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A Blog Series for Microsoft Dynamics Partners by Kati Hvidtfeldt, US Microsoft Dynamics ERP Cloud Lead.

Kati color 2004Business decision makers in SMBs have a lot of choices when they’re looking for ERP software. With BDMs often focused on cost and financial management, it’s the partner’s role to help buyers understand the broader and more lasting benefits of ERP in the cloud.

In last week’s post, we explored why Microsoft Dynamics solutions are really more than ERP, from Director of Product Marketing Errol Schoenfish. (For more on this, view Eric’s on-demand webcast, “Business Solutions from Microsoft: It’s more than just Enterprise Resource Planning.”)

Today, we get insights into why this is important from a CIO perspective from Nancy Lee, Director of Technology, Microsoft Dynamics East region and former 13-year CIO for a midsize customer.

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When it comes to enterprise resource planning, one of the biggest challenges for a CIO of a small or mid-size business is, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Buyers evaluate different financial management solutions, but they don’t really know what a solution is capable of until after the fact: until they grow into needing its deeper features.

Businesses that understand the cloud can identify with benefits like lower capital outlay, maintenance efficiencies, and a fixed monthly cost. But there’s one benefit that’s always missing: Having a solution in the cloud really allows the people in the business to focus on the business—and not on maintaining and fixing computer systems.

CIOs researching financial management solutions should be looking for more than just financial management. To make the most cost-effective decisions, they should:

· Choose a solution that works with other software packages. Seamless integration into extended products like email or document management and collaboration go a long way in boosting productivity.

· Consider the cost involved in maintaining the system. The time, cost and level of effort required with traditional ERP packages limit the value of the stand-alone system by making it costly to maintain the entire interface.

· Reduce the cost of personnel resources (e.g., support) by using the skill sets your business already has. Then it’ll be much easier and less costly to maintain your system.

· Choose a product that has a long-term vision. It’s not prudent to select a package from a company that might be purchased tomorrow, or a product whose functionality might not improve for a long time.

· Keep in mind the power of choice when you make a selection. If your company is small and growing, you might not know where you’ll be in five years. The ability to be fluid in moving between on premise, public cloud, private cloud and hybrid is especially important for SMBs.

Microsoft Dynamics is unique in its ability to deliver on all of these considerations. Forward-looking CIOs want a solution that can help the business today—and can then continue to grow as the company grows.

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To view Errol Schoenfish’s full on-demand webinar, “Business Solutions from Microsoft: It’s more than just Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP),” register here.

To learn more about how to incorporate cloud-based solutions into your business plans visit the Microsoft Dynamics Countdown to the Cloud page on PartnerSource. Go to www.microsoft.com/dynamics/growyourbusiness for resources that demonstrate to customers how Microsoft Dynamics ERP cloud, hybrid and on-premise solutions can benefit their businesses.