When I signed up for the Jacksonville Dynamics AX Summit I did not expect to be working for one of a handful of partners that were slightly under 5 million in sales.  In fact, at the event I started to be a bit self-conscious about our size, until I started to see the product demonstrated.

When Tom Higginbotham demonstrated the integration between Sharepoint and AX 2012, I started to realize-we can sell and manage this Microsoft story quite well.   One of the main themes of the event was demonstrating how well-integrated Dynamics AX 2012 is with Project Server, Excel, Word and Microsoft CRM.  With the broad scope of materials available on the images, a Lync image, an Exchange image and an AX 2012 image, along with the demo scripts-it seemed to me that anyone with a project accounting background, willing to invest a day or two,  could demonstrate these solutions quite well.

The images, available to partners on partnersource, however do more than that.  They offer step by step instruction on how to create a quote and then move that Work Breakdown Structure into a real project with a real budget.  The image walks you through, so that you create a PO with materials from the Project Screen, and then receive those items and easily turn around and bill those items-while all of these transactions flow their revenues and expenses through the project-as easily as a timecard or expense report.

For me one of the best parts of the event was learning who to go to for marketing help, as well as product help.  Microsoft’s staff was in the 35 range in terms of head count-which made the $500 fee well worthwhile as there was an expert at every corner to answer questions and provide genuine support for building a practice.  Of the 157 attendees there were more attending the Manufacturing/Distribution side of the event so the Microsoft people to partner people felt like private school with a healthy teacher to pupil ratio.

One of the things the event pointed out during one of Sean Galliher’s demonstrations was the flexibility within the project series to plan, manage and control a project.

Please take a look at the screen below from the Hyper-V image.  This image is of a project.  You can immediately see that you can create a Sharepoint site for this project in one click as well as Export to Excel in one click key revenue and cost information.

AX2012projectscreen

There were still some things in the Dynamics AX product that Dynamics SL does slightly better for project-centric firms.  For example, Dynamics SL is multi-company at the project level and allows a user to create a project and its tasks directly from a sales order.  Still, for the depth of features that AX2012 brings, Microsoft deserves some serious kudos for bringing this larger product to market with so much improvement in so little time.  In fact one of the partners on the West Coast, Jen Wisemore, from Systems Advisors Group, shared that she thought there might be some advantages to new partners jumping into AX2012 because the solution is very different from AX2009 so that the existing partners had much to relearn.  Still, she was ok with all of the improvements to the AX2012 in the Services space.

Another successful Dynamics SL partner from the New York City, Jeff Goldstein of Queue Associates, shared that many of his prospects that are not enterprise level clients (fewer than 100 users) need to be talked back down into the mid-market space of Dynamics SL and Dynamics GP simply to get the right-sized product for themselves.  I shared that of our 275 Dynamics SL and Dynamics GP clients, only about 3 fit that criteria-so these products really are targeted toward different sized firms.  With more flexibility and more power comes more implementation costs-even at just the financials level Jeff shared.

So if you are a larger projects oriented firm such as a large management consulting firm or a larger construction company-this could certainly be the product for you.  What impressed me the most was how complete the feature set was around project-accounting.  What this product could do that Dynamics SL can not do is handle better resources to find the right people for the work as well as handle via projects the creation and integration of project related product, customer invoicing and vendor purchasing and payments.  The product will of course scale better than the other Dynamics product more geared for the mid-market as well.