Comparing Dynamics 365: What It Is, What It Was, and What It Is Not

If you’re confused about what each of the Dynamics 365 products are and are not, you’re not alone – Microsoft has recently done a lot of rebranding, reorganizing, and renaming of their business management solutions. In this article, we’re going to explain the different Dynamics 365 solutions, how they relate to each other, what previous Dynamics solutions they correspond to, and who they’re intended for. 

The Current Dynamics 365 Product Line 

In a nutshell, Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s newest set of ERP and CRM solutions intended for small, medium, and large businesses. Each of these purpose-built applications is licensed separately on a subscription basis, so businesses subscribe to individual applications with the specific functionality they need. 

Although the names are similar, Dynamics 365 is NOT Microsoft 365. The solutions from each can integrate with each other, but they’re not part of the same product line. To put it as simply as possible, Microsoft 365 is the newest version of Microsoft Office, with some brand new tools as well. 

Dynamics 365 Finance vs. Business Central 

Unlike the other Dynamics 365 apps, Business Central is an all-in-one business management suite with core ERP and CRM functionality built into one solution. It’s available on-premises or in the cloud. The biggest difference Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, or GP users should note with Dynamics 365 Finance is that it is more application-driven to allow flexibility in designing your system around the functionality you really need. Each application is subscription-based and all of them integrate seamlessly with one another to form a whole business management toolset.  

Dynamics 365 Business Central 

Business Central is an ideal ERP solution for small- and medium-sized businesses. This solution was evolved from the framework provided by Dynamics NAV, so it offers the maturity that comes with a legacy solution, but includes newer innovations like better mobile access, easier integrations, and built-in business intelligence through Power BI. Business Central is a particularly strong solution for distribution and manufacturing organizations.  

Core functionality includes: 

  • Financial Management
  • Sales Management 
  • Supply Chain Management 
  • Project Management 
  • Warehouse Management 
  • Service Management 
  • And more

Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management 

Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations is now two applications – Dynamics 365 Finance and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. This suite of ERP applications is intended more for larger businesses (of >250 employees) or organizations with specialized needs. It is not an all-in-one solution like Business Central, but more of a modular design to build your ERP solutions specifically with the applications and functionality you need, such as: 

  • Finance 
  • Supply Chain Management 
  • Sales 
  • Customer Service 
  • Field Service 
  • Human Resources 
  • Commerce 
  • Project Operations
  • Marketing 
  • Mixed Reality 

What About the Older Dynamics Solutions? 

The Dynamics 365 product line wasn’t built from scratch. As the name implies, it’s an evolution of the older Microsoft Dynamics line, which includes Dynamics NAV, AX, GP, CRM, and SL. Here’s how the lineages work: 

  • Dynamics NAV became Dynamics 365 Business Central (Essentials and Premium versions available) 
  • Dynamics AX became Dynamics 365 Finance, which has since been divided and reorganized into individual apps including: 
  • Dynamics 365 Finance 
  • Dynamics 365 Project Operations 
  • Dynamics 365 Commerce 
  • Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, and others 
  • Dynamics CRM became Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, which has since been divided into individual apps including: 
  • Dynamics 365 Sales 
  • Dynamics 365 Customer Service 
  • Dynamics 365 Field Service 
  • Dynamics 365 Marketing, and others 
  • Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL are still independent products being sold and supported by Microsoft partners around the world, and Microsoft has repeatedly confirmed they’re committed to continued development and support for these two solutions. 

For new customers, it’s no longer possible to purchase licenses for Dynamics NAV, AX, or CRM. However, existing customers currently using these products and still on an annual support plan can continue to add licenses and modules. Numerous businesses are still using these solutions, and they are still actively supported by many Microsoft partners. 

Want to learn more about Dynamics 365? 

