Monday, March 30, 2015

Spotlight On Microsoft Dynamics GP Users' Group (GPUG)

As we wrap up our conversation on Microsoft Dynamics resources available to end users, we will take a look at one of the most vibrant Microsoft Dynamics Users’ Groups, GPUG. In this article, we will be learning more about GPUG with an interview from the Director of GPUG, Kim Peterson. The vision for GPUG is to engage every individual and company using Microsoft Dynamics GP in value-added networking and knowledge sharing and to be the single most important communication channel for Microsoft to see guidance on future development of Dynamics GP.

Kim Peterson is the Director of GPUG, the Microsoft Dynamics GP Users’ Group. Kim has over 32 years’ experience in building and supporting the Microsoft Dynamics GP community by working with Microsoft, Partners and Customers. For the first 21 years of her career she was employed by Great Plains Software and then Microsoft Dynamics after the acquisition of Great Plains Software by Microsoft in 2001. During her tenure at Microsoft and Great Plains Software, Kim held roles covering different aspects of the business including Account Management, Sales Management, Business Development, and Marketing. Since 2010, she leads GPUG as the director, responsible for its offerings and building a greater GP community.

What is GPUG?
Kim: The idea for the Dynamics GP User Group (GPUG) grew from the vision of a few Microsoft Dynamics® users - to connect with other Dynamics users and learn firsthand the best way to leverage the software they used every day. From that initial vision to the official founding of the Dynamics GP User Group (GPUG), and continuing today, our mission has never wavered: to maximize the value to individuals and companies using Microsoft Dynamics GP.

Why is it important for Microsoft Dynamics users to get involved with these user groups such as GPUG, NAVUG, and CRMUG?
Kim: Being a part of the user group community provides all Dynamics users an opportunity to a part of the community, learn from their peers, build their professional skills, and participate in the largest source of GP educational content.  A membership provides your entire organization access to hundreds of virtual and face to face learning opportunities.

We do this in many ways, some highlights of Member Benefits include:
  • Access to Hundreds of Live Educational Webinars
  • Recorded Webinars Available On-demand 24/7 to fit your schedule
  • Access to Discussion Boards to Ask Questions of Your Peers and Get Answers
  • FREE Attendance to Local Chapter Meetings to Meet Other Users and Exchange Ideas
  • Learn From Others Like You Through Special Interest Groups
  • 50% Registration Fee Discount on GPUG Academy Deep Dive Distance Learning Courses Through Virtual Classrooms
  • GPUG Summit 2015 in Reno, NV – October 12-16, 2015 where GP Users Network & Learn
  • Earn CPE Credits for GPUG Academy Courses and GPUG Summit Conference Sessions
  • Professional Certificate Programs for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, System Administrators & Business Intelligence
Tell us about the upcoming GPUG Summit 2015.
Kim: This year our Summit will be held October 13th -16th at the Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa in Reno, NV. GPUG Summit provides content for both beginners and experts in all functional and technical roles.   The event is three-and-a-half days of unparalleled learning, sharing and networking. This is the only Dynamics GP conference designed and led by users, for users. In addition to great session content, there is also an Expo featuring software and services to enhance and complete company’s GP investment.

How many attendees are you expecting?
Kim: GPUG is expecting close to 1200 Members, while the whole conference with all 4 groups will be over 4000 from the Dynamics community.

What does Summit offer to attendees?
Kim: In addition to over 200 educational sessions there are many structured and unstructured opportunities to meet with other Dynamics users, explore ISV products, and provide input into future direction of the Microsoft Dynamics partners. lists last year’s content… from here you can see the depth of content GPUG Summit offers in sessions, classroom training, expo and more.  This is the richest content education for Dynamics users in the industry. 

Why should companies encourage their employees to attend Summit 2015?
Kim: Companies should encourage their employees to attend Summit if they are looking for real life, practical ideas they can take home and immediately put to work to get more value of Dynamics and to improve their business processes.
We have a spot on our website that tells you just that! 

What is Dynamic Communities, Inc.?
Kim: Dynamic Communities, Inc. (DCI) is the supporting organization behind GPUG and our sister global user groups - the Dynamics AX User Group (AXUG®), the Dynamics CRM User Group (CRMUG®) and the Dynamics NAV User Group (NAVUG®) - as well as our Dynamics partner group Dynamic Partner Connections (DPC). Dynamic Communities is independent from Microsoft; however, our close working relationship positions our groups to be a collective voice to Microsoft on user concerns, needs, and requests.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Closer Look at Dynamic Partner Connections

This month’s blog has focused on Microsoft Dynamics solutions and the resources available to partners and end users. In this article, we will be diving deeper into a vital part of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem with an interview from the Program Director of Dynamics Partner Connections, Joe Carroll. Joe’s organization is one of many resources available from Dynamics Communities. This resource is particularly valuable to Microsoft Dynamics partners.

Joe Carroll is the Partner Connections Program Director. Joe is a versatile and disciplined channel sales and marketing leader. Accomplished in creating and implementing channel programs to recruit, develop and manage business partners in diverse B2B environments. Recognized for establishing and managing multi-million dollar partnerships, producing market differentiation and consistent revenue growth.

