I am aware that my writing can elicit a number of different views and opinions.
Anyway, I believe I am on the right track in relation to the upcoming software-as-a-service IT-world offering high functional standard solutions at a low cost. As opposite to this new way, it is amazing that nothing has changed in the IT-consultancy way of doing business for the 3 decades I have been working with this.
Previous internal IT manager and external consultant jobs has taught me to wish for ERP IT as a plug-in-the wall service – like standard power, water, gas utilities etc., but also a wish for a different situation in the glaring absence of management insight and proper decision making in some companies for the use of standard IT and the underlying technical things which should be taken into consideration.
To set the scene for the below I talk about the standard ERP “best practice” solutions made for the SMB – Small and medium size businesses running standard business procedures. This is close to 80% of all of companies.
So, here are a few things to think about. And now I turn to a Microsoft Dynamics NAV Manufacturing as an example because this is what I know most about. But the example is valid across all standard functions in a NAV standard solution:
Question no 1:
For how long will you continue to get your manufacturing solutions bespoke programmed to fit your needs in the areas where the standard Dynamics NAV solution at first glance becomes short in functionality? Have you spent more time in finding out what the standard solution can do for you than defining what you need?
Comments on question 1:
Programmed bespoke customer solutions are often sub-optimized solutions decided by a few persons in a company to make their day. Or even worse - a cluttered compromise between more people. Shortsighted change request decisions made without knowing the impact on the technical foundation. Perhaps the bespoke developed thing works or does not work for the persons who have ordered it. Who cares? And when new people arrive, these bespoke developed things are often abandoned. But what is not left behind is an outdated maybe 10-15 years old ERP-application. Time flies…
Question no 2:
If you do not like and avoid bespoke programming and look for add-on solutions, for how long will you continue to buy add-ons or specific industry solutions which modify your standard NAV code? Many add-ons have seen the daylight because of a specific customer bespoke development and are now offered as "standard" add-on solutions with one purpose: At the end of day to squeeze money out of something bespoke customer order made now called "standard". There is quite a distance from such a “standard” solution to a standard add-on product.
Comments on question 2:
What has happened, is that this bespoke development or "standard" add-on with all probability has ruined your standard Dynamics NAV code. You will not be able (without calling your consultant) to install the upgrade/new release package which is offered regularly from Microsoft. And moving to a newer version becomes wishful thinking. Of course a larger amount of money can solve that problem, but in general it seems to be a kind of high-level management resistance to spend the money, because of multiple previous bad experiences and expenses.
If we take a look in the real world, a big number of NAV installations are really old versions, some of them programmed to a level beyond recognition. I guess 60-70% of all NAV manufacturing are 10 years old or more. The downside of this is that the customer is stuck without getting the benefits of the functional and technical product development which has taken place during the intermediate years.
A few advices:
Don't always trust your NAV supplier! Many of them have built their businesses around time and materials consulting, and they will drive a discussion into the extreme ( you must pay) on every little wish and task "to help you" whether it is modifying the standard NAV or the add-on.
If you get programming done, do you ask (and pay) for documentation for work done so other technical people have the possibility of knowing what has been done? If not, you are NOT trading with a consultancy company, but a specific programmer wherever she/he is employed at the time you need her/him.
Have you asked your consultant if and what standard NAV code changes his bespoke programming or the add-on he offers creates? You probably need to squeeze the vendor to get an honest answer. But you need this answer if you personally want to make good decisions.
Have you considered requesting a change request to your downloaded favorite apps for your mobile phone? I guess you have not. The popular apps do what they are constructed to do and upgrade themselves regularly without intervention. The same goes for NAV Manufacturing add-ons. Find out what they can do for you as standard, and make the go/no go decision.
Standard manufacturing solutions (e.g. Dynamics NAV manufacturing) contain best practice functionality to solve a variety of business operations. Such a standard solution probably will not fill all your wishes.
Is your NAV manufacturing consultant competent? Real-life production background, maybe APICS certified, preferably Microsoft certified NAV manufacturing professional etc. Just having read the books is no guarantee of good solutions.
But help is around the corner with the standard solution together with an add-on if you obey a few rules.
Look for extensions or add-on with certain properties for your Dynamics NAV before considering programming:
- The application should be a Microsoft certified solution as it guarantees technical quality and continued support capabilities.
- A solution which has zero impact to standard NAV objects to protect your Microsoft upgrade opportunity. As information Microsoft has issued 9 (Nine!) updates to the Dynamics NAV 2016 version since its availability back in November last year.
- A solution which is easy-to-install and adapted to your needs, via tailoring questions to fit your specific needs, eliminating the needs of bespoke programming.
- A solution which runs as an integrated part of standard NAV, i.e. no interfacing, no (nightly) batch-run synchronization solutions.
- Is your NAV consultant competent? Worst scenario is a change proposal because of a lack of knowledge of what the standard can do.
So be very careful out there.
Take a look at the figure.
A standard system gives you more or less what you need. In addition it gives you a few opportunities you have not even thought about. Then you probably have some wishes not covered by the standard solution. Now it is up to you to choose the way to cover this – programming, industry solution or standard add-on solutions.
If you are further interested in manufacturing applications for Dynamics NAV complying with the new world, have a look at http://www.naveksa.com