As we dive into the world of Dynamics 365 Business Central implementations, let’s not beat around the bush: the technical side of things, as complex as it may seem, is rarely the real challenge. Dynamics 365 Business Central boasts a swift implementation process and enviable customization options, making it a darling among small to mid-sized businesses. But, as is often the case, our real conundrums stem from people, not programs.
One of the stickiest situations you might find yourself in is dealing with third-party consultants hired by the end-user company to lead the implementation for ERP software implementation. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of these scenarios, and let’s just say they can be… tricky.
Foot in the Door
Perhaps, this is one of the bad side affects our industry has brought on to ourselves. With a landscape cluttered with Microsoft Partners (or Cloud Solution Provider — not knowing what they’re doing (or as some people call them: crooks), it’s natural for clients to feel fearful that their implementation will fail. Their fear of a botched implementation is as real as it gets especially if they’ve been burned at least once.
And who could blame them? It’s only natural for them to seek a safety net, a third-party consultant to act as their guiding star, their beacon of objectivity through the murky waters of transition. They’re just trying to shield their investment from the storm of uncertainty, hoping to steer clear of the all-too-common shipwreck of a failed implementation.
Many third-party consultants in the accounting software industry come equipped with extensive experience. They often hold certifications, possess a background as a CPA and/or have a MBA degree. They may also maintain strong relationships or friendships with company owners or top executives, and may have even played a role in developing or selling the previous system being replaced with Dynamics 365 Business Central.
When working with third-party consultants who have previously worked with the client, they can be set in their ways about how things should move forward. Your job is to work with them effectively and persuade them that your approach to implementing the project is the right one.
Yet, working with third-party consultants can be tricky. Some common issues include:
- Lack of understanding – They may try to lead the implementation without really understanding Business Central or how to implement it effectively.
- Incomplete knowledge – They might claim to know everything about the client’s business when they don’t have all the details.
- Stuck in old ways – They can be focused on how things have always been done, rather than being open to new, more efficient methods.
- Overcomplicating things – Under pressure to show results, they might add unnecessary steps and checks to business processes, which might sound good in theory but are not practical in real life.
Along with the implementation-related challenges, there are additional issues you might face, such as:
- Budget constraints – They might consume a significant portion of the client’s IT budget, which can strain resources.
- Avoidance of responsibility – Clients might step back and not take charge of the Navision implementation as they should.
- Conflicting interests – Third-party consultants might have their own agendas or priorities that don’t always align with the client’s best interests.
As an implementor, you cannot simply brush these people aside. Obviously, they’re able win the hearts and minds of the top executives in order to get the contract. Brushing them aside would award you with the biggest enemy during and after the implementation.
In the context of implementing Dynamics 365 Business Central, experience with the specific software is crucial. Years of experience in the broader accounting or ERP software industry may not necessarily translate to expertise in Dynamics 365 Business Central, much like hiring a general doctor for a specialized medical procedure. Specialized knowledge and experience with the specific software are essential to ensure a successful implementation.
It’s important to note that third-party consultants do play a vital role. They bring essential expertise that might be missing internally and can be crucial allies during implementation. Their influence is particularly valuable in advocating for new ideas and process changes, especially if they have strong ties with company management.
Third-party consultants offer several advantages, such as:
- Facilitating the organization of key personnel during the interview process.
- Navigating company politics to secure necessary information.
- Providing momentum to reinvigorate stalled implementation efforts.
The most effective third-party consultants I’ve collaborated with are those who:
- Offer services that enhance Dynamics 365 Business Central capabilities, such as Power BI, Power Apps, Web Services, etc.
- Approach Dynamics 365 Business Central with a willingness to learn and dive into its various components like table structures, pages, reports, and AL Coding.
- Take the initiative to document new processes and procedures post-Business Central implementation, ensuring a smooth transition.
- Display a keen interest in integrating with your team and acquiring the knowledge to support the client effectively post-launch.
Ideally, the third-party consultant should serve as a support resource during the Dynamics 365 Business Central implementation, intervening only when their expertise is sought.
In scenarios where collaboration with a third-party consultant is unavoidable, humility is essential. Our primary aim is to fulfill the client’s needs, not to supplant the 3rd party consultant’s role.
Engage with the consultant with transparency. Sharing your implementation strategy and valuing their input as if they were a member of the management team. The objective is to establish trust, allowing you to spearhead the implementation while positioning the 3rd party consultant to assume responsibility for ongoing support.
It’s crucial to communicate that your intention is not to undermine their expertise or jeopardize their position. The collective focus should remain on the successful delivery of the project for the client.