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Chris Gherardini on the role of data in ERP and CRM Systems
Episode 919th March 2021 • Data Driven • Data Driven
00:00:00 00:44:31

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In this episode Frank and Andy have a chat with Chris Gherardini on the role of data in ERP and CRM Systems.


00:00:00 BAILey 

Hello and welcome to data driven, the podcast where we explore the emerging fields of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence. In this episode, Frank and Andy speak to Chris Gardini about the role data plays in ERP and CRM systems. 

00:00:17 Frank 

Hello and welcome back to data driven. The podcast where we explore the emerging fields of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence. If you like to think of data as the new oil, then you can think of us like Car Talk because we focus on where the rubber meets the road. Although there's not much of a road trip usually on this virtual road trip. 

00:00:37 Frank 

Is Andy Leonard? How's it going, Andy? 

00:00:40 Andy 

Hey Frank, it's going really well. How are you doing? 

00:00:43 Frank 

I'm doing alright, you know, with the exception I might have to buy a new desktop computer. 

00:00:48 Andy 

Ah, I have not. 

00:00:49 Frank 

Possibly, or power supply. Literally. We were on this call and all of a sudden everything froze and I was like Oh well, blue screen. Big deal. 

00:00:59 Frank 

And then when I went to power it back on. 

00:01:03 Frank 

It just kept keeps beeping so I'm like oh, fee something something hard so I'm going to have to do some search engine work and possibly get a new power supply or something. 

00:01:06 Andy 


00:01:13 Frank 

Fortunately, micro center. 

00:01:14 Andy 

Everything is. 

00:01:17 Andy 

Go ahead. 

00:01:17 Andy 


00:01:17 Andy 

I've gotta say Frank, everything is figure out able right? 

00:01:21 Frank 

Everything is figure out able because of my experience with clear DB and all sorts of other drama. I have multiple backups of just about everything it if if you know so it's it's. It'll be an inconvenience, not a tragedy. 

00:01:32 Andy 


00:01:37 Frank 

But every opportunity to come back from a complete backup failure is an opportunity to learn. 

00:01:47 Frank 

And, uhm, Speaking of opportunity, it's really good timing that this guest is here because I as folks know I work at the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston and recently. 

00:02:00 Frank 

There was a, uh, someone we were on this engagement and it was very heavy into dynamics and uh, dynamics is one of those things. I haven't really looked into Andy and I have been experimenting with power apps and power platform, mostly to kind of help automate a lot of our content. 

00:02:21 Frank 


00:02:22 Chris 

This is crucial as we. 

00:02:24 Frank 

Continue to put the final touches on our secret project, but this guest here is an expert in dynamics as well as various ERP solutions. 

00:02:36 Frank 

And he's from Saint Louis, and his name is Christian. I'm really blowing this intro here. His name is Cristiano Gardeny. Did I pronounce that right? 

00:02:48 Chris 

Cristiano Guardian yeah, he pulled our sounded out there so. 

00:02:48 Frank 

OK good good. 

00:02:51 Frank 

He did fine, got it. Sorry about that. He's the president and owner of Turnkey Technologies and they are a Microsoft partner. I did looking around on their website and they are basically they provide development, analytics, training and support services for Microsoft Dynamics. 

00:03:09 Frank 

If you don't know what Microsoft Dynamics is, a lot of people don't. In the data world tend to just know it tangentially. It's basically Microsoft CRM system, so welcome to the show, Cristiano. 

00:03:21 Chris 

Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. 

00:03:25 Frank 

It's good to have you here, and so what's the weather like in Saint Louis right now? 

00:03:30 Chris 

Ah, it's beautiful and sunny. Today it's about 64 degrees Sun index is just right around A5, so it's actually it's actually nice and better than the the ice. We had a couple weeks ago so. 

00:03:38 Frank 


00:03:42 Andy 

Yeah, it got bitterly cold out there for about a week, didn't it? 

00:03:47 Chris 

That's right, I happen to be in Florida that entire week. Everybody couldn't believe I missed all the fun. So with the IT was good, it was a good week to be gone. We left Saturday. We came back Sunday was 52 when we got back and the 9 inches of snow had melted and. 

00:03:51 Chris 


00:03:51 Chris 


00:04:00 Chris 

So yeah, perfect timing. 

00:04:02 Frank 

Nice, now you have excellent timing Sir. Not only in just the fact that dynamics is kind of coming up, coming up on my personal radar, but also in terms of avoiding bad weather. My first question is and I'm calm. Still a new bit dynamics. I learned a lot just by working on this. 

00:04:23 Frank 

One engagement we had DMTC. 

00:04:27 Frank 

Is Dinah. 

