Microsoft Dynamics NAV for BPO Cracks US Accounting Market – MSDynamicsWorld.com
Top 20 accounting firm Wipfli LLP has become the first US partner for business process outsourcing (BPO) using the combination of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Office 365. The offering is deployed extensively in Europe and has also been piloted in Canada by BDO Canada.
Wipfli plans to roll out the product to its clients within six months, notes Inga Arendt, CPA, a partner in Wipfli’s Small Business Services. “[Dynamics NAV] is geared toward slightly larger businesses, but Wipfli has expertise offering BPO services to smaller businesses,” Arendt says. “This will open up a broader market for us and present an opportunity for greater market expertise.”
The accounting firm plans to private label the NAV-based BPO product but is currently going through a corporate-wide rebranding that forestalls any further announcements, Arendt says. Microsoft suggested that Wipfli work with a NAV implementation partner, so the firm is presently evaluating candidates before starting implementation.
BPO with NAV in Canada
For the past two years, BDO Canada has been deploying Microsoft Dynamics NAV through a BPO portal, says David Simkins, managing partner of Advisory Services. The product attracts businesses that generate up to $5 million in revenue that do not have a fulltime comptroller.
BDO is in the Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics for the NAV practice, a reason Microsoft approached the accounting firm to refine the BPO product for the North America market. Simkins calls NAV a strategic investment for BDO. “It’s a big win for us and will continue to be a big win as we expand globally,” Simkins says. “For BDO, it’s a way to tie another service line to existing clients.”
Even in cases where BDO performs the accounting functions, clients can log into the portal and view corporate financial statements and tax returns at any time, rather than just once a year. The firm is currently targeting nonprofits and franchise organizations that can offer the BPO service as a benefit to franchisees. “The technology we’re offering enables us to leapfrog the competition,” Simkins says.
Strategic Fit for Microsoft in US
Dynamics NAV and GP are part of Microsoft’s portfolio of ERP products designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses manage their finances, inventory and more. GP was originally developed by Great Plains Software before being sold to Microsoft in 2001. NAV was developed in Denmark in the 1980s, expanding to more European countries in the early 1990s. Microsoft bought the product in 2002 to complement GP.
Expanding NAV BPO to the US market fits well with Microsoft’s overall business strategy, says Gordon Macdonald, director, Microsoft Dynamics. “Microsoft is partnering with accounting firms worldwide that see the opportunity to use Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Office 365 to help enhance and differentiate their service offerings for small and midsized businesses,” Macdonald says. “We see this trend as highly complementary to the traditional Microsoft Dynamics partner channel, and a great validation of our ongoing investments in Microsoft Dynamics NAV around ease of use, rapid deployment, multi-tenant capabilities and cloud deployment on Microsoft Azure.”
Long-term commitment to Microsoft
Wipfli initially was seeking a BPO solution built on the Dynamics GP platform, but Microsoft had plans to expand the BPO focus on NAV instead, says Michael T. Pynch, CMA, CPA, a partner in Wipfli’s Consulting Services practice.
“We have a long-term commitment with Microsoft, which was part of their interest in seeking us out,” Pynch says. “In the US market, they’re trying to understand what’s been done and what needs to be done.”
Although Wipfli hasn’t decided where to deploy NAV, the manufacturing niche is a logical initial market for the firm, says Arendt. “We haven’t had discussions yet about how narrow or broad to start, and we haven’t reached out to current clients,” Arendt. “We like to have our ducks in a row first.”
Wipfli maintains an international presence through its membership in PKF North America, an association of 100 firms in 42 states. In turn, PKF North America is a member of PKF International, the tenth-largest global accounting network in the world. Wipfli has a presence in India, where it has been offshoring some accounting functions for five years. The Dynamics NAV platform will allow the firm to automate some functions, Pynch says.
“We noticed when talking to other firms that a lot of (accounting) products aren’t necessarily built to the specific needs of BPO providers,” Arendt says. “It’s refreshing we didn’t have to build this from scratch.”
Although this will be the first installation in the United States using NAV for BPO, Arendt and Pynch express confidence in the product and Wipfli’s long relationship with Microsoft.
“We’re excited about the things Microsoft has been doing in the cloud,” Pynch says. “In the past three to five years, they’ve done a great job of execution on Azure and Office 365, so we’re glad to see Microsoft committed to this.”