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The MSDW Podcast

The MSDynamicsWorld.com (MSDW) podcast explores news, ideas, and events in the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM community.
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Aug 23, 2019

In this brief podcast episode, Mary Miller of ImageTag discusses how she has deployed the work execution platform Smartsheet to manage nearly all aspects of her team's projects, calendar, budget, and more. She credits it with revolutionizing the marketing management function while boosting departmental productivity.

There’s lots more in this interview, the sixth in a series of Marketer’s Corner podcasts. The series is designed to provide ideas and guidance for improving marketing productivity and effectiveness, as well as to provide an accessible platform for ISVs and partners to share their marketing experiences and tips with the Dynamics community at large.

Aug 21, 2019

Microsoft MVP Erik Hougaard published his first book this week, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Field Guide, and he joins the MSDW Podcast to talk about the book, the state of Business Central, and his experiences with self-publishing.

Erik has been working with NAV and Business Central for a long time. He's perhaps best known for his work as a developer and architect and his related blogging and speaking. The Field Guide is a departure from some of the topics he usually discusses. It is written for new Business Central users and administrators, whether they have experience with Dynamics NAV or not. It is not intended as a cover to cover read, he says, but rather as a real field guide – something meant to be picked up as needed to learn more about specific topics, from standard features to integration options to reporting and customization.

We discuss a few important chapters, Erik's experience writing and publishing the book, and plans for updating it as Business Central is updated by Microsoft every six months going forward.

Show Notes:

  • 2:00 – Why write a book, and why make it a field guide?
  • 7:45 – What is it like to write about Business Central for the newcomer?
  • 10:00 – Thoughts on the real uses of the "Intelligent Cloud" tools for linking on-prem to cloud BC
  • 13:20 – User productivity in the Business Central interface
  • 19:00 – What topics around BC could use a deeper dive?
  • 21:30 – The strength of standard BC integration via APIs
  • 22:45 – How to keep a Business Central book current.
  • 24:50 – Thoughts on self-publishing
  • 26:10 – What else you need to know about the book.
Aug 9, 2019

In today's news roundup episode we break down recent Microsoft announcements, and highlight recent expert content on budgeting, automation, reporting, and ERP integration, and more.

Topics include:

Aug 7, 2019

Microsoft's industry accelerators for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform don't simply appear. Rather, they are the result of extensive collaboration with partners willing to share their years of experience and intellectual property to help develop standardized data models and feature sets. In the financial services sector, VeriPark has contributed to that effort, contributing to the development of the recently launched Banking Accelerator.

Our guest on this episode, Wim Geukens, managing director of VeriPark Europe, explains that committing some of the company's most valuable IP to an open source initiative like an industry accelerator wasn't an easy decision. And while they may be losing some advantages, there are advantages to helping Microsoft shape its industry model, too, he says. The company also continues to move ahead with efforts to offer more high value capabilities for financial services firms, in areas like language processing and facial recognition.

We also discuss Wim's recent articles for MSDW on approaching the requirements of omnichannel customer engagement in the banking and insurance sectors. One reason the articles work so well is that, unlike generic statements on the importance of improving customer experience, they take on real and addressable challenges like integrating legacy solutions and prioritizing the availability of customer information at key moments.

Show Notes:

  • 2:30 – Approaching omni-channel customer experience needs for specific industries
  • 4:30 – The insurance industry's unique requirements
  • 5:50 – Are insurers eager to re-invent themselves through innovation and a modern architecture?
  • 10:15 – VeriPark's evolution as an industry-focused vendor
  • 13:45 – What does an industry-focused approach mean when designing and marketing a solution?
  • 18:00 – Does leading edge technology have a place in financial industries?
  • 19:00 – Why work with Microsoft on the banking accelerator initiative.
  • 23:00 – The broader industry effort around the Microsoft Business Applications platform
  • 26:00 – What's next for VeriPark's investment with Microsoft? Blending what's possible and what's realistic.
Aug 2, 2019

How do Microsoft Dynamics users really go about researching and making buying decisions about ISV solutions?

