Business Process Improvement
There are many problem in the AX consulting area right now. This is because the industry is mistaking technicians for consultants. A good technician can tell you about how they have been taught how Dynamics AX works. The problem is that the business is expecting much more ability from these individuals.
There’s an excellent resource that is not necessarily part of any specific Microsoft program. This group is the independent AX professionals. There group that represents some of the best talent available for Dynamics AX. I doubt if most people could name five of this group.
This group is primarily comprised of people who worked for a Microsoft partner, worked directly for a customer, or in some cases may have even worked for Microsoft itself. They are people who have invested their time and effort to enable them to go out on their own. It takes courage to do this. Most of them do a good job every day but are virtually anonymous. Many of them subcontract to Microsoft Partners. Some work directly with clients. We all should recognize, if these individuals were not offering something more than what exists, they would cease to be. They provide a flexible resource for partner implementations, many times a lower cost alternative for smaller clients, and they also represent some of the best talent in the industry. One other thing that is important, they are focused purely on the delivery side of the business. They typically sell no licenses and other than their own or third party products. They make their living leading or participating in successful projects.
Some people would say these individuals took advantage of resources and then went off on their own. I think the first thing we need to look at is there are no formal programs for these individuals other than MCT. Another factor is that in most cases these individuals have excelled working for a Microsoft Partners. Many of them, have been laid off. It is a common cycle for partners to hire resources to try to staff their projects only to lay them off in a sales down cycle.
If you look at any ERP system that has any relatively large number of installs, you will find quite several independent resources. They provide a flexible workforce that partners can tap and a reasonable alternative for clients who find themselves having support issues. They serve a useful purpose in filling gaps that partners cannot always fill. Many times, are working shoulder to shoulder with the partner on and implementation, they may be an outsource for the development needs, or in some cases they may have a leadership role within a project. The most important thing though is that they must be focused on outcome. They must prove themselves every week.
The thing the first thing to understand about Independents, is that most times 100% of their business occurs after a sale. Some of them may be involved in the sales cycle depending on the relationship with the partner. This means that their success is dependent on being involved in successful projects. Reputation for doing a good job is everything. No one is going to subcontract a resource they cannot get anything done.
Because of this focus, one of the best places you can find independent resources is at the AXUG events. They many times are the ones who are teaching, presenting, and very much involved in AXUG activities. AXUG is the more visibility than any other single activity. In that many of them, are experts in given subject areas, they many times will also be writers. A good place to look is MSDynamicsWorld, people writing articles there represent some of the top people in the industry. This vehicle gives them the visibility and the recognition they have earned.
"I'm amazed that an industry that prides itself on improving processes and controlling waste is not more introspective. Having been an implementation consulting for 25+ years, I have observed ERP project implementation methodologies and staffing plans stagnate even as the software, both its capabilities and deployment models, have evolved along with the broader business landscape. The result has been a range of mismatches for customers: in how systems are deployed, how projects are staffed, and how clients and partners foster a productive working relationship."
Are current Microsoft Dynamics AX Implementation methods obsolete?
It needs to start out with an actual or perceived business need. The independent is not leveraged by any other party. This means you can get an independent reading on things that might be concerning you. For example, let’s say you are concerned about the progress of your implementation. Many times, people are concerned and they just don’t know what to do about it. This is a role for an independent party who is skilled at implementation to come in and give you advice on where your project stands. This holds true for any aspect of an implementation. You can bring people that specialize in an area to augment your project staff.
What is most important, is this individual able to grasp your needs in the context of the business itself. A good resource should impress you on how well they listen and can translate into the needs of the business. Do you like them? Chances are if you don’t like them they will not be effective no matter how skilled they might be. How well do they relate to the team? The building of effective team dynamics is a critical skill that any project needs. Do they understand your vision for the future and can they articulate how you can get there in terms of the business needs? What it really boils down to is some of the absolute best resources are in this independent group of people. They are because they must be to survive.
Independent professionals serve an important role in the Dynamics AX channel. I believe, the channel should start to recognize their contribution to this industry. They do not steal business from other Partners. They earn business from Partners who are not satisfying their client’s needs. Unfortunately based on the number of implementations that are in trouble there is much opportunity for these Independents. That is not their fault. Competition creates a healthier marketplace. I believe it will eventually lead to a better implementation practice. Having the ability to get an independent view on a project before it’s too late could very well keep the partner in the project. This is because many times the client has just as much fault as the partner. An independent resource can hold both parties responsible.