Dynamics 365 Business Central, Power Automate
Shearwater Research is a leading designer and manufacturer of dive computers and electronics based in Richmond, BC, Canada. Since their inception in 2004, they have grown rapidly and currently distribute their products to over 90 countries worldwide.
Moving from an On-Premises Legacy System to the Cloud
Shearwater Research was running its operations on Dynamics NAV 13, which was reaching the end of mainstream support in early 2023. When the time came to upgrade, they decided to invest in a modern, cloud-based ERP solution. “We wanted a system that was more future-proof than what we had. That’s the specific reason we were looking to make the change to a cloud platform,” says Aaron Heacock, VP of Operations at Shearwater Research. Their growing international distribution and presence were another factor in considering a cloud solution over on-premises.
Shearwater Research opted to upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central cloud. “It was a very logical transition from the program we were on,” says Aaron. “We’re already a very Microsoft-focused company, so it made sense as long as it met our future needs.” After exploring the capabilities of Business Central through research, demos, and using a sandbox environment, they noticed that certain customizations were already offered out-of-the-box in Business Central. “We have over 100 people now, and size-wise [Business Central] made sense as well,” shares Aaron. “It seems like on our growth plan; this would be with us for a long time. We also really like the constant updating…on the security side, it’s great because you’re always up-to-date, and we like the idea of never having to do another kind of upgrade like we did this time."
Upgrading to Business Central Using the KwixSmart Methodology
Kwixand Solutions helped Shearwater Research upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Business Central using the KwixSmart implementation methodology. Designed to mitigate ERP risks such as going over budget or schedule, the KwixSmart methodology has two project phases at a fixed price.
“The fixed price methodology is very helpful to small and medium companies,” says Aaron. “Obviously, on our side, it’s a great benefit…ERP projects are one of the riskiest things for companies and one of the most expensive. Knowing the final price up front was very helpful to us in our own planning. And then having that price be very reasonable compared to other partners… we were very happy with the pricing model.”
There were four upgrade steps to get Shearwater Research from their version of NAV to the Business Central cloud, and the go-live went smoothly overall. “It’s easy to recommend Kwixand Solutions to other companies contemplating Business Central,” shares Aaron. “They really do follow through on what they say they’re going to do in the beginning.”
Streamlining Processes and Continuous Improvement
With the upgrade, Shearwater Research saw numerous improvements across departments that increased efficiency and reduced manual work. Aaron cites their new approval process as a concrete example of improved efficiency. Initially using Excel to track approvals, they now have four different automated approval flows set up in Business Central with specific approval levels for each of their buyers. “It’s created a lot of good controls,” says Aaron. “That’s been a very real case of improvement and a useful change for the company.”
They also saw the benefits of easily integrating Business Central with the entire Microsoft suite and easier integration with third-party products. “We have an automatic payment functionality within our system through Stripe. It’s a one-button press, and it takes the invoice we have in Business Central and sends a Stripe payment request to customers,” says Aaron. “On the whole, there are so many improvements on the sales order side that we can now process, just anecdotally, 20%-30% faster because we have a more streamlined solution now.” He adds that Shearwater Research is still working closely with the Kwixand team to implement more improvements.
Partnership for the Long-Haul
Aaron appreciated how straightforward it was to work with the Kwixand Solutions team during the entire project. “The Kwixand team is very accessible…and I find that the response time is super fast. The answers to complicated technical things have been excellent,” he says. “There are so many questions that come up when you’re doing this, and waiting for days for answers is just not realistic anymore... Their quick answers to questions, very detailed when necessary, very straightforward when appropriate, it’s honestly been pretty easy [to work with Kwixand].”
He shares that during their search for a new Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner, they approached it as though they were hiring a new internal employee – they specifically wanted an ERP partner they could see themselves working with closely for a long time.
“We were looking for a 10-year partner; that’s what we kept saying when we were making the decision – who do we want to work with for the next 10 years? [After selecting Kwixand Solutions], I think everyone on the team will say the same thing, that we are really happy.”
We were looking for a 10-year partner; that's what we kept saying when we were making the decision - who do we want to work with for the next 10 years? After selecting Kwixand Solutions, I think everyone on the team will say the same thing - that we are really happy.
- Aaron Heacock
VP of Operations, Shearwater Research