Are you part of an organization that is structured around pursuit, planning, and delivery of projects? If you are dealing with the challenges of managing your project-driven business, read further to understand how To-Increase and Microsoft solutions can help and how you can choose the right fit for your needs.
Before we take a deeper dive into the solutions, let’s look at some of the prominent challenges that project-driven businesses face.
- Lack of 360-degree visibility to track progress, delays, overheads, and expenditures of individual projects.
- Absence of a complete view of project interdependencies – both inside projects and across multiple projects.
- Inefficient management of key project processes, such as project initiation, revenue recognition, billing, and collections, due to unstructured communication and misalignment between project managers and project accountants.
- Inability to make personnel and inventory allocation decisions due to competing projects and limited resources.
- Substantial manual work during project initiation and updates because of disconnected systems and ad-hoc processes around project cost control, progress, billing, work breakdown structure (WBS) management, subcontracting, etc.
Due to the challenges outlined above, project-driven companies constantly look for effective solutions to improve business performance. Numerous business solutions have emerged to meet the increasing demand for project management solutions across industries. However, this blog will focus on two front-runner solutions for Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform:
- To-Increase’s APM
- Microsoft’s PO
The illustration below provides a quick understanding of the solutions against their platform compatibility.
Often, a point of confusion for customers and vendors is that even the historic standard D365 F&SCM capabilities inside Microsoft are called Project Operations. Hence, Microsoft’s Project Operations are of two types – Project Operations (F&SCM) and Project Operations (CE). For ease of understanding and differentiating between the two solutions, we have used Project Operations (F&SCM) and Project Operations (CE) in this blog.
To-Increase’s APM ― To-Increase has more than 12 years of expertise in end-to-end project lifecycle. Launched in 2009, To-Increase’s APM solution is built to add missing key strategic features to standard Microsoft Dynamics 365 project capabilities and bring in the industry-specific flavor. Embedded in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (D365 F&SCM), APM helps manage end-to-end project-driven business needs in one single system.
Microsoft’s Project Operations ― Microsoft historically had basic project management capabilities inside Microsoft D365 F&SCM. In late 2020, they launched Project Operations (CE) by combining capabilities from their products ― Microsoft Project and Project Service Automation ― in a separate business application built on Dataverse.
How to choose the right solution for your business?
If you are in the Microsoft Dynamics or Azure cloud space and are contemplating how to streamline and optimize your project-driven business, continue reading.
To select the right solution, you should decide based on two dimensions:
- Project lifecycle flavor of your organization
- Your existing project management tool
Let’s take a look at each dimension.
Project lifecycle flavor of your organization
The first thing you should consider when choosing your project management solution is the nature and complexity of your project lifecycle. Firms such as Professional Services and Software have no inventory or physical products to sell. The project lifecycle of these firms is less complex and can be managed using a project management tool and an ERP system. In Microsoft terminology, this is called the Integrated Deployment Scenario, where resources are in play and inventory is not involved.
Firms such as Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, Aerospace and Defense, Biotech, and Life Sciences are heavily focused on inventory. The project lifecycle of these firms is more complex because inventory adds several new components to it. In Microsoft language, this is called the Stocked Deployment Scenario, where both inventory and resources are involved in the project.
Existing project management tool
When selecting the solution, an important thing to consider is whether you are already using capabilities inside D365 F&SCM. Your solution choice also depends on whether you want a best-of-breed or all-in-one solution. In addition, migration path related restrictions may also impact your tool of choice (see decision tree below).
Based on the two dimensions above, you can use the following decision tree to determine which solution best fits your needs.As shown in the decision tree, APM is more suitable for inventory-based firms with a complex project life cycle, or firms that are already using capabilities inside D365 F&SCM. In contrast, Microsoft PO is better suited for firms that have a simple project life cycle and do not use D365 F&SCM.
How APM strengthens Project Operations
To-Increase has a large install base of clients in inventory-based businesses, such as manufacturing, construction, and engineering. We have worked diligently with our wide customer base to add key strategic features to our product for more than 11 years. Deep know-how of customers in this industry has made ours a leading product in the market in the D365 landscape. This is also the reason why To-Increase is best positioned to complement Microsoft’s new and emerging offering – Project Operations – in this space.
While Microsoft’s Project Operations targets non-inventory-based, less complex project-driven scenarios, To-Increase’s APM is tailored to handle inventory-based, more complex project management needs. So based on the nature of your business, level of complexity, and ERP platform, you can choose the solution that best fits your requirements.