Skip to main content

What is a Solution Accelerator?

We are often asked what is the difference between a software product and a solution accelerator such as Microsoft Stimulus360 or Microsoft Grants Manager Plus (formerly called Grants360). The distinction is important because confusing solution accelerators (also called templates or solutions) with products leads to unmet expectations.

All of us are familiar with software products such as Word, Excel or Outlook. These products contain features and do certain tasks for us. While they allow for some configuration and personalization of preferences, they essentially work the same way for all users. This is acceptable because word processing and email are largely similar for users in many industries. My Exchange and Outlook setup may be bigger or smaller than an organization, but essentially the user experience is the same.

Products usually come with prescriptions on how they are installed and configured, and this process is made as easy as possible. For some products. it is as simple as clicking a link, downloading and a couple of clicks later the product is installed.

Solution accelerators are more like tools than they are like products. In other words, instead of getting a table you are getting wood, hardware, and sometimes even a saw to cut the pieces to length. Grants Manager Plus, for instance, provides a web portal for soliciting grant applications. The website works right out of the box, and a user can submit an application, but for a complete solution you need to do some analysis and customization. For instance, you would replace the logo and branding in the sample with your organization's logo, replace the instructions with your instructions, and perhaps add new fields that are germane to the type of grant you are awarding.

Solution accelerators make sense for line of business applications which do not have universally consistent business rules or features. Grants for homeless services track different information from grants for cancer research or environment cleanup, so the solution accelerator approach allows the required tailoring. Microsoft Stimulus360, for instance, contained reports which met the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget for ARRA (stimulus) grants.

Custom reports are almost always needed for line of business solutions. Each manager likes to see data in a different way. Analyzing reporting needs also uncovers data fields that should be added to the solution.

A solution accelerator is a different approach than custom development, which offers nearly unlimited customization but is expensive, risky and time consuming. Solution accelerators fit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, between off-the-shelf products and custom development.

If you choose a solution accelerator, you need to plan for services including requirements analysis, configuration, customization, training, and documentation. The effort required will be more than a typical product installation, but the work is required for line of business solutions if you want them to match the way your organization works.

Popular posts from this blog

The DATA Act Driving Grant Management Automation

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act enacted in May 2014 calls for making spending data available in open, standardized formats to be published online.  It is a continuation of transparency initiatives and lessons learned with experiences such as grants.gov, the 2009 economic stimulus under the Recovery Act and the spending site USASpending.gov.

Government grantees will have significant new administrative responsibilities.  Many organizations that were tracking grants in spreadsheets or documents will have to adopt more sophisticated automated grant management systems such as Microsoft Grants Manager to keep up with reporting rules.

For profit companies will lose some privacy as a result of this law.  Grant recipients will be required to disclose information including officer salaries.

Continued improvements to publishing grant opportunities such as grants.gov may make it easier to find grants. These reforms together are designed to improve the effectiveness of grant prog…

Dynamics 365 for Government Contractors (GovCon) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

One of InfoStrat's most popular solutions is Dynamics 365 for Government Contractors (GovCon).



Here are some answers to frequently asked question on this solution:
Can I add new fields to the solution?  -- Yes, the solution is fully customizable and you can add your own new fields to any form, view or report.Does Dynamics 365 for GovCon work on mobile devices?  -- Yes, Microsoft offers mobile apps for all the most popular platforms including iPhone, iPad, and Android phone and tablets.Does Dynamics 365 connect with bid data systems such as Deltek and Onvia?  -- Some information services, such as Onvia, offer integration with Dynamics 365.  Others require third party solutions such as the InfoStrat integration with Deltek GovWin IQ.What do customers typically customize for their unique requirements? -- Not all contractors follow the same steps in the capture process.  Most clients will tailor the business process to add or remove steps in order to match their sales methodology.  Of…

Understanding Dynamics 365 and Office 365 Admin Roles

If you run Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) in the Microsoft cloud, you need to understand how your Dynamics instances relate to Office 365 and choose which of your administrators receives which roles and permissions to manage Dynamics 365.

In on premises deployments, your network administrator would create and delete user accounts.  The Dynamics 365 admin would then assign permissions to users in Dynamics 365.

This post explains three administrator roles:

Office 365 Global AdministratorDynamics 365 System AdministratorDynamics 365 Service Administrator
You may think that the Dynamics 365 system administrator would have power to do all the actions needed to manage Dynamics 365, but this is not the case. What's different in Microsoft cloud deployments is that licenses and user accounts are managed in Office 365 by an Office 365 Global Administrator.  This role is analogous to a network administrator for an on premises deployment.  The Global Administrator is the only …