Buying a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is a strategic investment for your business, so it's well worth your time to examine your options carefully before you act. Reading our blog series that addresses key ERP-related questions and topics can help you evaluate the candidates. In our last post, we outlined the importance of finding a solution that helps integrate ERP with other important line-of-business (LOB) applications that your business depends on. You can read that post here, and you can follow the discussion on the blog posts on Twitter at #ERPONYOURTERMS. This week's post focuses on another aspect of ERP application integration by considering this question: Will the ERP solution help maximize your investments in the Microsoft technology platform and Microsoft Office productivity tools? First, let's talk about platforms. In the case of Microsoft, this means Windows and Microsoft.NET. This flexible platform has been widely adopted across the business community, which offers important advantages. For one thing, the Microsoft platform could very well be the one used by the vendors who built your current LOB applications. If it is, choosing an ERP solution that runs on this same platform could simplify integration and shorten your time to benefit. Choosing an ERP solution built on the Microsoft platform also means you'll have a variety of compatible products to choose from, if you decide to switch to a different LOB software vendor in the future. In addition, a broad section of the technical support community works with the Microsoft platform, so you'll have ready access to technical help if you ever need it. Finally, broad acceptance of the Microsoft platform encourages competitive pricing among alternative LOB applications and technical support services. For all these reasons, standardizing ERP and LOB applications on a single technology platform can be an efficient way to gain business value, and it enables you to focus IT resources on streamlining business processes instead of integrating applications. Now let's talk about choosing a new ERP solution that helps you get more value out of your other Microsoft technology investments. Maybe your company uses Microsoft SQL Server for databases, or Microsoft SharePoint to maintain portals for your employees and business partners; or maybe you use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage customer information. Your people probably work with productivity tools like Microsoft Word to create forms or Microsoft Excel to analyze data maintained in a SQL Server database. All of these products share the Windows platform, and they present a familiar look and feel to users. Choosing an ERP solution that works like and with these productivity tools and server products unlocks a new level of value in all of them. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Why Microsoft Dynamics ERP? Much of your company's success with the new ERP solution you choose will depend on how quickly your people learn to use it and their willingness to embrace change. If they already know and use Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel, they will find the Microsoft Dynamics ERP user experience familiar and therefore will adopt it faster and more readily. Because Microsoft Dynamics ERP works like and with other Microsoft technology, it helps increase adoption rates and lower training costs. What are our customers saying? Innovative companies everywhere are finding value and achieving business benefits with the interoperability of Microsoft Dynamics ERP, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft productivity tools and server products. Take a look at how four very different businesses are taking advantage of the synergy of using Microsoft Dynamics ERP with other Microsoft technology to successfully turn their business vision into reality. Customer case studies: Primo Water: Watch this video on how Primo Water, a rapidly growing distributor, uses Microsoft technology to grow innovation and run their business. Dutch Farms: Read how this refrigerated and frozen foods distributor enhances operations with a flexible ERP solution. headON Communication: This electronics distributor uses an ERP solution to connect systems in order to simplify operations and enable executive control. Central YMCA of London: Find out how this leading U.K. fitness charity improved its accounting efficiency by 90 percent by using Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Join us again next week as we examine another question you'll need to answer as you search for the ERP solution that's right for your business: Does the solution offer a flexible and predictable cost model? For now, learn more about the interoperability of Microsoft Dynamics ERP, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and other Microsoft products.