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Microsoft Dynamics vendors provide comparisons and opinions to professionals in the ERP/Accounting software selection process

 
 

Briware Solutions Inc.

Should I Be Afraid to Use Add on (ISV) Products with Microsoft Dynamics GP?


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The debate goes back and forth.

 

Which is better; a single ERP product with everything included or a collection of “best of breed” single purpose applications (or apps in more modern terms) integrated somehow?

 

We are firmly planted in the middle.  To best reflect a business’s uniqueness, we often recommend an ERP product that integrates with other industry specific add on (commonly called ISV) products.  In case you’re not sure who I am, the ERP we always recommend is Dynamics GP.

 

Everyone needs a system with core financials.  A solid General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Multicurrency, chequebook maintenance, and Fixed Assets.

 

But most companies have something unique about their processes or their business. They want specific functionality in their ERP system to reflect that uniqueness. But that doesn’t mean everyone else needs it too.

 

For example, why should a software vendor try to include advanced commission calculation if only a subset of companies will use it?  It just becomes one more feature for them to develop and update.  And since thinking about commission calculation is not their core focus, it would likely end up being pretty basic functionality based on the feedback from all of their customers and the people who actually need it would be disappointed anyway.

 

It’s actually kind of funny how many conversations I have that start with “we’re probably the only ones who do this” and end with “what do you mean that’s not out of the box”.

 

An ISV (Integrated Software Vendor) product is an add-on product to a core accounting system that provides a specific function.  For example, advanced warehouse management, sales tax calculations or advanced commissions calculation.  With Dynamics GP’s architecture, the ISV product is usually installed with the main system so the user does not even realize they are using an add on.

 

With a Dynamics GP system you get a really solid starting point as far as the general business processes go.  Core financial, inventory, sales order processing and more are all connected out of the box.  Then if you have a specific need within your industry or vertical there is a solution out there for you.

 

There are over 350 ISV products on the market that connect seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics GP.

 

For example, for warehouse management there are four different solutions I can think of off the top of my head.  All of them do barcoding.  All of them are good.  Depending on the level of complexity within your warehouse, some of them may even be too much.

 

With Project accounting, there are construction projects, service industry projects, or just general project cost management.  Again, there are different levels of ISV solutions out there, all of them focused on specific areas.   For example, we sell Jovaco Project Suite for the Services industry and Wennsoft Job Cost for the construction industry.  They each live and breathe project accounting within their chosen industries every day so they can make really killer products, not just the basics.

 

When we combine the ISV solutions along with Dynamics GP you actually get a comprehensive fully integrated ERP solution that is much better than a stand alone could ever hope to be.

 

ISV Q& A:

 

How can I choose the right ISV for my Dynamics GP system?

 

You can evaluate ISV solutions on your own. Internet search results will keep you busy for weeks.

 

However, this is where a good Dynamics GP partner becomes very valuable.  They don’t call us Value Added Resellers for nothing!  We know the options available, and the pros and cons of each one.  We’ve likely spoken to the various vendors at the many Dynamics focused conferences as well.

 

Some products look great on the outside, but we know from implementing them in the past that they are a nightmare to work with.  On the other hand, there are good products out there that don’t have much to spend on marketing so they are “hidden gems”.

 

The bottom line is that a good Microsoft Dynamics GP partner, like Briware Solutions, provides value by acting as your trusted advisor when it comes to choosing the right ISV product.

 

Will using an ISV product make it harder for me to get support?

 

Briware is always your first line of support. We will determine if the problem is something we can handle or if the ISV vendor needs to get involved.  Depending on your preference, we normally will work with the ISV’s help desk directly to get any issues resolved on your behalf.  For most of the ISV products we sell, we have a personal relationship with the vendors and often can get our support cases automatically escalated (they know we tried all the “standard stuff” before we called).

 

Of course, if you choose ISV products that are tested and well known, and ones we have worked with before, it will make it much easier for us to assist you. Some obscure tool you found on the internet that nobody has ever heard of is going to take more time for us to learn.  But we will.

 

Will using an ISV product make it harder for me to upgrade my Dynamics GP system?

 

Honestly, it is typically customizations that prevent companies from upgrading rather than ISV products. In fact, many ISV products are “Certified for Dynamics GP” which means they are required to be compatible with the latest release of Dynamics GP.

 

With Microsoft’s new cadence on product releases, though, some of the smaller ISV vendors may find it hard to keep up with Microsoft.  Again, your partner should be able to help you identify that up front.  Every ISV will catch up eventually, but some tend to be a couple of months behind.

 

Timing aside, the upgrade process for ISV products tends to be fairly easy.

 

How do I know I am on the current version of the ISV product?

 

It is important to work with a Dynamics GP partner that is keeping track of all of your ISV solutions and who is releasing what updates.  When you are current on the annual maintenance fee for each ISV product, you can take advantage of the new versions.

 

Do I need to upgrade my Dynamics GP system to use the latest ISV products?

 

Few people realize that even if you choose not to upgrade your version of Dynamics GP system for a while, you can still get value from the most recent version of ISV products. For example, the most recent version of Smart Connect from eOne will actually go back to earlier versions of Dynamics GP.

 

When can I stop using an ISV product?

 

Again, it’s good to have a partner like Briware regularly evaluate your complete Dynamics GP system including ISV products.  We may find that you are using an ISV product for a function that has recently been included in the core Dynamics GP system for free.  Or perhaps your business processes have changed and your system can be simplified.

 

If you are evaluating Microsoft Dynamics GP and would like honest advice on ISV products, contact Briware. 844-BRIWARE

 

By Briware Solutions, www.briwaresolutions.com/ 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @Briware_Rod

 

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