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3 Microsoft Shop Myths Dispelled?
3 Microsoft Shop Myths Dispelled?
November 5 2008
Here’s the context: You’re selecting an ERP system. Your office is standardized on Windows and MS Office Suite. Should you select MS Dynamics and become a full-fledged “MS shop”?
We’ll look at three reasons you should lean toward MS Dynamics—and then look at why those reasons might be less compelling than you think.
Myth #1: User Adoption Is Easy
User familiarity leads to an easier transition period.
Due to the learning curve effect, it is common to see that after the implementation of a management system, productivity actually goes down before the advantages of the new system take place. What drives the temporary downturn? It could be either the reengineered business processes or the new interface that requires time for user to get familiar with. So, familiarity makes a strong argument for adopting MS Dynamics.
Certainly, Microsoft has the advantage of being able to extend well-formed user habits (e.g., sending an e-mail with Outlook, writing a report with Word, or building a spreadsheet with Excel) to its business software. And it’s true that nowadays, a (large) number of ERP developers are also building their solutions based on the Microsoft architecture and interface. When Microsoft claims that Dynamics has better integration with its other products, it’s hard to argue, since they are under the same roof anyway and integration doesn’t have to wait until the products are released.
The key to user adoption is a well-structured software selection process.
Yes, lack of user adoption has killed more software selection projects than you can shake a stick at. However, user buy-in is really an integral part of any best-practice software selection project.
Getting user buy-in is crucial at the requirements-gathering stage, as well as during the rest of the selection process. The best way to get buy-in from a group is to offer them a voice—and proof that you’re listening.
Myth #2: Brand Power Rules
Everybody’s heard of Microsoft
. Brand power may be a significant influence for decision makers during software selection. Here’s a true story: after one company’s well-rounded selection process, the selected vendor was proposed to the board for final approval—but was rejected due to the board members’ unfamiliarity with the brand name. Brand has become such a big influence on consumer behavior that even software selection (which is supposed to be a managerial issue and should be as scientific as possible) can’t keep itself away from it.
Choosing big brands also makes sense when considering the high failure rate of IT projects. If you buy a Volkswagen for your son and it breaks down on the road side, you can’t really blame the selection of car. But if the same thing happens to a Chery (a Chinese car brand looking at the North American market right now), people will be likely to think that you haven’t done a good job on selection. Going with big brands makes decision makers feel better if there is an unfortunate result—if even the most famous brand doesn’t work, what else could I have chosen?
Microsoft does ERP software?
Compared with other big ERP players, Microsoft is still quite small. According to AMR Research, Microsoft is ranked fifth, with about 3 percent of the application revenue of the total ERP market. Taking price and project scale into consideration, the adoption rate of Microsoft Dynamics should be higher, but the brand is still weak in the ERP market. Microsoft has a good tradition of taking good ideas and making them ten times more successful than the idea originators could. Will this happen again for Microsoft in the business software sector? It’s hard to say.
Microsoft entered the ERP industry relatively recently. You could argue that if we trace the history of Dynamics back to those developers that Microsoft acquired (namely, Great Plains, Navision A/S, and Solomon), its history is not short at all. However, when Microsoft announced the purchase of Great Plains Software for $1.1 billion, SAP was already a $30-billion company.
Myth #3: You've Got Technical Support—Forever
As far as anyone can tell, MS will be around until the end of time.
How far you can go depends on with whom you walk. When you build an ERP system, you expect it to last, so you need a vendor that keeps supporting your system whenever you need to add more functionality, whenever you need it to talk to other systems, or whenever you simply want to accommodate more users. Release and business discontinuity have cost enterprise users a lot, and CIOs now want stable support rather than thrilling technologies. Looking at Microsoft’s dominance in Windows and Office Suite, it is impossible to imagine the day when you’d wake up to discover that the behemoth no longer exists.
Having one vendor for your entire ERP system is also beneficial when you have a problem with your system, but have no idea from where it comes. In this case, you don’t need to call various vendors to finally narrow the problem causes to a certain aspect. This aspect could be one of the OS server, the database, or the applications. What you need to do is to phone Microsoft and let them repair it because no matter what problem you have, it is Microsoft’s problem.
MS tech support is not necessarily as straightforward as it seems…
Microsoft’s business software is basically acquired from different vendors. Although tremendous efforts have been placed on fine-tuning the interface and harmonizing the integration, the divisional boundaries within the company might be a little slack if coordination and collaboration are not efficient and effective enough.
If you are a Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System user, for example, you might experience compatibility problems for a period of time if you tried to install either Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) or Windows Vista SP1. “We advise Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers to not install either service pack. Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers running Windows XP SP3 or Windows Vista SP1 should contact Microsoft Customer Support Services for additional information,”
said Microsoft in its TechNet Forums.
The truth is, these three factors may or may not tip you toward selecting Microsoft Dynamics. However, it’s vital to recognize that even in the aggregate, that all three normally play a relatively small role in the overall software evaluation and selection process.
What do you think?
If you were standardized on Windows and MS Office Suite, would you lean toward selecting Microsoft Dynamics?
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