Convergence in New Orleans: 11,000 people, 4 days, extreme working hours, no sleep, 1000 smiles, some new friendships and way too many beverages.
My big take away from New Orleans this year is that there is absolutely no doubt that Microsoft Dynamics and specifically GP and CRM provide one of the very best mid-market solutions available. Here are a few of my thoughts as to why I reached that conclusion:
1. GP is Experienced: and has been around forever meaning it is tried, tested and an extremely solid solution. Fully functional and relatively bug free.
2. GP customers just love it: Some folks seem to be even too passionate (a little over the top) about their software! I met thousands of customers that think their GP solution is just awesome. I want to clarify this a little – as every one of the people that love GP – put a lot of effort into making it work to suit their business. They invest time and effort into their systems and use it to do way more than just basic accounting functions. If you want any software solution to do everything for you without putting in an effort – you will be sorely disappointed no matter how much software you purchase. ERP and CRM are complex, they must be configured, must be maintained and most of all must be deeply understood if you are going to reap the benefits.
3. WebClient: I believe that too many people are getting hung up in the cloud. That said – the new GP web client is providing access to critical ERP functionality via a browser for those that need it. Microsoft sinking plenty of dollars into this as the delivery mechanism for GP. CRM already has a world class browser and cloud delivery.
4. Mid Market Flexibility: The happy clients I met were not small businesses. These companies are mid to large enterprises with complex needs, complex solutions and clever people to deliver them. Many of these companies were amazed at the value for money they receive vs. a large scale SAP type ERP solution. If you are a small company wanting a generic solution that does your accounting – then GP is probably not for you. (Go and buy NetSuite).
5. ISV community: Some call this a downside, I believe it is awesome. The ISV development community for GP and CRM is deep, experienced and passionate. This community is the envy of most other ERP solutions. The ERP that tries to build in functionality to fit every situation ‘ is really dreaming’. The knowledge required to truly nail these more niche solutions is something that a large ERP solution (including Microsoft) can not and do not possess (leading to half baked software releases). If you need some extra functionality – there is an App for that. These ISV’s have been around for a long time and have deep domain knowledge in their chosen solutions. They all integrate seamlessly and closely with Microsoft Dynamics (especially as more of them take on SmartConnect as the integration tool of choice).
6. Ease of Integration: Every business has some very business specific solution in place. It might be a point of sale system, a transaction website, an industry specific CRM or billing engine, warehouse or any number of point software solutions. This makes GP the back end core for all these systems – and with tools like SmartConnect it becomes a very simple process to integrate data in and out.
7. Clever hard working people: This is perhaps the best and most important factor – the people I met were smart, they had good ideas, were creative and knew how to get things done. Software is no use to anyone unless it fits into the daily process of your business, and that’s where people fit in.
8. Community: The willingness to both learn and share was amazing. Groups like GPUG (GP user group) do an amazing job in connecting people who are working on the same types of businesses with similar needs and similar solutions. Learning from others and learning their lessons the easy way is just super. Other ERP solutions I look at would do anything for a strong user community like GP and CRM has.
You will notice that many of the points above are about people rather than technology. The GP technology is current and as good an anything in the market – but it is the people that make it a success. I for one – will continue to invest my money in my business building solutions for the Dynamics range. There is a long future for GP, and other products will come and go while creating a buzz, but GP will remain a technology leader with the best network of people supporting it.