Corporate ERP Selection: Microsoft Great Plains

In our opinion, traditional approach when you select ERP/MRP system for large or mid-size company by functionality, database and hardware platform should be revised. We are convinced that new generation of Windows servers plus the reliability of relatively inexpensive database platform, such as Microsoft SQL Server, enable large corporation to decrease the cost of hardware, database and ERM software, plus have good internal support by hiring Microsoft certified professionals, available on the market in your area. In this small article we'll give you short review of what you should expect from Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, its implementation, customization, reporting, integration as well as web publishing and eCommerce or web ordering system for your existing customers.

? Hardware. PC Hardware and Windows server were considered as a solution for small and mid-size business, this opinion was wide spread in 1990th, when you needed to have scheduled rebooting of Windows server to deal with known issues, such as memory leaks, etc. Nowadays ? Windows 2003 could be counted on.

? Database. Microsoft SQL Server 6.5, if you remember old good days required a lot of maintenance and support. When Microsoft introduced MS SQL Server 7.0 and later on 2000 ? the problem of maintenance in our opinion was resolved and the database maintenance is now considered as part of data workflow side: application logic data fixes SQL queries, data feeding into SQL Server tables, data archiving and restoring.

? ERP System. In our opinion you should consider ERP as a platform for light or heavy customization to address your company unique business processes. The second approach would be purchasing the application, which would be very rich in its functionality: Oracle Financials, PeopleSoft, SAP. In this second case you "overpay" for the functionality you do not use and also pay for extended implementation and user training.

? Customization. You should consider balancing internal developers and external consultants. Internal development should be done by SQL programmers, web exposure ? by VB.Net or C#.Net developers ? you might need eConnect. Internal developers could also do light customization of Great Plains logic via Modifier with VBA. Consultants should help you with Great Plains business logic change, which requires Great Plains Dexterity programming and specification writing skills.

? Integration. In the past we saw a lot of Great Plains Integration Manager usage, today the trend is to deploy SQL scripts and stored procedures, including eConnect and its extensions (such as automatic transaction posting)

? User Training. In the case of large publicly traded company, you should probably dedicate internal Great Plains support person, who will be trained by consultant and then will provide training for end users. In this case you will avoid having consultant train the same common interface feature multiple time to different groups of users.

We encourage you to analyze your alternatives. You can always appeal to our help, give us a call: 1-866-528-0577 or 1-630-961-5918, [email protected]

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ), serving Microsoft Great Plains, CRM, Navision to mid-size and large clients in California, Illinois, New York, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan

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