Dynamics SL - A strong product for Now and the Future
Updated September 30, 2015
Dynamics SL - A strong product for Now and the Future
Score 9 out of 10
- G/L, A/R, A/P, P/R, Purchasing, Inventory, Order Management, Service, Multi-Company
- Currency Manager, Customization Manager,
Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft Dynamics SL
Mackay Communications, Inc deals in all phases of Marine Navigation and Communication systems as well as emergency satellite communication equipment and services. We use all the modules of Dynamics SL except the Project related modules. We use the product to track field service, sales, inventory, and purchasing for a world wide 24 hour a day business located in 7 countries. Using the multi-company features, we are able to use a single repository for Inventory, vendors, customers, sales and service activities.
- Field service modules (dispatch, contracts and equipment tracking) work very well for us. Each service location has control of their operations, but their service information is visible across the company.
- Multi-company operations are a great benefit. We have 7 individual corporations operating in a single database. there is a single repository for shared information, allowing us to appear as a single seamless operation to our customers, while maintaining separate operational reports and separate and consolidated financial reporting.
- TCO is very competitive. We have invested less than 150 K in the Product and user licenses. Our annual fees for support are under 30 K.
- Dynamics SL has a strong independent Users Group. This resource is very valuable as I know people across the world that are a good forum for seeking answers.
- Customization Manager and the Visual Tools software development kit allows us to easily customize and extend the functionality to meet changing business requirements. We have created solutions for Inter-Company inventory transfers, multi-currency financial reporting and many small changes to enhance productivity
- The field service module is not multi-currency compliant. I would like to have this feature added to the product in the near future. We have customized the modules to print in multiple currencies, but the underlying data is stored in a single base currency.
- Payroll reporting is weak. Workers compensation reporting needs a lot of work. We have outsourced the fulfillment of depository and tax reporting (W-2, tax deposits, reporting and filing.
- Financial reports (FRx and Management Reporter) are slow and cumbersome. We have built our own financial reports and reporting trees that are much faster and more flexible.
- Through tracking productivity gains, in 2012 improvements to the system (customization and business rule enforcement) saved over 1200 hours of employee time. These changes contributed the same effect to the bottom line as increasing sales by 2,000,000 dollars. We had a similar result in 2013.
- Since we can produce changes to the system and new functionality, we are more responsive to the changing needs of an expanding global business. We have been able to fulfill the invoicing and reporting needs of each country in which we do business.
I have evaluated many competitive products in the past. Dynamics Nav, Mass90, Dynamics GP, Platinum and others. This product is ahead in TCO and flexibility. Since the customization uses standard Microsoft tools (VBA, Visual Studio, and MS SQLServer, Object Model) it is much better go companies that want to be highly responsive to changing business conditions. The SDK (software development kit) is not an add-on toolkit, it is the exact same tools used to create the original product. It makes it very easy to integrate changes that have the same look and feel across all operations.
It's extremely useful in a multi-company environment. Service Dispatch, Contracts and Equipment are very useful to our company. The project reporting modules are very powerful. We do not currently use them, but we have plans to add them in the future. If you are in the Service, Construction and Professional Services fields, then this product deserves consideration.
Using Microsoft Dynamics SL
150 - Field Service Dispatch, Service Billing, Service Contracts, Product and service quotes,Product and Equipment Sales, Inventory, Purchasing, Billing, Collections, all phases of accounting (A/P, A/R, P/R, G/L, Financial reporting). This product provides all our needs except for a specialized product we use to bill for Satellite Phone service plans and usage billing.
2 - Support and enhancement is a 2 person operation. We have 3 on staff to support the IT infrastructure. Dynamics SL support requires a support and testing person and a developer level person to design and produce enhancements to the product. The support testing person is tasked with; responding to user requests for assistance, user account maintenance, testing enhancements, Crystal Reports, SQLServer Reporting Servicesand other operational duties as assigned. The developer skill set is; design skills, database skills (prototyping and T-Sql programming), and programming skills (VBA, Visual Studio - Visual Basic.net, Crystal Reports and Sql Reporting Services). Both positions require excellent listening and communication skills.
- Customization and modification of the 'out of the box' programs. Using VBA and Customization Manager, there are few things that can not be modified and enhanced to adapt the software to the company.
- Software Development Kit: Although the users do now directly use this product, they see the enhancements that are provided by creating new screens and functionality. We have added over 50 new screens to the product.
- Shared resources (Customers, Vendors, Employees, Inventory Items, Dispatch, Reporting, ...) allows us to expand the number of company without 'Data Synchronization' headaches caused by products that do not let multiple companies reside in a common database.
- We were able to customize the system to create a streamlined way to transfer and track inventory between companies,
- Implemented an extended notes feature that allow for multiple comments and notes that can be attached to any screen.
- Created out own Financial Reporting that is fast and responsive.
Microsoft Dynamics SL Reliability
Since the backbone of the database is MS SQLServer, the database can be easily scaled.
We have had only one unplanned outage for 2 hours in the last 30 months. We shut down for 30 min to 1 hour once a month, but that is for Microsoft OS updates to the servers. Being a 24/7 world wide operation, the reliability is really important. We do get an 8 hour window on the weekend that we can be down for a short period to install Microsoft Dynamics SL updates, but we do not have many of those. On our last version upgrade, we shut the users out at 9:30 am and were fully operational in less than 6 hours. The upgrade was New SQL server, New SL server and 2 new Citrix servers.