Real-life Dynamics 365: Manufacturers Discuss Challenges and Priorities
It is always beneficial to learn from companies that have actually experienced the challenges and opportunities that you have questions about.
Kenny, the CIO at Paragon Films, and Wayne, the Director of IT at George’s, are answering some of the top questions customers have about Dynamics AX and CRM. Both companies have been using Dynamics AX and/or CRM and have great insight into what these solutions look like in real life. Below are a few of the questions that they answered:
- Why did you end up choosing Dynamics AX, and or, CRM for your business?
Wayne: Obviously, finances are a big deal… However, probably one of the things that really struck us hard was we, like most companies, use Microsoft applications. We use Word, Power Point, Excel... AX feels like Microsoft, it looks like Microsoft, it smells and tastes like Microsoft, and so all of that was natural for our users. The language that you would use, for example, very simply, if you wanted to run a 1099 report out of payroll—well, you go into the payroll module and you run the 1099 report under ‘reports.’ It's natural language, it's not hieroglyphs and acronyms and numbers that you have to learn, which works. Everybody's able to do that, but it was a more naturally extended way to move our users to a standard system, or a standard way ... Actually, a standard business process—this has not in any way, shape or form, been an IT project at all.
Kenny: Being aware of the talent pool that's available on the technology side, to work with Microsoft products, finding developers and people that can work with that stack, is very easy. There's a plethora of that kind of talent available. Compared to some of the other things--Oracle and SAP [are] much more of a specialized thing to find people who have experience and can really get in and work with that. That made a difference with me... We're in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it's not one of the major cities where maybe you can more easily find a specialized IT staff.
That played a part in it, and knowing that their products are going to work like Microsoft products. Pretty much everybody in business is using Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office is ubiquitous. Knowing that that is going to be a same experience would greatly decrease the training time… Moving into AX for people who had worked anywhere else, or who had used any kind of Microsoft product, it was an easy learning curve for them.
- What type of impact have you seen from having Dynamics AX up and running in your business?
Kenny: It's been very strong impact. The company, the business leaders of the company have been very pleased. One of the best things that I can speak to is the agility to take on new needs and new requirements. For instance, we went live with Dynamics AX not taking advantage of every single thing that was available in the system. We had to start somewhere. Over time now, we've rolled in additional departments, and additional needs and features, and it's been very quick. Whenever somebody has come up with something new, it hasn't been, "Oh, we have to go off and spec this as a big project," in many cases it's, "Oh yeah, that would be simple, we already have the framework in place," because AX does provide you with a development framework.
Wayne: One of the other things that impressed us so much with Dynamics AX was the actual architecture of the application, and that you didn't have to go all the way down to the DNA to make a change. That was also a big reason for us, because we wanted to use our own organic assets; we have some really good .Net developers, and we were just able to use them, just naturally extend their capabilities into the solution as well.
Since going live with Dynamics AX specifically, we're hearing a lot of these really wonderful comments from the users... It's really cool inside week one when you're walking around the accounts payable group, and the group of folks who actually generate our purchase orders, and you hear them saying things like, "This is so much easier than what we did before. We can just get through."
From a CRM perspective, we went live on CRM in just a few short months, four or five months. We very quickly were able to take advantage of that self-service solution where the users were developing the workflows, the users were actually developing the views of the information that was tied straight into Outlook, and they were able to access that information quickly. They were able to see other cells, peoples’ information, and share that information in a more organic way, in a more seamless way.
We began to see these users saying, "Hey, can we do this or that?" And they were actually able to go out and deploy that stuff themselves, through the test system in the cloud, test it, train on it, and bring it up live. You're really taking advantage of that user who wants to make it their own.
- What advice would you give to companies who are considering upgrading their current ERP or CRM systems?
Wayne: I'd say probably the greatest two pieces of advice that I would give is, number one, you have to answer this question: "Do we really want to upgrade, or replace the solution that we have today?" I think you have to spend a lot of time ensuring that you have a solid strategic answer to that question. Number two, regardless of the solution you choose, hopefully Microsoft Dynamics AX, you've got to find the right partner to help you get there. Those are the two biggest pieces of advice that I would give.
Kenny: You've got to really decide what you want to do, and why you're doing it. Then I think you want to really know what you're getting into. Doing a conversion to an ERP system is a big project, and it really requires buy in from the senior executives, hopefully all the way up to the CEO. If you can get their buy in, if they believe that it's the right thing to do, and they will mandate across the board, "This is what we're doing, and we need everybody to be onboard." You'll have so much more success. I was very fortunate to have that in our company, that our CEO was completely behind it, and so it wasn't a struggle, a fight to get people to get on board with it.
To hear more from these businessmen and get more insight on how Microsoft Dynamics 365 has affected real businesses, watch the full webcast.
John Scandar, senior vice president of Fullscope, has more than 25 years of experience in the manufacturing enterprise software market, with an emphasis on leveraging IT investments to improve business success. His experience also includes product management and positioning for enterprise software.