Monday, July 27, 2009

How Advanced is Your Organization? (for GP Users)

Microsoft Dynamics GP offers many opportunities for organizations improve their efficiency. The more advanced an organization is, the more Dynamics GP tools it will use.

How advanced is your organization? Take this quiz and find out.

1) Which version of Microsoft Dynamics GP are you using? (The latest version offers the most functionality and the best support.)
a. +1 point for using Dynamics GP 10
b. +0 points for version 9 or 8
c. -2 points for earlier versions
_____ Score (Max 1)

2) Which modules are you using? (Modules beyond core financials provide improved integration and improve transaction flow and consistency.)
a. +0 points for core financials (GL, AP, AR)
b. +1 point EACH if using Business Portal, Distribution, Project Accounting, Field Service or Manufacturing
_____ Score (Max 5)

3) Which third-party moduels are you using? (Third-party modules enhance a firm's Dynamics GP solutions in very specific areas and fill in a Dynamics GP solution.).
a. +0 points for no third-party modules
b. +1 point if using less than three modules
c. +2 points if using three or more modules
_____ Score (Max 2)

4) Which features of Dynamics GP are you using to improve user productivity?
a. -1 point for not using Smartlists
b. +1 point for using Smartlist Builder
c. +1 point for using Smartlist Export Solutions
d. +1 point for knowing how to delete an AutoComplete Entry
_____ Score (Max 3)

5) How extensively are you using Microsoft FRx financial reporting and analysis software?
a. -1 point if not using FRx
b. +1 point for using FRx
c. +1 ADDITIONAL point if using FRx with XBRL
_____ Total Score (Max 2)

6) What kind of reporting tools are you using?
a. +1 if using Excel Reports
b. +1 if using Business Alerts
c. +1 if using Analysis Cubes
_____ Score (Max 3)

7) What is your staff's skill level?
a. +1 if your staff can close the year without your partner's help
b. +1 if your staff uses CustomerSource for support
c. +1 if your staff uses Newsgroups, Forums, Twitter or other community tools for support
d. +1 if you would bet your paycheck that your company could do a Dynamics GP restore in from backup in less than 8 hours.
_____ Score (Max 4)

_____ Score (Max 20)

Here's how to assess your score:

Greater than 12: Congratulations! You've got an advanced Dynamics GP setup and you're probably running it in a larger organization. Make sure you leverage other modules and third-party applications to get the most out of your solution.

From 6-12: You are getting there. Your firm probably does a lot right with Dynamics GP, but you may well have a nagging feeling that you could do so much more. Look for some quick wins and training to improve your solution.

Less than 6: The good news is that there is lots of room to add efficiency to your organization. You may be smaller or new to Dynamics G,P but that shouldn't stop you.

To learn more about how to get a higher score, please contact me at russell@thinkitworks.com.

___________________________________________________________

For all of our SL users, don't forget to take advantage of the new Add-Ons that we now have available. For more information, please see our brochure. http://www.thinkitworks.com/company_files/2009%20Catalog.pdf.


i.t.works
6641 Hwy 98 W., Suite 200
Hattiesburg, MS 39402
601-264-0969
http://www.thinkitworks.com/

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Microsoft to Sage Users: You Have a Friend, and Opportunity, with Dynamics

Microsoft has reacted quickly and publicly to the failure earlier this month of the largest Sage partner by encouraging Sage users to migrate to Dynamics products, and prospective customers to select Dynamics.

In a press release, Microsoft said it "invites customers and partners concerned with the stability of the Sage Software Inc. channel to consider available alternatives from Microsoft, including Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. "On July 6, Sage's largest partner in 2007 and 2008, MIS Group, suddenly shut down.

According to Crispin Read, general manager for Microsoft Dynamics ERP, "Microsoft Dynamics offers innovative products and strong return on investment, which is exactly what customers and partners are looking for - especially when questions have arisen about Sage's ability to deliver ongoing innovation and investment in its ERP portfolio and remain competitive in this marketplace."

