Before implementing a Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&SC Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, there’s a lot of planning your organization should do to ensure a smooth implementation. An important consideration is whether your business will need to add additional automation.

How to Identify if you Need Further Automation

Determining your Software Requirements

Before deciding whether you will need to add software aside from what’s included in the standard version of Dynamics, it is recommended to first determine your teams’ requirements or expectations from the ERP system. Pinpointing the specific features, functionality, and performance that your stakeholders expect can be a challenging process. The most efficient way to determine your key requirements is through conducting a requirement analysis. To administer a requirement analysis, we recommend following these five steps:

1. Identify your Key Stakeholders

To verify that you receive all the important input needed you must first ensure you distinguish all key decision makers and users.

2. Record Requirements

Once you have determined who the essential stakeholders are, we recommend deciding how you would like to collect the requirements. Whether you decide to hold one-on-one interviews, use focus groups, leverage use cases, or build prototypes you should ensure that each important stakeholder and end user provides feedback. Axia Consulting provides a great guide in their article: Requirement Gathering Techniques.

3. Sort the Requirements Into Categories

To achieve an organized overview of the requirements we recommend categorizing them. Starting with two major categories of functional and non-functional then further organizing the requirements into smaller sub-categories.

4. Evaluating and Reviewing Requirements

For each requirement on the list, we recommend the following:

  • Describing the requirement in detail
  • Ranking each requirement on level of importance
  • Discussing the effect of the change
  • Highlight conflicting issues and resolving them with the stakeholders
  • Consider feasibility
  • Specify test scenarios

5. Stakeholders Give a Final Approval of Requirements

Before moving forward with a finalized list of requirements, it is important that all key decision makers can come to an agreement. It is suggested to have a final meeting to decide on this as a team.

6. Conducting a Gap Analysis

After finalizing your requirements, you should conduct a gap analysis comparing the features included with the ERP with what’s on your requirements list. If there are gaps you must decide how important they are to your business.

Custom Software, Bolt-On, or Built-in (Embedded) Automation

For gaps between the ERP and your automation requirements, you must decide whether you want to resolve them with an embedded solution, bolt-on solution, or paying a developer to build custom automation.

Custom Software

When considering the cost of developing something custom, there are some hidden costs that also need to be factored in. For instance, as Microsoft keeps making changes to the base software, what will be the cost of maintaining customization to keep up with these changes? For packaged solutions, it is the responsibility of the author (ISV) to keep up with those changes. Project delays are also very common. According to KPMG Information Technology, 85% of software development projects go over schedule. Most of the time, you can find the needed functionality within a built-in or bolt-on solution. However, on the rare occasion that you have a very specific automation requirement that is not offered by a software vendor, hiring a developer to build a custom solution would likely be your best option.

Bolt-On Automation

Bolt-on automations are separate systems from the main ERP system. In other words, these bolt-on’s sit outside of the main ERP system and frequently require custom integrations to be created and maintained. These bolt-on solutions have a different user interface, resulting in a different overall look and feel from the ERP.  There are three main downsides to bolt-on solutions. For one, they are difficult to integrate with the ERP at times and may have connectivity issues with the ERP. Second, the software sits outside of the ERP requiring employees to learn two different interfaces. This often leads to additional employee training time. Lastly, they often have duplicated features that are already included in D365, leading to a higher price point with no real benefits.

Built-in or Embedded Automation

Embedded automation is built-in and designed specifically for the ERP. Opting for this type of automation allows for robust data synchronization, reduced employee training time, and centralized finance and accounting procedures. For more information in our recent article Bolt-on vs Embedded, we provide a detailed comparison between these two types of automation.

Robust Financial Automation for D365

Whether you’re in the midst of an implementation, shopping around for the right ERP, or have already implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain, it is important to continually evaluate and weigh your options for adding further financial automation. To extend upon the capabilities included in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, many companies turn to Microsoft Independent Software Vendors (ISV) to meet their additional automation needs.  . From the top selling electric car manufacturer to the number one tech media company in the world, we have worked with a wide variety of companies in all different industries. With over 30 years of experience building and selling embedded add-ons for Microsoft ERP market, we have assisted Dynamics customers worldwide in further automating their financial processes. Below are some of the most common enhancement needs, we see year after year:

  • Secure Banking Integration
  • Accounts Receivable Cash Application
  • Accounts Payable Invoicing & OCR Scanning
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Credit Card Reconciliation
  • Credit Card Processing
  • Online Bill Pay
  • Direct Debit
  • Supply Chain Financing
  • In-House Banking

Are you looking to further automate your financial processes within your D365 ERP? Join us on our weekly interactive demos to learn more about our most popular embedded solutions.