Dynamics users: Microsoft is listening more

Microsoft is being more proactive when it comes to listening and responding to users of its Dynamics software, according to customers

Microsoft is spending more time soliciting and responding to feedback from users of its Dynamics business applications, according to attendees at the vendor's recent Convergence show in San Diego.

"They're getting better," said Tony Scallon, business systems analyst, IT department at Clearwater Seafoods Partnership in Bedford, Canada, which uses Dynamics GP. "Microsoft seems to be listening a lot more."

One new avenue for feedback Microsoft introduced last week at Convergence was a Speak Your Mind video booth with three cameras where conference attendees could record their feelings about Dynamics along with their questions for Microsoft executives.

By the time the event, which drew 8,500 attendees, wrapped up late Wednesday, Microsoft said over 1,250 people had used the booth. After making a recording, attendees were encouraged to put a sticker on their clothing identifying them as having contributed to the video feedback so any Microsoft staffer could engage with them directly at the show.

Clearwater has what Microsoft terms deluxe support for Dynamics GP, which gives the seafood company direct access to the vendor's technical support staff. "I feel at least we've got a voice inside of Microsoft," Scallon said, in terms of making the company aware of Clearwater's requests for additional features.

Clearwater sells a variety of seafood around the world including clams, scallops, shrimp and lobster, operates a large fleet of shipping vessels and owns several processing plants in Canada. The company uses Dynamics GP for all its back-end financials and inventory management in combination with its front-end Oracle's Siebel CRM (customer relationship management) software.

In the late 1990s, Clearwater had decided to use JD Edwards (then an independent vendor, now owned by Oracle) as its ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, but then the company's IT director discovered the firm could deploy what was then Great Plains software at one-fifth the cost of JD Edwards. "Only six months later, Microsoft said they were going to buy Great Plains and my boss looked like a hero," Scallon said. In 2005, Microsoft rebranded all its ERP and CRM software and Great Plains became Dynamics GP.

Clearwater is predominantly a Microsoft shop and is currently evaluating what might be involved in a move from Siebel to Microsoft's Dynamics CRM, Scallon said.

Scallon was pleased with what he'd seen so far of the next version of Dynamics GP, release 10.0, due out in June, particularly the enhanced security features. Previously, when you added a new user to the system, that individual would have access to the entire product, he said. With Dynamics GP 10.0, a new user on the system will start out with no access to the software and then the IT staff can add in the functionalities the individual needs to do their job.

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