On the migration front, Microsoft pointed out that since May 2009, it has offered qualified partners the ability to extend to their customers an offer to move to a Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution with a 50 percent discount on licensing and receive a rebate equal to 25 percent of the suggested retail price of the Microsoft Dynamics solution (up to a maximum of $25,000) to help offset the costs of switching from Sage MAS 90 or MAS 200. This offer continues to be available for qualified Sage customers.

Microsoft in its announcement also offered an example of a mid-size company that recently selected Dynamics over Sage. It said CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp., a manufacturer with more than $55 million in annual revenue, chose Microsoft Dynamics ERP over Sage MAS 90 to improve its bottom line. According to Fred McKay, chief financial officer for CTS Cement, "Microsoft Dynamics ERP gives us the flexibility to do things that our MAS 90 package couldn't do. It has a lot of potential that we can tap into as we continue to grow."

Microsoft is using the failure of the Sage partner to encourage Sage partners to move to the Dynamics ERP channel. "In times of economic turbulence, customers have high expectations of their ERP providers, demanding innovation, investment and long-term financial stability," Doug Kennedy, vice president of the Microsoft Dynamics Partner team, said. "There has never been a better time to join the Microsoft Dynamics community."

For more information on the Microsofty Dynamics product line, contact us today at 601-264-0969 ext 112, or visit us on the web: www.thinkitworks.com.

Russell Yearwood
i.t.works

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Microsoft Surface at WPC09

This week is Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC09) in New Orleans and hundreds of Microsoft partners are down there attending and learning about all of the latest and greatest software versions, Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Windows 7 and how we’ll soon be able to integrate Twitter directly to our Microsoft Dynamic CRM system. This is all some pretty cool news as it’s being fed to me from my partner contacts, a live Twitter feed and a live video feed from WPC09.

Last night some execs got to play around with a Microsoft Surface device to select the sessions they wanted to attend while at WPC09. Here is a short 2 minute video taken by Neall Alcott, VP of Technology of Springhouse Consulting.

You’ll see how easy Surface is to use and operate, even from the start of just placing there WPC ID cards down on Surface and BAM! (sorry, they ARE in NOLA) up pops their registration information and all of the sessions for each day of the event. Neall quickly demonstrates how simple it is to use Surface to select the session and drag it onto their ID, ultimately registering them for that session.

Now onto the video…and check back this week as we’ll be posting additional videos from WPC09!


video

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dynamics GP - The Beat Goes On

While the worldwide frenzy over the death of Michael Jackson reaches fever pitch this week, my own personal take on this tragedy reflects on the timelessness of his music. Since age 5 Michael Jackson has been providing a style of music that spans generations. His style has adapted and remained relevant to the trends of the time and throughout his incredible career his string of hits always managed to tap into the current vibe of what his fans wanted to hear. Many artists are lucky to stay in vogue for just 1 year, fewer still manage five years and only a handful can match Michael Jacksons musical longevity.

It used to be that when selecting a business ERP solution, it was rare that any product would remain relevant for too long and it was typically expected that after only five years or so the business would “outgrow” the solution and began searching for a replacement. It was unlikely that a particular business software solution would remain applicable beyond that timeframe.

However, with Dynamics GP (Great Plains) it is very likely that the investment you make today in the software will last far longer than five years. In fact, we have several current clients who purchased the Great Plains solution over fifteen years ago and it still remains an ideal fit for tracking and reporting on their business processes. There are four primary reasons for this durability:

Scalable. From 1 user to 1000, Dynamics GP adapts (scales) easily to however large your business becomes. Based on the Microsoft SQL database, performance degradation is minimal, even as file sizes expand and future users are added. We have many clients who initially purchased just a few users and now have many users, with no noticeable decrease in performance.

