When is Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (PSA) the right fit?

SBS Group is well known for expertise in helping project-oriented companies to leverage Microsoft and other technologies to operate more efficiently and profitably.  Solutions like AXIO Professional Services enhance Dynamics 365 for Operations and Progressus for Professional Services provide PSA and ERP for Dynamics NAV.

Another solution, Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation (PSA), is available to project-oriented companies who wish to dive into the Dynamics 365 platform.  Instead of an ERP-based project management solution, Dynamics 365 PSA offers a more client centric based solution.

Each of these solutions provide customers with comprehensive feature sets nested in a full Microsoft customer experience.  The trick is understanding the short-term and long-term benefits of each solution to understand which best fits a specific customer environment.  In this post, we will explore Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (PSA) to better understand what types of companies it would serve the best.

Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation

Key Features of Dynamics 365 Professional Services Automation (PSA)

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation Enables project-based organizations to deliver every customer engagement on-time and within-budget through an end-to-end solution for sales, planning, resourcing, delivery, and billing.

OPPORTUNITY MANAGEMENT

Provide integrated sales dashboard with project-based opportunities to help forecast profitability and feasibility. Streamline sales manager experience to quickly create project contracts, track labor rates and generate SOWs. Collaborate real-time with customers on the quotes, project scope and resource requirements through customer portals.

PROJECT PLANNING

Make it easy for sales manager to visualize cost, effort, and sales value with project managers to estimate and define the work using standard project templates. Use robust project scheduling and management capabilities of Microsoft Project to complement the collaborative sales planning process.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Optimize resource assignment through a consolidated scheduling engine across all modes of service to ensure right people on the right projects. Simplify engagement across project managers, resource managers and sub-contractors to forecast demand, talent management and resource allocation. Empower consultants to apply directly for relevant project roles, and update skills through mobile devices.

TEAM COLLABORATION

Provide powerful, easy-to-use, mobile-ready O365 productivity tools for project teams, customers, and partners to communicate and collaborate on project deliverables and tasks. Empower project managers by providing real-time status and performance indicators to mitigate project risks.

TIME AND EXPENSE MANAGEMENT

Simplify management, tracking and submission of estimated and billed project time by integrating the tasks and deliverables within calendars. Track all project and non-project schedules on their device or app of choice through integration between exchange and project calendars.

CUSTOMER BILLING

Provide project managers and customers a one-stop-shop dashboard to review, override, track overruns and approve all costs and time impacting their projects. Automate generation, approval, and distribution of accurate invoices in email and on the web. Enable integration with best-in-class back-office applications for financial accounting.

SERVICE ANALYTICS

Anticipate business opportunities, optimize solution offerings, and improve business performance through robust analytics, interactive dashboards, role-base templates, and data visualization for 360 visibility to project and portfolio metrics like resource utilization and practice profitability.

Features included with Dynamcs 365 for Project Service Automation

For additional insight into the features and capabilities of Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation, you might want to read this post written by Sandeep Chaudhury on the Dynamic Community blog.

What Companies are the Best Fit for Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation (PSA)?

This solution helps companies manage the entire project sales and delivery cycle, but shines more in earlier, front office, stages of the client engagement like sales and quoting.

Because it is based on a CRM platform, the solution is fairly flexible and many per-company customizations can be created without back-end programming.  Integration with Office 365 and other Microsoft tools is robust as well.  However, this flexibility comes with a price. While the solution provides strong collaboration benefits between sales and delivery resources, it is most effective for companies with smaller delivery teams and less complex projects.

For instance, the solution provides a very user-friendly scheduling function with Outlook calendar integrations that makes managing resources against a project work quite well.  But, for larger companies with hundreds or thousands of delivery resources, the solution is lacking the strong skills based scheduling that is available in AXIO for Professional Services.

When the team size is small and scheduling resources are familiar with individual skill-sets, this is less of a problem.  When teams get larger and projects become more complex, or when the scheduler is assigning resources across the globe having never meet or assessed the resources being scheduled, this can be a show-stopper.

