One of my favourite things about consulting is that there is always more than one solution to every challenge. Even when I face a business problem I’ve solved before, I get the opportunity to generate a little variety in my life by solving it a slightly different way.
Whenever a customer presents me with a business problem, I try to present three possible solutions with varying levels of complexity and cost. I often refer to these solutions as The Pinto, The Pathfinder, and The Porsche.
The Pinto is the simplest, least expensive way for you to get from here to there. It's not that pretty and it doesn’t have any bells or whistles, but it gets you down the road...as long as you don't bump it the wrong way from behind! In the case of Dynamics GP projects, this often means using something that the customer already owns that is almost what they are looking for, and then building a manual process around that to get it the rest of the way.
The Pathfinder is a much nicer ride. There’s plenty of room for getting your family around and you can even fit your dog in the trunk next to your hockey bag. It's also got some cool features (who knew how much I was going to love my heated steering wheel??). However, all those features mean it costs a bit more than the Pinto and it may take some time for the dealership to order it in. In the case of a Dynamics GP project, this might be some kind of SmartConnect or eXtender solution, or even a mid-tier ISV Solution. (Did you know that there are more than 350 ISV solutions for Dynamics GP out there?)
The Porsche is, quite frankly, the Porsche. It has all the bells and all the whistles and a couple of flashing lights to boot. It will do everything you ever wanted it to do and more! It should go without saying that this is the most expensive option. In the case of a Dynamics GP project, this often means a best of breed solution with an integration to Dynamics GP – we always try for top tier ISV’s that are already integrated to GP but sometimes we need to look at other options. In some cases, this could even mean a custom solution that we build and integrate to Dynamics GP.
Generally, we'll end up recommending the Pathfinder but there are cases where people need (or want) the Porsche. There are also situations where the Pinto actually makes more sense. The point is that all 3 solutions can work and it’s up to the customer to decide which will make them happiest.
By way of example, I once presented these three options to an Alaskan fishery that uses Microsoft Dynamics GP and wanted a better way to track fishing and processing costs:
The Pinto: Implement analytical accounting to track costs. This would allow them to allocate costs but it would require quite a bit more maintenance and transaction entry steps on their side. It also opened them up to user error, as users would be required to manually allocate revenue and costs as transactions were entered.
The Pathfinder: Implement the Assembly Bill of Materials in the inventory module and integrate the data from the manufacturing system on the boats into Dynamics GP. The data from the system on the boats could flow back and forth into Dynamics GP using smart connect.
The Porsche: Use Microsoft Dynamics GP for the entire manufacturing process, including the Extended Pack with Advanced Manufacturing to handle the multiple routings for each boat. This would entail installing Dynamics GP on the boats and retraining users as well.
When we looked at each option with the customer we agreed on the Pathfinder. They already had a Porsche level manufacturing system working on the boats and by using assembly bill of materials and smart connect in Dynamics GP they got the accounting information they needed. At the same time, they were able to tie in an external purchasing system that was already being used on the boats so that the inventory for the whole fleet could be easily tracked and reported in Dynamics GP. Now the fishing boats issue purchase orders and do inventory receipts that both get recorded in Dynamics GP. All the costs are in real time. At the end of the trip when a boat comes into shore, the logistics team knows how much fish was produced, how much is in inventory and how much product they can distribute between their customers. It’s a Pathfinder solution, but it's so much further ahead than the Pinto ever could have been.
Companies that choose the Pinto option are usually concerned primarily with saving money. However, it is important to remember that the Pinto will almost always require more manual effort, such as extra records to maintain or extra fields to fill in manually. The costs are likely still there, they’re just not as obvious. For example, a distribution company that chose the Pinto option required the warehouse to do everything on paper and send the paper to the accounting department. The accounting group then recorded the shipment within Dynamics GP. At the time it seemed like a good idea to keep costs low, but after years of pushing paper they are wishing they’d spent a bit more up front and put in a warehouse management system.
There are also times when the Pinto makes sense “for now”. At one customer we were planning to integrate to an external industry specific billing system. However, this was going to be a fairly large, long term project and they could not stop accounting in the meantime. We implemented the Pinto, record journal entries within Dynamics GP, until they were ready for the Pathfinder, complete integration.
Sometimes the Pinto is enough, even if it’s just for now. Usually the Pathfinder makes the most sense. But sometimes you need to splurge and go for the Porsche.
If you would like to be presented with three options for your next Dynamics GP project, contact us at 844-BRIWARE or [email protected]
By Briware Solutions,
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