Hopefully, this article has helped make the current evolution of Dynamics 365 more understandable. There is also a ton of great new functionality being introduced in Dynamics 365 that doesn’t correspond to older versions of the software solutions. If you’d like to learn more about moving your existing Microsoft Dynamics solutions to the cloud, migrating to Dynamics 365, or other Microsoft business management solutions like Power BI and industry add-onscontact us today to talk to a Microsoft solutions expert. Here at OTT, Inc., we specialize in helping customers get measurable results from their technology solutions.

5 Advantages of Working with a NetSuite Solution Provider

If you’re thinking about a new ERP solution such as NetSuite, you’ve likely already put a great deal of thought and research into the functionality. However, the key to any ERP implementation being a successful investment is about more than the technology. Before you sign up with NetSuite, make sure you understand the features and benefits of working with a NetSuite Solution Provider. 

NetSuite has two partner types: Solution Providers and Alliance Partners 

A NetSuite Solution Provider is a company that partners with NetSuite to provide clients with extended expertise and personalized service through every step in their implementation journey and beyond. As full-service partners, Solution Providers are experts in helping organizations implement and integrate ERP, CRM, and other business applications.  

NetSuite Alliance Partners focus more exclusively on NetSuite implementations and integrations, but don’t provide the full-service experience throughout your ERP journey like a Solution Provider will. 

Here’s how partnering with a NetSuite Solution Provider like OTT, Inc. can extend the value of your technology investments:   

1. Methodology 

The project methodology is the glue that holds everything else together and makes sure your new ERP truly helps your business thrive. Your Solution Provider should have a proven methodology and a track record of successful implementations to help ensure your success. Here at OTT, Inc., our customers appreciate our Trusted Partner Path which has helped numerous businesses achieve long-term success.  

2. Evaluation 

Every organization is unique. Before purchasing licensing or starting an implementation, a Solution Provider will often start by conducting a formal assessment and making sure they fully understand your business and your needs. Because full-service partners specialize in helping with the entire ERP journey, they can give your business the expertise and insight to ensure you’ll fully achieve your goals.   

3. Licensing 

A Solution Provider can sell you NetSuite licenses directly and be your single point of contact for all licensing matters. The extra advantage is that they will understand your business on a deeper level and can ensure your licenses are aligned to your needs and goals. There’s no need to explain your situation to an unfamiliar salesperson, figure out any potential complexities of licensing, or worry about who to contact if your licensing needs have changed.  

4. Implementation 

When you entrust a Solution Provider for your ERP journey, they know how to optimize your solution for your business processes and position you for a smooth implementation. With a focus on desired outcomes, the partner can ensure timely deployment, personalized training, and maximum user adoption.  

5. Support 

Business needs and ERP technology are constantly changing, and implementation is only the beginning of the journey. Your Solution Provider backs you with ongoing support and training to ensure you continue to get the best out of your solution as your organization grows, shifts, and adapts over time.  

Want to talk to a NetSuite Solution Provider? 

OTT, Inc. is a certified NetSuite Solution Provider with a proven 5-step methodology to ensure measurable outcomes. We help clients throughout the entire process of evaluating and implementing ERP, and continue to provide ongoing support for the long term. As experts in ERP, CRM, and other business technologies, we can help you with all aspects of your solutions including extended applications, development, integrations, and customizations. Contact us today to talk to a NetSuite expert about your organization’s vision for the future.  

6 Reasons Cloud ERP Leads to Happier Employees

Finding and retaining top talent is a major task for businesses who want to succeed. Seeking out and hiring employees is difficult enough – how do you keep them once they’re hired? A productive, healthy employee culture is critical to the long-term growth of your business.

One factor that can boost employee happiness and morale is investing in a cloud ERP system for your organization. Here are 6 reasons why cloud ERP can lead to happier employees:

1. Spend more time on valuable tasks

Cloud ERP solutions automate tasks, streamline workflows, provide AI-assisted analytics, and so many more tools that allow your employees to spend less time on repetitive tasks. If employees are complaining about entering duplicate data into spreadsheets, sorting through long email threads, looking for receipts to submit expenses, etc.—it’s time for cloud ERP. Free up employees’ time so they can do their jobs faster and spend more time contributing to more valuable initiatives.