It turns out the reality is often much different from partner's assumptions about the buying process. As just one example, it may be tempting for Dynamics marketers to assume that product videos and podcasts are fringe marketing vehicles for third-party solutions, when in fact they are rapidly becoming mainstream, argues Adam Berezin, MSDynamicsWorld’s CEO in the latest Marketer’s Corner podcast.

In this episode of the MSDW Marketer's Corner podcast series, Berezin draws on the results of our latest Dynamics ecosystem survey of decision makers and influencers, drawn from among MSDW’s 70,000-plus active site-members, for a number of surprising observations about what Dynamics users are really seeking in their product research and buying decisions.

Jul 26, 2019

In this latest MSDW Marketer’s Corner podcast, Stephanie Burke, vice president of marketing at Sana Commerce, provides guidance about developing rich content that will engage Dynamics users researching new products.

For example, she describes steps Sana has taken to create a credible blog that has helped bring sales prospects in. She explains how Sana uses case studies to bring prospects along in the sales cycle, along with the kinds of company and personnel information the company includes on its site.

Jul 18, 2019

Inspire 2019 is coming to and end this week following a full three day schedule plus additional regional meetings and sessions. On this episode of the podcast, we get the Dynamics SMB partner perspective from QBS Group's CEO, Michael Hartmann, and VP of Business Development Nelson Tavares da Silva. They share some of the key guidance they received from Microsoft around Dynamics 365 Business Central, updates on programs including AppSource and partner benefits, and themes that they will use at their own firm and with their partners.

QBS Group will also be hosting their own webcast with more event updates on July 22.

Show Notes:

  • 1:00 - How Microsoft approached the issue of trust, specifically around the issue of Internal Use Rights.
  • 3:00 – Investments that will benefit Microsoft's partners in FY 2020: Channel incentives and field resources
  • 5:30 – Microsoft's commitment to AppSource and to co-sell, and how partners should understand the different forces at work in the channel.
  • 8:30 – Are there indications that Business Central ISV activity is accelerating?
  • 11:00 – What the "sliver approach" will mean for NAV ISVs who need to get to AppSource for Business Central.
  • 13:15 – Discounts being lowered for Dynamics Price List products, and incentives to make CSP the path forward.
  • 15:00 – What's the overall Dynamics SMB partner sentiment at Inspire?
  • 18:30 – What themes from Inspire will impact strategic planning by partners those aligned with QBS Group?
  • 20:30 – The Inspire 2019 event experience, plus other exciting and impressive technology
Jul 11, 2019

Inspire 2019 is just days away, and the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) will be there as always, advocating for Microsoft partners and celebrating its 25th anniversary. On this episode we speak with Jeffrey Goldstein, president of IAMCP Americas and the managing director at Microsoft partner Queue Associates. He'll be at Inspire and he walks us through the themes that both his firm and IAMCP members will focus on, both internally and with Microsoft executives.

Some of the most pressing matters should be no surprise, like how to navigate the changes to gold and silver certifications, the loss of internal use rights (IURs), and the evolving use of AppSource. But Goldstein is also helping lead

Show Notes:

  • 2:30 – Inspire 2019 event outlook, including IAMCP's 25th anniversary celebration, board of directors meetings, and Microsoft executive roundtables
  • 8:50 – What partners can expect to hear from Microsoft at executive roundtables that's different from the event's formal keynotes.
  • 12:00 – What are the most pressing channel issues partners are looking at today?
  • 14:45 – IAMCP's role in encouraging winning partner-to-partner initiatives
  • 16:00 – What can we infer about Microsoft's view of SMB partners today?
  • 18:15 – How many partners will Microsoft realistically manage?
  • 20:00 – How Queue Associates has adapted to changes in competencies recently.
  • 23:00 – How IAMCP is approaching the impact of the removal of Internal Use Rights (IURs), including its statement on the matter.
  • 30:30 – Do partners yet understand the impact of AppSource?

Links:

Jul 9, 2019

Mary Miller's marketing and partner engagement team at KwikTag fulfill's many roles for the company. When it comes to supporting their reselling partners, the team have deployed a marketing toolkit that provides a blend of resources from product information to demos, case studies, and industry research. They even develop landing pages and microsites that their partners can use in the context of customer interactions.

