1845 – The Key to Operational Excellence with Ryan Pollyniak

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Cloud Transformation Executive of Western Computer, Ryan Pollyniak.

Pollyniak Wide

Ryan Pollyniak represents Western Computer, a company that has carved a niche for itself as a Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM implementation partner. They specialize in tailoring Microsoft solutions to fit the unique needs of businesses, ensuring that technology serves the company, not the other way around.

Ryan emphasized that while Dynamics offers a robust feature set, the real magic happens when it's customized to meet the specific operational requirements of a business. Microsoft has made strides in providing tools that allow this customization without the need for developers, making it more accessible than ever.

When asked to explain the role of Western Computer to an eighth-grade class, Ryan broke it down beautifully. He described their work as helping businesses manage inventory, plan for the future, and run more efficiently through accounting, inventory management, and quick decision-making based on insights.

Ryan pointed out that the initial hesitation to put data in the cloud has dissipated as companies recognize the advantages of cloud-based cybersecurity. Moreover, integrating AI into ERP systems is a trend reshaping the industry, with use cases for predicting cash flow, optimizing supply chains, and extracting valuable insights from data.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Overview of Western Computer as a Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM implementation partner
  • Customization of Microsoft Dynamics 365 to match operational requirements
  • Role of cloud ERP in managing inventory, planning, and gaining insights for decision-making
  • Significant trends in cloud ERP over the past five years and the importance of AI
  • Excitement about the potential of AI technology
  • Engagement and working with clients at Western Computer
  • Differentiation of Western Computer from other solutions providers

About Ryan Pollyniak:

Ryan Pollyniak is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 specialist focusing on medium to enterprise-sized businesses. With expertise in ERP and CRM strategy, he actively contributes to the Microsoft Dynamics Channel. Ryan distinguishes himself by approaching ERP and CRM projects as a guide, emphasizing simplicity and effectiveness. 

His signature topics include strategizing cloud upgrades within the Dynamics framework. Ryan is a prolific content creator on platforms like LinkedIn and Western Computer, covering industry-related issues. 

Notably, he excels in guiding businesses using legacy systems (Dynamics CRM, SL, NAV, GP, and AX) through successful migrations to the cloud. Ryan Pollyniak stands out as a valuable asset for businesses navigating the complexities of the Dynamics ecosystem.

About  Western Computer:

Founded in 1987, Western Computer is a nationwide Microsoft Gold Partner dedicated to empowering individuals and businesses for success. Specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform solutions, the company boasts a team of over 180 senior-level experts offering advanced functional and industry expertise across North America. 

As a certified Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), Western Computer facilitates the seamless transition of large and small companies to the cloud with a practical and systematic approach. Western Computer has established itself as a paragon of excellence with over 30 years of experience in ERP, CRM, and business intelligence. The company continually innovates to enhance the value of customers' technology investments, emphasizing a commitment to meeting the unique needs of specialized industries through powerful solutions and exceptional service.

At the heart of Western Computer's culture and mission is the commitment to maximizing value, providing an elite experience for every customer that includes a non-billable, dedicated Customer Success Manager and transparent Service Level Objectives.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out   Western Computer website at

Check out  Western Computer on LinkedIn at

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Check out  Western Computer on Twitter at

Check out Ryan Pollyniak on LinkedIn at

Check out Ryan Pollyniak on Instagram at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey, thoughtful listener, before we get going. Did you know that my company up my influence? Com has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks, I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my influence. Com where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my influence. Com where you'll see shows like Profit, Powerhouse with Glenn Close, sales negotiations, and business insights. This isn't just another business podcast. It's a deep dive into the strategies that truly drive success. Hosted by Glenn Poulos, a seasoned sales strategist and business growth expert, each episode is packed with insights from top executives and business leaders. If you're a high level executive looking to share your expertise and story, we want you on profit powerhouse.

Josh (00:01:19) - Your experiences could be the exact insights Glenn's audience of ambitious business leaders are craving. And for our listeners, if you're ready to elevate your business acumen and learn from the best in the industry, Profit Powerhouse with Glenn Poulos is your go to resource. Subscribe now and join a community of professionals who are transforming the business world, ready to be a part of something groundbreaking? Visit up my influence and click on the podcast tab to find profit powerhouse. Whether you're looking to be the next guest or just seeking invaluable business wisdom. This is where your journey begins. Again, just go to up my influence. Com and click on the podcast tab. With us right now Ryan Pollyniak. Ryan, you are a cloud transformation executive at Western Computer. You're found on the web at Western Computer. Com Ryan, thank you so much for joining us.

