Transforming your ERP from Good to Great!

When taking on a new project, you don’t always understand the scope until you jump in.  Remember the first time you watched a program on how to reno a bathroom?  You saw the end-product and it looked so simple.  Weeks later you were stuck and frustrated with a barely functioning bathroom amidst debris and unfinished details.  This is a great metaphor to the way an ERP implementation can feel, and customers often wonder why.  There is so much behind the scenes preparation and planning that goes into every implementation.  “People need to understand that a great ERP implementation is strategic and should be viewed as an ongoing business activity to truly get the best value”, says Gord at Joesoftware.  When companies start looking for a new system they are often looking to solve some immediate pain points.  They see some slick features during a demo and get excited about the possibilities but fail to get to the finish line.  This blog post is intended to help understand the evolutionary nature of an ERP so you can turn Microsoft Dynamics GP into an oasis of information flourishing with insight.

 

1 Seeding

It all starts with an air of optimism and anticipation when you decide to undertake the project.  You jump in only to realize you may have bitten off more than you can chew.  Picking a competent contractor allows you to benefit from their expertise; however, they don’t fully perceive your vision for the final product.  You point out your immediate pains and some major features you desire, and you anxiously await your new bathroom to appear in a few moments.  As the project takes flight, you are excited until you realize the extent of the reno.  Suddenly, your house is turned into a construction site with dust and supplies everywhere, and people all over the place.  Your world has been turned upside down, but somehow you manage to get through it.  Some months later you have a finished bathroom that fixed your major pain points, but it’s not what you expected.  Your finished product looks quite different than the one you saw on TV.  It has everything you asked for but somehow the wow factor just isn’t there.

 

When you implement an ERP system, it can feel like that bathroom reno.  As the project starts everyone is excited for the possibilities ahead but in no time this feeling evaporates.  Your business struggles with the stress of running the day to day processes on the old system while learning how to run the new system.  Your staff feel inundated with a million decisions and details.  After months of implementation, the new ERP system is finally up and running and most of your major pain points have been solved but your team is exhausted and you don’t see any bling.  As you reflect on the process, you can clearly see benefit but rather than feeling excited you are just relieved to be back to processing transactions again.

 

2 Cultivating

Sometime later, as the memory of renovation pain fades you start to assess where you are at, questions like, “Am I really that much better off?” and “Why am I not ecstatic?” cross your mind.  You have achieved a bathroom that is functional, but now you have new peeves.  As the emotion subsides and you think critically, you can clearly see a few details you simply overlooked at the time.  The bathtub faucet is in the wrong corner to see the sun set and the door brushes the towels off the rack when it is opened.  You realize that through the change you have introduced new, unintentional annoyances.  You can choose to live with the annoyances or you can push to overcome them as the effort and cost is low but the value is high.  Once you have this mindset you begin to believe the time, effort and money was worth the trouble.

 

Typically, this phase in an ERP implementation occurs after a few years.  Your company has been functioning on the new ERP system, but things just aren’t as you imagined.  As time goes on, you start to notice some new quirks.  It is crucial to explore these to make sure you are getting the most out of your ERP.  You are efficient at operating the system, but now you are wanting more.  You can clearly envision how the system could transform your business because you have become knowledgeable about its capabilities and you better understand how to work with your implementer to get meaningful results.  Your implementation partner has become more intimately aware of your business nuances. Both parties can contribute ideas for meaningful tweaks.  Your system now has a few years of data to trend on and leveraging this information can create better business processes that empower growth.  At this point you start to become excited again as you fully appreciate the capabilities and possibilities for your company.

 

3 Harvesting

Finally, as you reflect on your reno, you can truly sit back and enjoy the bathroom you created.  Your vision has evolved over the process and every detail has purpose and precision that effortlessly compliments your priorities.  When your bathroom needs an update, you can see how a few small adjustments will make the bathroom just as relevant then as it is now.  Your bathroom now resembles the one you saw on TV.  Regularly updating the paint colors or the towels adds significant change to the space, while keeping the costs low. These minor tweaks have substantial value that allow you to update your space with ease.

 

After a few iterations of the Cultivating phase, you feel invigorated by your ERP.  Although the breadth of change has diminished, the need to step back and seek improvement should not change.  Your business has evolved whether in activity, size, geography or service lines, and any of these can create new system bottlenecks.  Your ERP maker understands the potential of new functionality to enable your business; this is the trademark of the most profitable companies.  Your expectations continue to evolve, although in this moment your overall satisfaction is high.  During this phase, you should periodically check back in with your implementer to do a BPO (Business Process Optimization) or an analysis of your ERP to ensure it is still efficient.  These regular minor tweaks and updates keep your system relevant.  As your company grows, changes and evolves, it is important to allow your ERP to evolve with it.  This approach allows your system to support and drive your business longer.  It is in this phase where you have the ERP system you were shown in the demo, and you feel like you received the best return for your time and effort.

 

Falling in love with your ERP is easy.  The success is a direct outcome of strategic evolution.  If you think an ERP is a one time or cookie cutter exercise, you won’t be happy with the results and your ERP will limit your success.  If you treat ERP improvement as an ongoing business activity, it becomes a tool to re-envision your business and one that drives competitive advantage.  With continuous reviews of your system you can guarantee your ERP will continue to empower your business, and you can guarantee you will love your ERP.

