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IT Strategy for Midsize Business: Microsoft vs. Java, Great Plains & CRM

Midsize business or non-profit organization should decide if one-vendor solution would be appropriate and the associated risk acceptable. In our opinion, balancing the risk of one-vendor-approach is not economically feasible and should be avoided. This means that you need to decide if you plan to be Microsoft-oriented or Java/Unix/Linux/Oracle oriented. In the case of Java direction ? you again have to further consider your options and if possible do not deploy too many systems from different vendors. Even if you host your systems with somebody else ? we think that in the future you might have a risk of complex data conversion from one system to another. In this small article we'll show you typical way if you follow Microsoft direction: Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains and Microsoft CRM

? Sales Automation. It was actual at all the times, however now it is becoming critical to have decent Client Relation Management (CRM) system implemented. You order takers or sales people should be working exclusively in CRM, where you should have sales workflow, approvals, pipeline of pending deals, reporting with future cash flow prediction. Use Microsoft CRM Sales module.

? Servicing. If you would like to avoid tame wasting when your service and sales people are talking to each other and have long meetings to fulfill customer order, you have to organize them around CRM Service module: Contract, Case, Activity, workflow and assignments to service technicians, plus email to/from your customers should be captured in MS CRM

? ERP. Currently, Microsoft Business Solutions has MS CRM integrated with Microsoft Great Plains. Great Plains is good ERP solution for majority midsize business and fits to variety of business niches. Great Plains is integrated with MS CRM on the level of Sales Order Processing module (SOP).

? Customization. Usually each midsize business has unique procedures which should be mapped into their CRM and ERP. So, be ready to have minor or major customization implemented. In the case of MS CRM ? majority of the customizations are done in C# or VB.Net ? so called Microsoft CRM SDK programming and development. It is open technology ? you can download MS CRM SDK and have anyone with C#/VB.Net skills do the job. In the case of Microsoft Great Plains he technology is not that open and you might need somebody with Great Plains Dexterity, VBA/Modifier, Integration Manager, eConnect, SQL coding ? this combination of skills is usually available from one of the Microsoft Business Solutions Customization Partners

? Integration. If you have something else, besides Microsoft CRM and Great Plains, then you might need the integration. Assuming that your major systems are on the Microsoft platform ? integrations should be done via heterogeneous queries from the side of Microsoft SQL server ? through linked servers

? Reporting. In our opinion ? the best tool for non-financial reports (financial ? use FRx) is Crystal Reports. Base your Crystal report on heterogeneous view or stored procedure to pull the data from multiple systems. You can deploy Crystal reports in your web application, if needed

Good luck with implementation, customization and integration and if you have issues or concerns ? we are here to help! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 866-528-0577 or 630-961-5918!

Andrew is Great Plains specialist in Alba Spectrum Technologies ( ) ? Microsoft Great Plains, Navision, Microsoft CRM Partner, serving clients in California, Minnesota, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Canada, UK, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Russia

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