As organizations grow and evolve so do their business system needs. This makes perfect sense. If your accounting or customer management needs are the same the day you open up shop to 20 years later, you likely aren’t growing or you are bogged down by painful, manual processes.
I recently had a client tell me they were considering moving to another ERP system. When I asked why they replied “Well [Dynamics] GP just doesn’t work for us anymore, it doesn’t do many of the things we need it to do now.” This customer was several versions behind on GP, had not paid their annual enhancement in several years, and had not made any training investments in years. After getting them on a current version, training their employees, and integrating to another system they were using for billing they are perfectly happy with GP and operating much more efficiently. They also saved themselves from the cost and headache of implementing a new system.
Unfortunately, this is an all too common situation. Dynamics GP is a system that has been in place since the mid-1990s and some companies have been running it since then. Implementing an ERP system is a significant investment to a business and it should be treated as such.
Companies need to constantly evaluate their business needs, look at the technology they have in place, and come up with a strategy of how to better utilize it. The truth is, Dynamics GP has a whole lot of functionality built right in to it. The Starter Pack has almost every “Finance” module. If you are not familiar with the pack or “perpetual” licensing model, you have not evaluated your Dynamics GP licensing since version 2013! Reach out to your partner or KTL to figure out what licensing you have and what you should be taking advantage of. Just for giggles, here is the Dynamics GP Starter Pack module breakdown:
If you own Dynamics GP, you have access to all of this functionality, out of the box! Now, let’s say there are a few things that GP doesn’t do or just doesn’t do they way you would like it or need it to. You do not have to scrap the whole system and walk away from your investment! There are several things you can do to “customize” Dynamics GP to fit your needs. You can:
1. Implement a Third-Party Tool
I have written a few blogs surrounding third party tools for Microsoft Dynamics. I am very pro third-party. Some people shy away from third-parties because they feel it makes the system more complex. The truth is, as your business grows things do become more complicated. You can’t be afraid to introduce a new piece of technology or a new process or you will never evolve and will just bog yourself down with more manual processes.
2. Do Custom Development
There is a time to build and a time to buy. Part of the reason customers and partners alike have loved Dynamics GP for so many years is the ability to customize it to fit your needs. Dynamics GP is based on a coding language called Dexterity. You may here it referred to as “Dex”. In the GP community you will find Dex developers who write customizations specifically for Dynamics GP. The beauty of GP is that you can also use .net and VBA to create custom add-ins to suit your needs. Sometimes going the customization route is exactly what you need to automate a manual process, right within the system.
Again, people tend to be wary of custom development because of the complexity it adds o your system. If you are using a reputable developer, one that is intimately familiar with GP, and it’s done right, development will simplify your business and your system, not complicate it.
I would be remiss to say that every module in Dynamics GP and third party will solve all your business needs. Some organizations still need to use industry specific software to fill a gap in their business. For instance, we have a customer that uses an industry specific software to manage equipment rentals.
This software works well for them and they need it to run effectively. The problem they were encountering is that the data in this system was siloed from the rest of their line of business. They came to us to see if we could replace the functionality of that system with something in Dynamics GP or Dynamics CRM. Could we have done this through certain modules and customizations? Yes, however, the better thing to do for this customer was to simply integrate the systems together using an ETL tool. There are several ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) or integration tools out there that can take data from one system and pass it to another system in a relevant way. Integration is one of the easiest and most effective ways to automate your business systems.
Another means of integration is using SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) packages to pull and push data. Microsoft SQL Server (the backbone of any Dynamics system) is incredibly powerful and most people do not realize what they have there. SQL Server, out of the box, has powerful integration services, reporting and analysis services, and so much more. If you are interested in learning more about what you can do with SQL I would suggest checking out some of Barry Crowell’s (KTL’s Business Intelligence Architect) blogs.
The first question I posed in this blog was “GP can do that?” Well, the answer is of course it can (and there are many ways to do it)! If it’s been a while since you evaluated your business processes, your existing technology, and the licensing model you are on, do not wait to do this! There is so much out there you are not taking advantage of. Here are a few simple steps you can take today to get the ball rolling:
- Set up an internal meeting with system stakeholders to talk about their needs, pain points, and goals.
- Reach out to your partner and have them come talk to you about what technology you already have in place.
- Start small. Take on a simple process that is manual and get it automated!
Ready to Get Started?
A good Dynamics Partner like KTL Solutions has the knowledge and experience to help with implementation, integration and customization development, and support for Dynamics 365. KTL Solutions understands that every organization is unique with its challenges and needs. Get in touch with us today to get started.