This is a bold statement, I know, but let me tell you why. I have been in the financial systems business for over 30 years, I have worked intimately with over 500 businesses to translate their business processes and goals into financial and operational systems to manage their businesses. I have implemented Peachtree, Quickbooks, Dynamics SL, Dynamics GP, Dynamics CRM, Goldmine, Deltek and Acumatica. I have also evaluated the shortcomings of the systems my company replaced and we have replaced almost every financial system you can name, from small and homegrown to Oracle and IBM mainframe systems. I know the pros and cons.
Let’s start with new generation web or cloud based financial systems. The most dangerous word in that last statement is “new”. New has the benefit of new technology and is not bound by thousands of lines of old code, so if designed and written well, it should be able to avoid design limitations that hold back older financials systems and deliver some new exciting features and a friendly user experience. In my mind, a financial system is “new” until ten years after they have a complete product line that includes financials, distribution and project management. It takes that long for applications to mature and get deep market support and experience.
The downside of “new” is what I call the “dumb blonde” rule. These new systems often look pretty, but they are not very deep. Sure, they produce financials, can write checks and create invoices while you are using it from your cell phone, but they do not handle the odd issues that all businesses have. It will be 10% of the issues that keep your people doing manual/spreadsheet work to handle the exceptions. It could be special billing rules, government contract rules, compliance, price checks, audit control, special allocations, intercompany rollups, commissions, vendor rebates, investor equity rules, credit card purchases, employee incentives, and the list goes on. All businesses have these special needs and only a financial system that has been around for 30 years has solved most of them. The new systems will say, “We can program that feature!” And they can, but the cost of programming a one off change for your business is far more expensive that having that feature standard or as an off the shelf add on that typically costs $595 to $2595. It is hard to get a programmer, or more likely a development company, excited about doing a customization for $2595. Development firms like to think in 10, 25, and 50k increments.
The other downside of “new” is frequent updates, new releases and bugs. Because they are new, they are improving, learning, fixing and changing their system. Each of those changes, which come frequently, impacts your business with new bugs, new process changes, and downtime. To put salt in the wound, their new changes may break the customization that you purchased to solve a 10% issue that I mentioned above.
Finally, another downside of “new” is experience implementing and solving your business’s special needs the first time. Since the package is new, most of the experience, tricks and tools are being created the first time, and on your nickel. The consultants can be very skilled but you cannot compare the experience of implementing a couple of “new” systems with the experience of a consultant who has implemented a hundred or more. You cannot compare the customer base of a new system with 500 or 1000 businesses to a time tested system like SL with 10’s of thousands of businesses. The pool of knowledge, resources, consultants, trained employees, tools, utilities, integrations, and add ons for Dynamics SL dwarfs a new web based financial system.
Dynamics SL has several structural advantages that other legacy systems do not share and some new technology that puts it on par with the “new” web based systems that have come onto the market in the last five years.
The first core structural advantage of Dynamics SL is that is has used Microsoft SQL as the database for decades. Microsoft SQL has grown into a powerhouse, low maintenance database system that supports the business world and is used by all the fortune 500 businesses.
Second, Dynamics SL was rewritten from the ground up for Windows in 1993 and unified with one programming language in the early 2000’s with .Net. Although SL has been around a long time, it has been rebuilt with today’s technology and does not have any legacy code to hold it back like many other financial systems do.
Third, Dynamics SL has had web based, time and expense and project management apps called Business Portal for over a decade. In just the last two years, it has replaced the old Business Portal apps with .Net and HTML apps that support all browsers, smart phones and even Macs. Microsoft has expanded the web based apps from six to over forty five, with the goal of web enabling all SL features in the next four years. SL is even available on a subscription basis of $95 per user, per month, if you would like to buy it that way.
SL is not for everyone, but if you do not consider it, you would be making a big mistake. SL is feature rich, backed by Microsoft, integrates out of the box with many Microsoft products and other industry software solutions, has a rich library of add ons, and has web access for all the common uses. Dynamics SL has a powerful database, large customer base, experienced implementation teams, web services and can be purchased on site or hosted as a cloud solution.
If you are considering upgrading or making changes to your current system, we have a discovery process that can quickly point to whether SL is a good match for your business. Make a free call to Michael Milligan 614-568-2119, I am more than happy to talk financial systems and process improvement.