By: Dan Johnson
One of the more common questions I’ve heard over the last 15 years consulting small and medium sized businesses is ‘what software should I use next?’ and ‘What’s in it for me?’ That’s understandable given that it’s a big investment of time, money, and effort to migrate from a known system to a virtually unknown one. Throw in the enormous number of options (Google shows a whopping 37 million responses for “Best accounting software for small business”) and you have a really tough choice.
While there are literally a million videos, brochures, and webinars you can look at that will show the features of a given software application often the question of ‘what’s the difference?’ is not all that clear or at least not specifically stated.
To answer that question for those of you thinking of moving from the world’s most popular entry-level accounting system to a more robust Microsoft Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, or Dynamics SL system I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 advantages I’ve seen businesses gain from making that switch.
Top 5 Benefits of Migrating to Microsoft Dynamics from QuickBooks
I purposely put flexibility as number 1. Why? Because the only thing sure in the world of business computing is that it’s going to continue to evolve at a breakneck pace. While QuickBooks is great at what it does in its as-is state it is not so cooperative when it comes to change. Want to customize fields, forms, workflows? You’ll work within the confines of their Software Development Kit or under the constraints of the API’s they allow you to use. Need to share QuickBooks data with your CRM application? Good luck. Sure, you can create a batch upload or an ODBC connection to read data from QuickBooks but true integration can only be achieved on a limited basis by purchasing another tool.
To me integration means the ability to share data, regardless of what it is, between applications for the purpose of maximizing the efficiency of a business process. The Dynamics ERP products like GP, NAV, SL (and AX of course) all use the Microsoft SQL Database Management System or DBMS. This makes integration possible on a virtually unlimited basis. Do you have data in a Payroll, WMS, LIMS, CRM, eCommerce, Inventory, Order Entry, HCM, Billing (the list goes on) system that you want to get into your accounting/ERP system for reporting purposes? You can do that with Microsoft Dynamics. Want to write a SOAP or REST API to call data from your Cloud / SaaS solution? Not a problem. You control your data and your level of integration.
#2. Reporting Options
Note I didn’t say just “Reporting”. Frankly QuickBooks has come a long way in terms of reporting capabilities assuming you can get them to run (see bullet 5). But, once you’ve exceeded the limits of their canned/configurable reports, you’re near the end of the road in terms of what you can make QuickBooks do (see bullet 1). QuickBooks isn’t going to allow you to slice data from multiple sources like you can with tools like Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services a.k.a. SSRS, Power BI, Smartlists, and Management Reporter. These are the tools that are going to give you complete access and control over your business data and allow you to manipulate, distribute, and consume that data in the way that makes the most sense. This is true Business Intelligence.
#3. Compliance & Audibility
QuickBooks is cheap and super-easy to install and use. There I said it. There’s a reason it’s on the shelves of all the big-box stores. Then again super-easy and inexpensive comes with its own price so to speak. The financial controls in QuickBooks are weak. You will work awful hard to achieve GAAP or FASB compliance with QuickBooks if you can do it all. Why? Because you can delete transactions and change source transactions without a correcting entry for pete’s sake! Many auditors cringe at signing off on a financial audit for QuickBooks users especially if you’re a larger organization. It’s just too easy to manipulate the books without a proper paper trail.
All of the Microsoft ERP systems require you enter a correcting journal entry for voided or reversed transactions. Yes, it’s an extra step. Yes, some of your users will find it tedious. But the peace of mind you, your partners, your bank, your auditors, etc… will have from knowing your money is going to whom it’s supposed to will be worth it.
QuickBooks is great for small business financial accounting. There, I said it (again). But increase the number of users, transactions, inventory items, or decide you want to roll operations like manufacturing, distribution, supply chain, etc… into it then not so much. If you’re a growing company you will hit the limit of QuickBooks’ capabilities at some point and due to its inability to meet your functional requirements it will either force you to switch or create inefficient workarounds. The more you grow and evolve the more obvious its deficiencies will become. The only question becomes do you do it now or later?
The Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems are made to accommodate growth. The idea is that you implement once and the solution grows with you over time. In 15 years in the Dynamics channel I’ve seen dozens of 2 and 3 user installs grow to 10, 20, 50, 150 users over time. Remember that Microsoft SQL database that they all use? This is the same technology that huge companies use to capture and analyze “big data” sets. It’s pretty inconceivable you’ll outstrip its capability. And in regard to functionality, you are also virtually unlimited in terms of what you can make these systems do. From core modules (example of NAV core modules), to customization and integration tools, to hundreds of third party “ISV” solutions it’s incredibly unlikely you wouldn’t be able to meet a specific need regardless of how big or sophisticated your organization becomes.
Remember those reports and queries that used to take seconds to run when you first installed QuickBooks? Yeah, those days are gone and the more you grow the more it’s going to bog down. According to one expert the “Danger Zone” for QuickBooks data files is between 150 and 200 Mb. Many users report performance degradation as low as 30 Mb. Sounds like a lot but that’s not a ton of data by today’s standards especially if you’re holding onto any historical data. So what data will you sacrifice to keep your database size small enough to perform well?
Software like the Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems are made to support the performance criteria of small, medium, and enterprise class users and even comes with its own performance analyzer. When deployed and optimized on the right hardware the Microsoft SQL database will outperform QuickBooks in every scenario – reporting, queries, navigation, etc… and, the larger the data, the greater you’ll notice the difference in performance. Want proof? Let us show you.
Finally, if you’ve been considering a move and have been holding off I’d only ask, why wait? The market has driven down the cost of business software exponentially to the point that it really doesn’t make sense to suffer with underperforming systems anymore. As I mentioned in another article titled “I missed the deadline for the Dynamics GP Easy Start Offer. Now what do I do?” the cost of the Dynamics solutions have dropped roughly 95% percent in the last nine years. Can you say buyer’s market?
Always remember the words of the philosopher Lau Tsu: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
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