What is Dynamics Partner Connections (DPC)? 
Joe: Dynamic Partner Connections is the global community for Microsoft Dynamics® GP, AX, CRM and SL partners. Our mission is to improve the success of Dynamics partners through community. Our mantra is ‘raising the tide for all’ in the Dynamics partner ecosystem.

DPC is part of Dynamic Communities, Inc. the organizing group of the Dynamics user groups of AXUG, CRMUG, GPUG and NAVUG.    

In addition, we just announced the formation of the Association of Dynamics Professionals,, which will expand our partner offerings.

The Association of Dynamics Professionals is an independent, not-for-profit membership organization devoted to the Microsoft Dynamics community. The Association exists to serve its members and to improve the community as a whole through education and the establishment of competency standards and assessments. This association will formally commence in September, 2015. The Association of Dynamics Professionals is an individual membership organization, open to any professional (consultants and users) seeking to better themselves and the Dynamics community. Many members are also seeking certification test to their level of expertise and ability to participate in or lead projects related to the Microsoft Dynamics family of products.

Who is eligible to join Dynamic Partner Connections?
Joe: Everybody (or nearly so J)! Every product -Dynamics AX, CRM, GP, SL and NAV-, every role–consultant, developer, sales, marketing, operations and leadership– and every organization –VAR, ISV and independent consultant- within the global Dynamics ecosystem is welcome to join. There is no charge to join DPC today.  

What are some of the key benefits of DPC?
Joe: DPC offers many ways to increase the effectiveness of individuals and organizations in the Dynamics ecosystem. This includes educational and informational webinars, speaking opportunities to act as a subject matter expert in the partner community, partner-to-partner networking to learn from like-minded business professionals and access to Microsoft teams and individuals.
The events and programs are organized around community, competency and advocacy. 

‘Community’ is about bringing together folks from the Dynamics ecosystem: resellers, ISVs, consultants and Microsoft. We all have a vested interest in making the Dynamics community grow and thrive because a diverse, healthy and growing community helps everyone. DPC's is to focus on what we have in common. We recognize that our biggest competition is outside of the Dynamics community, and ignorance and lethargy within it. When the community comes together we talk about common challenges and come up with new solutions. We do this through formal and informal networking events. This year, we are hosting three formal events: PreGAME to Convergence and PreGAME to Summit for all Dynamics partners, and reIMAGINE, specifically for Dynamics GP partners.

‘Competency’ refers to a structured approach to increase the skills and experience of members. Pick a topic, train and talk. VARs, ISVs and Microsoft all share their experience and knowledge to increase the value and competitive position of the ecosystem. Two things about DPC make our approach unique in this regard. One, the community delivers most of the courses and content, not Microsoft; and two, the delivery is not simply a lecture but a collaborative, didactic approach.
‘Advocacy’, which isn’t about lobbying. We don't take lots of actions on 'your' behalf. We don't write about issues and publish papers, BLOGs or 'letters to the editor.' We don't take and publish the results of polls or use these results to draw conclusions of our own. Rather, we provide the forum to bring the community together and have a collective voice for change. We collect the views of many individuals to form a single, combined voice for the community. Our voice is really your voice. We then share this with Microsoft and others to bring about changes for the good of all. Think: focus groups, conduit sessions, question and answer sessions, executive briefings.

How did you get involved with DPC?
Joe: My entire career has revolved around working with and for partners in the business solutions software industry. Last year Dynamic Communities decided to create a single Dynamics partner entity, Dynamic Partner Connections. Joining DPC allows me to apply 25 years of experience to help increase the success of Dynamics partners by bringing together like-minded individuals for learning, sharing and networking.

What makes you passionate about your role within the organization?
Joe: Microsoft Dynamics channel is the best in the industry, all things considered.  We just have to see, believe and act like it. What I really love doing is bringing together like minded individuals for peer-to-peer sharing and community involvement to help others to succeed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

7 Essential Resources for Microsoft Dynamics® Customers

The great thing about Microsoft Dynamics® is the wide variety of customer resources available their software users. In this blog we will discuss seven essential resources that I find to be very helpful for any Microsoft Dynamics user no matter which product your company is currently utilizing. Whether you are using Dynamics GP, SL, NAV, or AX you will find answers to the questions within these websites.

7. Dynamics World-Microsoft Dynamics Reference Library: This is a private LinkedIn Group, so you must request permission to join. This group is exclusively for the Microsoft Dynamics channel. The community has been established by an alliance of skilled IT professionals in the Microsoft Dynamics channel and they are building and promoting the interest to those within this environment.

6. The ERP Software Blog: If you a looking to make a buying decision, this blog is a fantastic resource. Microsoft Dynamics vendors provide comparisons and opinions to professionals in the ERP/Accounting software selection process. You will find comprehensive articles on both the Microsoft Dynamics suite of products, but also Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) horizontal and vertical solutions.