2017 Dynamics GP Latest Enhancements and Roadmap

For the second year, GP User Group (or GPUG) has run their Amplify 2017 conference from March 21st to 23rd.  This conference is dedicated to Dynamics GP only, so the content is very focused. Although GPUG is not a Microsoft company, Dynamics GP employees have a significant contribution to the conference content.

The much-awaited Microsoft Dynamics GP Roadmap provides guidance on what is planned for the next release, GP 2018, slated for late 2017 release.

Key developments for GP 2018 include more workflow updates referred to as “Workflow 4.0”, additional document management enhancements, finance and HR optimization, and new functionality called Power Suite.

The following Opening Keynote video from the conference includes the presentation of the Roadmap, together with demonstrations of some of the newest functionality in GP 2016 R2 and a view of some of the features already completed for the GP 2018 product.  If you are interested in the advances in GP, take about an hour to go through this presentation to see how these updates and new features could benefit your operations.

 

 

The key takeaway is that Dynamics GP is still a very important part of the Microsoft Dynamics solutions and they remain committed in their investment to continual improvement.  This is important for those who might question Microsoft’s commitment to GP, as this reinforces Microsoft’s intention to continue developing it long term.

Summit 2017: Learning You Can Take To The Bank

Helping our clients get the most out of their Dynamics GP investment is what we do, and one of the critical pillars in this is through educational opportunities. Based on our experience of going to conferences over the years, we believe the Summit User Group is the top learning opportunity this year. The Summit User Group conference is the best end-user focused event that delivers the latest information on Dynamics GP and Dynamics CRM features and the exciting ways these can optimize your business processes.

With an expected attendance of 2000, the GPUG Summit will be the place where the greatest level of GP expertise will be concentrated for a 3-day learning opportunity. Although the detailed agenda is not yet available, it is safe to say that based on prior years there will be an extensive range of topics such as Business Intelligence, Financials, GP Admin, GP System Admin, Payroll / HR, Reporting, Strategy, Upgrades and more.  And with over 170 total GP sessions, there is something for every type of user including some Canadian specific content!

As many of our clients have users with professional designations, attending GPUG Summit is a great way to achieve professional development credits.  Last year there were 158 CPE (Continuing Professional Education) eligible sessions.

Summit 2017 will be at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville Tennessee from October 10-13, 2017. Early bird prices are available now until June 29, 2017 and hotel space is always limited.

If you’re looking for a great Dynamics GP and/or CRM learning experience this year, we invite you to join us at the Summit 2017 in Nashville. For more information, go to GPUG Summit 2017 or CRM Summit 2017.

Microsoft Announces GP 2016 R2 Features and the End of Support for GP 2013

A new year has started with Microsoft’s much anticipated communications, announcing key features in the latest Dynamics GP 2016 R2 release.  There are a significant number of new features that will be of interest to many Canadian GP users; however, there are also several new functions that are only relevant to U.S. GP customers.  Here are some of the new features that Canadian GP customers should note:

  • Project Accounting Project Time & Expense timesheet status report
  • Project Accounting Trial Balance Report with distribution line changes reflected on the report
  • Cancel Purchase Order lines when linked to a requisition
  • Reconciled Transaction Maintenance for Bank Reconciliation
  • Safe Pay Check Name Format
  • Display Tax Percentage for Historical Sales Transactions
  • Batch Edited by Another User
  • Link Credit Card Invoices to Original Invoices
  • SmartList Designer Smart Lists available in Advanced Look-Ups
  • SmartList Favorite Protection
  • PowerBI on Web Client home page

This is a very high level summary of the features in Dynamics GP 2016 R2.  For a more comprehensive list and description, just click on Dynamics GP 2016 R2 Application and System Features.  There is also a video you can access here.

The announcement of this feature list which may, in itself, be a strong reason to upgrade. Microsoft has also announced that the taxes / year-end support for Dynamics GP 2013 will end in April 2018.  This deadline provides additional rationale for any GP2013 customers to plan for their upgrade sometime in 2017.

Upgrading Dynamics GP to a more current version is always recommended as it increases functionality, improves efficiency and provides a better user experience.  Current versions will also continue to be supported not only with tax tables, but also with security updates, hotfixes, and patches.

If you are considering the right time to do your GP upgrade, contact us so that we can help you assess your planning requirements and schedule the optimal time to get the upgrade done.

Penny 5.0 is Now Available

Joesoftware is celebrating over a decade of advancing our Penny self-service software by announcing the new release of Penny 5.0. Penny has evolved significantly over this time and we are thrilled to offer Penny 5.0 with some of our most sought after user, management and administrator improvements.

Continuous improvement is an important penny-5-0-blog-cover-wframe
mantra for Joesoftware, and this is nowhere more evident than seen through the evolution of Penny. Customer feedback is at the core of our improvements, with Penny 5.0 being a milestone version that addresses some of the most sought after developments in core areas of timesheets, leave requests, reporting, manager capabilities and enhanced administration. A complete list of the Penny 5.0 enhancements can be found in “What’s New in Penny 5.0”.

Some customers have already completed their upgrade to Penny 5.0 and many others are currently engaged in the process. If your company is ready to do more with your Penny solution, we’re ready to help you get it done!

To book your upgrade, please contact Sheila@joesoftware.com.