Ryan (00:02:20) - Thanks, Josh, for having me.

Josh (00:02:21) - Well, Ryan, now share with us who Western computer is and what you do.

Ryan (00:02:27) - Absolutely. So Western Computer is a Microsoft dynamics ERP and CRM implementation partner.

Ryan (00:02:33) - What that means is we take all the great tools that Microsoft creates for businesses and implement them for companies within the context of those individual business needs. Microsoft doesn't go to that level where they where they work with individual companies to understand their needs and implement., train, go live. That's what Western computer does. We work with companies to bring those solutions into their businesses.

Josh (00:02:57) - Yeah, well, here's $1 million question. What is the difference between having a platform like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and using it at the typical way that sometimes a lot of organizations will use a platform like that, versus if you really will just say, trick it out, right, and and really customize it and, you know, kind of have it match your operational requirements. What's the difference there?

Ryan (00:03:26) - Yeah. Great question. So Microsoft Dynamics of course has got a robust feature set. But every business is different. So the the granular differences with what one company might need versus what another might need that's going to be handled by your implementation partner.

Ryan (00:03:40) - So when you go into a project that it really needs to start with understanding those business requirements for your particular company. And then you used a key buzzword there, right? Customization. Customization has long been kind of taboo in the ERP and the business systems space. Microsoft does offer tools to now get the specific functionality that you need without having to write code without needing developers. They have no code platforms and and AI is really taken off there as well. Yeah, quite a few different ways to get specific business requirements solved. Even if you don't necessarily meet, you know, the the mold, the out of the box mold that Microsoft delivers. Yeah.

Josh (00:04:21) - Just for a second, just to make sure that this is relevant for everybody. There may be some folks that like me, I don't really spend a lot of time, you know, thinking about or working with personally cloud ERP or Microsoft. You know, again, the platform itself, dynamics 365. Could you just for a moment talk to a an eighth grade class of aspiring, you know, students and maybe just kind of give them a, a simple explanation of this world, what this is and kind of where it fits in within organizations.

Ryan (00:04:54) - Yeah, absolutely. I could do that because I have three little girls and they ask me all the time so I can explain it. We help businesses buy their inventory, sell their inventory, plan for the future and count their money. It's accounting, it's inventory management. It's running a more efficient business. And, you know, gaining insights because putting data into a system that's only half the equation, management, decision makers ownership needs access to that information in a digestible format, where data can be presented and decisions can be made very quickly. So I think that helping businesses do what they already do more efficiently is essentially what implementing an ERP system is all about.

Josh (00:05:42) - No., and you had mentioned a couple of things that are really evolving. I think, you know, again, a while back, everything was just like, listen, you know, you got to go to the cloud. Everything is cloud based. Can you maybe just again share a bit of a and then we'll talk about AI here I would imagine.

Josh (00:06:00) - , but like just a quick history lesson over the past five years of the major trends and where we are today and what are the most important headlines that ERP users should be paying attention to?

Ryan (00:06:11) - Absolutely. And and so the number one item that pops up with the cloud and that's changed over the last five years, seven years is aversion to putting data in the cloud. So previously ownership of organizations was a little bit cautious and, tentative putting their data up in the cloud because who has my data I need to protect it. Data is everything for organization. So whether that be, you know, making sure that you don't lose access to it or making sure that you're not ransomware and cyber attack. I mean, this is what CEOs and business owners think about every day. So where that used to be a point of contention with the cloud now ownership and management has come around to the reality, which is that migrating a business system like your ERP to the cloud and letting a company like Microsoft handle cybersecurity is a far better way to protect data,, than having a server in your back office.

Ryan (00:07:08) - And so that that change has happened where executives now want to go to the cloud in order to protect their data, because no matter how good your IT company is or your internal IT department with,, you know, firewalls and, and cybersecurity, they're not Microsoft and they're not going to be able to take it to that level where,, Microsoft guarantees even, you know, uptime, reliability, 99.9%. So I think that's the major shift from being afraid of putting things into the cloud now to being afraid of having things on premise on a server that's changed significantly.

Josh (00:07:42) - You know, and tell me about what you see today around AI that really either excites you, intrigues you, or otherwise has got your attention.

Ryan (00:07:55) - Yeah, absolutely. If I had to say it in one word, it would be the unknown with I, because it's so exciting. It's such a buzzword. And you ask most people, what are you going to do with it? I don't know, but I need it now. And so Microsoft has done a great job of concrete use cases with AI, predicting cash flow, streamlining supply chain,, you know, gathering insights from your data in terms of reporting.

