Why ERP systems integration is essential for government contracting

Dec 15, 2014 6:00:00 AM

In government contracting as well as in other markets, leading and highly regarded software vendors promise integration of their products with each other. Unfortunately, they may be too generic regarding the depth and manageability of such integration during sales discussions, causing companies to believe it has what they need or want without any extras required. They then have to deal with inefficiencies, errors, and frustrated technology users, or make the investment to have integrations rebuilt or customized. Without or with only partial integration, navigating multiple applications is extremely unproductive and can make compliance and business management challenging. In delivering To-Increase GovCon, a government contracting solution that works completely from within the ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics AX, we provide full integration—no compromises, no stealth charges. For your government contracting business, the right level of integration can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your management and control.

Technology vendors often fudge or exaggerate when it comes to integration. When their customers hear “integration,” they expect at the very least that two or more applications will connect in such a way that information can flow between them. Sometimes they are promised more, for example, that the capabilities of one software product are accessible in another. Software providers may promise a fully integrated system to manage compliance, finance, and business operations, but that is often an overstatement. Not all desired data may flow between the various tools as needed by the customer. We often hear from customers who describe logging into four or five different software tools and then navigating between them to do their work.

That can be risky and problematic. If you’re a government contractor without a fully and truly integrated system that lets you handle, for example, manufacturing, compliance, finance, sales, and HR all within the same resource, you will probably end up doing extra work to record and retrieve information or to create reports. It becomes easy to make mistakes and overlook important details in such areas as compliance reporting, project costing, subcontractor performance, or contract management. Those mishaps, in turn, take time and effort to rectify. At worst, they could compromise your compliance efforts.

When we designed To-Increase GovCon, we ensured that the solution works seamlessly from within Microsoft Dynamics AX. In that way, it’s just like our industry solutions for manufacturing and construction. One login gets you all the capabilities and information you need in your role. Whether you review government contracting project performance in terms of earned value management (EVM), manage product engineering changes, approve time sheets, or allocate indirect costs, you can complete all of your tasks within a single, seamless software resource.

If you are not completely sure what a software vendor means with “integration” or uses unclear language like “works with”: Be sure to question and verify. Does integration include human resources data, so you can validate the qualifications of your project managers and make sure you have the right skills and certifications on your team to run the government contracting projects you win, or do you run the risk of placing employees who might inadvertently jeopardize the profitability of your projects? Does integration provide a complete connection between manufacturing project management and compliance reporting, so you can make sure you meet CAS, FAR, DCMA, DCAA, and DFARS regulations without having to do extensive, repetitive digging into operational details? Do any integrations really send all the data that you expect them to send between systems or products?

We consider integration as the foundation of what we deliver with GovCon for Dynamics AX. It’s the basis for what you can do with the solution to grow your government contracting business. It facilitates also the mobile apps and dashboards that can transform and simplify the way you work. I believe it’s a good sign when I hear so often that our customers outside of the IT group in their company usually forget that they are working with multiple software tools; for them, it’s all in Dynamics AX.

When you deploy To-Increase GovCon, you also enter a very large universe of Microsoft Dynamics partners who develop solutions that integrate with Dynamics AX and the To-Increase products. Whatever specialized business need you have in your government contracting business, if To-Increase and Microsoft Dynamics AX don’t quite meet it, chances are very high that a partner has addressed it. Other leading government contracting software vendors don’t have a comparable partner ecosystem with solutions that are certified to integrate and run successfully.

To find out more or have your questions answered, please send me a note at mchapman [at] to-increase.com or contact To-Increase.

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About Author
Michele Chapman

Michele Chapman

Product Manager Finance Michele brings her 15+ of experience in government contracting and materials management to To-Increase as a product manager. During her career, she has held positions in supply chain for a government contracting company and for one of the largest providers of supply chain transportation solutions in the U.S. More recently, she was a principal consultant at a recognized software vendor for the government contracting market.
Michele holds a B.A. in French and International Studies from West Virginia University, an M.A. in French from George Mason University, and an M.B.A. and a Certificate in Supply Chain Management from the College of Business at East Carolina University.

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