occur with the version naming.

What does Microsoft really bring to the table in the business software realm?

30 years of proven performance, one of the most recognized brands in the world, seamless integration with Outlook, Exchange, Excel, Word, Sharepoint, Windows Server, etc.  A commitment to constant improvement of products and a history of doing this rather than just promising.

So you may already love Dynamics SL and not feel the need for this parental reminder about what to be thankful for.  But just in case you do…