Optimizing Inventory Control with Microsoft Dynamics GP
- Strengths of Microsoft Dynamics GP
- Weaknesses of Microsoft Dynamics GP
- Gaps in Great Plains Inventory Control Functionality
Microsoft Dynamics GP, formerly Great Plains, is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool that delivers out-of-the-box business management functionality including financial planning and accounting, sales and customer service, procurement, inventory control and Human Resources (HR).
Purchased by Microsoft in 2001, Microsoft Dynamics GP is a global enterprise resource planning tool offered in North and South America, UK and Ireland, Singapore, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. The solution is sold and deployed in other markets via GP’s extensive partner and reseller channel.
Strengths of Microsoft Dynamics GP
Like many of the other Microsoft Dynamics offerings (NAV or AX), GP is designed to offer a unique combination of integrated business intelligence, collaboration and communication tools that help organizations connect the moving pieced of their organization. For distribution and wholesale businesses specifically, GP offers standard visibility into the overall control of business operations.
The biggest strengths of GP are its ability to easily integrate with other systems to centralize data management and systems alignment. GP has an extensive network of partner resellers and value added consultancies that extend support to organizations looking to further optimize the solution. GP is also deployable in a cloud-based solution or as an on premise solution for businesses that want to manage their own data and servers.
Weaknesses of Microsoft Dynamics GP
Some of the bigger issues facing users of GP relates to the reporting functionality of the system. GP’s reporting and KPI management capabilities are arduous to use, limited in scope and complicated for users to manage for even basic execution. Data sets are limited as they do not allow for advanced or highly detailed drill down reports.
Furthermore, inventory control capabilities for purchasing, vendor (supplier) management, forecasting and replenishment optimization are very limited or non-existent in some cases. EazyStock customers that operate on GP report back that the system’s outdated user interface looks and feels like legacy Microsoft technology from decades ago. For users of different ERP systems, the system syntax, language and processes can be foreign or seem unfamiliar.
At its core, Microsoft Dynamics GP is a robust and dynamic accounting software, however the inventory management and control aspects of the solution leave buyers and inventory planners wanting more. If a business cannot be measured, it cannot be controlled.
Let’s look at 3 ways inventory optimization software fills gaps in Great Plains inventory control functionality:
Gaps in Great Plains Inventory Control Functionality
While Microsoft Dynamics GP is an excellent ERP package for HR, Finance and Accounting, it has certain gaps in its inventory control functionality that can drastically hurt a business’ profitability. For wholesale distributors of durable goods, inventory control is key to maintaining profitability. The following additional capabilities are easily extended to GP by integrating inventory optimization solutions like EazyStock:
1. Reduce Manual Time Spent Planning and Ordering:
GP comes with standard analytical tools that offer a ‘helicopter view’ of the business to helps senior managers keep track of the business performance and growth, however detailed level reports are limited. A great deal of manual work needs to be undertaken to isolate the data necessary for accurate demand forecasting and purchasing parameters for replenishment of stock levels.
Delays in accessing and analyzing data sets tend to result in inaccurate forecasts leading to excess stock levels or stock out situations. For instance, in EazyStock, sales data is automatically extracted from GP, then analyzed in real-time to accurately forecast for every item carried in inventory. Optimization solutions help planners and buyers better understand what to buy, how much to buy and when they should buy it. This process frees up time, increases accuracy and reduces costs.
2. Automate Sales Forecasts and Forecast Accuracy
While Microsoft Dynamics GP can give an insight into general trends for calculating purchase orders, it is unable to predictively analyze trends that occur seasonally or track dynamic changes in buyer trends or behavior. For example, EazyStock dynamically tracks every item carried in inventory and bench marks sales history against 9 different demand patterns (new, positive trend, fast growth, erratic, fast decline, negative trend, slow, lumpy, dying/obsolete) to give buyers insights in the product life cycle stage of their inventory.
Some items carried will be fast moving and popular requiring increased order quantities over time. Other items will be in steady decline and will require planners to lessen the reorder quantities even though volume discounts may look to be the most attractive option for the business. Without these insights, buyers are ordering blind, which can seriously hurt a business’ bottom line.
3. Eliminate Overstocking and Under Stocking Inventory:
For distributors that carry hundreds or even thousands of item varieties, excess stock (or overstock) situations need to be spotted long before items become obsolete. ERP software like GP has no specific function to highlight a potential overstock situation before it becomes an issue. Similarly, it is unable to identify a potential stock outage and ensure sufficient safety stock is available to avoid a service disruption with customer orders.
While Microsoft Dynamics GP is an excellent accounting and financial management tool, wholesale distributors of durable goods require more advanced inventory optimization solutions to help keep their inventory levels healthy. EazyStock easily connects to Great Plains to complement the ERP. Distributors that leverage this type of integration will ensure inventory is kept at optimum levels while enriching the quality of data available for performance management.
To see if you could use the EazyStock add-on for your ERP, ask yourself: will an ERP add-on be enough to boost our system or is a new ERP the right way to go? In most cases it is not necessary to substitute the old ERP system completely; there are several ERP add-ons that can add value to your current solution and fill in your missing functionality.