Ryan (00:08:21) - And so when I, when I say the unknown, well, companies like Microsoft have done a great job of starting with this. And, you know, Microsoft is invested in open AI and they've got copilot for dynamics and copilot for office 365 with concrete use cases. We're just starting to unfold this. So you know, the the future is wide open with AI because we're still bleeding edge. We're still uncovering what's possible and building out the technology. So it's so exciting to see what's already been done. But I think what's most exciting is what's to come. So, you know, positioning yourself with a company who's well suited to help take advantage of that is super important from a strategic standpoint.

Speaker 3 (00:09:01) - Yeah, it really, really is.

Josh (00:09:03) - Where does when you're working with an organization, what does that typically look like? What does engagement look like or what are you you know, kind of the I guess, describe kind of your core services. A lot of folks that find this podcast maybe are doing research on the topic or research on you.

Josh (00:09:20) - So here we go., you know, for, you know, if they're evaluating you or they've kind of looked at Western computer, help me understand what it looks like when you work with a client.

Ryan (00:09:31) - Absolutely. So the first thing we want to do is get to know what the client needs and understand. Can we help? It's not always the case that we can. Right? Everybody has different needs. Everybody has different reasons that they've reached out. So understanding where a company is not just from a requirement standpoint in terms of I need the software to do X, Y and z. But where is that company from a strategic standpoint, what does your growth strategy look like? Is it organic? Is it going to be via acquisition or are you planning to be acquired? Have you been recently acquired by a PE firm? Is that pending? Right. All of these things go into a strategy when it comes to a business solution, business system, you know, rather than just what does the software do? Does it meet what I need? So getting to know a prospective customer and you know, the good partners out there,, Western computers, no exception will absolutely tell a company.

Ryan (00:10:23) - You know what? What you need is not in our real house. It's not what we do best. We like to stay in our lane and do what's great. We recommend you go X, Y or Z path. And then others we're going to say, you know what this is exactly?, something that we can excel at and we can help you with and that we're comfortable providing real value for you. So understanding the needs from on a granular level, but also on a strategic level and making sure, first of all, that we can meet those needs and then positioning the right Microsoft pieces, proposing that and then seeing that through from the execution standpoint is in general, what our engagements look like.

Josh (00:10:57) - Yeah., Western computer has been around for get this nearly 38 years.

Ryan (00:11:04) - Or.

Josh (00:11:05) - So. And, and in fact, your, your founder and CEO,, has been the same like at the helm. That is some longevity., Tom Banos. But,, tell me a bit about,, you know, again, western computer in the industry, like, so what differentiates you maybe from other solutions providers, you know, what's led to your longevity and your success? And then to add more into this question,, what's the future look like? So basically, tell us the whole life of Western computer.

Ryan (00:11:39) - Yeah. No problem. And Tom did start the company in 1987, two employees out in Southern California, you know, hence the name Western Computer. Since then, we've grown, you know, exponentially. We're, you know, national company, Canadian entity, customers and employees all over the country. So I'd say the number one thing that helped us become who we are is that we very early on adopted a remote workplace. And so for 15 years, Western computers employees have been remote. And the critical part of that in our business is recruitment. We want to bring in. There's a finite set of Microsoft Dynamics consultants out there, and we want to bring in the top talent. Well, we want to let you live in New Hampshire or Idaho or Georgia or wherever you live, and not say, well, if you want to work for Western Computer, you need to come to Oxnard, California. As beautiful as Oxnard is, we want to bring those people in, let them stay at home, let them, you know, have some geographic coverage and proximity to some of our customers.

Ryan (00:12:33) - So going forward, Western Computer was actually acquired this year. And it's not always evident with everybody, you know, because really it's a company. All. Evergreen Services Group, phenomenal company. They bought Western Computer. They have a buy and hold approach to acquisitions, similar to like a Berkshire Hathaway, where Warren Buffett and his team will buy a company and grow it. And so Evergreen Services Group has infused capital and removed blockers. But they've let Western computer be Western computer. They looked at us as a leader in the dynamics industry, and kind of the rock upon which to build, you know, an even bigger, better dynamics partner. So going forward, we've got that backing. We've got a phenomenal relationship with Microsoft who brings us companies who are looking for dynamics, who brings us companies who have had, you know, some kind of issue with the product that they need another set of eyes on., maybe they didn't get the service they needed somewhere else. So our relationship with Microsoft are backing, you know, from Evergreen Services Group and, you know, our talent.

