Expanded Choice Can Increase Confusion
The various announcements from Microsoft to both the broader market and their partner channel in regard to the Dynamics365 products clearly raise a lot of questions in a wide range of areas. Should existing users migrate to new products? What products should new users select? If the focus is on a specific business challenge like improving inventory execution, what benefits do new products offer? For Microsoft partners, questions arise like ,”how much or when should we invest in learning or marketing the new offerings?”
And what should ISV’s, like Horizons International, plan to do? Should our strategic plans change? How? When? Should our development focus shift? If so, to where?
Microsoft’s recent quarterly earnings disclosure added more content to the dialogue, as they appear to be recognizing clear financial benefits from their cloud-based business initiatives. This is an outcome that serves to restart the internal dialogues we are all having.
It is certainly easy to get distracted from core tasks when there is so much chatter going on. Add to the distraction the stress we all feel, knowing that while we sit around fumbling our way through discordant messages, our competitors are ready and waiting to take advantage of any distraction.
So what is a partner, a customer, a prospect or even an ISV to do?
The fundamentals of selecting a solution do not change
My recommendation is go back to basics. Technology, when it is successful, clearly serves a purpose and succinctly solves a problem. Take a page from the quality body of knowledge and take the time to fully understand the business problems that need to be solved and define measurable proof of solution effectiveness. I believe if we simplify the confusion by focusing on getting the technology right for the problems we are solving, like improving inventory execution, then it is possible to view all this content and messaging as nothing more than an overabundance of information.
We are continually reminded that too much information can be an obstacle and drag out a decision-making process. So it is important that we apply ourselves to the task of understanding the newest tools and product initiatives, making us better able to make the best decisions for ourselves and for our clients.
For many organizations, particularly small and medium manufacturers, the current technology trends should manifest as a significant benefit. The acquisition of software that supports mainstream functionality like MRP and Integrated Perpetual Inventory is made easier and more efficient by the recent trend toward lower licensing costs and the availability of I.T. infrastructure options that require fewer on-premises resources. A broader range of development tools and integration products are easier to obtain and cost less. This means existing investments can continue to be leveraged while adding new solutions for previously unknown or un-forecasted needs. The need to throw everything away and start again in order to add solution capabilities, like barcode scanning for improving inventory execution, is evaporating.
This also means that the fear of buying into a long-term solution that later proves to be inadequate and cannot grow with your business should be lessened. We see more organizations willing to take the next steps on solving their business challenges, like improving inventory execution, because they no longer need to cringe at the thought that solutions for their future needs will be handicapped by their current choices.
More choices enable more participation
Overall, these product advancements are good outcomes, not just for end users who purchase the software solutions, but also for those of us engaged in developing and selling such tools. Potentially, we are in possession of a growing arsenal of tools that can help us expand access to audiences and users that previously were either priced out of the market or who had insufficient resources in-place to be successful. This combination of a change in the cost structure along with changes in resource requirements should make access to software solutions more affordable to many more organizations.
In fact, we think this environment should be particularly beneficial for manufacturers, especially those running their financials on Dynamics who have not yet taken the step to fully integrate their manufacturing or quality control functionality. Most manufacturers are aware that improving inventory execution, whether it is by buying less, having fewer quality issues, or simply being able to consistently meet ship dates, is helpful to the bottom-line. Unfortunately, the software functionality for improvement in these areas has not been as accessible for the small or mid-size manufacturer as it has been for larger enterprises. In fact, because individuals in smaller enterprises wear many hats, the ability of software solutions to improve efficiency by making highly accurate data available in real time is going to be of greater benefit to the business.
We believe the trends toward lowered software costs and the advancements in methods for easier accessibility will prove encouraging to those manufactures who do not yet use integrated solutions to manage their inventory and quality needs. Utilizing functionality like integrated perpetual inventory directly drives improvement to the bottom-line with cost-savings in multiple areas, from better buying decisions to less labor tied up in stock counts. When the software used for these tasks is as familiar as the tools used elsewhere in the organization, then the speed of obtaining these benefits is accelerated. This benefit of a common interface is just one of several reasons why a mixed mode manufacturer already running DynamicsGP might consider Horizons Manufacturing as the best fit for enabling improving inventory execution.
The range of options now available for businesses to select from as they consider their budgets and software needs for improvement in different aspects of their operations is as broad and democratic as one could ever hope. The range of product announcements that we continue to receive does mean there will still be lots of chatter, but staying focused on business benefits like improving inventory execution should help us all avoid unnecessary distraction.
If you would like to know more about how Horizons Manufacturing can help your organization improve inventory execution, check out our video on Successful Integrated Perpetual Inventory.
Do you think having more choices available will influence your manufacturing organization to implement an integrated perpetual inventory system?