“Best of Breed” – Why Include Third Party (ISV) Products with Microsoft Dynamics GP?

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“If my ERP system combines a third party product with Microsoft Dynamics GP, isn’t that an inferior solution to the industry-specific, 'all-in-one' solution I found at my industry trade show?” I have often heard this from prospects over my 20 years as a Microsoft Partner, and I would argue that the answer to that is a  resounding “No!” I’ll tell you why I feel that way, and I will also include some caveats that you need to consider when looking at a “best of breed” system.

Why Best of Breed?

When your company is looking for an industry-specific solution, you are looking for the key piece to run your business.   Some areas that we work with extensively include the construction and service industries, for which, very often, we will recommend Key2Act Job Cost and Service with Microsoft Dynamics GP.   Key2Act is a company that focuses specifically on their products which include Job Cost, Service and Equipment maintenance.    Because they have written their products to integrate seamlessly into the Microsoft Dynamics GP financial applications, they can concentrate on the industry-specific features needed in their application, and they don’t have to spend research and development dollars on the core financial system.   Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to add features and modules to the GP system that could never be matched by an industry-specific solution.

What we have found, when looking at the industry-specific “all in one” solution is that the concentration is on the industry-specific features, with the financial backbone being very weak.  In addition, a smaller company trying to do it all cannot keep up with the constant changes in technologies and features that are required.    By having Microsoft Dynamics GP as the backbone of the ERP system, the prospect will have a system which will continually be updated to take advantage of the latest technologies, and the third party, ISV Solution, will continue to focus on the specific needs of its industry.

What are the Caveats?

While I am an advocate of combining Microsoft Dynamics GP with third-party applications, there are areas that you need to be aware of.

1. Is the product truly compatible with Microsoft Dynamics GP?  There are many companies that say they integrate with GP, but when you really question them, you will find out that while they might be written in a SQL database that can allow for connectivity, they have never integrated to GP.   We have had customers purchase these products on their own, and they ended up requiring many more hours of consulting to create that integration.   You need to ask to see the integration in action.   Better yet,  look for the “Certified for Microsoft Dynamics” logo on the product.   That tells you that the products passed testing by Microsoft, meeting their criteria for integration to the Dynamics products.

2. Ask whether your Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner is certified and trained on the third party ISV solution they are including in the proposal.    While most ISV partners provide support for their product, you want to know that you can call one number for training and support. That first line of support should come from your partner who knows and understands your entire solution – not just one piece of it.

3. How long has the ISV vendor been in business, how many customers do they have and can you talk to references?   These are standard questions, but they are essential.   As a Microsoft Partner, we ask the same questions of an ISV vendor before we choose to work with them.

By incorporating a fully integrated, industry-specific application with Microsoft Dynamics GP, you will be able to achieve the best of all worlds with a fully integrated ERP System.

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