5. Dynamics University: Dynamics University is an association of premiere Microsoft Dynamics Partners and Trainers focused on providing exceptional learning opportunities to Microsoft Dynamics customers. Their mission is to increase your satisfaction and return on investment related to your Microsoft Dynamics solutions. The site has access to excellent knowledge based articles, op-ed blogs, and training courses.

4.  Microsoft Dynamics CustomerSource: This is an essential website that every Microsoft Dynamics user should save to their bookmarks. Here you find information directly from Microsoft. You can do everything from log a support case, register for online training,  search the knowledge based articles, find current Microsoft events, and download information on your service plan.

3. MS Dynamics World: is the leading global independent authority covering the world of Microsoft Dynamics. They are dedicated to publishing the leading integrated content for Dynamics users, partners, independent software vendors (ISVs), and consultants around the globe. is the Microsoft Dynamics community's resource for news, expert advice, tips, best practices, white papers, case studies, and analysis. Keep up to date on the latest developments and information relating to Microsoft Dynamics applications and breaking news.

2. Dynamics Communities Inc.: Dynamic Communities Inc. is the organization behind professional associations and software user groups such as the Dynamics AX User Group (AXUG), the Dynamics GP User Group (GPUG), the Dynamics CRM User Group (CRMUG), and the Dynamics NAV User Group (NAVUG), and the partner community Dynamic Partner Connections (DPC). Their vision is to engage every individual and company in value-added networking and knowledge sharing. This includes local, regional, and national User Group meetings, webinars, and annual Summit & Expo.

1. Your Reseller: A Microsoft Certified Partner is always a reliable way to get the answers you need. Not only do you have an established relationship with you Microsoft Dynamics partner, but they also have been with you along the way to help guide you through your implementation and training. Microsoft partners also have 24-hour access to Microsoft Support, which enables them to give better customer relations and support to a customer. Many resellers will hold customer events and educational webinars.

Never before have we had such a vast array of resources and information readily available to users. If you have an answer to a Microsoft Dynamics question, one of these seven sites will most certainly have what you need.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What the heck is Microsoft Dynamics®?

If you are running a successful business, you know that you need an accounting/distribution system to keep your company going. You need a software system to manage financials, reporting, and daily operations.

In 2001, Microsoft® entered the ERP software market through acquisition of four premier applications in that market at that time.  Microsoft then re-branded them all under the name Microsoft Dynamics and took control of all development efforts. Since that time Microsoft grown to become as a significant player in the market. With cloud and mobile options already available, they are in it for the long run. Each of the four applications have strong and extensive installation bases of customers. Microsoft has become a dominant player in the ERP industry.

Microsoft Dynamics is the brand name for the accounting and distribution solutions. Vicinity software integrates exclusively with Microsoft Dynamics providing specific manufacturing functionality to process manufacturing companies.

At Vicinity Manufacturing, we integrate with three of the four accounting solutions offered by Microsoft Dynamics. Specifically, Microsoft Dynamics GP, SL, and NAV.

  • Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains Software) - Microsoft Dynamics GP is widely used in the United States and was developed in Fargo, ND.  Since 1985 Microsoft Dynamics GP has lead the US market with easy to implement and core out of the box functionality.  It has a rich tradition of involving a diverse set of Independent Software Developers (ISVs) and Value Added Resellers (VARs) to address very specific challenges customers address.  Microsoft Dynamics GP is the gold standard in ERP software in North America for companies or divisions of companies from start up to $100 million in sales.

  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision) – Microsoft Dynamics NAV was acquired largely due to its market position in Europe.  It is the most customizable of all Dynamics ERP products in which Vicinity integrates.  That makes sense when you consider in Europe a business must deal with far more financial reporting variations than in the US.  Multi-currency and flexible customization tools makes Microsoft Dynamics NAV a natural fit in industries that have very unique requirements that can only be addressed via customization.

  • Microsoft Dynamics SL (formerly Solomon IV) – Microsoft Dynamics SL has largely been relegated to project management and costing since its acquisition by Microsoft.  While Microsoft Dynamics SL has a loyal reseller, consultant and install base its market share has decreased significantly over the years.  With that said it remains a terrific inventory and distribution system with surprisingly robust customization capability.

Vicinity’s role in the Microsoft Dynamics community is to address the unique requirements of formula/batch manufacturers.  From formula management to batch ticket processing – from quality to scheduling Vicinity provides what is needed to address the operational concerns of process manufactures and integrates identically well with each of the Microsoft Dynamics offerings.

While Microsoft Dynamics AX is a member of the Dynamics brand we at Vicinity find that the cost of implementation and ongoing maintenance of that platform far outpace the cost of the other software solutions in the Microsoft Dynamics brand.  For that reason we find adding Microsoft Dynamics AX to the integration stack is not warranted at this time.

Microsoft Dynamics as a brand is scalable which allows companies to start with what you need now, and easily adapt as your needs change—in the cloud or on your servers.  The key is to identify the flavor of Dynamics that is right for your business.

Rest assured that not matter your choice Vicinity Manufacturing works with these great accounting and distribution offerings to build a complete, industry specific ERP solution.

Check out this short clip from Microsoft Dynamics.

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