Podcast: Sylvia Romero Discusses Impact of Dynamics 365 for ProServ Firms in the West.

Regardless of location, size or industry, many professional services organizations face unparalleled pressures in today’s fast moving marketplace. Continuous change is the new normal rather than the exception. The same forces that have disrupted so many businesses, from manufacturing to IT to engineering, are creating challenges and driving change in professional services.

In this, the third in our series of Dynamics 365 podcast interviews for 2017, we interviewed Sylvia Romero of Microsoft and Robbie Morrison of SBS Group.  We asked each of them to reflect on a series of questions regarding Microsoft Dynamics 365 in relation to professional services firms.  The conversation was 36 minutes long and covers a wide range of topics.

Listen to the Podcast:

“I’m really excited about Dynamics 365 because it is different than anything offered in the market today.  I work extensively with project-based service companies that traditionally depend on many different systems to manage their business.  Dynamics 365 provides everything they need and ties it all together through Azure and the common data service.” – Sylvia

About Sylvia Romero

Sylvia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Business Solutions Executive for Dynamics ERP in Microsoft’s West Region.  She brings over thirty years of senior executive experience in sales, sales management and business development with both large companies, such as IBM, Informix and Microsoft, as well as small/startup firms.  Currently, she is responsible for helping enterprise and upper midmarket companies select and adopt Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations in the Pacific Northwest.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations

About Robbie Morrison

Robbie has participated in and hosted several podcasts on this topic over the last year.  As the VP of Enterprise Solutions for SBS Group, Robbie works with professional services firms throughout the US and spends much of his time leading the development of software designed to enhance Dynamics 365 to meet the unique needs of project-based firms.  His team has published multiple solutions on Microsoft AppSource and has a long history in developing and publishing solutions for the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem.

Dynamics 365 for Operations

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations enables you to make smarter decisions, redesign business processes faster and fuel business growth.

Dynamics 365 for Operations is a SaaS solution that brings together a complete set of ERP functionality including financials, demand planning, procurement, supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, services industries, public sector and retail. Built with an intelligent user interface that connects with other Dynamics 365 applications as well as with Office 365 to deliver the best experience possible.

Designed for enterprises looking for an enterprise-ERP to help them keep pace with today’s market demands, Dynamics 365 for Operations delivers features and services no other competitor can offer.   Deploy Dynamics 365 for Operations where you need it, and grow at your own pace.

AXIO Professional Services

AXIO for Professional Services from SBS Group is a global ERP solution designed specifically for organizations that deliver customer-facing, project-based services. Built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, AXIO combines SBS Group’s award-winning implementation methodology, industry expertise, and a rapid deployment model to bring you the best in ERP, CRM and Cloud.

AXIO Professional Services | Dynamics 365 for Operations

AXIO for Professional Services spans all the important processes in your firm, including resource management, project management, marketing, human capital management, and financial management. Optimized for cloud, AXIO can also be deployed on premise and is compliant with all GAAP, IFRS, Sarbanes-Oxley, and DCAA requirements.

To Learn More:

We thank Sylvia for her participation in this podcast series and her ongoing support of SBS Group, our customers and hundreds of businesses throughout the Western United States.  If you would like to get in touch with Sylvia directly, you can find her on LinkedIn. You may also listen to previous podcasts in this series with Ted Kempf or Suzanne Clarke

Finding out if Dynamics 365 and AXIO Professional Services are the right next step for your professional services firm is easy.  Reach out to Robbie at SBS Group by emailing info@sbsgroupusa.com and we’ll put you in contact asap.


Want to learn more about AXIO for Professional Services and Dynamics 365? Watch our latest webcast recording!

Listening In: Ted Kempf and Robbie Morrison discuss Dynamics 365 for Professional Services Firms (32min;12/2016)

It’s time to listen.

A quick google search will turn up websites, brochures, infographics and blogs galore on Dynamics 365.  There is certainly no shortage of digital content on Microsoft’s newest cloud solution for business, but nothing beats a conversation between serious professionals.  If you want to truly understand the value Dynamics 365 can bring to your firm, then listen in on this podcast with Ted Kempf (Director of Service Industries at Microsoft) and Robbie Morrison (VP Enterprise Solutions at SBS Group).

 

About the speakers:

Ted Kemp, Director Professional Services Industry Solutions for MicrosoftOur expert panel will include Ted Kempf, Director of Service Industries at Microsoft.  Prior to joining Microsoft, Ted held senior Industry leadership positions with Deltek, Oracle and Peoplesoft. He also spent 5 years as principal analyst for Gartner.

