10 Questions Companies Forget to Ask During an ERP Sales Cycle: Part 2

Welcome back! Last week, we talked about the first five questions that companies forget to ask during an ERP sales cycle. This week, we will talk about questions 6-10.

6. How will you, as the ERP provider, help support and foster the change the new software will bring to my organization?

A successful ERP implementation can help your organization streamline workflow and cut costs, but a poorly planned and implemented ERP rollout can severely cost your organization, in terms of lost productivity and delays. Make sure that you properly vet your ERP vendors, and talk to their service people who will be executing the rollout. Conference room pilots and service plans are important.

7. Is every cloud solution the same thing?

The answer to this question is no. There is private cloud, public cloud, hybrid, single tenant, multi-tenant, etc. Microsoft offers a huge amount of services, far richer than any other cloud services vendor. SBS Group works with our customers to customize cloud solutions for your particular needs and wants: private, public or a hybrid approach integrating existing clouds and on-prem.

Is your application suddenly trending on Twitter? Microsoft Azure has a free autoscale feature that can help you during unexpected traffic spikes, by automatically scaling up or down to meet demand, while simultaneously minimizing costs.

cloud-service-typesTop benefits of cloud computing

Cloud computing is a big shift from the traditional way businesses think about IT resources. What is it about cloud computing? Why is cloud computing so popular? Here are 6 common reasons organizations are turning to cloud computing services:

1. Cost
Cloud computing eliminates the capital expense of buying hardware and software and setting up and running on-site datacenters—the racks of servers, the round-the-clock electricity for power and cooling, the IT experts for managing the infrastructure. It adds up fast.

2. Speed
Most cloud computing services are provided self service and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.

3. Global scale
The benefits of cloud computing services include the ability to scale elastically. In cloud speak, that means delivering the right amount of IT resources—for example, more or less computing power, storage, bandwidth—right when its needed, and from the right geographic location.

4. Productivity
On-site datacenters typically require a lot of “racking and stacking”—hardware set up, software patching, and other time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.

5. Performance
The biggest cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure datacenters, which are regularly upgraded to the latest generation of fast and efficient computing hardware. This offers several benefits over a single corporate datacenter, including reduced network latency for applications and greater economies of scale.

6. Reliability
Cloud computing makes data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity easier and less expensive, because data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network.

8. Can you help me understand that a little better?

This question is so important. Make sure that you don’t leave a sales cycle without all of your questions answered. This will help you make the best decision for your organization. Your ERP system is only as good as the data that is in it. So, if you want your ERP implementation to succeed, it is imperative that proper programming and procedural parameters are put in place right from the start to minimize the likelihood of errors. We can help you with this, and we want to make sure that all of your questions are answered.

9. Is it important to decommission my legacy applications?

The answer is a resounding yes. If you do not actively work to decommission applications during the implementation, the result is an ERP system with all of the original legacy applications hanging off of it. Another piece of software that you are paying maintenance and support on, paying for hardware and upgrades, and paying for interfaces back into the core ERP. The point of implementing a new ERP system is to streamline workflow and reduce costs and waste, not increase fees.

10. What does a digital transformation really mean?

There’s a lot of talk about digital transformations these days. According to a recent CIO article, what many CIOs describe as a digital transformation actually isn’t. Mobile apps, AI-based chatbots, analytics and other digital services are often used to augment existing services. Gartner analyst Hung LeHong, whose job includes sussing out whether companies are conducting a “digital business transformation” or a “digital business optimization,” said “In a nutshell, we reserve digital business transformation for companies pursuing net new revenue streams, products and services and business models.” “This can include the creation of new digital business units or digital acquisitions. Sometimes the new business models can lead to ventures in adjacent markets or new industries.”

Microsoft defines a digital transformation as: to grow, evolve, and transform every part of your business to better meet the changing market and needs of your customers. We like to think that’s it.

Let us help you with answering these 10 important questions today. Let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Joe Gulino
Director, Enterprise Sales, SBS Group

About Joe
Joe Gulino has spent 30 years growing and running mid-sized ERP and CRM consulting organizations. Recently, he has focused his career on helping large and mid-sized services companies select, procure and implement ERP and CRM solutions. He has experience in several industries including manufacturing, distribution and professional services.
joegulino
Today, Joe serves SBS Group customers in his role as Director of Enterprise Sales where he helps customers solve business problems using Microsoft Dynamics 365 technology. Joe holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Computer Science from Rosary College, and is based in Naperville, Illinois.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-gulino-0a0ba72/

10 Questions Companies Forget to Ask During an ERP Sales Cycle: Part 1

I think author Warren Berger got it right in his book, “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.” Berger argues that while we’re all hungry for better answers, we must first learn to ask the right questions. Through a number of well-researched stories, Berger demonstrates that the most creative, successful people in the world tend to be expert questioners. They’ve mastered the art of inquiry, raising questions no one else is asking—and finding the answers everyone else is seeking.

