Microsoft Great Plains fits horizontal markets clientele and in case of Aerospace and Defense industry we'll talk about contractors ? parts and subsystems for government contracts. We do not necessarily talk about large corporation, however models described could be implemented for large publicly traded company. As a rule ? market is represented by established companies with long history, including long history of its ERP and Computer Business System. It is difficult to stake on the computer operating systems future, however you may try to give high level of trust to the ERP coming from Microsoft Business Solutions, especially considering the fact of acquisition of such market leaders as Great Plains Software and Navision Software.
? Service Model. Typically your product has service contract with hourly or annual payments and you track repair and preventive maintenance cases, have a list of replacement parts. Microsoft Great Plains has several options to automate these services. You can use customized version of Inventory Control Module, where you track serial/lot number, locations, item replacements, etc. In Great Plains Dexterity you can write light customization, tracking service cycle. Another way is to deploy Field Service suite, where you have Service Call Management, Contract Administration, Preventive Maintenance, Return Management as well as a set of eXXX modules such as eService Call, eReturn. You usually have to tailor these modules to fit your unique requirements ? do it via Dexterity, VBA/Modifier, SQL Stored Procedures or Web Application, working with Inventory and Field Service tables. Assuming your product has serial number ? then by looking up serial number you can see all the service history.
? Bidding. Great Plains Sales Order Processing (SOP) module allows you to have Quotes, Sales Orders, Invoices. You might need bidding and negotiation documentation system. In the case of Great Plains the best and future-oriented approach is to implement Sales side in Microsoft CRM, integrated with Great Plains via MS CRM-GP integration tool. All the calls and emails, plus contracts will be logged and documented in MS CRM and quotes are moved to or from Great Plains
? Purchasing. Your company might use tenders procedure and you would need requisition, proposals and quotes against the requisition, then purchase order and receiving. Deploy Requisition Management and Purchase Order Processing/ Receiving modules
? HR. If you have unionized employees ? you may need to take a look at HR module, where you track employees certification, skills, training programs, hiring process and promotions
? ISO 9000. You can cover ISO compliance reporting, assuming that you have either customized Inventory Control system or Field Service suite implemented. The best and recommended reporting tool ? Crystal Reports. Usually you create SQL views and stored procedures and base your Crystal Report on these views and procs.
? Technology Advise. When you implement your new system and making modifications to the existing one - you should try to predict which technology will stay for maximum number of years, plus you should try to avoid dependence on one vendor/provider - if you need to change Microsoft Business Solutions partner - how difficult to find new one with technical skills and customization expertise to maintain and further advance your custom system?
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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