Boyer & Associates goes LIVE with its first Dynamics 365 for Financials client

It’s official: Boyer & Associates’ first implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials is now live! We sat down with consultant Jason Baldwin to hear what it was like in the midst of our first implementation of Microsoft’s newest Software as a Service ERP product.

What was unique about this ERP implementation?

A typical ERP implementation can take from 3 months to a full year to complete. By contrast, our first Dynamics 365 implementation was done in a short 45 days.

“The quick turnaround for 365 was really huge,” Baldwin said.

The time savings was due in large part to the standard tool set available in Dynamics 365 for Financials. Whereas Microsoft’s on-premise solutions typically have multiple ways to configure each module, Dynamics 365 does not.

For most implementations, we discuss with the client what their processes are and how they want to configure or modify the ERP system to match those processes. With Dynamics 365 for Financials, the conversation shifted to what is available in Dynamics 365 and if that was workable for the client.

“The conversation stopped at … how to make this work in a standard product where we don’t get the flexibility to make any changes,” Baldwin said. “How can I make that work with the tools that I have without any modifications?”

While that may not work for clients with more complex financials, it works well for companies with straightforward operations. “It was very much a natural switch,” Baldwin said.

“I think they’re going to pick up serious momentum. They’re going to have a winning solution on their hands.” — consultant Jason Baldwin on Microsoft’s new SaaS ERP

What did you like about the process?

“I was very surprised at how few phone calls I’ve received,” Baldwin said. “(The client) picked it up, they ran it and they’ve been building ever since.”

He was a little concerned about the learning curve of moving from QuickBooks to a full-fledged ERP financial management solution, but he said Microsoft has created Dynamics 365 in such a way that it is a smooth transition for former QuickBooks users.

“The way Microsoft rolled it out simplifies the screens,” he said. “Yeah, you lose a little bit of functionality, but the QuickBooks customers can pick it up.”

What did you learn?

“I probably would have steered them to the on-premise solution before this project started,” Baldwin said. “However, the only thing we’ve really lost between the on-premise and this solution in terms of major functionality for the client was the CRM connector. Other than that, we’ve made this work for them.”

The ability to link customer records between Dynamics 365 and CRM wasn’t quite at full capacity by the completion of this initial implementation. However, Baldwin said Microsoft is continuing to update the product at a rapid pace, introducing new functionality for Dynamics 365 every month.

In fact, additional functionality related to the jobs piece was added in the middle of our first implementation, making the process much smoother and creating a much better finished product.

Who should use Dynamics 365 for Financials?

Companies with fairly simple operations would do very well using Dynamics 365 to manage their financials. The product so far appears to be geared more towards the service industry, but light manufacturing/distributing companies could make it work too, Baldwin said.

What do you see for Dynamics 365 in the future?

“The future looks really bright for 365. From what I understand — and hopefully this is true — is that they are going to continue to bring over functionality from the on-premise solutions,” Baldwin said.

He said Dynamics 365 for Financials doesn’t currently have all the functionality available in an on-premise solution such as Dynamics NAV, GP or SL. However, as Microsoft continues to improve the product and add functionality, he expects the product will continue to grow in popularity.

“I think they’re going to pick up serious momentum,” Baldwin said. “They’re going to have a winning solution on their hands.”