Expandable. Business ready licensing for Dynamics GP provides growing functionality. With several dozen applications (including financial, distribution, business intelligence, human resources, project costing) it becomes less likely that your business will outgrow the functionality provided. Many businesses initially implement only a fraction of the modules available and then over time, as the business grows and processes become more sophisticated, they then deploy additional modules already licensed.

Independent. Does it matter what the operating system (if any) of the future will be? Great Plains in its early days ran in both DOS and MAC environments. Then Windows came along and now online versus on premise operating systems are the up and coming trend. But regardless of how users ultimately access and interact with the software, the applicability and functionality of the Dynamics GP software has and will continue to remain relevant.

Evolving. The user experience is key when evaluating and utilizing accounting software. Whether it be by typing, touch or voice, efficiency of data entry and information accessibility are many times the two most important traits when evaluating ERP solutions. Microsoft is the industry leader when it comes to committing research and development funds towards enhancing and improving the “look and feel” experience of the Dynamics GP product. Every eighteen months or so new releases provide better ways for end users to communicate, navigate and extrapolate business intelligence from the accounting applications.

This idea that an ERP solution is at best a five year investment is, in my opinion, nonsense. Dynamics GP has a proven track record of changing with the times, all the while continuing to provide meaningful information and usable functionality to its users. And while its legacy, unlike that of Michael Jackson’s, might not endure forever, you can rest assured that your initial investment will continue to be relevant and valuable for many, many years to come.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

i.t.works and Social Marketing

The increasing prominence of the social web provides many ways to identify, target, and reach consumers. Our company was already aware of the immense potential on the internet for our company and our brand, but we weren’t quite sure how to tap it. You hear buzzwords like niche marketing, social marketing, micro sites, but it's hard to climb the learning curve when the curve itself is always changing.

It didn’t matter that we are what some would consider a small company; the power of these new web-based marketing tools is explosive. You know you're in danger of losing ground to your competition as they begin to effectively leverage the power of social media.

But where do we start? With the help of Microsoft and Jeremy Epstein, Never Stop Marketing, i.t.works was able to participate in a pilot program for Microsoft Partners and Social Marketing.

I have to admit, after the first call with Jeremy, I was a little overwhelmed. Like I said earlier, I knew the power of the internet, but was not all too familiar with the words Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and the list goes on. How does one find the time to do all of this? How do you not spread yourself too thin? Is it really going to work? All of these answers, and more, were promptly answered by Jeremy. He made us produce a well defined social marketing plan, and if we stick to that plan, then we would see results. Oh, yes, we had to make changes to my plan, but in the end, it was realistic and do-able. In the beginning, we had calls each week with Jeremy, sometimes we got praised for our work (if we stuck to the plan), and sometimes there were the not-so-pleasant discussions. I quickly learned that if I can do what I said I was going to do, not only were our conversations pleasant, but I started to see results.

Our first success story comes in the form of Raving Fans. If you don’t have one, you need one. It is truly amazing the success you will get by having your own clients sell for you. We have one Raving Fan that is truly amazing. He goes out of his way to let others know how we have helped him with not only his accounting software, but all of his IT needs.

Now, what about blogging. I had never written a blog in my life, as a matter of fact, I don’t consider myself a writer at all. But with the help of Jeremy, I have started to develop not only the desire, but some (small) skills in writing blogs. The big hurdle with me – is finding the time. I read a lot of blogs each day, but because I was unsure as to what to say, I didn’t update mine as frequent as I should. That has and will change. (Just today I got a little slap in the face about not blogging enough, thanks Jeremy). But does it work? YES. On one recent blog, after I had posted it, I sent out a friendly reminder to customers and prospects about my blog. Minutes later the phone rang. It was a prospect that I had been working on for about a year. She read the blog, realized now was the time to do something, so here we are getting ready to close the deal. YES it works.

To wrap it up, this new marketing called “Social Marketing”, where everyone Tweets and updates status and blogs really, really works. But if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t go at it alone. It will make all the difference in the world.

I can’t leave without throwing this out. You can follow me on Twitter @russellyearwood and @thinkitworks.