Examples of companies that might benefit from Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation are marketing and media firms, light management/consulting firms, smaller IT services firms, and many other white-collar consulting firms.  Although I’m calling out smaller companies, it could be a great fit for large companies as long as their project delivery is still fairly simple.  Think about a company that provides creative design for television ads vs. a consultancy that deploys large, integrated ERP systems.  The latter may take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years and require multiple milestones, different skill-sets and formal call-center or on-site support. Other business that may struggle with CRM-based PSA are Architecture and Engineering, Construction, Software Publishers or even specialty manufacturers.

Here are some example questions you might ask yourself when selecting a CRM-based vs ERP-based Dynamics 365 solution for a project-oriented firm:

  1. Do we manage inventory? 
  2. Do we require advanced revenue recognition processing?
  3. Are our projects complex or simple?  In other words, do you have multiple clauses? Do you bill based on Performance Milestones (ASC 606 and IFRS 2015)
  4. Do we need project accounting to be auditable?
  5. Do we require union payroll?
  6. Do we require T&E reporting audits for DCAA compliance?
  7. Do we need to staff/manage projects across multiple entities?
  8. Do we manage subscription revenue along with or post project completion?

In each of these cases, an ERP-Based PSA solution is likely the better option.  Some of these  issues can be dealt with in Dynamics CRM PSA, but it is unlikely that the amount of development or process configuration required to do so would be worth the effort when systems already exist that meet these challenges.

You only need to ask.

If you are researching your next solution, please feel free to reach out and we’ll help you dig into the details.  After all, selection of this nature can be one of the most important decisions your company will make.

Thanks,

Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem helps SBS Group customers maximize benefits from the ERP investments.  Robbie

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Vice President, Enterprise Group where he provides thought leadership and manages the enterprise delivery team.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

A Business System Platform for Professional Services Firms and Project-based Businesses

Professional services firms and project-based businesses invest in technology to improve employee productivity, streamline operations, improve sales, marketing, and customer engagement. Additionally, these firms invest in order to get better insights into their businesses to drive continued improvements. Over time, most organizations have invested in a number of stand-alone point solutions addressing different areas of need. However, the largest and most successful companies, go beyond point solutions by creating a unified solution, either through an extensive integration of best-of-breed technologies, or standardization on a technology platform such as Oracle or SAP.

Until recently, the cost and complexity of implementing such a comprehensive solution was beyond the reach of all but the largest global organizations. That is no longer the case! With the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 — joining Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Power BI, and Microsoft Office 365 — any size professional services firm or project-based business can deploy a truly unified platform solution providing robust functionality for every business function and employee role.

microsoft dynamics 365 applications

Traditionally, enterprises achieved technology automation through the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). ERP is generally defined as an expanded effort to standardize record keeping to permit information sharing among different areas of an organization in an effort to manage the business more effectively and efficiently. A successful ERP implementation formalizes and integrates business processes across the organization, leveraging a single, integrated information system platform.

In the manufacturing sector, ERP has been the primary focus of business technology investment. However, professional services firms and project-based businesses have significant technology needs beyond the back office. The customer focus of services firms and the fluid, dynamic nature of services businesses has made Customer Relationship Management (CRM) an equally important part of the technology equation. CRM assists the sales, marketing and customer services departments in your firm by focusing their efforts on bringing the customer the best value possible.

erp crm success

Ideally, a firm’s ERP and CRM system would work hand-in-hand – creating a unified system. ERP puts the product at the center of the interaction while CRM focuses on the customer and their needs. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, professional services firms and project-based businesses can have both ERP and CRM in one unified platform. Even better, Dynamics 365 is built in the Microsoft Cloud giving users access to the data they need anywhere, at any time and costs less than deploying an on-premise ERP and CRM solution.


Learn more about the Microsoft Cloud by download our white paper.

In the white paper, we will detail the business value of platform adoption, examine the specific needs of professional services firms and project-based business, review the elements of the Microsoft Cloud, and demonstrate why the Microsoft Cloud is the superior solution for the services sector.

We also included a general Primer on Cloud Computing for those who need a grounding or refresher on cloud concepts, as well as a review of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Office 365 components and benefits.