2. Reduce frustration

Dealing with outdated or undersized ERP can create frustrating daily problems. Whether it’s navigating complex workarounds, manually re-entering data between applications, or troubleshooting broken spreadsheets, a legacy ERP system can mean a lot of unnecessary annoyance for your workers. Help them know that you value them by making their lives easier with modern, integrated, cloud-based ERP.

3. Keep everyone informed

Helping everyone understand where they fit in the big picture is a key part of employee satisfaction. With the right cloud ERP solution, you can provide every employee in your organization with access to the information they need—when, how and where they need it. Empower workers by giving them personalized, customized dashboards to complete tasks quickly and track their personal or team progress towards goals.  

4. Allocate resources more effectively

With a cloud ERP system that makes it easier to monitor and schedule resources, you ensure everyone has the tools and assistance they need to get their jobs done. For example, make sure that the technicians in your field service center have the parts, training, and information they need to improve your first-time fix rate and boost customer satisfaction.

5. Provide remote access

Whether it’s a technician trying to find customer information while they’re in the field or an employee trying to answer a question while they’re travelling, a cloud-based ERP solution provides secure 24/7/365 remote access to key data, in a mobile-friendly format. Help your workers keep up with the pace of modern business by giving them better mobile access. 

6. Show a commitment to future growth

One key feature of cloud ERP solutions like Dynamics 365 or NetSuite is the automatic application of regular updates. This means that your workers will have access to new technologies and productivity tools as they become available. Additionally, investing in future-focused cloud technology shows that your business is committed to remaining ahead of the curve in order to thrive in the long-term.

Want to learn more?

OTT, Inc. can help you explore cutting-edge cloud ERP software solutions that fit your business and your budget. Contact us today to speak with a cloud ERP expert and learn about our 5-step methodology, the Trusted Partner Path.

5 Ways to Use Nonprofit BI and Analytics Tools

5 Ways to Use Nonprofit BI and Analytics Tools

Most ERP and business management systems have the ability to gather large quantities of data. However, data collection alone isn’t the goal for nonprofits. Without any analysis, you can’t turn raw data into information that can help you make better decisions for your organization.

Today’s data analysis and business intelligence tools for nonprofits are enabling organizations to measure the effectiveness of, and make improvements to, both daily operations and long-term programs. Here are a few examples of how your nonprofit can use data analytics to better achieve your mission.

1. Recognize donation patterns

Ultimately, your goal with any fundraising is to get the best ROI possible by spending less money to raise more money. Data analytics can help you achieve this on a whole new level by making it possible to precisely identify and focus on the donors who are most likely to give. You can also measure and monitor information such as number of donations received, donor or donation growth, or donations by channel.

2. Stay within budget

When you’re operating on a tight budget, it’s critical to have up-to-date information on your spending and the ability to measure it against your progress toward project goals. You can use data analytics to monitor spending as it happens and quickly get an overview of expenses or drill down to see the details. You can also set benchmarks and alerts so decision-makers in your organization know immediately if spending reaches a certain level.  

3. Measure program outcomes

Fulfilling your mission isn’t just a one-step deal, it’s the cumulative impact of countless small projects and actions that work towards achieving your desired outcomes. With data analytics, you can quantitatively measure program outcomes at a new level of detail. Monitor metrics such as progress towards project goals, number of people reached, and beneficiary satisfaction.

Data analysis tools also make it much easier to measure big-picture information such as program expenses versus total operating expenses, and year-over-year growth for your whole organization.

4. Track effectiveness of workers and projects

With data analytics tools, you can track employee progress towards goals, and even give employees access to personalized dashboards so they can see information relevant to their jobs. Help everyone stay on board with what’s happening and give them information to help them complete tasks more efficiently.