The panrobbie-morrison-sbs-group-dynamics-365el also includes Robbie Morrison, Vice president of Enterprise Solutions for SBS Group.  Robbie is a well-recognized leader in the Microsoft community, having both owned and held leadership positions with some of the most successful Dynamics consultancies in the US market.

How do I know if I’m in a Professional Services Firm?

The professional services sector is typically defined as firms that provide accounting, advertising and marketing, architectural, consulting, engineering, IT, legal, and scientific research services.  There are others, but the common denominator is projects and billable services.  Our company provides both projects and support services to companies interested in implementing Microsoft technology so we would be considered a professional services firm ourselves.  Check out a list of industries we service here.

Having a regular flow of projects and delivering them efficiently almost always makes or breaks a professional services firm of any size. Large firms struggle less with resource balancing and are often able to offer wider ranges of services to meet the needs of major clients. Smaller and mid-market firms typically compete by offering unique expertise or focusing in specific regions. The US industry is highly fragmented: the 50 largest firms account for less than 20% of revenue.

IT services generate about 20% of the total revenue in the professional services sector, followed by architectural and engineering services, legal services and consulting services that make up around 15% each.  Accounting services,  scientific research and specialized design account for another 25%.

Law firms, banking, insurance and a variety of other companies may provide services to businesses, but are less tethered to projects.  Special needs in these segments often require different technologies and process models.

Topics Covered in this Dynamics 365 Podcast:

In just 30 minutes, Robbie and Ted cover a wide range of topics as they explore the business value of Dynamics 365 for Operations when implemented with SBS AXIO for Professional Services. They discuss their own experiences with these solutions in 2016 and share customer stories that provide “in the trenches” perspective you just can’t get in a brochure.

  • How is Dynamics 365 for Operations performing in the Professional Services sector?
  • How are customers responding to PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI, Azure IoT and Cortana Intelligence?
  • What is the CDM (common data model) being discussed with regards to Dynamics 365?
  • How do these solutions help firms better manage contracts? Recurring revenue management? Subscription billing? Project Accounting?
  • How does it work for sales, service, project management, operations and marketing?
  • How quickly can a solution be implemented?
  • What is “AppSource” and how is that a benefit to customers?
  • Do these solutions offer advantages in mobility? Are they secure?
  • How is Dynamics 365 performing against competitors like NetSuite or SalesForce.com?
  • What advice can you offer to Professional Services companies reviewing new ERP, CRM or other productivity solutions?

ch-join-podcast-01

Click below to listen in on the Podcast with Ted and Robbie

 

More on Dynamics 365 for Professional Services firms?

This is the first of several posts that will be published in 2017 to help potential buyers understand the potential benefits of a Dynamics 365 solution.  We’ll bring you podcasts from Microsoft employees, partners and customers and you can listen in on those that are closest to home for you.

If you are part of the Microsoft ecosystem and would be interested in participating in our series, please reach out to Robbie Morrison directly or use the contact form on this site to contact our marketing team.

Review of new features for Project Management and Accounting in Dynamics 365 For Operations

Dynamics 365 For Operations is a cloud based SaaS service, which provides rich features and functionalities to manage simple to complex business processes across all major industry verticals, such as Manufacturing, Professional Services, Financial Services, Retail, Distribution and more. It provides very rich features and functionality for project management and accounting for the professional services industry. In today’s post, we will review some of the key new features and enhancements that were released for project management and accounting, in Dynamics 365 for Operations (Update 3 released on NOV 1st 2016).

Let us review and discuss these new features in the order of what I think their significance would be for customers.

Dedicated PowerBI Content Pack for Project Management and Accounting Reports and Dashboards:

The is the biggest enhancement /new feature under Project Management and accounting in Dynamics 365 For Operations. Customers will now get access to preconfigured PowerBI Content pack that comes out of the box and provides key project management and accounting related dashboards and KPIs that are readily available for consumption. This content pack offers the following dashboards and reports. (Note: You can get access to the .pbix PowerBI files via the shared asset library in Life Cycle Services)

Projects Overview Dashboard: Shows overview of projects by customers, budget performance and revenue and provides a bird’s eye overview of the projects so that you can promptly review projects that are either exceeding budget, underperforming in revenue to take actions.

proj-db

Project Cost and Revenue Details Dashboard: These 2 dashboards enables you to view the project cost and revenue trends easily by customer and various other classifications and also shows actual bs budget comparisons.