SBS Group to Host Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations Webcast for Professional Services Firms

The webcast will discuss the integration of SBS Group’s AXIO for Professional Services solution with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.

SBS Group, a leading information technology services and consulting firm, has announced they will be hosting a webcast focused on Microsoft’s new enterprise business solution, Dynamics 365 for Operations. The webcast will occur on Thursday, March 16 at 1 p.m. ET.

The webcast, entitled “Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Professional Services Firms,” will be centered on Dynamics 365 for Operations and its capabilities for professional services firms. SBS Group’s enterprise solution, AXIO for Professional Services, will be featured and demoed throughout the webcast. Attendees will learn about how SBS Group’s unique combination of industry experience and solution development makes them an ideal partner for professional services firms.

The presenters for the webcast are Robbie Morrison and Sandeep Chaudhury. Morrison is the recently named Chief Solution Strategist at SBS Group after previously leading the enterprise division. Chaudhury is a well-respected Senior Solutions Architect and Lead Functional Consultant for Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Operations. Both presenters bring vast experience in ERP implementation and solution development as well as expertise in the professional services industry.

Registration for the webcast is free. To register, visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8589357729067166465.

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, click here.

Cloud Technology is the Future – Time to Upgrade (Part 2 of 2)

This is the sixth in a series of six blogs, which attempt to provide airport accounting managers with information on how they can improve their financial management processes.  The previous blogs covered the following topics:

This blog continues the discussion from blog number 5 on cloud computing and describes how airports can take advantage of advances in cloud technology.

In addition, readers are encouraged to read my white paper (Modern Airport, Modern Tools) that covers the same topics in a summarized form.

What about Security? Is my data secure on the Cloud?

Security is a big issue whether you are using on-premises or cloud computing. Many companies think their data is safer on-premises, but the opposite is usually true.  There are many issues that impact security, including:

  • Firewalls to prevent hackers from getting into you network
  • Data backups, including storing some backups off site
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity
    • What happens if your IT server room catches fire and burns to the ground? How do you recover your data even if you have an offsite backup? You would need another server to restore your data onto and bringing up a new server can take time.
  • Anti-virus protection
  • Manage and control user access and identity
    • Comprehensive identity management is the linchpin of any secure system. You must ensure that only authorized users can access your environment, data, and applications.
  • Encryption of data as it travels between devices and your server
  • Protection against malware and phishing emails

The chances are that your local IT services do not offer the same security as a multi-million dollar data center, let alone the billion dollar data centers operated by Microsoft.

My favorite analogy to the question of whether your data is safer on-premises or on the Cloud is whether your money is safer in the bank (Cloud) or under your mattress (on-premises).

The Future of Accounting Software…

Microsoft launched a new cloud service in late 2016 called Dynamics 365.  I decided to include some information on this new service in this blog post since it is a great example of cloud computing and represents the future of accounting software. If you haven’t already heard about this software as a service, read on….

There are two flavors to this service, Dynamics Enterprise and Dynamics Business.  The Enterprise version is intended for larger companies and is based off Microsoft Dynamics AX 7. The Business version is based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and is intended for smaller businesses with up to 250 employees.  Dynamics 365 adds accounting software to other services that are already offered by Microsoft such as Office 365 or new services that are being created such as sales and marketing applications. The Business edition would be suitable for most airports.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications in the Cloud. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials is the accounting application within the Business edition and is priced at around $40 per user per month, making it very competitive and compelling for many airports.

Dynamics 365 for Financials includes the following:

  • Workflow Management
  • Financial Management
  • Purchasing
  • Sales
  • Inventory Management
  • Project Management
  • Requisitions and Quotes
  • Timesheets
  • Personal Information (HR)

The menus are very simple and the system is designed to be easy to install so that you can get up and running very quickly.

Dynamics 365 is integrated with Power BI, which was discussed in a previous blog, and can be accessed from a laptop, tablet or smart phone.

The system also integrates with Office 365, so that you can create purchase orders within your email system and send them to suppliers – this is extremely cool!  If you would like to see this, contact me.

Microsoft is updating the software every month so users are constantly using the latest version of the software. This software is only available on the cloud. We have developed an airport version of this product – contact me for more details.

