Here’s the context: You’re selecting an ERP system. Your office is standardized on Windows and MS Office Suite. Should you select MS Dynamics and become a full-fledged “MS shop”?
We’ll look at three reasons you should lean toward MS Dynamics—and then look at why those reasons might be less compelling than you think.
Myth #1: User Adoption Is Easy
User familiarity leads to an easier transition period. Due to the learning curve effect, it is common to see that after the implementation of a management system, productivity actually goes down before the advantages of the new system take place. What drives the temporary downturn? It could be either the reengineered business processes or the new interface that requires time for user to get familiar with. So, familiarity makes a strong argument for adopting MS Dynamics.
Certainly, Microsoft has the advantage of being able to extend well-formed user habits (e.g., sending an e-mail with Outlook, writing a report with Word, or building a spreadsheet with Excel) to its business software. And it’s true that nowadays, a (large) number of ERP developers are also building their solutions based on the Microsoft architecture and interface. When Microsoft claims that Dynamics has better integration with its other products, it’s hard to argue, since they are under the same roof anyway and integration doesn’t have to wait until the products are released.
The key to user adoption is a well-structured software selection process. Yes, lack of user adoption has killed more software selection projects than you can shake a stick at. However, user buy-in is really an integral part of any best-practice software selection project.
Getting user buy-in is crucial at the requirements-gathering stage, as well as during the rest of the selection process. The best way to get buy-in from a group is to offer them a voice—and proof that you’re listening.
Myth #2: Brand Power Rules
Everybody’s heard of Microsoft. Brand power may be a significant influence for decision makers during software selection. Here’s a true story: after one company’s well-rounded selection process, the selected vendor was proposed to the board for final approval—but was rejected due to the board members’ unfamiliarity with the brand name. Brand has become such a big influence on consumer behavior that even software selection (which is supposed to be a managerial issue and should be as scientific as possible) can’t keep itself away from it.
Choosing big brands also makes sense when considering the high failure rate of IT projects. If you buy a Volkswagen for your son and it breaks down on the road side, you can’t really blame the selection of car. But if the same thing happens to a Chery (a Chinese car brand looking at the North American market right now), people will be likely to think that you haven’t done a good job on selection. Going with big brands makes decision makers feel better if there is an unfortunate result—if even the most famous brand doesn’t work, what else could I have chosen?
Microsoft does ERP software? Compared with other big ERP players, Microsoft is still quite small. According to AMR Research, Microsoft is ranked fifth, with about 3 percent of the application revenue of the total ERP market. Taking price and project scale into consideration, the adoption rate of Microsoft Dynamics should be higher, but the brand is still weak in the ERP market. Microsoft has a good tradition of taking good ideas and making them ten times more successful than the idea originators could. Will this happen again for Microsoft in the business software sector? It’s hard to say.
Microsoft entered the ERP industry relatively recently. You could argue that if we trace the history of Dynamics back to those developers that Microsoft acquired (namely, Great Plains, Navision A/S, and Solomon), its history is not short at all. However, when Microsoft announced the purchase of Great Plains Software for $1.1 billion, SAP was already a $30-billion company.
Myth #3: You’ve Got Technical Support—Forever
As far as anyone can tell, MS will be around until the end of time. How far you can go depends on with whom you walk. When you build an ERP system, you expect it to last, so you need a vendor that keeps supporting your system whenever you need to add more functionality, whenever you need it to talk to other systems, or whenever you simply want to accommodate more users. Release and business discontinuity have cost enterprise users a lot, and CIOs now want stable support rather than thrilling technologies. Looking at Microsoft’s dominance in Windows and Office Suite, it is impossible to imagine the day when you’d wake up to discover that the behemoth no longer exists.
Having one vendor for your entire ERP system is also beneficial when you have a problem with your system, but have no idea from where it comes. In this case, you don’t need to call various vendors to finally narrow the problem causes to a certain aspect. This aspect could be one of the OS server, the database, or the applications. What you need to do is to phone Microsoft and let them repair it because no matter what problem you have, it is Microsoft’s problem.
MS tech support is not necessarily as straightforward as it seems… Microsoft’s business software is basically acquired from different vendors. Although tremendous efforts have been placed on fine-tuning the interface and harmonizing the integration, the divisional boundaries within the company might be a little slack if coordination and collaboration are not efficient and effective enough.
If you are a Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System user, for example, you might experience compatibility problems for a period of time if you tried to install either Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) or Windows Vista SP1. “We advise Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers to not install either service pack. Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers running Windows XP SP3 or Windows Vista SP1 should contact Microsoft Customer Support Services for additional information,” said Microsoft in its TechNet Forums.
