Why businesses must bite the bullet and upgrade their legacy ERP systems – the rewards are huge

By Sally Howell, Enterprise Account Manager at Columb

Changing your business software can be a significant challenge, with the worry of probable pitfalls along the way. Sally Howell, Enterprise Account Manager at Columbus UK, discusses how ERP software has changed dramatically since the late 1990s from simple ERP systems to end-to-end business management solutions and explains that now could be the optimal time to change. 

Although ERP systems involve lengthy implementation times and decades-long lifespans, when a new generation of solutions offers a significant leap forwards in capability and convenience, there are few reasons to remain tied to a legacy system. Take Microsoft Dynamics as an example – Dynamics 365 has arrived on the market in full force in late 2016, and many Dynamics AX users are already actively looking to shift away from a solution that originally came into existence in 1998.

Although Dynamics AX and 365 have many similar functionalities, Microsoft’s significant investment in R&D is now delivering a variety of new features within the upgraded Dynamics 365 platform. Here’s six key reasons why a shift away from legacy systems to Dynamics 365 could significantly transform operations in businesses of all sizes.

Ease of access

First and foremost, user accessibility has been greatly enhanced through web and cloud-based solutions. Platforms such as Dynamics 365 offer a simplified software structure and now support remote access across various employee devices. This level of accessibility also enhances external relationships as suppliers, partners and vendors are now able to remotely access selected data, helping businesses reduce their on-premise footprint and achieve a positive ROI.

Did you know that continuous AI advancements are often also built into the cloud? This means that optimising your cloud usage helps future-proof your business for the new common standard. But of course, this doesn’t suit all organisations due to data and compliance regulations so, for example, Dynamics 365 can still be deployed locally with restricted features and services.

No more manual update woes

It is important that a business is always using the most up to date software, making operations far smoother and reducing lingering security concerns around outdated or unpatched software. Microsoft’s continuous monitoring and updating of the Dynamics 365 software reduces the IT department’s overall maintenance responsibilities for the solution, providing ease of mind for IT staff and business managers alike.

These ongoing changes and fixes mean that Dynamics 365 delivers progressive incremental updates – a far cry from the major alterations released by Dynamics AX which required significant effort on the user side to test and implement. 

Emerging tech is no longer out of reach

Businesses will also benefit from updated user-centric interfaces of new business solutions which encourage greater individual and collaborative experiences through personalisation.

Dynamics 365 features enhanced Business Intelligence (BI), harnessing the power of AI, and is driven by analytical services and extensive data-sets to give the solution superior capabilities which improve business reporting potential.

Bringing it all together…

Simple integration functionality with platforms such as CRM contribute to delivering on the vision of truly end-to-end solutions. Dynamics 365 provides even more operational advantages with the easy adoption of Microsoft cloud products – such as Office 365, Power BI and additional CRM apps – to provide users with major business management capabilities.

…And at a better price

Changes in the licensing model now allow customers to buy what they want, when they need it and easily scale up or down based on evolving requirements. Microsoft is offering existing Dynamics customers on a maintenance plan a 40% discount to move to Dynamics 365 in the cloud! 

To help legacy ERP users transition to an advanced solution such as Dynamics 365 in the cloud, many Microsoft partners offer dedicated workshops. Gaining this knowledge before making the switch is vital to ensure minimal operational disruption, and many organisations find the process isn’t as complicated as first thought. 

Truly supporting all business processes

Microsoft is a software supplier that is continuing to both strengthen and enrich the solution on an ongoing basis by updating its software with new features. Moving forward, users should expect to enjoy broader options in software functionality, such as Dynamics 365 Commerce built on Dynamics 365 Retail capabilities. This is designed to deliver a complete omni-channel solution – unifying call centre, back-office, in-store and digital experiences. 

Dedicated retail business management solutions allow retailers to build brand loyalty through personalised customer engagements, increase revenue with improved employee productivity, optimise operations to reduce costs and drive supply chain efficiencies – ultimately delivering better business outcomes. Users can also take advantage of connecting the Project Service Automation App, which allows users to sync project and resource data with project accounting. This improves access to vital business data, making it easier for users to govern accounts more effectively.

Beyond this, more employee-orientated integration is on the horizon with closer integration to Dynamics 365 Human Resources – previously known as Talent – and LinkedIn. Digital transformation of HR practices helps optimise ongoing HR programmes, enables workforce insights and allows businesses to more effectively attract, hire and develop talent through LinkedIn – building winning teams where people can flourish.


​​​​​​​Don’t delay

As mainstream support for many legacy ERP and business management systems – such as Dynamics AX – comes to an end, businesses of all sizes must look to an advanced alternative that can stay future-proof through continuous development and updates with minimal operational impact.

With so many Dynamics AX users already in the process of addressing this by making the switch to Dynamics 365, business leaders should ask themselves – are they ready to make the leap, or instead willing to take the risks of being left behind on outdated systems? 

For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe.

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