What are the Economics of Cloud Computing?

In order to decide between a Cloud or on-premises solution, I recommend you take a look at the cost of the two different models.  When I prepare a quote for a customer, I usually do this for them and look at the total cost of ownership over a period of 5 years.  Why 5 years?  Because some of the costs are monthly or annual costs (monthly subscription fees or annual maintenance costs) and some are up-front initial costs (consulting fees for implementation). Once you decide to implement a new system, it is going to last you for at least 5 years, if not longer. Most companies stick with their system, good or bad, for a number of years since the cost and disruption of making a change can be significant.

Let’s take a look at an example. The following table shows the cost of an on-premise system compared to a PaaS and a SaaS Cloud service. These numbers are made up and there may be other costs that should be included in a real cost-benefit analysis, but this example illustrates how you could compare the different solutions.  The big difference between an on-premises and cloud solution is the cost of local IT personnel and other IT costs relating to an on-premises system such as the cost of the servers, disk drives, data center costs and other hardware and software costs.  If you outsource your system to the Cloud, these costs will mostly go away since you could re-deploy these resources or eliminate them.

cloud technology cost of ownership

In a SaaS solution, you will pay for the software on a subscription basis, which means you will not need to pay for annual maintenance of the software and you won’t have to pay for the up-front purchase cost of the software.

The cost of the PaaS and SaaS models needs to be looked at carefully. It may be less expensive to purchase the software and have it installed on a cloud server rather than pay for the monthly subscription for the software over the next 5 years. However, if you purchase the software, you will be responsible for any upgrades.

Ask your vendor to help you with this cost analysis.

Take Action…..

There are many advantages to implementing a cloud solution, and you could reduce the cost of your system while improving the performance, services offered and security of the system.  Contact me if you need help with understanding the benefits of cloud computing, or help with any of the other topics covered in this series of blogs.

Paul Fernandez B.Sc., ACMA, CMA
SBS Group Pacific Canada

About Paul
paul-fernandezPaul Fernandez is the general manager of SBS Pacific Canada, which is part of the SBS Group. He has worked as a professional accountant in industry for 25 years in various senior financial positions. He founded his consulting practise 15 years ago and has worked as a consultant implementing accounting systems at many companies, drawing on his own experience to advise clients on the design of their chart of accounts and multi-dimensional reporting structures. Contact Paul at pfernandez@sbsgroup.ca.

 


Looking for a modern financial management solution for your airport?

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SBS Group’s AXIO for Professional Services Now Available for Dynamics 365 for Operations on Microsoft AppSource

AXIO for Professional Services is one of the first solutions available specifically for professional services firms on AppSource for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.

axio-pro-servInformation technology innovator and leader, SBS Group, announced the availability of AXIO for Professional Services on Microsoft AppSource. This announcement comes after the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations on November 1, 2016.

“Enterprise-level professional services firms have unique needs when searching for an ERP solution,” explains Robbie Morrison, Chief Solution Strategist. “Optimized for cloud deployment and mobile use, SBS Group’s AXIO for Professional Services addresses the needs of those firms while embracing Microsoft’s new vision for ERP.”

AXIO for Professional Services is a business software solution specifically built for companies with global needs such as multi-entity, multi-currency, multi-taxation and multi-language requirements. AXIO for Professional Services specifically focuses on the needs of professional services firms including revenue recognition, resource management, project management, marketing, human capital management and financial management. The solution provides global scalability and compliance with all GAAP, IFRS, Sarbanes-Oxley and DCAA requirements including the new ASC 606 and IFRS 15 revenue recognition standards.

AXIO for Professional Services is built on the flexible and comprehensive Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations platform, bringing enterprise-class extensibility and built-in intelligence. The user adoption process is smooth, and return on investment (ROI) is accelerated due to the rapid implementation approach and its native integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365. – Microsoft’s new approach to intelligent business applications.

To view AXIO for Professional Services on Microsoft AppSource, visit: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/product/dynamics-365-for-operations/sbs-group.1aae5b60-0d79-4feb-b819-4adfbe17672f?tab=Overview.

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, click here.

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