Ryan (00:13:33) - I mean, look, that's where it's at, guys. It's it's you know, Western computer is a great name, but it's all about the people that deliver the services. It's about the consulting team. And who specifically is going to be doing the work for you?, Western only has senior resources. We don't we don't hire, you know, junior consultants straight out of college and and train them up. And, and the only reason for that is we want to make sure that we're putting,, experienced people on our projects who can help customers understand best practices and strategy and, and leverage lessons that they've learned over the years. So our people, our relationship with Microsoft and our backing from Evergreen Services Group, these are the most important things.

Josh (00:14:11) - Yeah. Website. Western computer. Com and then Ryan your role and I your customer facing. But maybe you could kind of talk about, where you fit in or how you work with clients.

Ryan (00:14:25) - Absolutely. So yeah. And Western, you know, we still have that name,, even though we're national because we have built that name up to have such a good reputation in the industry.

Ryan (00:14:34) - We haven't wanted to rebrand. Right. Because we don't sell computers anymore like we did in the 80s, in the early 90s. And we're not just Western anymore, but nonetheless the name stays. So my role is working with companies who are looking to make a business transformation, a business systems transformation, specifically to the cloud. And so,, commonly those companies will evaluate multiple offerings. There could be SAP Oracle, you take your pick of some of the other vendors out there. And then Microsoft Dynamics is one of them. So it's a very complex thing to navigate. You need guidance. You need a a Sherpa so to speak, which is probably the best way to describe myself in terms of helping the client navigate through what are the proper Microsoft applications, what's the proper strategy? What have you seen other customers do? So I've been working with Microsoft Dynamics for about 15 years now, been with Western Computer for,, nine years in May it'll be. And so listening and and helping a customer to navigate the process.

Ryan (00:15:34) - First of all which dynamics ERP application is best? Which modules might be best? How can we phase this in and get your core business needs met first, and have some of the nice to have stuff done later? You know, because, you know, there's a tendency to kind of try to pile everything into one project where we want to take our time and help a customer be successful and kind of walk, crawl, run. So my role is being at the center of the wheel there. When I talk to a prospective Microsoft Dynamics client, I stay involved throughout the entire cycle of that evaluation. I'll pull in consultants pull in solution, architects will deliver. Demos will go through an exhaustive, detailed process to create estimates for what the project is going to take and make sure that it's scoped properly, and that it's going to meet the strategic initiatives of that client. And then I maintain that that oversight and advocacy throughout the project, throughout the implementation project. So. They've got one person kind of there throughout the process to say, well, here's what we talked about.

Ryan (00:16:35) - Here's what we're delivering. Of course, we're going to bring in we're going to bring in, we're going to bring in a project team, project manager, functional consultants, developers, technical architects. I won't be leading that from a granular standpoint, but I will be there to make sure that we deliver on what we talked about during the evaluation process. Yeah, and that's our mantra. It's happy customers for life.

Josh (00:16:57) - Ryan, again, you are a cloud transformation executive. Western computer comm is website. When somebody goes there what would you recommend they click on. What do they do.

Ryan (00:17:08) - Well, that's a great question. I love our customer success stories, right. Because these are companies who we've helped, who have documented,, where they were, what they needed done, how we help them. And they've spent a lot of money with us and been happy to sing our praises after the fact. Right. So customer success stories, we have a phenomenal set of online resources recorded webinars, accounting, finance, inventory management, e-commerce.

Ryan (00:17:32) - Take your pick. And then there's also a way to sign up so that you are notified of webinars going forward. We we have consultants, weekly how tos, trainings, strategy, what's Microsoft doing with the product, etc. so getting involved in and watching those webinars,, reading our customer success stories and then engage with the chat. If you have a question, there are live people on the other end of it. So we'll have we have chat on our website. You go to the website, a little thing pops up. It says, hey, how can I help you? Admittedly, that is a bot, but as soon as you reply it's going to one of your live Microsoft Dynamics experts. It could be me. It could be somebody else. So, you know, browse the website, engage with the chat, check out the webinar or sign up for the webinars. Read the customer success stories. Tremendous amount of very valuable information on our website.

Josh (00:18:19) - Yeah. Western, again, Ryan, you're the cloud transformation executive there.

Josh (00:18:24) - Thank you so much for joining us.

Ryan (00:18:26) - Yes, sir. Josh, thanks for having me.

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