Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales: Do You Need a Consulting Partner?
In part one of our “Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365” blog series, we said that while customers can easily deploy Dynamics 365 without assistance, working with a consulting services partner offers significant benefits. Maybe we’ll start with a quick disclaimer – we are a consulting services company. As enterprise software moves to the cloud and becomes “easier” to deploy, firms like ours need to work much harder to articulate value propositions. We are no longer the technology gatekeepers we once were, any customer with a credit card can “deploy” cloud software. The cloud means that customers demand business outcomes from their partners – services to ensure that investments in technology actually deliver their intended benefits. Hmm, maybe it’s about time!
The fact is that as a Microsoft partner we have been working with these platforms in their legacy “on-premise” form for years. Not to be cliche but we have literally “been there, done that.” In theory at least, extensive product experience should enable partners to help customers reach consensus around business processes more efficiently, and to configure and customize Dynamics 365 correctly to support them. While “deployment” (i.e., turning on) is dead simple in the Cloud Services world, “configuration” (i.e., optimizing for customer-specific business processes) remains the domain of application specialists. Most importantly, they are able to do this with the long term in mind. Failing to take the long term into account can lead to rework or inefficiencies within the application over time. So why would companies reinvent the wheel by implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 themselves?
What about after implementation, when you are up and running with D365? What role does a partner play then? Or is it a just matter of “set it and forget it?” In this blog we’ll elaborate on the importance of support post-implementation and explain the different ways in which Catapult provides support.
After Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365: Set it and Forget it?
When implementation projects reach their go-live, it’s typical to assume that the hard work is over. Imagine that you are shown the controls to a space shuttle and guided into orbit by an experienced astronaut. What then? Do you have the skills and experience to safely deploy and fix your satellites, conduct experiments, dodge space junk, re-enter the atmosphere, and land safely?
Rather than “set it and forget it;” customers should think about “set it, monitor KPIs, adapt, modify, tailor, absorb new capabilities and tune performance.” While that admittedly doesn’t roll off the tongue very nicely it’s the reality for companies who want to ensure that they continue to get the most out their investment.
New Requirements and Changing Needs
At Go-live, it’s often the case that systems have not had the time to stabilize in real-world conditions. In any systems implementation context it can be very difficult for customers to fully anticipate their needs and define exactly how the system should be optimally configured. It often takes some time in production – a break-in period – to really appreciate how the system functions and how it’s capabilities can really create value. As end users get familiar with the solution, the potential for business impact expands. Also, as companies grow their needs typically change, the system needs to be tweaked and tuned (and sometimes reconfigured) to support new requirements.
By working with a partner that offers long-term support services, customers can easily keep their system dialed and aligned to the business. In our support services work, Catapult brings governance and a systematic approach to evolving customer systems and the way they are adopted into the business. We focus considerable energy on keeping users’ skills sharp and business processes aligned.
Ongoing Support Services at Catapult
Not everyone has the in-house resources or expertise to properly support their systems. For these companies, the effort required for maintenance and monitoring can be overwhelming and small issues can quickly become critical.
With our Responsive Support services, companies have access to help when they need it – regardless of their original implementation partner. When performance is an issue, a critical process stops unexpectedly or a system doesn’t perform as expected, responsive support clients have access to experienced product experts who will diagnose the issue and recommend a solution.
Think of it this way – if your ERP / CRM system is a building, our responsive support services are the fire engines and firemen first to the scene when a fire breaks out.
If our Responsive Support services are the Fire Brigade, our Dedicated Support services are the entire fire prevention chain, from the initial fire-proofing of the building to the fire prevention inspector, smoke detectors, sprinkler system and Fire Brigade.
With our Dedicated Support services companies have access to a dedicated service delivery manager as well as our support portal and receive fast response time and turnaround priority access to resources. They will also receive proactive recommendations for improving the performance of their systems and regular status updates.
These services are ideal for companies with larger user bases, complex implementations (extensive customizations, integrations, use of ISVs), and extensive deployments. Companies who require higher availability, higher performance environments, and customers who continuously improve their solution with small tweaks and enhancements should also consider these services.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (aka Partners)
What better way to sum up this blog series than with a cheesy quote? As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” I admit that as a partner organization it’s a bit big-headed to equate partners with giants (although if I had to I would totally say that Catapult is Wun-Wun from Game of Thrones). However, I think the sentiment is totally on-point.
Yes, purchasing a subscription and going it alone may seem like a cheap and easy option for many customers. However, they should remember that just as they are the experts in their field, we are the experts in ours. By choosing not take advantage of the giant (i.e partner expertise), they have to stand on their own two feet. This means foregoing expertise that would enable them to fully leverage Dynamics 365 for their specific needs. It also means that when these needs change, or performance issues arise, for example, they are own their own. Consequently, choosing to move forward without a partner can result in increased cost, business risk, and frustration as well as decreased functionality.
Climb on to Catapult’s shoulders!
In the process of implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365? Or already have it up and running? Get in touch with us. We’d be happy to chat about how we can support you in achieving your business and technology goals.