You don’t need a sophisticated computer application to tell you that economic conditions are deteriorating: customers not paying on time, vendors demanding payments sooner than usual, sales targets not being met, higher freight charges due to gas prices, inventory piling up, and so on.
On top of all those issues, you purchased your Microsoft Dynamics system and paid top consulting dollars, with the hope of better management and insight into your company’s business activities, as well as to alleviate some transaction processing pains experienced prior to the implementation. Yet everything seems to be moving at about the same pace as it was before you made your investment.
The underlying problem may be that you are not taking full advantage of your Microsoft Dynamics system to help your organization thrive during these economic times. In fact, many organizations embark on the expensive and time-consuming task of implementing ERP systems without understanding the benefits of doing so. But, what to do now that you have the systems up and running? How can you leverage your investment to move your business forward? Here are three suggestions:
1. Invest smart in user training. It’s hard to tell business owners to spend more money on top of the original investment that seems not to be paying off. However, there are inexpensive ways of improving your staff’s skills without breaking the bank. Computer Based Training (CBT) has become an effective tool across many organizations. It allows employees to “attend” classes online and at their own pace, while still being able to perform their daily activities – all without leaving the office!
A survey conducted at one of my customers showed that, on average after the initial systems training, users retained 65% of the content presented, but substantially improved their knowledge when exposed to CBTs. Training must be cyclical, especially in organizations experiencing a high turnover. Make this your number one priority as it will help your organization achieve its goals faster.
2. Assess the current usage of your Microsoft Dynamics system. In a recent survey conducted among my customers, I found that, on average, 60% of the features of any given module are fully utilized, while overall, 40% of the capabilities of the entire system are truly understood by users and the business. What a waste of resources!
Microsoft Dynamics offers expanded features from configuration, to transaction processing, to reporting, to customization, to analytics that companies and users simply don’t know or don’t understand, but more so, they translate into an investment that is not being maximized. Are your reports currently not telling you enough? Why are production orders delayed? Is cash collection not fast enough? These may all be symptoms of an underutilized Microsoft Dynamics application. Engage your Microsoft Dynamics partner in assisting you with optimizing your system usage.
3. Step back and look at the big picture. It’s never too late to gather pencil and paper to calculate your Microsoft Dynamics implementation’s ROI. According to Nucleus Research, “71 percent of enterprises using Microsoft Dynamics GP realize a positive ROI within an average payback period of 21 months”. Your ROI will depend on the Microsoft Dynamics solution implemented, long-term business goals, operating efficiencies, business benefits, and other intangible factors. With the assistance of your CFO and Microsoft Dynamics partner you can quickly establish an ROI baseline.
Economic downturns present a good opportunity to make a pit-stop and evaluate your Microsoft Dynamics investment. Understanding your system’s capabilities, and working closely with the user community and your Microsoft partner, are keys in establishing the factors that will quickly allow your business to thrive during hard times.
Published on MSDynamicsWorld.com on May 16, 2008.
Mariano Gomez, MIS, MCP, PMP
Maximum Global Business, LLC