proj-cost

proj-rev

Earned Value Management: Earned value management(EVM) is one of the key project health and success measuring criteria for professional services firms. Traditionally, in the earlier version of Dynamics AX, there was no dashboards/KPIs available out of the box that shows EVM and associated KPIs such as Cost Performance Index(CPI) or Schedule Performance Index (SPI), even though you could develop or customize reports and dashboards for these. But in Dynamics 365 for Operations, the content pack provides these out of the box enabling organizations to measure EVM and associated KPIs easily for projects. A very welcome addition !! (In one of the upcoming posts, I will dive deep into EVM in D365 For Operations)

evm

Project Hours Details report: This dedicated dashboard page shows the hours/time details for projects and resources. This also allows you to measure resource utilizations in various perspectives.

proj-hours

Manage Estimated Costs, Revenues and Item requirements on WBS Task Details form of a project:

In the earlier releases of the New Dynamics AX (Update 2 and earlier) or even in AX 2012, you could always define the estimated costs and revenues for each task on the WBS for a project. In Dynamics 365 For Operations, you can add estimated costs and revenue lines for Hours, Expenses, Items and Fees on the WBS task under ‘Estimated Costs and Revenue Tab” as you were able to do in earlier versions, But additionally, you can also manage these on the “TASK Details” form. You can also add/setup “Item Requirements” on the WBS Task details form, so that when you save and publish the WBS, Project Item requirements will be automatically created. (It was also possible earlier, but you had to transfer the WBS Item estimates to Item requirements specifically). Small enhancement, but can be very useful!

wbs-details

Option to setup ledger accounts for intercompany cost and revenues based on lending and borrowing entities for projects:

The Intercompany timesheet and intercompany customer invoicing has been one of the very useful features of AX which enables organizations to deploy resources from multiple entities on the project of borrowing entity and automate the intercompany timesheets and invoicing and accounting. In earlier versions, you only setup one Ledger account for Intercompany Cost and One ledger account for intercompany Revenue postings, regardless of the resource borrowing and lending entities. Dynamics 365 For Operations now provides the option to setup multiple ledger accounts for intercompany cost and revenue posting based on the resource lending and borrowing entities respectively.

int-cost-account

int-rev-account

Enhancements to Project resource management:

There are some significant changes and enhancements to the project resource management feature in the Dynamics 365 For Operations release. I am listing some of those which I think are important, but will discuss them in greater detail in one of the future posts.

  • Organization’s Operations resources such as Machines, Tools, Facility etc. can now be added as project resource and can be scheduled on projects. Earlier, only workers (Employees and Contractors) could be designated as project resource.
  • New Resource request workflow enabling a resource allocation manager to control the resource requests from various projects. (It was there in the AX 7 release as Planned resource, but it has be revised up to some extent)
  • Resource role based pricing and cost price visibility based on date of Task and booking.

resource-request

resource-request1

Miscellaneous usability enhancements across various forms:

The following are some of the miscellaneous usability enhancements.

  • WBS Task ID and the Task Name are now visible on the Project Forecasts Transactions forms. This will certainly make it easier to see the forecasts (Labor, Expense, Items, Fee etc.) at each Task level with easy identification of the task, instead of just looking at the Activity ID.

taskidname

  • On the Resource management screens such as Resource Availability, Resource fulfillment, clearing record selections for each date range is now possible and it a whole lot earlier and neat! Certainly a very useful enhancement.

clearresselections

  • Multiple record selections on various forms to take actions is now possible. An example is the price setup form.

multiselect

  • The Project resource availability form’s business logic now considers Employee’s efficiency rate. Earlier the resource availability was based on Competencies and calendar availability, but Efficiency rate might be a good addition. I am not sure yet if I would use/need it that much, it certainly is a good add-on.

res-avail

  • When you select the Project Manager on a project, it is automatically added to the Project Team under the Project Team and Scheduling tab. Make Sense and makes like a little easier 🙂 !!

pm-team-member

  • Timesheet workflow status is Reset if the workflow and Document status are out of Sync. I believe this enhancement is related to cases when the “Approval status” of a timesheet changes, but the corresponding workflow status does not change sue to unexpected intermittent issues. If this happens, my guess is the workflow status will automatically reset to match with the timesheet document/approval status. I was not able to review and test this feature yet.
  • You can now select a funding source specifically on Fee journal lines. This will prove to be a very useful enhancement, especially in cases where there multiple funding parties responsible for a project contract and when booking Fees for the contract, you can select a specific funding source if you want to bill the partially fee to that funding source. (Note: This was indirectly possible in earlier releases where you could do a Project Free Text invoice and select a funding source on the line, which in turn will post a project Fee transaction.

proj-fee-fundsource

Hope this was helpful! Till next time..