00:04:28 BAILey 


00:04:29 Chris 

So Dynamics Dynamics is the biz apps. I mean, you said CRM. It's more than CRM. But today dynamics represents a family of products. You know, the legacy on Prem products, Dynamics AX Dynamics, Navy Dynamics, GP, Dynamics, SL and then the current dynamics 365, which encompasses both you know financing. 

00:04:49 Chris 

Operations, which was the dynamics AX and then Dynamics 365 business Central which was the Navy? So those are both ERP products. 

00:04:57 Chris 

And then Dynamics customer engagement, which is the CRM platform so so dynamics is a collection of biz apps. It's a family of products and you know today we we focus on the two dynamics 365 ERP products and the CRM. The customer engagement product. So great solution, but it's a platform also it. 

00:05:15 Frank 

That's what I noticed, and folks that are listening. They're like this is a data science kind of data engineering show. Why the heck are you talking about? 

00:05:25 Frank 

Dynamics but dataverse the data models, which are one of the things that blew me away, was on this one demo is that there's a. There's a button where you just basically can dump out all your cream data. 

00:05:38 Frank 

Or all your data and dynamics out to a data Lake. 

00:05:42 Chris 

That's absolutely right, Azure. So if you think about the challenges where you move from a legacy system to the cloud, maybe all the data doesn't move and you need to combine it in an Azure data like a data warehouse, and certainly all those tools and all the analytics are all part of the platform. That's just it touches dynamics out of the box, so it's quite a quite a degree of efficiency. 

00:06:02 Chris 


00:06:03 Frank 


00:06:05 Frank 

So one question I have about dynamics is it's history now. You mentioned Dynamics AX and a couple of other letters next to the word dynamics. 

00:06:17 Frank 

Once Upon a time when I worked when I lived in Richmond, there was a guy who used to do a lot of work with that technology. 

00:06:24 Frank 

Back and it was Solomon in Great Plains is that is that the same thing is that the lineages from it. 

00:06:30 Chris 

That's correct, that's correct, that's correct. And so the US based products was Great Plains software out of Fargo ND, and a gentleman named Doug Burgum owned that company privately and then his family. They bought the the Salomon product line as well and then in 2001 is when Microsoft bought Great Plains. 



00:06:46 Chris 

Software, so that's kind of how they consume the North American products and then a year later Microsoft went to Europe and bought Dynamics AX and Dynamics Navy. It was called Exapta in division so and that became a second big purchase and instantly at 2002 they had four ERP products and they're in the biz apps space like they've never been. 

00:06:48 Chris 

OK, so. 

00:06:48 Chris 


00:07:06 Chris 

Before so. 

00:07:09 Frank 

Ah OK, that's interesting. 'cause I I now I know why. There's a huge Microsoft campus in Fargo. 

00:07:16 Chris 

Yes, yes. 

00:07:18 Chris 

It's beautiful campus. 

00:07:19 Frank 


00:07:21 Frank 

Yeah, I haven't been there, but I definitely maybe one day I'll end up going but the the other question I have for you. You keep saying biz apps when you say biz apps? What exactly do you mean like what? 

00:07:32 Chris 

Sure, so I'm. I'm a technical guy. I'm engineering comp SCI math and there's two directions you go and even those curriculums you go **** **** or you or business applications and so business applications in our context is, you know, we're we're business process automation again, whether it starts in an ERP from a quote to cash or a procure to pay those. 

00:07:33 Frank 

What what comic sub is that like? 

00:07:52 Chris 

For business processes and the business applications support. 

00:07:56 Chris 

Work, transactional processing or even non transactional if you think about context of a lead to opportunity to customer type of flow where you start even earlier in the process, but it is it's process automation and exception management and workflow and approvals and can go to the NTH degree of complexity. But but it's biz apps in that categorization. 

00:08:16 Chris 

So as opposed to scientific apps or development tools or games, for example, right, we're focused on businesses, not on residential applications. 

00:08:26 Chris 

That makes sense. 

00:08:27 Andy 

It does, yeah. 

00:08:28 Frank 

Do you have any questions Andy? 

00:08:30 Frank 

This is so awkward being on on this recording, but not being live. So for those that are watching or listening or maybe watching. 

00:08:35 Andy 

Yeah, I don't work. 

00:08:40 Frank 

Go ahead. 

00:08:42 Andy 

Yeah, I'd like to apologize to Chris, especially thank you for coming on here, but we're a little off because of the video. I I I never shaved but. 

00:08:50 Chris 

No worries. 

00:08:55 Andy 

I would have I. I have a face for radio. I think in audio, so that's what's throwing us just a bit. Although Frank and I do live streaming and stuff, can you tell us a little bit more about about what your company does, how how your team implements these biz apps? 

