Since I worked at Solomon Software for nine years, readers might assume that I continue to push this product out of a sense of nostalgia or loyalty. While I consider myself a loyal person, that is not my reason for sticking with what is now called Dynamics SL. Here are four great reasons for our firm’s continued support and passionate embrace of this platform:
1. Our Clients Still Love SL
Boyer & Associates currently supports a $1 billion pork producer, a $300 million marketing agency and a $100 million franchise of one of the largest moving companies in the country. All of these firms have been SL clients for a long time. All of them have substantial customizations that upgrade without a lot of pain outside of routine testing. We offer comparison events every six months to show these clients Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV (which Microsoft markets more), but few clients have expressed much interest in moving from the SL platform. It ain’t broke so no one seems eager to fix it.
2. SL’s Out-of-the-Box Functions Can’t Be Beat
Dynamics SL always has had superior project accounting relative to other middle market accounting products. Having five different project accounting modules is tantamount to certain Eskimo languages having numerous words to define “snow.” Many middle market products have a project accounting or jobs module that functions as an afterthought rather than something that was designed into the software from the beginning. SL has the following built-in components:
- Project controller
- Project allocator (creates project transactions based on conditions such as a billing transaction being created a certain way based on a timecard)
- Project flexible billings
- Project analyzer (analyzes groups of projects with similar qualities, not just one project)
- Time and expense for projects modules
When it comes to project accounting, Dynamics SL is far superior than its counterpart Dynamics GP. For example, the distribution modules and project modules integrate so well in SL that you can create a project on the fly in the middle of a sales order (given the right security). In Dynamics GP the project screens appear at the bottom of the screen literally in a different window. GP is still a tremendous product with its own benefits, but when comparing project functionality don’t leave SL thinking GP does projects as easily.
SL has the ability to enter a project and task from any module such as inventory issues, sales order lines, AP invoice lines, purchase order lines, etc. Giving up this functionality is cumbersome when changing software so clients are not changing.
The built-in multi-company functionality that allows many companies to reside in one database and share vendors, customers and a chart of accounts saves time for entities that need period-end “due to” and “due from” entries. If you’ve ever had to make these entries without a multi-company module or capability, you know how easy it is to make a mistake.
3. SL Has an Excellent Development Toolset
We have created entire modules for a few SL clients. For a firm in Boston, we created a cash management module. For one of the nation’s leading moving and storage firms, we’ve created modules that electronically communicate physical moves among franchises (one franchise may sell the deal, another may perform the move; neither wants to key transactions into the other’s system).
One large client, the third largest pork producer in the world, created custom programs around splitting projects (Pigs start in a small barn but outgrow their space quickly so projects need to split). Still another client created entire modules around moving refrigerated food on refrigerated trucks between cities. Some clients have taken the tool and either furthered the customizations or, in these last two cases, created whole modules on their own. This is possible since the platform, VB.Net, is such a popular Microsoft tool.
Other parts of the customization tool that are extremely nice is the ease with which you can create your own tables and supplement the need for additional fields beyond the date, string and number fields added to most tables. The ability for the user to modify possible value windows, hide fields, change labels and change field tab order all can be extremely helpful.
4. The SQL-Based Database Is Easy to Understand
Dynamics SL runs on a standard SQL database, and the table names make sense. GLTRAN holds GL transactions and APDOC holds AP documents. The fields are alphabetized as well so they are easy to find. Users and consultants writing reports with SQL Server Reporting Services or the standard Crystal Reports (that ships with the software) do not have to guess where to find the data they need.
As you can see with the highlighted areas from the snip, each line for AP invoice entry allows you to select a different company, a different project/task and even a separate 1099 box — plus indicate if the item should be passed on and moved to a draft invoice to a client (billable field that you would see if you scrolled to the right of the 1099 field). If the GL account requires a project, you have to select a project and task from the list. If the GL account does not have an associated project, the software prevents you from choosing a project or task. These rules help enhance data integrity throughout the software by cutting down on mistakes.
Finally, I love Dynamics SL because of our outstanding Dynamics SL support staff. While our staff averages almost 20 years per person in experience, we also get excellent support from Microsoft’s group in Ohio. You may be a Dynamics SL user in the U.S. whose partner has elected to support other products instead. If you still need custom programming, environment, upgrade, technical and application support, we can help you either find a good local partner or provide that support ourselves.
We have free internal access to any Dynamics product we want. We choose Dynamics SL because it has allowed us to run our professional services business well with very little customization. We expect to have very little turnover in our SL client base due to the stability and functionality combination we get ourselves in Dynamics SL.