On the heels of the Extender and Collections Management announcements over the last year, it has just been announced that SmartList Builder is joining the Microsoft Dynamics GP OEM modules “coming home”. You can read about all the reasons and details for this in Martin Olsen’s comprehensive announcement on the eOne blog.
This is certainly an interesting direction of things and I wonder what this means for the future of selling and supporting Microsoft Dynamics GP. On one hand, as a Dynamics GP partner/VAR, I know that having more ISV products in the mix is sometimes a challenge because there are more moving parts to keep track of – both for sales and ongoing maintenance/support. Also, often selling a GP module to a customer is a much easier endeavor than selling them a third-party add-on product. On the other hand, as the owner of an ISV company myself (my company, Flexible Solutions, makes the GP Reports Viewer add-on), I think it’s great to see these widely used and popular add-ons become ISV products. I feel that paves the road for ISV products to be more accepted and become a standard part of purchasing and using Dynamics GP. In fact, after this change, I don’t think that my company will have more than 15% of our customers left without any ISV products.
I guess the big question will be for customers – are they willing to purchase an ERP system that needs so many additional products from ISVs? Will they start questioning why Microsoft does not make a product robust enough to stand on its own? The devious part of my brain is also wondering if Microsoft is paving the way to create their own products/modules to replace these OEM modules in the future. (Please don’t read more into this, I have absolutely no knowledge of any plans for this, and it’s entirely possible this is just lack of coffee talking.)
After writing the above paragraph, I actually found some support for this happening already with SmartList Designer introduced in GP 2013 SP 2. Take a look at this blog post by eOne describing the differences and another blog post by Mariano Gomez about SmartList Designer. Hmmm…
All my speculation aside, eOne has been fabulous to work with over the last year with the transition of the Extender module (which I love and use daily, by the way). We have quite a number of customers using Extender and we’ve not had a single issue with getting in touch with eOne, transitioning customers, getting support or anything else. I expect the same to hold true for SmartList Builder. And Martin certainly makes a very compelling case as to why this change for SmartList Builder is a good one for all of us.
In the meantime, my understanding is that support for existing SmartList Builder versions will continue to be offered by Microsoft and only if/when you upgrade to the eOne version starting January 2014 will you need to go to eOne for support. eOne also welcomes feature requests for all their products and they just created this forum to gather feature requests for SmartList Builder. I work with SmartList Builder almost daily and will be very interested to see what suggestions people have.