Ask most ERP analysts and they will agree that Microsoft has entered the ERP software space and they are now a player to stay and they are in it for the long run. With four applications with strong and broad installation bases of customers Microsoft is a key player in the ERP industry.
Formula manufacturers should know that Microsoft Dynamics has offerings to help make your company more profitable. I will spend a few moments bringing you up to speed on how Microsoft Dynamics can deliver for you.
Microsoft acquired the four applications from 2001 - 2003 and each had a strong track record in providing core financial and distribution functionality prior to the acquisitions. These products include
- Microsoft Dynamics AX – Axapta
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV – Navision
- Microsoft Dynamics GP – Great Plains
- Microsoft Dynamics SL – Solomon
Each product has been branded – along with Microsoft CRM – as Microsoft Dynamics. So when you are on the Microsoft web site and see the term Dynamics – this is the brand name for all four ERP solutions and CRM.
Each application has strengths and should be viewed independently. They have their own development groups but share core Microsoft technology that assist in rapid development. As time moves on the products are moving toward each other and share functionality written by developers working across the products – such as web services and sharepoint. Also realize that not all Microsoft Dynamics resellers (VARs) sell and support all the products – in fact most VARs only support one or two Dynamics applications. So when evaluating Microsoft Dynamics it is important to match a reseller with the specific product being offered.
Each of the products compete successfully against all other similarly priced solutions.
Microsoft Dynamics AX (Axapta) – Written for the larger organization. I would recommend it for companies over $150 million in annual sales. The implementation requires significant consulting resources and is best suited for companies with significant IT resources.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision) – Navision is a major player in Europe and is known for it customization capability. It fits well for those companies that need significant localization and customization to address unique business issues. Companies of $5 million - $150 million in sales should consider this product.
Microsoft Dynamics GL (Great Plains) – Great Plains has been a well known ERP application in North America for many years. It has consistently been the leader in the market for English speaking countries. It fits well for those companies that need only limited customization and are looking for strong out of the box functionality based on US business standards. Companies of $5 million - $150 million in sales should consider this product.
Microsoft Dynamics SL (Solomon) – Solomon is becoming the Microsoft Dynamics solution geared toward project accounting. It should known that Solomon is very strong in inventory control and order processing. So while this application is moving away from manufacturing it competes very well against all other inventory, distribution and financial applications in the market. Solomon has strong customization capability and a very loyal install base. Companies of $5 million - $150 million in sales should consider this product.
As a formula manufacturer if you review Microsoft Dynamics on your own - without the assistance of a VAR experienced in formula manufacturing -you may not see how these solutions can address your manufacturing needs. This is because Microsoft Dynamics evolved from a financial and distribution application with strong discrete/assembly manufacturing offerings. Out of the box Microsoft Dynamics is challenged by the unique requirement of formula manufacturers and are critical for you to run your business. Issues such as MSDS, scheduling by formula, QC tracking, variable yields by batch and weight/volume conversions are foreign to Microsoft Dynamics. But there are great resources in the Microsoft Dynamics family that address these challenges.
Microsoft has been very public in its position that it will provide deep core functionality for each of the ERP solutions. They have written the applications to fit well into certain key industries. They do realize there are unique requirements in various industries that they are not able to provide by themselves. Formula manufacturing is NOT one of those industries Microsoft targets directly.
While developing the applications Microsoft has allowed Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to extend Microsoft Dynamics into various vertical industries – such as formula manufacturing. Because of this you are able to achieve tremendous economies of scale with Microsoft Dynamics and still maintain the industry focus written by industry experts with years of domain industry knowledge.
When Microsoft Dynamics is extended with an ISV solution (such as Vicinity – www.vicinitymanufacturing.com) the result is a feature reach, technology advanced and widely accepted ERP solution at an affordable price. Microsoft Dynamics delivers the most popular financial and distribution applications in North America and Europe and the ISV (Vicinity) provide business critical specific formula manufacturing functionality such as
- Formula management
- Compliance documentation (MSDS, COA, Country of Origin)
- Lot control and tracking
- QC results and analysis
- Batch yield analysis
- Scheduling by formula
- And much more
So if you are in the market for an ERP solution you would do well to consider Microsoft Dynamics matched with an ISV solution like Vicinity.
Microsoft Dynamics – http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics
Vicinity – http://www.vicinitymanufacturing.com