With so many different—and in some cases, overlapping—approaches to selecting a software system, how do you know if you are asking the right questions during an ERP (and/or a CRM) sales cycle? I have been involved in many sales cycles, and these are the questions that I see companies most often don’t ask, but should.

1. Is it a mistake to push Analytics and Reporting (BI) out to Phase II of the implementation?

Yes. Many customers make the mistake of pushing BI out to Phase II, but the problem is, Phase II may never happen, or it will happen too late. It’s better to access analytics and reporting sooner rather than later. In some cases, this access to timely BI information alone can pay for the new system, helping you gain ROI now rather than later.

2. What other supporting applications or technology can use a refresh at our company?

You are making a significant change to your ERP system, and it’s a good time to look at other systems too. If your ERP vendor can’t help with it, chances are they can recommend someone who can.Old-Way-New-Way

3. Does our decision-making team consist of all the right players?

In today’s world of consensus buying, 6.8 people are involved in the ERP buying decision on average. While it’s difficult to free up your brightest resources from their full-time jobs, ERP implementations are not simple and they can be costly. It’s important to put your best people on the job. Not just your best IT people, your best people, period. You’ll need a project champion, and don’t forget the executives too – you’ll need their support.

4. Do we truly know why we are looking for new software? What is the value expected?

An ERP solution is critical because of its ability to increase information consistency and accuracy. Many companies still suffer from “multiple versions of the truth” – incorrect and inconsistent information across the business. Sit down with your team and make a list of reasons why you need a new system, and goals for the project. Focus on specific business processes and system requirements. The more specific you can be upfront, the more detailed your vendors can be in their proposals.

5. Do you know our industry? Do you have best practices and implementation tools that focus on companies that do what we do?

The answer to this question is critical. If your ERP provider doesn’t know your industry, the project may fail. Ask for references. Too often, people select an ERP system based on factors such as price, current technology buzz or the system that is the flashiest. But without a good fit, companies are left with expensive customization and bolted together solutions. The solution: Find an ERP system that is industry-specific, with tools and features designed to solve your business requirements. The ROI and long-term benefits of a good fitting system are extensive.

Don’t miss next week’s post, where I’ll cover questions 5-10 that companies frequently forget to ask. Meanwhile, let me know if you have any questions about 1-5.

Sincerely,

Joe Gulino
Director, Enterprise Sales, SBS Group

About Joe
Joe Gulino has spent 30 years growing and running mid-sized ERP and CRM consulting organizations. Recently, he has focused his career on helping large and mid-sized services companies select, procure and implement ERP and CRM solutions. He has experience in several industries including manufacturing, distribution and professional services.
joegulino
Today, Joe serves SBS Group customers in his role as Director of Enterprise Sales where he helps customers solve business problems using Microsoft Dynamics 365 technology. Joe holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Computer Science from Rosary College, and is based in Naperville, Illinois.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-gulino-0a0ba72/

Microsoft D365’s Got Talent!

We hear about talent a lot. Our TVs are flooded with reality based talent shows—America’s Got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, The Voice, and the list goes on and on. But today we will talk about a different kind of talent that’s has nothing to do with a strong set of pipes or balancing a bicycle on your nose. I am pleased to announce that Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent is now available worldwide.

SBS Group Blog post talent

D365 for Talent is a new Human Capital Management (HCM) application that is cloud-based and utilizes Microsoft Common Data Services. The Talent application can be licensed as a stand-alone solution or part of the larger Unified Operations Dynamics 365 Plan.

The Common Data Service is the Microsoft Azure–based business application model and storage mechanism for the Microsoft business application platform. Together with gateways and connectors, it forms the basis of business solutions that are created by using Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow.

Who needs Talent? It starts with the hiring process, where LinkedIn integration drives improved candidate pipeline development and analytics data leads to smarter hiring decisions. Once a new employee joins the company, customized onboarding plans ensure that expectations are clearly communicated and that new hires make the right connections inside the company to support their success.

