Microsoft Readies New Release Of Dynamics SL Application Suite

Microsoft will ship the next release of its Dynamics SL application set in next year's second quarter, the company said this week, offering improved project management capabilities and user interface enhancements that promise a boost in productivity.

The Dynamics SL 2011 ERP suite is currently in beta testing and the second beta release went out earlier this week, said Jeff Wallis, product unit manager, in an interview.

Dynamics SL 2011 is the first new release of the software since a feature pack update in late 2008 and the first major release since Dynamics SL 7 shipped in 2007.

Dynamics SL, one of Microsoft's four ERP application suites, is particularly geared toward mid-size, project-oriented organizations such as professional services businesses, government contractors, and architectural, engineering and construction companies. The software, for example, has accounting tools especially designed for tracking project costs.

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The 2011 release sports a new user interface with the familiar Microsoft Office look and feel, role-specific dashboards, and a Quick Query feature with 50 pre-designed search options for finding information more quickly, said Jeff Suwyn, senior technical product manager, in an interview.

Next: Dynamics SL's Vertical Industry Focus

Dynamics SL 2011 is integrated through Web services with Microsoft Project Server 2010, Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The integration with Microsoft Project Server makes it easier for businesses to combine and synchronize project management and project accounting data, and create and view project budgeting and net-profit information. The SharePoint integration makes it easier to disseminate and share that information, according to Microsoft.

"The whole interface change is really going to save people time,"" said Carolyn Jasiulewicz, president of Progressive System Solution, an Orlando-based solution provider and Microsoft Gold partner. Dynamics SL accounts for about 60 percent of her business, she said in an interview. "We do a big business with SL," she said.

Jasiulewicz estimated that the ease-of-use improvements could save workers as much as an hour a day. She also praised the application set's new project management capabilities.

Microsoft is especially dependent on its channel partners to sell Dynamics SL because its focus on project management makes it very applicable to specific vertical industries, Wallis said. "All of our partners have been very vertically oriented," he said.