The truth is, these three factors may or may not tip you toward selecting Microsoft Dynamics. However, it’s vital to recognize that even in the aggregate, that all three normally play a relatively small role in the overall software evaluation and selection process.
What do you think? If you were standardized on Windows and MS Office Suite, would you lean toward selecting Microsoft Dynamics?
Great article. This is very useful information that will help our company when talking to prospects.
As someone who has used and installed SAP,Oracle and JDEdwards, and is currently rolling out MS Dynamincs AX2009 - It’s a breathe of fresh air!! is a great product for a mid-size org (perhaps up to 500users) - The great integration to SSRS and MS Dev tools (.net bus connector) should not be underestimated, as the ease of working in these environments is 100% better then the ERPs mentioned - also the UI is 100% better to use in AX - it’s smart UI is so easy to use compaired with the Web/Java ruddish (performance, UI look) or the other ERPs… It’s a no brainer - if you are a mid level business, look at AX2009 first…
Tony Drake is just restricting himself to just a couple of qualities that are required in an ERP solution. May be it is OK for 500 users. But if you are going for 500 users why don’t you use Google products.. They are extremely reliable, scalable and comes at negligible costs…
Good Article This is very usefull information about selection of any ERP .its gives great Clarity about the product in ERP sector.
The people that wrote this are paid by Microsoft. The majority of Microsoft products are a waste of time. They obviously do not get real professionals to write their software or do not pay them enough to do a good job.
I am not fooled by what has been said. First they give you the impression that they are going to say something adverse to MS ( More Shit ) then the go on to advertise for them. Give me Linux, Corel etc any day.
To Zumbi of Palmares: First of all, please watch your foul language (curse words like S..T), since our moderator will eliminate your comment! This is a professional site, not a sports fan discussion board!
Second, you are entitled to your strong opinions (such as that majority of Microsoft products are waste of time), but without any solid proof that Microsoft would pay for a blogger’s alleged favoritism (too many in the world even for a rich Microsoft to bribe), again watch who and what you are accusing of.
Finally, I am not sure that you and I have read the same blog post. Or, you might have only read the positive (True) parts and, for whatever reason, skipped the negative (False) parts of the post to think how this article is overly flattering to Microsoft?
I work in a large semiconductor company and am often involved in the selection of EDA software for circuit design. What I have found is that Brand makes a huge difference to the managerial decision making process. To the engineers involved in the evaluation (scientific side of things) often times their best engineering selection is often trumped by a managerial selection, often times resulting in huge quality control problems.
Support is always based on perception. Metrics are never taken on the success rate of software services, be it MicroSoft, Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor, etc. However you probably cannot find any metrics by their customers. Its as if the one guy (typically the decision making manager) had one bad experience and it formulates their entire long term support outlook on the software provider.
User adoption is typically an after thought. However its huge. I’ve seen multi million dollar software products never used because of adoption and roll out failures. In post evaluation of these tools to the company needs you see a clear fit. Often times the major failure, especially on enterprise solutions is that there is little or no executive support being rolled down into the masses, and the masses were never clued into the product. In the nazzi approach I’ve seen it cause huge and very costly quality problems, resulting in loss of productivity and high rework costs.
Its not just a MicroSoft issue. I work in a company that spends approximately $40M USD in software per year. I see these same issues across the board. Its probably not all that easy to see in a small company though.
Very interesting and well summarized points on Software Selection, ERP and Microsoft. I agree that on the ERP side of the business, there is still a “Brand Recognition” issue with Microsoft Dynamics. My opinion is that in the past Microsoft has allowed the Dynamics Group to “do their own thing” but I believe that this is changing with more direct involvement from Redmond,WA. in presenting a more unified approach but still maintaining the integrity of the individual Dynamics products AX, GP, SL, NAV.
Great article with very useful information.
This blog was about selecting or not selecting MS as an ERP solution.
Zumbi of Palmares shows his techno arrogance by blaring out “O/S Linux”. The everyday user does not care about operating systems. He also shows he has limited knowledge of true ERP software by shouting out a vendor who does not provide an ERP System.
MS Dynamics offers excellent products at affordable prices for small to mid-tiered companies that do not stop daily operations during the cutover as SAP and Oracle have been known to do. And yes, with all of SAP and Oracle’s known issues these interruptions still go in with new implementations.
That said, any company implementing MS Dynamics should consider hiring a developer familiar with the product’s development language to assist with custom modification and keep the project’s costs within shouting distance of the original budget.
What a complete load of drivel and useless information!
Kurt Chen works for TEC right? TEC claims an unbiased approach to evaluating ERP right? How can TEC allow him to write this obviously pro-Microsoft article? He is even spins the “false” designations to Microsoft’s advantage.
