Accepting Dynamics 365 Business Central as a Mediocre Solution

Overview

I’ll admit that I’m a bit of an old school person when it comes to implementing Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly called Dynamics NAV).

I believe when you make a decision to implement Dynamics 365 Business Central for your business, the transition should be smooth with minimal disruption.

In fact, these transition often make your process better as it sorts out (and eliminates) processes that are convoluted. It forces everyone within the company to at least take a hard look at what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

I believe the transition process should be fully planned out and accommodations be made based on the individual circumstances for each company.

Furthermore, during the implementation process, there should be full understanding of:

  • What’s being done and what changes are going to occur
  • What’s being delivered by your Business Central partner
  • What’s being prepared by your own staff

But lately, I’m noticing a disturbing trend in our industry.

Disturbance in the Business Central Force.

When I speak to people that have implemented Business Central, they’re less than enthusiastic about going live with the software.

Digging deeper, I find a lot of common issues on why these business were less than happy with what they got. Here’s a list of the few common comments:

  • Received little to no training (online training was not sufficient)
  • No audit or testing on data being converted
  • Balances transferred over did not match
  • Disconnect between the users and the implementers
  • No response for requests for enhancements or modifications
  • No response for questions they have about the usage of the system

I think the cause of this is the current trend for implementing cloud based software is the automated or templated approach.

The idea is you list out all of the steps that are required to implement a new software, in this case, Dynamics 365 Business Central and you systematize it. In another words, it make it repeatable so anyone can go through the checklist and implement the ERP software.

The goal is so the solution center can hire anyone off the street at a discount, give them minimal training, and just have them follow the template with the customer to get them running in Business Central.

All this so the solution can offered at a lower priced to attract new customers who has no idea what’s going on.

Unfortunately, these low cost implementation trend is a race to the bottom. There’s always going to be the guy that can offer something at a lower price.

In most cases, to lower the price of implementation is to cut corners.

Sure, you can start using Dynamics 365 Business Central if all of your requirements are part of the template (which is the bare minimum). For anything else, you have to wait or you’ll need to figure out how to go around it on your own. The person that’s hired or contracted to help you will certainly not know the answer.

Accepting Less Than Mediocracy

I mean, I wouldn’t be as shocked if the people I spoke to received mediocre service and support. I’m more shocked that people just choose to accept less than mediocre service and support.

Some of the problems the people I spoke to seemed indifferent  to their situation:

  • Accept that requests for modifications takes weeks (sometimes months) to deliver
  • Accept no answers to their questions
  • Accept that they should hire internal staff to maintain Business Central
  • Accept the inconsistencies of working with contractors to the solution center
  • Accept their numbers are off right from the beginning
  • Accept the lack of training
  • Accept that you cannot have a deeper discussion about your business problems and how it can be addressed

I can go on and on, but I keep wondering…  At what point in time was this considered acceptable? Did I miss something?

Everyone talks about the destination. Nobody talks about the process.

Companies are excited about Business Central. It is the best mid-market ERP software. The number of improvements Microsoft has made is astounding. This is not including the strong integration with the existing Office 365 suite.

It’s exciting even for me, as a partner, to see what a fully deployed solution can do. We use it internally, and let me tell you, it has made deployment of these features a whole lot easier and a whole lot palatable. Not to mention how quickly and how organized we can operate as a cohesive team.

No one really pays attention to the question “exactly how do we get there”? Sure if you get a check list and go down the list to see what’s on the template and what’s being delivered, but is your business transformation really off of a templated checklist that you didn’t even create?

Conclusion

I’m not sure why companies are so accepting of their situation.

Do they feel that they’re trapped because they’re scared of what will happen to their data  in the cloud (which is managed by Microsoft) if they switch  software vendors?

Do they feel like it’s expensive to get a new vendor in?  Too much hassle since they’ve gone through it once already?

Do they feel that these problems are just temporary and they’ll just magically go away?

Or worst, do they feel every software vendor is the same and “that’s just how it is”?

Whatever it is, I sincerely hope that this is just a phase. And I hope we, as an industry, can do better.

4 thoughts on “Accepting Dynamics 365 Business Central as a Mediocre Solution

  1. Jeff Breeden says:

    Microsoft should evaluate VARs like car manufacturers evaluate dealers. Too much mediocrity everywhere.

  2. Pingback: MSDW Podcast: Alex Chow on serving Dynamics 365 Business Central customers ERP for Hong Kong SME

  3. Tom Jenkins says:

    Your article here raises some very valid points. “Everyone talks about the destination. Nobody talks about the process.” is one of these, but I think the problem here is that customers are looking at the price more than the destination, they are not defining the destination properly. Ultimately those customer’s who are very price sensitive will go for a lesser solution rather than BC, a tool that they can mould to solve their business issue, rather than add to them, a tool that- with the right support – will enable growth, not inhibit it. A templated solution is not a bad thing in itself, if it is supplied by people who understand the software, can deliver appropriate training, offer a good level of support and can work with the customer to add value to their investment. Microsoft have made it easy for software sellers to become ERP “sellers” without needing ERP “Implementers” to deliver it, even the new competencies are weighted 65% sales (although stated as Performance & Customer Success, they are both basically sales related) against 35% capability, which to me is the wrong mix and not the right message to the customer. There are a number of other metrics they could have easily used to better identify capability and ensure a more professional, consistent approach to the market.

  4. PeterJacksin says:

    Hitting the nail on the head with this article, Alex. The trend within the ERP landscape is to use the standard software without customizations. From the Modern Lifecycle policy Microsoft maintains I get the point of view, but in my opinion there should always be room/flexibility for customizations. And that starts with listening to the customer and starting the conversation.

    Another trend is the Power Platform. Microsoft offers great possibilities to extend Business Central with the Power Platform, but the Power Platform should not be the main goal. While it’s a great platform you should really ask yourself what problem you’re solving. Perhaps a A/L customization in BC is the better route.

    Interesting times for ERP consultants and ISV’s! In my opinion a good ERP consultant is a jack of all trades but master of none who goes the extra mile to deliver the extra mile for the customer.

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