Dynamics 365 for Talent: Performance Management Initiatives

The solution can tie performance management initiatives directly to incentive schemes, compensation packages, and employee engagement programs. Finally, managers can organize, monitor and analyze employee development initiatives to gauge the organization’s ability to transform today’s employees into tomorrow’s leaders.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent streamlines routine record keeping tasks and automates processes related to staffing your organization. These processes include employee retention, benefits administration, training, performance reviews, and change management. Dynamics 365 integrates seamlessly with LinkedIn Recruiter as well as other Applicant Tracking System (ATS) applications.

Talent

Dynamics 365 for Talent is based around three main concepts: Attract, Engage, Thrive

  • Attract: Hire the best talent faster by having visibility throughout the hiring process. A candidates LinkedIn profile is accessible and actionable within the solution. Interview scheduling can consider a candidate’s availability as well as the hiring team. Calendar invitations can be sent directly from the solution and the interview schedule is visible from either a candidate view or job posting. Hiring managers and interviewers enter feedback, hire/no hire recommendations and offer information. The HR team has one place to oversee the entire process.
  • Engage: Build high-performance agile teams. Customized Pre-boarding and Onboarding processes will set your new hires up for success with customized welcome packages, tracking required documents and first-day preparation. A new hire dashboard can keep your new talent in touch with key contacts and give managers and the new hire the ability to monitor the progress of critical onboarding tasks.
  • Thrive: Maximize the potential of your team. Dynamics 365 offers your talent a self-service approach from common HR tasks to visibility into career paths allowing them the power to drive their own career. It offers managers the ability to present a collaborative experience for learning management and skill tracking. Imagine the benefit of an evaluation process that transforms from an annual event to an ongoing growth experience.

Through Dynamics 365, your organization will have a complete view of the employee experience and allow you to provide your employees with an intuitive experience, your managers visibility and collaboration, and allow HR to deliver impactful programs.

Let us know if you’d like to learn more about Dynamics 365 for Talent. To sign up for a free trial of Dynamics 365 for Talent, click here!

Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
Chief Solution Strategist, 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 and Robbie-2017products helps SBS Group customers maximize ROI on technology investments.

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Chief Solution Strategist where he provides thought leadership and manages the development of B2B solutions.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

Best Practices for Activity Management in Office 365 and Dynamics 365

Many of our clients ask us how best to handle the various activities available within the Dynamics 365 suite, especially with the crossover to Office 365. While there are no “set in stone” rules, we have put together some best practices suggestions, based on the functionality available within different programs.

So, the question is… What gets handled where?

EMAIL GETS HANDLED IN OUTLOOK

Outlook, as you can imagine, has far more email tools available than what you will find within Dynamics 365.  While the latest version of Dynamics 365 does include the ability to add Email Signatures to system emails, there is still no comparison to the many millions of tools Outlook offers.

If you set your options correctly in Outlook, you can still access all the special Dynamics 365 fields you need.

TASKS GET HANDLED IN OUTLOOK

Outlook has the best task management tools, such as the ability to set a reminder, ability to record time/mileage/billing info, and a task bar that shows right next to your email. And with the ability to use “Set Regarding” to attach a task to Dynamics 365, this is a win-win situation.

(Need to know more about “Set Regarding” feature? See this blog; Creating a New Record From Your Outlook Inbox.)

APPOINTMENTS GET HANDLED IN OUTLOOK

Okay, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, and it’s still true that Outlook has the best tools for managing appointments. With advancements in the latest versions of Dynamics 365, even recurring appointments can be tracked in Dynamics 365 using the “Set Regarding” feature.

Working within Outlook, you still have access to all of your Dynamics 365 contacts, as well as special fields from those contact records. Because you’re in Outlook, you have access to your special plug-ins such as Skype for Business. You also have calendar access within your organization to help schedule those time-consuming meetings that everyone loves.

PHONE CALLS GET HANDLED IN DYNAMICS 365

Here’s where Dynamics 365 really starts to shine. Dynamics 365 gives you quick and easy access to a phone call record that has all the fields you need:

  • Is the call outgoing or incoming?
  • Did you leave a voicemail?
  • Is there a follow-up necessary?

If you have your Skype for Business connected to your Dynamics 365 implementation, then you can simply click someone’s phone number and these steps happen automatically:

  • A new phone call record is created, marked as outgoing, with the Contact’s name in the recipient box.
  • A new Skype for Business call is opened, with the Contact’s phone number ready to dial.

For people who love efficiency, Skype for Business is a must-have integration!

INFORMATION UPDATES GET HANDLED…….WELL…….

Information updates are all handled within Dynamics 365. The question is where to put the info so that it gets the most visibility.

