Guest post by Pam Misialek, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Dynamics ERP

Kati Hvidtfeldt has moved on to lead application program management for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. With the discontinuation of Kati Unplugged, we will continue to give partners perspectives on the benefits and challenges of offering cloud-based solutions to their customers.

Pam Misialek has worked across Microsoft Dynamics GP product roles—from sales to support, and consulting to product marketing—for 17 years. This week, Pam shares her insights into the factors you should have your customers consider when evaluating a new business management solution.

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8117_Pam-Headshot_28D3B31EWhen Microsoft partners talk to prospective customers about what they’re looking for in a business management solution, they hear a lot about the pain points around the current system: poor performance, terrible reporting, accounting limitations. I’m sure you’ve heard them all.

The partner’s role is to help customers see how they can get more out of a new solution than simply fixing the pain points. By framing the discussion the right way, partners can help customers broaden their view of what a solution can do to drive the business in a more interesting way.

Here are three factors to help guide the discussion.

Simplicity

The biggest challenge in ERP is user adoption. In today’s business, workers demand immediacy and the ease of use they’re used to with their personal devices. It’s important for businesses to consider how the features of a business solution work, how easy it will be for new users, and how quickly the organization can get up and running.

It’s what’s behind and inside Microsoft Dynamics solutions that really make them easy to use. We are a culture that demands technology to be simple and intuitive. It’s not just a generational understanding, but even older people are now able to ramp quickly on new technologies like smartphones. These expectations drive where software is going, and how we design our products.

Role-based home pages came out of research on more than 2200 customers to discover how they navigate and use software. Users can select exactly what they want to see on their home pages, so even casual users can get more out of the solution without having to go to power users to get what they need. And because Microsoft Dynamics ERP products leverage the familiar Microsoft Office user experience, users are up and running quickly.

Risk Mitigation

In my experience over the last 17 years, one of the biggest fears people have when they look at other software is fear of deployment. They’re excited at first, but when it comes to getting it up and running, is can be really scary. There is risk.

The question the Microsoft Dynamics GP team asked ourselves is, “How do we make deployment as simple as possible? How do we provide out-of-the-box tools and other resources to reduce the risk?”

To address this issue we put a lot of time into developing the RapidStart migration tool. RapidStart can modify data before pouring it in so it’s in a better state after the migration, and it takes customers (or partners) through a series of questions during setup and configuration so the solution will work how your customer’s business works. This risk reduction goes right to the bottom line, and ROI is quicker.

An important consideration around risk mitigation is Microsoft Dynamics’s strong roadmap. It used to be that companies changed accounting solutions every seven years. Because of changes in the economy, people are now holding on to these solutions for about 12 years. With Microsoft Dynamics, your customer’s solution isn’t going to be retired. It’s going to continue to add new functionality and features. We do research at Microsoft all the time into what customers are going to need three-to-four years down the road, so when they’re ready to take advantage of new technologies, they’re already there—proven and tested. When customers are looking at other products be sure to advise them to look into the roadmap and strategy.

Cloud—On the Customer’s Terms

Positioning a business for competition and growth is not just about replacing an accounting system. It’s about giving people a new way to work and be more productive. People are demanding to work in a different way. They want to work on mobile devices, and be “at work,” even if they’re at home. For businesses, offering this kind of flexibility makes people more productive.

And of course cloud implementations enable customers to scale back on infrastructure and house IT.

But not all businesses should move everything to the cloud. For example, a lot of customers want their sensitive financial data on premises, where they can keep control of it. But they want to have other software in the cloud so they don’t have to support the on-site infrastructure. They want to be able to say “yes” to employees when they want to work at home, or work in a different way to make them more productive and empower the business.

Microsoft gives customers the flexibility and power of choice: Do you want to pay per month or own the software? Do you want employees to be able to use different devices? Do you want to host the data in house, or are you comfortable with having it hosted in the cloud? Microsoft Dynamics gives businesses the flexibility to work the way they want to work.

With so many business management choices available, it’s important to help your prospective customers look beyond fixing the pain points to recognize the strategic value of Microsoft Dynamics ERP. It really is a total business solution from Microsoft.

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For a deeper, customer-facing perspective on this topic, including supporting demos, see the on-demand webinar Pam recently presented with Microsoft Dynamics Partner Technical Advisor Craig Crescas, “How to Get the Most out of Your Business Management Solution,” from the Microsoft Dynamics ERP series for SMBs.

To learn more about how to incorporate cloud-based solutions into your business plans visit the Microsoft Dynamics ERP 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.