Who should Microsoft customers switch to the Dynamics 365 version?

    Dynamics 365 is a new integrated product from Microsoft that combines Microsoft ERP solutions (AX and Nav) and Dynamics CRM. And this is a product that caused quite a heated discussion and disputes even before its release, and most marketing materials spoke about technological advantages that are not so easy to translate into the language of business.

    Let's try to make a small review for those industrial enterprises that are thinking whether they can change their current system (this could be Axapta 3.0 or Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, 2009 or 2012 - our experience says that the entire product line is represented on the Russian market) on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition.

    The review concerns industrial enterprises and therefore is rather subjective. In order to make it more substantive, let us analyze the main advantages of the new system, which are voiced in marketing materials, and assess whether our enterprises need them.

    1. You get not only ERP-system, but also CRM. Although these are products of the same company, earlier with the integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it was necessary to be “confused”, and in Dynamics 365 these products are really integrated and open from a single interface.

    The advantage is relevant for new customers who need the functionality of both ERP and CRM, but for existing customers, plus doubtful ones. If the company really needed more in the CRM system, then most likely it implemented it and even integrated it with AX. And the vendor of both systems could be different, and not just Microsoft - in this part of Dynamics 365 is not so flexible and does not give a choice.

    2. Deploying in the cloud — Microsoft is true to its slogan “Mobile first, cloud first” and in this product.

    From the experience of working with Russian customers, we can say that the majority seeks, on the contrary, to control everything and keep their data on servers, which they can physically reach very quickly. Phrase: “The cloud is cool, no need to equip the server, think about the obsolescence of equipment, keep admins,” - you can rather hear from the IT-director than from the general. And the location of servers outside of Russia creates known difficulties.

    3. Mobile workplace - now users in any part of the world can get convenient access to the system through applications on a smartphone or tablet (not only through Windows, but also iOS, Android).

    This is a definite plus - both for employees, who are constantly traveling, and for employees of the warehouse, who are easier to complete, looking at their phone. But, firstly, if you want to install the same AX 2012, for example, on a tablet or phone, you can, and secondly, all tasks requiring mobile access were solved by other bypass maneuvers.

    Mobile access has another definite plus - it is useful for decision makers and evaluating project results. If you tell the general that he can rest on Maldives, check on the phone how much goods have been shipped, whether the production plan is being fulfilled, what percentage of defects are in the last week, if there is no budget overrun, etc., this will be an emotional argument to this system. Although the same tasks are solved by other cheaper methods (for example, you can give a command to your assistant to send reports on the state of affairs from the AH to the post every day), but the feeling of control is more complete and pleasant.

    4. “Start with the most important, and then develop” - the system is flexible, you can connect only the functions you need and pay only for them.

    This is a very cool feature for new customers, but not for old customers. The redundancy of Microsoft Dynamics AX, of course, scares users, especially when they first met, but this is solved by simply setting access rights for specific roles. Perhaps there will be a tangible advantage in the cost of licenses, but if you have already implemented AX, then the cost of licenses is not a problem for you, and you will hardly want to cut down any opportunities to reduce the monthly payment.

    5. Transition from feature sets to workspaces made for specific tasks.

    It was necessary to read that earlier versions of the system were a set of functions with process elements, and the uniqueness of Dynamics 365 is that it is the processes that are based on - employees use work areas designed specifically for their processes, this is convenient and correct.

    But the argument is rather controversial - after all, the implementation of an ERP system can be considered successful if processes are built, and integrators take a lot of money not for giving a list of instructions for individual functions. Regardless of the interface, it is possible to ensure that all employees clearly know and fulfill their roles in particular processes. And even workflow (which, by the way, is in AX 2012) is only one of the tools in work.

    In Dynamics 365, besides workflow, there is another great functionality - task flow. Now you can set and track the execution of tasks by specific users. And the ERP-system gives its recommendations and tips to users: upcoming meetings, transactions without action, mentioning competitors, etc. At the sight of this magnificence, the soul rejoices and wants to quickly sit down for such a workplace, but you understand that most of these features are available in cheaper specialized programs and you should not switch to a new version of the product for their sake. But with the sale of Dynamics 365, we can confidently say that no third-party document flow is needed anymore.
    6. Cortana Intelligence Suite - built-in machine learning technology.

    Another function that involuntarily becomes familiar with is how you surf the space on a ship controlled by Dynamics 365. Demand prediction, relationship analysis, resource optimization, product recommendation and even sentiment analysis in statements is the area of ​​application of embedded intelligence in the new system very wide. This is one of the features for which, together with several others, you can go to Dynamics 365.

    But before that you need to mature. Unfortunately, for many industrial enterprises, the tasks of the series “how to make supplies supply what is indicated in the documents, rather than what is more convenient for them,” rather than “identify patterns in equipment breakdowns in order to carry out its maintenance, are more relevant” ".

    You can list many more advantages of Dynamics 365: convenient web-interface, Common Data Model, integration with Office 365, PowerApps, major improvements in functionality in terms of sales and marketing, project management. But I think the basic idea will be the same: it’s not worth going over to everyone in large quantities on Dynamics 365.

    And who should think about it:

    1. If, when reading the description of a new product, you understand that you really need most of the described functions (not one or two, but at least a dozen); If you realize that the qualifications of your employees are enough to work with these new features, then you will have a direct route to the Dynamics 365 fanclub.
    2. If it's 2018 now, and you have AX 3.0, problems with 64-bit operating systems and constant thoughts that it’s time to take a step into the future, then you only need to consider Dynamics 365.

    The rest, probably, should wait a bit. Microsoft has its own vision of the future and enough resources to drag us all into this future. But it’s never too late to switch to Dynamics 365, and the end of AX 2012 R3 support is also the year 2023. It is better to look at the results of other implementations, to decide when the information will be more.

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