At an administrative level, it can also be extremely helpful to track absenteeism, employee retention, employee satisfaction, and other variables to measure your work culture. Your organization works hard to raise money – make sure you aren’t spending all of it recruiting, hiring, and training new talent.

5. Manage volunteer efforts

How effective are volunteers at helping your organization achieve its goals? How effectively are you recruiting volunteers in the first place? Are your volunteers satisfied with their experience? How often do they return?

Answers to these questions can have a big effect on how your organization operates and where you dedicate your time and resources. Data analytics can help you quantitatively learn the answers to these questions, and track things as they change over time.

Want to learn more about data analysis for your nonprofit?

OTT, Inc. has a proven record of helping nonprofits use cutting-edge technology to achieve their goals. Our 5-step methodology, Trusted Partner Path, ensures that your technology investments help your organization thrive for long-term success. Contact us today to talk to an expert about data analytics and nonprofit ERP solutions.

9 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Best Cloud ERP

9 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Best Cloud ERP

You know you want the best cloud ERP solution for your business and investment, but how do you decide? Your organization has unique needs, and there’s no single application that will work perfectly for every organization. Here are 9 things you should take into account when you’re looking for a new cloud ERP solution:

1. Which type of cloud do you need?

The latest ERP software solutions are almost exclusively cloud-based applications. However, you may not know that you have options when it comes to cloud. It’s important to think about exactly what kind of cloud setup might be best for your business, and ensure the solution you’re considering can work with that setup. Whether you’re considering public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, be sure to consult an expert to make sure your ideas will work for your organization.

2. Is the user interface easy and effective?

The user interface of the solution you choose should be easy to learn and efficient for task completion for users in a wide variety of roles. Poor user adoption is one of the leading causes of ERP failure.

3. Can you add third-party applications?

No matter how powerful and flexible an ERP solution you choose, it’s possible your specific business may need some functionality not provided within the solution itself. Does the solution you’re choosing support a wide variety of third-party applications and tools?

5. Will it work for your industry?

Every industry has different needs, and software that works really well for mid-size nonprofits may not be the best fit for a large-scale distribution business. Be sure the software you’re choosing has been successful for organizations similar to yours.

6. Are there any “surprises” with pricing?

How is the pricing structured? Will you pay monthly per user? Are there different user types at different price points? Will you need to pay extra for additional applications or maintenance? Are upgrades included? Perform a cost analysis to make sure your solution offers the best possible ROI.

7. What level of mobility will you have? 

A cloud ERP solution should offer secure 24/7/365 mobile access, with powerful and intuitive user interfaces. Although most cloud solutions offer some form of mobile access, the ease of use and extent of mobile functionality can vary considerably.

8. How secure is the provider’s cloud? 

Robust security is absolutely critical to the success of your business and something that can vary widely between cloud providers. Make sure your cloud hosting provider provides state-of-the-art security for your data. Additionally, the solution you choose should offer user-based security controls, create an obvious audit trail, and allow alerts to be set for suspicious user activities.

9. Is the ERP publisher committed to ongoing innovation?

Does the cloud ERP solution include regular updates? Is the software provider investing significant money and resources into ongoing development of new features? You want your new cloud solution to keep up with the latest technology innovations so your business can stay ahead of the curve for years to come.

9. Can you test it before you buy it?

Before purchasing any ERP solution, your implementation partner should provide your business with significant opportunities to view, test drive, and explore the solutions you’re considering. Whether it is a free trial or, if unavailable, personal demonstrations—be sure to see the solution in action before you make a decision.

Would you like to talk to an expert?

Here at OTT, Inc., we believe in helping businesses achieve measurable outcomes from their technology solutions. Our proven 5-step methodology, the Trusted Partner Path, starts with helping you ask the right questions in order to find the best-fitting solution for your business. Contact us today to discuss your business challenges and explore your goals for the future.

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