Sandeep

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics AX enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft dynamics AX ERP. He has experience working with the Dynamics 365, AX 7, AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2 and more.

Project Services Automation (PSA) in Dynamics 365, What options are available and what is best for you!

With Dynamics 365 now officially launched, I am sure most of the customers and prospects are anxious and keen to explore more on this and find out what is right for them, which services they should chose within Dynamics 365 to drive the Digital transformation of their organization.

Project Service Automation in Dynamics 365

First thing first! Dynamics 365 is a fully Cloud based SaaS service and has various services/solutions offered under it. You can refer to my earlier post for a brief explanation on what each of these services are and what they really mean. In today’s post, we will discuss on what is the story of Project Service Automation/Professional Service Automation (PSA) in Dynamics 365, what options does customers have for PSA in Dynamics 365 and which option may work best for their organization.

There are 2 primary options/services for Professional/Project Services Automation in Dynamics 365.

OPTION 1: A Fully integrated PSA solution within Dynamics 365 for Operations.

(This was Previously known as New Dynamics AX/AX 7)

  • This is the fully integrated Enterprise ERP solution that supports both project operational and financial automations, all within one solution.
  • Project operational processes such as project management, project accounting, end to end project procurement and end to end project sales & distribution are fully supported in this.
  • For those who are familiar with Dynamics 365 for Operation (Known as New Dynamics AX earlier), this is really the Project Management and Accounting module and it’s built in integration with the other modules of AX.
  • Traditionally customers always had to build integrate Dynamics AX with Dynamics CRM if they wanted to establish the seamless flow of customer and project data from Lead to Project delivery. With Dynamics 365, the built-in integration of Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics 365 For Sales/Marketing is already off to a great start and will only improve significantly in future.

Dynamics 365 Operations for Firms with Complex Contracting Requirements

There is a 3rd party solution which I am heavily involved with that is provided by SBS Group.  This solution, AXIO Professional Services for Dynamics 365, tailors Dynamics 365 to the needs of project-based firms.  Software companies, architecture and engineering firms, management and IT consultants and government contractors will find immense value in the advanced contract, billing and revenue recognition benefits provided by AXIO.

Advanced Billing and Contract Management for Dynamics 365

Not all project-oriented companies will require a solution as advanced as AXIO so it is important to invest time and resources into documenting your processes and future needs before purchasing any solution.  I’ve seen many companies dismiss research only to get half-way through a costly implementation before deciding to “back up and start over”.  No fun.  On to option 2…

OPTION 2: Dynamics 365 For Project Service Automation service/solution, Stand-alone solution which can be integrated with Dynamics Financials or any other financials solutions

  • A purpose built, specific solution for stand-alone project service automation.
  • This supports key project service processes such as project management, resourcing, project execution and billing up to some extent (Not Advanced Billing).
  • For those familiar with Dynamics CRM Online, this is basically Project Service Module of Dynamics CRM online, now improved with Dynamics 365.
  • Since this solution was built in traditionally within Dynamics CRM online, the Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation probably integrates more seamlessly with Dynamics 365 for Sales in current state.

The table below shows a high-level comparison of the key features of Project Service Automation (PSA) solutions between Option 1 and Option 2 mentioned above.

Project Features Available in Dynamics 365 Comparison

With that said, let us now understand what an organization should consider while choosing between these 2 options for professional/project service automation solutions in Dynamics 365.

We can think of various deciding factors that can play a role in choosing one of these solutions, however I will mention some of the common factors that I think are crucial to be able to choose between these 2 solutions.

You should choose the stand-alone Project Service Automation solution of Dynamics 365 if,

  1. Your current financials system (Dynamics or non-Dynamics) works fairly well and is well set for the organization and you are not really looking to revamp the financials and accounting processes of your organization. You can choose the Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation and integrate it with your current financial system.
  2. Your organization is keen on deploying a specific, purpose built, targeted solution to solve issues related to Project services only (Project management, time and expense, billing etc.). You can deploy Stand-alone Project Service automation and integrate with your existing financials solution.
  3. Your organization is in the Small to Medium in size and does not have very complex project management and accounting needs. In this case, you will probably be better off choosing Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation and Dynamics 365 for Financials.

You should choose the fully integrated Project Service Automation solution, i.e. Dynamics 365 for Operation if,

  1. Your organization’s strategy is to have one unified ERP system to manage projects end to end, along with Financials and Operations (Procurement and Supply chain), all in the same application.
  2. Your organization’s focus is more on having coverage of features and business processes in areas such as Project management, project procurement, project supply chain, project financials accounting and human capital management, all in one application.
  3. Your organization is decently large and has project based operations with focus on project based distribution/engineering/project based manufacturing.
  4. Your organization is a Hi-tech consulting and service provider/AV integrator having the need to fully streamline the project financials and the complex project/contract revenue recognition, all in one integrated ERP.
  5. You are professional services organization and you have complex billing and accounting requirements for your projects.

