GPUG: Tell me about Professional Advantage.
Brent Hitterdal (BH): Professional Advantage has its roots in Sydney, Australia and has 250 team members worldwide with offices in Australia, North America, and the United Kingdom. Our practice in Sydney started as a VAR, reselling and implementing Microsoft Dynamics GP.
Back then we saw a lot of functional gaps in the product and started to build our own products for clients. Our first products were completely horizontal in nature - collections management, national accounts, refund checks, and lockbox processing. Microsoft purchased most of those products and as Microsoft Dynamics GP evolved there were less gaps to fill, so we had to reinvent ourselves.
We then moved from horizontal products to being extremely vertical in what we do now, which revolves around the staffing and retail industries.
GPUG: Tell me about your products.
BH: We still have one main horizontal offering, Company Data Archive, that is something that people definitely need, particularly if they've been using Microsoft Dynamics GP a long time or have a high volume of transactions. Company Data Archive provides a push button way to archive data, which helps optimize Microsoft Dynamics GP performance and de-clutter your live database, while still giving you access to the data.
1Staff Back Office (also knows as PAM) is intended for staffing companies and includes all the necessary payroll and billing functions right inside of Microsoft Dynamics GP. We have extended that product to Microsoft Dynamics CRM so salespeople and recruiters can use it for their processes.
We also have an integration with Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System that allows multi-channel retailers to use Microsoft Dynamics GP.
GPUG: What do you like about Microsoft Dynamics GP?
BH: Microsoft Dynamics GP has been around a long time, but it's architected in such a way that you can still take advantage of new technologies. I was recently on a
call with a Customer who has been using it since 1995, and they are constantly finding ways to improve their process and change the way they work.
Being in this industry that long also makes for a lot of great stories. Back in the day when we had Webhouse (now known as "Analysis Cubes" and sold by Microsoft) sales were slow and we had a sales process where we would actually use the Customer's live data for a demonstration.
We were working with one retail client and after looking at their data, noticed that cash tenders would go down during particular employee shifts. They installed cameras and found out that some of their employees were pocketing cash rather than putting it in the register. We did a software demo, people got fired, and they saw an immediate financial impact.
It would be hard to script a better result. It was a 'demo homerun' with an immediate clear and actionable ROI. They had to buy the product…but they didn't. Just when you think you have it all figured out. I mean really, how could you better present the value of a product?
GPUG: <laughs> Good point! Besides crime investigation, what makes Professional Advantage different than competitors?
BH: We're pretty much the only provider of the with an archiving product for Microsoft Dynamics GP - really, I think we turn up in eight of the top 10 internet searches under GP data archive - so there's not much competition there.
We are usually competing with pretty industry specific and non-Microsoft Dynamics related organizations in the staffing industry. We take advantage of the Microsoft Dynamics platform and add industry-specific functionality while most of the organizations we are selling against have built an entire solution from the ground up. Regardless of industry, it is something that Microsoft Dynamics ISVs have in common and is a key selling point for us.
GPUG: What do you have coming up for Customers?
BH: We still do collections management development for Microsoft Dynamics GP, and there are a lot of improvements coming out to automate the collections process, including some more advanced email capabilities than those that are available now.
One of the best things about Microsoft Dynamics GP is the community and the number of ISV solutions available. This creates an issue for the collections process in that a Customer can create invoices with any of number of ISV products. We are working on the capability of handling the collections process for invoices from virtually any third party product.
The other solution we're working on is in the healthcare staffing space and includes automating the steps necessary when a new hire is made. There are a lot of steps involved to ensure compliance around tax forms, licenses, background checks, drug tests, etc. We're creating a portal where the steps can be customized to the worksite and position so a Customer can specify what is needed and can make sure they're not sending somebody out into the field without all the proper procedures followed. Eventually it could also be applied to any HR department and their onboarding process.
GPUG: What's been the greatest benefit of being involved in GPUG?
BH: We've done webinars for GPUG Members, and our involvement gives us a great way to reach Microsoft Dynamics GP power Users. With respect to conferences, GPUG Summit brings together people who are deep into functionality and what Microsoft Dynamics GP can do. Everyone you talk to has the potential of being somebody you can collaborate with, and that in itself provides great value and opportunity for growth.
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