Customers Worldwide Benefit From Microsoft’s Business Applications

SAN DIEGO, March 7, 2005 — At its premier annual customer event, Convergence 2005, Microsoft Corp. underscored the value of its business management applications by highlighting companies that have recently replaced their homegrown applications or switched from products offered by competing vendors to Microsoft®
Business Solutions technology and services.

“The frequency with which organizations are selecting products and services from Microsoft Business Solutions is evidence that today’s small and midsize businesses, large organizations, and divisions of global enterprises place a high value on products with rich functionality that are adaptable to specific needs and affordable, too,” said Tami Reller, corporate vice president at Microsoft Business Solutions. “Microsoft, with its proven platform leadership and acquired expertise in the business applications arena, is in a unique position to continue driving innovation and offering solutions to meet specific customer needs and enable businesses to effectively streamline and manage their operations and remain competitive.”

Examples of businesses that have switched to Microsoft Business Solutions applications include BGE HOME, a provider of energy-focused products and services for residential and small commercial customers in Maryland; the Linc Group Inc., an operating company for mechanical and facility service providers, and a franchise operator for mechanical contractors; and the SOL Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, which was formed through the acquisition of Shell’s petroleum distribution and marketing business in the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, Suriname and Belize. All three customers say that working closely with a certified Microsoft Business Solutions industry partner was a key factor in the affordability and adaptability of the technology in which they’ve invested.

BGE HOME’s previous mix of applications limited its ability to grow. Because each of BGE HOME’s product lines and functional areas had its own independent application for tracking day-to-day activities, any data mapping or integration involving multiple sources of information required manual re-entering of data.

To address those challenges and to position the company for growth, BGE HOME teamed up with Microsoft Business Solutions partners Accenture and Avanade to consider new technology options. After reviewing the products and services offered by a number of vendors, BGE HOME selected Microsoft Business Solutions–Great Plains®
and Microsoft Business Solutions CRM. Taking a phased approach to its implementation, within three months BGE HOME went live with the solution, which consolidated all its general ledger, financing and accounts payable functions. Within four months, BGE HOME’s sales and installation business lines were migrated onto the Microsoft Great Plains and Microsoft CRM platform for inventory, purchasing, sales order processing, customer billing and receivables management. And within the next six months, BGE HOME plans to migrate the entire service side of its business, which includes service order scheduling, dispatch, tracking and billing.

Bill Munn, president and CEO of BGE HOME, says the company has realized several benefits since switching to Microsoft Business Solutions. “Overall, we’ve improved our operational performance. Specifically, we’ve standardized a number of processes and improved our lead management process. Thanks to the new standard operating platform, we’re confident that we’ll be able to add new business lines in the future without having to make significant IT investments. In the same spirit, we also look forward to being able to easily add and interface with new applications as the business grows.”

Greg Lush, chief information officer with the Linc Group, says that his organization plans to use Microsoft Business Solutions–Axapta®
to serve all business units within the corporation, which includes 109 locations in 43 states and 119 franchise locations. “We’ve converted and constructed a 100 percent Microsoft operating environment, so Microsoft Axapta was a natural fit. We plan to use Microsoft Axapta to manage general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and tax and treasury functions.”

Working with Iteration2, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, the Linc Group will replace its existing UNIX- and PeopleSoft-based applications using a phased approach to deployment of Microsoft Axapta, beginning this year. “We are optimistic that by using Microsoft Axapta we will see cost and time savings,” Lush said.

For the SOL Group, the primary challenge was to implement a solution that was capable of performing all core accounting functions in 13 territories in the Caribbean, many of which fall under different regulations and conduct businesses in different currencies and languages. Under the ownership of Shell, the technology infrastructure was provided by J.D. Edwards. But after the acquisition, with six months left before the expiration of the J.D. Edwards license, Luis Carrillo, regional director with the SOL Group, decided it was time to make a switch. “J.D. Edwards was too expensive,” Carrillo said. “And since it was a mainframe environment, we were completely reliant on telecommunications services, which are expensive and unreliable in the Caribbean, to send information back to the mainframe.”

Working closely with Rock Solid Technologies Inc., a Microsoft Business Solutions partner, the SOL Group chose to replace the J.D. Edwards solution with Microsoft Great Plains and is in the process of implementing the solution, recently going live with the solution at its first site in Suriname, on the northeastern coast of South America. “We considered other products such as offerings from Oracle Corp., but Microsoft Great Plains won out for a number of reasons,” Carrillo said. “The user interface is very friendly, and it’s similar to Microsoft Office, which we already use, so we knew it would be relatively easy to use. And it had all the core financial functionality at a price point that we found attractive. It can handle a multiple-currency environment and is quite good at controlling inventory. Our users find it very friendly. It’s easy to navigate back into an original transaction with the click of a button.”

Making Microsoft Great Plains even more compelling was the ease of deployment and the expected cost savings. Carrillo says that because the SOL Group has a distributed architecture model, the solution can be used on HP servers in all 13 territories rather than needing to be constantly connected to a mainframe. “Tools such as the integration manager in Microsoft Great Plains made for a quicker, more efficient migration experience, and as a result of the new deployment and its ability to run on individual servers, we expect to cut our telecommunications costs by 80 percent,” Carrillo said.

About Microsoft Business Solutions

Microsoft Business Solutions products and services are financial, customer relationship and supply chain management applications for small and midsize businesses, large organizations, and divisions of global enterprises. Delivered through a network of channel partners providing specialized services, these integrated, adaptable business applications work like and with familiar Microsoft software to streamline processes across an entire business.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Great Plains and Axapta are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp., Microsoft Business Solutions ApS or their affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.

Microsoft Business Solutions ApS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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