How to Know When to Upgrade Your ERP System

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Customers sometimes stay on a version of their ERP system too long. There are many reasons for this: 

  • The users are used to the system and their processes in it. 
  • The system has been customized so much to meet their needs that it is very expensive to upgrade. 
  • In a company with a large user base, change has to be planned and managed well and this takes time. 
  • The company is using old technology that it is no longer supported, but it doesn’t have the money to upgrade the software and hardware, so it does neither. 
  • No one has sold it on the functionality of the latest version.
  • Enhancement plans for Dynamics GP and ISV products have been dropped because the version in use was no longer supported, and the perception was that the maintenance plan had no value.

When we ran across a large process manufacturer in the Chicago area that was looking for a new partner, we were glad to meet with their team to discuss their plans. We were under the gun as its current “one-man-shop consultant” was leaving town and the team needed to find a replacement to support over 150 Microsoft Dynamics GP users. The system was difficult to support because when things like Crystal reports didn’t work correctly, or the Excel linked spreadsheets were not correct, or batches would get stuck, the company’s “guy” was responsible for fixing this 24 hours a day.

After an extensive discovery, we determined that an upgrade was absolutely necessary to support the company’s growth plans and to get it on the most stable environment. To do this would involve replacing the source code customizations and replacing them with Extender windows or more up to date technology with tools like .Net in its own Dynamics GP dictionary. Most of the custom reports would need to be rewritten in Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) or SmartList Builder to utilize the latest tools in Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 and SQL Server 2008. We also needed to get the client current on its enhancement plan to enable it to purchase additional users or modules. With the support plan renewed, the company was able to purchase additional functionality, take advantage of eLearning, and get a copy of the latest version of Dynamics GP 2010.

We estimated the project to take six months and over 1000 hours. It was all hands on deck to manage a project this large with great cooperation and communication between the teams. We had a project manager, a technical project manager, and six consultants working on the project at various times. The customer sales manager was closely involved in the oversight of the project and working through additional requirements at the executive level. Our client education manager was there to lead the team through the training plan for the large number of new features and users that were to take advantage of them.

We upgraded this client from Great Plains 8.0 to Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 on time and under budget with a great effort from the project team at the client and the Crestwood team. The client’s involvement and dedication was a part in this success. The client is now ready to focus on an integrated warehouse management integration project already in progress and a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 implementation in 2012.

Written by Mary Lenehan, Client Education Manager at Crestwood Associates, your Chicago, IL area partner holding Microsoft Gold Accreditation in Dynamics GP.

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