00:09:14 Chris 

Sure, so so turnkey is a is a direct Microsoft distributor, so we distribute dynamics licensing and then we provide 100% of the professional services to to plan to implement, to convert, to customize, to integrate. So really, if you think about there's two parts of business, there's the licensing side and and then the services side, which we've got about 60 team members. 

00:09:35 Chris 

These days, and as you think about, you know, delivering an implementation once the solutions been kind of articulated as project management methodology, really drive the success of the project, and so there's an intimate, detailed plan. 

00:09:48 Chris 

Where we use Microsoft project and and we plan in very very low levels of detail for project execution. Everything from you know, the initial phases of analyzing and requirements and then through design and then through development and through deployment. And then we take people live, but it's a very predictable methodology that's used for project delivery. 

00:10:08 Chris 

Around the ERP products, so that's that's the first spot, so. 

00:10:12 Andy 

You know that sounds an awful lot like what what we do when we're doing data warehousing as well and and similar work I I would say. 

00:10:22 Chris 

Absolutely the disciplines or you know, are kind of agnostic when you think about project methodology. 

00:10:27 Andy 

So just curious, what is a typical engagement about how long does a typical engagement last? 

00:10:34 Chris 

So and again, we sell 2 flavors Dynamics, 365 business Central. We talk about small, medium and those projects could. 

00:10:41 Chris 

Maybe three months for somebody small coming off of a QuickBooks. It's just financials, but it could be six months for somebody that's implementing distribution and manufacturing, for example. So depending on complexity, three months is normally the least amount of time, and in 6 plus months for the business, central on the finance and supply chain, which was acts as a much larger applications targeted at, you know. 

00:11:01 Chris 

Mid market enterprise organizations. Those projects are typically not being delivered in less than six months. Frankly, and I've got some that we see them take 12 to 18 months for example so. 

00:11:13 Chris 

No, it's gonna save us the the project management requirement. Because of that duration and scope and girth. You really people get lost right? Anyway, I'm sorry please. 

00:11:23 Frank 

Oh no no no no no so. 

00:11:26 Frank 

The the, the ERM or the ERP systems like Dave require. So Once Upon a time I was working for a large German chemical company, right? And of course it's a German company, so they used SAP and they hired a bunch of consultants and consulting firms to build out the system. But when they. 

00:11:46 Frank 

Rolled out SA P R2. I think it was. 

00:11:49 Frank 


00:11:50 Frank 

Apparently there was not. 

00:11:52 Frank 

A lot of project discipline now I'll just. I'll just leave it there. 

00:11:57 Frank 

And it basically shut down some of their plants because there were just things were not coming in the way they were supposed to. So So what? 

00:12:06 Frank 


00:12:07 Frank 

How does ERP systems? How do our ERP systems? Kind of you know if they're done wrong? It sounds like they can create a big mess if they're done right, they could really optimize operations. 

00:12:19 Frank 


00:12:21 Frank 

I mean is that, is that true? 'cause I I kind of saw, I mean. 

00:12:23 Frank 

That was just a Horror Story. It's true. 

00:12:24 Chris 

It's true, it's true. It's like me giving you lousy directions to drive from Florida to Washington, and it takes you six months and it should have taken you three days. There's a great example. I poor guidance and poor methodology, is it stretches it out. Things are missed, costs are out of control, but again, if it's done correctly through a thorough analysis. 

00:12:34 Frank 


00:12:45 Chris 

Then you really define scope. 

00:12:46 Chris 

And you know you have good business process visualization. Then you drive to deliver those processes to that point and and it's. And again, if you do a good job and my team does a great job of of really articulating business process, you gain great efficiency and Moreover you get capacity to turn up the juice again, you can take more volume and you've you've articulated. 

00:13:05 Andy 


00:13:06 Chris 

And really gotten the inefficiency out of the process, and Even so, you don't touch every transaction you touch the exceptions so you get a lot of leverage. But then you're correct if it's done right, if it's done. 

00:13:16 Chris 

Wrong, right? It maybe it's broken, maybe it falls off the table and somebody has to pick it up and has a manual step because they didn't think through it thoroughly. And and now you've got a bigger problem, right? And sometimes companies don't retire the old systems and they're working in two places, so there is a lot of negative that can come for people that don't manage and plan and and deliver these systems. And and again, we've been doing this. 

00:13:37 Chris 

For 27 years, so we're pretty pretty good at it so. 

00:13:38 Andy 

Will you? 

00:13:40 Andy 


00:13:42 Andy 

Well, you you mentioned Chris that you know when you were giving examples of the typical projects links that customers are are often migrating from other platforms. Other ERP ish. Perhaps they do some of the ERP work and then you're moving them into dynamics. And as you say. 

00:14:02 Andy 

Once they get in there, they're going to be able to scale. It sounds like horizontally and and cover more territory than the system that they were using and also scale vertically. Like you said, turn up the juice and and just grow is that. Is that...




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