Yesterday was Thanksgiving 2011 here in Minneapolis, MN, USA. More than 97% or our 250 or so Dynamics clients have renewed their plans. We have roughly the same number of Dynamics SL clients as 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 GP 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 GP still has the best financial modules of the ERP systems I’ve seen-both Microsoft Dynamics-wise and generally. …and I’ve seen many.
Dynamics GP allows you to do many things that comparable financial modules don’t allow you to do. Defaulting several expense accounts at one time is not just practical but useful. You may buy 4 different groups of items at Costco-computer supplies, computers, furniture, and paper products for the office. Dynamics GP can default all 4 for you which facilitates correctly coding your ap vouchers each time you deal with that vendor’s invoice or charge.
Dynamics GP has eBanking (AP EFT, Positive Pay, AR EFT) built in rather than available from an Independent Software vendor only. It’s always nicer to have your modules from Microsoft rather than introducing an additional vendor-no matter how Microsoft-like or GP-like the interface.
What about Analytical Accounting? Project Accounting is wonderful for those firms running full scale projects, needing to manage budgets at the project and task level, requiring more flexible invoice formats, etc. But let’s face it-there are many organizations out there that only want project accounting to limit the size and sprawl of their chart of accounts. Analytical Accounting, a “Poor Person’s Project Accounting” does this. An added benefit that you don’t get with many fully featured project accounting programs is that Analytical Accounting data can be fetched and reported on from with FRx or Management Reporter-another key need that people have that run their organizations by project.
2. How about those Independent Software Vendors?
One of the beautiful things about selecting Dynamics GP is that there are so many options to extend your software. I was once in a situation with a large professional services firm where they really wanted to buy Dynamics GP. Dynamics SL was a much better fit for them and I tried to convince them of this but the person that had worked with Dynamics GP in the past, and was responsible for the distribution part of her business wanted software she already knew.
They made it clear to me that they were either going to buy Dynamics GP from someone else or they would buy it from us-don’t keep trying to offer us software you think works better. We want something we know.
In the end they were very happy with a Dynamics GP ISV that extended the solution by adding project scheduling, timecards, expense reports and approvals. The time they saved by knowing the financial and distribution modules was tremendous and they were able to “own” the solution much more-not relying on us so much. We find that this is often one of the things that makes clients happiest-being able to support Dynamics GP internally with little help from us. …but that’s perhaps another numbered idea.
If you’ve never been curious about the many ISV products that work with Dynamics GP, you may be curious now. Here are some of the better ones presented in an organized way from a Dynamics GP partner on the East Coast: http://www.calszone.com/software/add-on-isv-products/
3. Modules Available Straight off of the Price List or Already Included in Your Bundle
Microsoft has marketed Dynamics GP primarily as a horizontal financials product with strong integration capabilities. If you look only at the financial modules, one of the things you see right away are the many options or modules available in Dynamics GP. How many competing products offer not only Analytical Accounting mentioned above, but also National Accounts, Collections, Fixed Assets, Account Level Security, Refund Checks, Revenue/Expense Deferrals and Encumbrance Management?
4. Smartlists and Smartlist Builder
Dynamics SL just added Quick Query in an attempt to “catch up” to GP in this area. The module is a big improvement from offering nothing in this area in the past. However…being able to add a second sort in a query is a huge capability. For example if you are looking for all ap transactions from a particular vendor in Smartlists, you don’t have to look at 20 years worth of data for that one vendor, you can have the query’s primary sort on vendor and then the second filter on year so that you are looking at the data that you want rather than having to export to excel to get the filter you need.
Dynamics GP SmartLists have more data views (it looks at either SQL views or the Dynamics GP data dictionary) out of the box. We love it that with each new release of Dynamics GP, Microsoft offers many new standard views so that they are “just there”. You don’t have to create them and test them to ensure they work.
5. Integration Tools
Dynamics GP offers outstanding integration tools. Integration Manager, part of Integration Suite, provides a nice user interface to map fields across products. I know a lot of accountants that have figured out this tool with minimal help from us and no help from their IT departments. Dynamics GP also has a nice array of web services that are well documented. Microsoft has done a great job in ensuring that your product validates data and is fast regardless of the tool used to bring in data. eConnect offers stored procedures to import data-the same ones that GP itself uses. Integration Manager for example does not work with customized GP screens. eConnect however can import the data directly into the database using the eConnect stored procedures for faster and still validated data.
So as a GP user, you have plenty of reasons to be thankful around this Thanksgiving Holiday. I will not be doing the 12 Days of Christmas next month so if you read this blog-don’t worry.