TEC’s credibility is damaged by allowing your employees to be shills for Microsoft. You can’t be unbiased and a cheerleader at the same time TEC.
Very disappointing and useless article. Shame on you.
I agree that I touched a topic that can hardly reach a consensus. The voting results show clearly what the situation is. However, I doubt that you have read through my entire writing carefully. One thing I can assure you is that I was not biased at all while writing this blog.
Sorry, but I can’t agree with your comment.
Dorinda, TEC absolutely operates without bias in all of our evaluation and selection services and products. Perhaps you’re not aware of how our methodology works? You can get an overview from this <a href=”http://www.technologyevaluation.com/selection-services/Methodology/” rel=”nofollow”>page about our selection methodology</a>. If that page doesn’t help you, I’d be happy to talk to you about it on the phone, you can reach me at (514) 954-3665 ext. 247
We’ve gone to great lengths to develop the type of systems and processes, which will not introduce an unfair partiality toward any vendor. There’s a good reason we do not consult for any specific vendor.
Frankly, although I think Kurt’s post was pretty balanced, even if he’d come out and said “I think Microsoft is the only ERP vendor anyone should use” it still wouldn’t be able to affect our unbiased selection methodology.
I know TEC well and am fully aware of your selection methodology TEC employs. Until now, I have had no problems - have even recommended them as a way to get projects off the ground.
Kurt, you have an obvious bias and gave a false impression of your blog’s intention. You even spin the “False” designations to MS benefit. Your opinions are not based on business fact; more on emotion - “…big brands make decision makers feel better”.
“Looking at Microsoft’s dominance in Windows and Office Suite, it is impossible to imagine the day when you’d wake up to discover that the behemoth no longer exists…”
Comparatively, MS is a small player in the ERP space. It is the only area of your blog that I agree with. They have multiple overlapping products and the discontinuation of one of these products is a real possibility.
Their revenues are generated via Operating Systems, Xboxes and the mouse I currently have on my desk. There is no way MS can argue that ERP is their core competency. It never was nor ever will be. They entered the ERP space recently and could just as easily exit and never look back.
I agree that MS will likely never go away. However, if I am an IT Manager spending significant financial and career capital for a new ERP, I’d better hope that MS does not choose to discontinue the product that I recommended to executive management.
“…one vendor for your entire ERP system is also beneficial when you have a problem with your system…”
There is not a chance that the same techs that support ERP are the same folks who support Word? A user may well have to endure the “not-my-job” finger pointing from them. Ever have to call Microsoft support. Fun. Lots of fun.
And Josh, Kurt pretty much did say” I think Microsoft is the only ERP vendor anyone should use”. Its his opinion and he represents TEC. Its a hit on TEC’s credibility no matter how you spin it.
“..voting results show clearly what the situation is…”
Do you think the result of the poll had anything to do with the fact the respondents had just finished reading the pom-pom waving cheer you did for Microsoft?
As it were, the results were split evenly. Heck, I’m surprised that you didnt get 90%!
Which parts of “myths dispelled” don’t you really understand (or understand them as “pom pom for Microsoft” or whatever)?
We welcome readers’ opinions and do not have intentions of browbeating folks that do not agree. But please watch the tone of your baseless accusations.
Your opinions about Microsoft are already set in stone, so that any reasonable discussion and debate seems futile. You remind me of the folks with extreme political views or of most rabid sports fans. I’ve long learned that reasoning with such folks is really pointless, and luckily they are typically in a minority.
Good luck, and regards,
PS — As a disclosure, I am a Mac PC user; that should delight Microsoft too, I guess? :-)
An extremely thorough comparison is by evaluation-matrix.com, across 100s of variables.
OpenERP seems to be clear winner, while MS Dynamics seems to have only market position going for it.
Perhaps we should end the argument and start looking at OpenERP. Thanks, Dev
your comparison to people with extreme political views and rabid sports fans is surprisingly accurate. I would add religious fanatics to the list. In politics, sports and religion there are a majority of people that find a good balance and learn to co-exist with people that do not share their opinion or faith. But there are select groups in each that are so entrenched that any critique is taken as a personal affront and rationale is replaced with emotion. Nuances are lost, everything is black or white, and words are taken out of context. Then they accuse the person or group with the opposing point of view of exactly what they are guilty of themselves.
Dorinda and Zumbi of Palmares are blaring examples of this.
It is unfortunate that as a moderator you need to waste time and energy responding to comments such as theirs, just to ensure a balance is maintained. In the end nothing you say will change their minds, just like nothing they said will be taken seriously by anyone other than their own.