Updates to an Account or Contact’s email/phone/address information, that will go in Dynamics 365 directly onto the Account/Contact form.

If it’s a Status update, and you want everyone who is interested in that Account/Contact to see the info, then use POSTS to save the info. Anyone who is “following” that Contact record will see the information. Also, shows on the Dashboard feed.

Temporary information that will only be relevant for a short period of time should be stored in NOTES. The more notes that are added, the further down you’ll have to scroll to find the info. Notes are not easily searchable, nor can they be reported on, and they don’t roll up to the parent record. This format is only good for temporary information, not for information that will need to be easily found at a later date.

If it’s info about action being taken, use TASKS. Task records can be searched, can be reported upon, and they do roll up to the parent record. This automatically gives them better visibility throughout the entire system. The more tasks you enter into Dynamics 365, the more ammunition you can take to your yearly review, to prove to your boss that you really are working hard!

What does it mean for a record to roll up to the parent record?

Let’s talk about the Bird and the Bees… Notice how when 2 of your friends get together and have children, you can see the attributes of the parents in the children? Same thing happens in Dynamics 365.

Account records are the top “parent” record. A contact is a “child” record of an Account record. Opportunities and Cases are “child” records of either an Account or a Contact (or both).

What this means in practical terms is that the “parent” record will show all the activities from the “child” records. This is the reason we suggest attaching emails to the lowest “child” record possible so that it’s visible on both the child record and the parent record.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you have an email that is attached to Dynamics 365 (using Set Regarding) to an Opportunity record. You can open that Opportunity record and see that email. You can also open the Account associated with that Opportunity and see that email. The reason? Because the Opportunity is a “child” record of the Account’s “parent” record, and that email is rolling up to the “parent” record.

 

HOW/WHEN SHOULD I USE CERTAIN ACTIVITY FEATURES?

EMAIL

When you’re in Outlook and you want to track a message in Dynamics 365, use the “Set Regarding” feature instead of just clicking “Track.” When you use Track alone, you save the email with any contact record that Dynamics 365 can match to any email address in your outgoing email. However, using the Set Regarding does all that PLUS it gives you the ability to attach the email to a different type of record (such as an Opportunity, a Lead, a Case, or a custom entity).

Reminder: always attach the email to the “child” record, knowing that it will roll up to the “parent” record. (See the previous section for clarification.)

MARKETING

Campaigns allow you to manage multiple activities across a spectrum of time, as well as track any responses from the campaign (so you can gauge effectiveness). Want to advertise your monthly special by sending a postcard, followed by an email, followed by a phone call? One Dynamics 365 campaign can coordinate that entire effort, as well as tracking administrative activities and tracking costs.

PERSONAL OPTIONS (FROM WITHIN OUTLOOK)

  

REPORTING ON ACTIVITIES

Reports that come “out of the box” with Dynamics 365 give you loads of info.

  • Filter by activity type
  • Filter by MINE or ALL or TEAM
  • Filter by Status (Open or Closed)
  • Example View: All of MY TEAM’S Closed Activities in this fiscal period

You can also use Views and Charts together to create some really brilliant dashboards or track specific events.

CONCLUSION

There are multiple ways of handling all of these activities. Your best practice is to determine which program has the built-in functionality to give you the most tools possible, then use the integration links Dynamics 365 provides to make it all work together.


Watch Dynamics 365 in action! See how Dynamics 365 can help your business operate more efficiently and effectively.

watch axio videos

What versions of Dynamics CRM are compatible with other Microsoft software as of today?

If you were to setup these versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM today, these are the other pieces of software that you would need to use with it in order to be supported by Microsoft.

As with all compatibilities, these are valid for the day of publishing but could change at any point after.

Office Version CRM 2016 CRM 2015 CRM 2013 CRM 2011
O365 Compatible Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible
2016 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible
2013 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible
2010 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible
2007
SP2 or 3
Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Compatible
2007 Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Not Compatible

 

CRM Outlook Client CRM 2016 CRM 2015 CRM 2013 CRM 2011
2016 Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible
2015 Compatible Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible
2013 Not Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
2011 Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Compatible

 

Browser CRM 2016 CRM 2015 CRM 2013 CRM 2011
Edge 8
(Win 10)
Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
Edge 7 Not Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
Edge 6 Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
IE 12 Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
IE 11 (UR 17) Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
IE 11 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible

Note: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 are the currently supported versions of Windows for CRM compatibility.

For additional compatibility information, please go to these Microsoft support pages.

CRM 2016

CRM 2015

CRM 2013

CRM 2011

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