I would like to reiterate; the above analysis is just my opinion and what I think are some of the key factors differentiating the two key Project Service Automation solution options in Dynamics 365. Companies with complex contracts management and/or subscription billing will most certainly find that Dynamics 365 for Operations with AXIO Professional Services from SBS Group provides the most effective solution overall.

I am sure we all can count on several other factors and probably argue several alternate possibilities. Feel free to comment or contact me if you would like to discuss.

Regards,

Sandeep

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics AX enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft dynamics AX ERP. He has experience working with the Dynamics 365, AX 7, AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2 and more.

Gartner Magic Quadrant Lists Microsoft as a Leader in Sales Force Automation for CRM Online and On-premises

SBS Group has been a long-time supporter of Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a cost-effective solution that helps our customers compete more effectively.  We’re proud to see that in August 2016, Gartner has added both the on-premise and online versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to the leaders quadrant in their latest Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation.

The study included 19 CRM products from 17 different vendors. The only other CRM solution included in the coveted “Leaders” quadrant was Salesforce.  While Salesforce is a powerful CRM solution, we have seen how Microsoft’s vision for CRM in context with Dynamics AX, Office 365 and other Microsoft products makes for an enterprise solution that just cannot be beat. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 launching this year, the opportunity and business value for Microsoft customers is set to grow significantly.

About the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Gartner is well-known for their “Magic Quadrant reports where technology solutions are classed as leaders, challengers, visionaries or niche players by completeness of vision and ability to execute.  I have always found the Gartner Magic Quadrant to be extremely valuable.

The content below is a snippet from the complete document which can be viewed here:

Click to: VISIT GARTNER – Sales Force Automation Magic Quadrant

Summary

The sales force automation market grew 9.8% in 2015, to almost $6 billion. IT leaders supporting sales have new mobile, business process modeling, and predictive analytics options. Our evaluation of 19 products from 17 vendors will help them to choose the solution that best fits their requirements.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

By 2018, manual data entry by salespeople for sales force automation systems will be reduced by 50% due to adoption of mobile sales productivity tools.

By 2018, 20% of large B2B organizations will build business graphs of their sales processes to improve their sales execution.

By 2018, 20% of B2B organizations will have changed their indirect channel sales approach by focusing on commercially available partner relationship management applications. 

Market Definition/Description

Sales force automation (SFA) applications automate the sales activities, processes and administrative responsibilities for an organization’s sales professionals.

SFA is considered to be a foundational technology, which is fundamental to how companies execute their sales processes. Core SFA capabilities include account, contact and opportunity management, pipeline management, and sales forecasting.

Additional (noncore) capabilities that are often a part of SFA offerings include lead management, content management, guided selling, quote management, territory management, partner relationship management (PRM) and analytics. Because these noncore capabilities are frequently used in B2B selling, Gartner also evaluates vendors on these categories.

Source: Gartner (August 2016) Magic Quadrant Sales Force Automation

Source: Gartner Magic Quadrant Sales Force Automation (August 2016)

(click here to view Magic Quadrant post at Gartner.com)

Why We Trust Gartner

For those of you unfamiliar with Gartner, they are the largest technology research and advisory company worldwide.  Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, USA, and has 7,600 associates, including more than 1,600 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 90 countries.

From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, they are a valuable partner to clients in approximately 10,000 distinct enterprises worldwide. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, they work with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role.
For more information on leading research and advisory firms, you might want to check out a “Robbie’s List” post I published earlier this quarter.

Learn More about Microsoft Dynamics CRM

With more than 200 consultants trained and certified in Microsoft Dynamics, SBS Group has the technical, industry and business process knowledge to design and implement Dynamics CRM in alignment with your business goals. Our consultants are experts in customizing Dynamics CRM to the needs of professionals services firms, distributors, government contractors and many other industries.  This knowledge helps them identify critical questions that provide insight into your company’s core functions.
GET UP AND RUNNING FAST
With RapidStart CRM from SBS Group, the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is more accessible than ever. You can get started online in as little as two days, and likely at a lower cost than you thought possible. RapidStart provides streamlined access to Dynamics CRM functions most essential to your business, with advanced capabilities available as you need them.  Learn how RapidStart can jump-start your business.

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

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