In this episode, Mary and podcast host Marilou Barsam discuss:

  • What a marketing toolkit looks like at KwikTag
  • How partners are expected to utilize the toolkits
  • Strategies for selecting and developing the right toolkit materials
  • The value of co-branding materials with partners
  • How to mutually manage leads between an ISV and partners
Jul 7, 2019

Linda's new book, Get Acquired for Millions, reflects her own experiences in 3 sales, plus new research from across the industry.

The sale of a technology services provider (TSP) business brings into focus matters of all sorts -- financial, strategic, operational, psychological, and even personal. The prospect of an acquisition also raises a lot of challenges and anxieties – the worth of a business today, how can that value be improved, how buyers are approaching opportunities, and where sellers are finding the best deals.

Our guest is Linda Rose, a veteran of the tech services space and the Microsoft channel in particular. She has sold three businesses over her career, most recently her cloud services business about two years ago. After taking some time off for a few adventures, she's back to work with a new book for other business owners. It's called Get Acquired for Millions: A roadmap for technology service providers to maximize company value.

We talk about her own experiences as an entrepreneur, her research for the book, and some of the findings and recommendations for other TSPs.

Show Notes:

  • 1:50 – How Linda's new book came to be after selling her last business.
  • 6:00 – Takeaways from her latest deal, other business experiences, and translating those into the resources of the book.
  • 10:00 – Is transforming your business to become more attractive to buyers always healthy move even if you're not interested to sell?
  • 12:30 – Performance factors that prospective buyers will be looking at.
  • 14:30 – Psychological stresses that play into a deal's success.
  • 19:30 – The role of an M&A broker or coach
  • 25:00 – The importance of a letter of intent (LOI)
  • 28:15 – Where do Dynamics-focused partners fit into the broader TSP deal outlook?
  • 33:00 – What are private equity firms focused on in the Microsoft channel, and how are they framing the value of acquisitions?
  • 36:30 – Why are so many MSPs looking to sell?
  • 38:40 – Women in tech – what has changed, and how Linda's own experiences inform her views.

 

Jun 28, 2019

Mary Miller and her team at KwikTag by enChoice are responsible for marketing and the channel relationship. That covers a lot of ground, from events, content, supporting collateral, and anything the sales team might need to help promote and sell the company's products and services. In the Microsoft Dynamics space, they go to market with their channel partners, and that relationship is critical to their execution strategy. 

Marketing expert Marilou Barsam hosts the episode and talks with Mary about KwikTag's most pressing needs and the tactics they have used to boost results including a rethink of their webcast strategy, which now caters to users and partners in unique ways. 

Jun 28, 2019

There is so much more to productive content than simply creating articles, blogs, videos and white papers. The content needs to maximize key product features. It needs to reflect the prospect’s buying stage and demographics. It needs to be effectively staged. And more.

Heather Robinson, director of marketing for Fastpath, has years of experience getting results from content marketing in the enterprise software space and understands how and why to engage and nurture prospects with appropriate messages and touch points.

In this Marketer’s Corner interview, she explains:

  • The keys to breaking the content presentation process into stages;
  • How to develop content marketing plans in conjunction with the sales team;
  • Ways to deliver more educated content-created prospects to sales reps;
  • How to determine the best followup content for new contacts;
  • Maximizing the use of data to forge followup strategies for the sales team.
Jun 18, 2019

When it comes to ERP, smaller businesses with complex operations face a major challenge in finding a solution that can optimize their business while not hampering it with eye-watering deployment costs. As podcast series co-host Peter Joeckel recently wrote, SMBs who invested in Microsoft Dynamics AX over the last decade are now likely to find themselves stuck in the middle of an ERP world that might feel like it has forgotten them.

Both of today's guests, Chris George of Smith Pump Co. and TJ Phelps of ALT Fabrication, support their companies' AX systems and know them inside and out after years of service. That means they not only know how the solutions have helped build the businesses, but they know in what ways they are now being held back by various factors including licensing, customization, and general limitations that more modern systems would be able to accommodate.

Thanks to both Chris and TJ for their candid assessments and for sharing their findings as they plan for the future.

Show Notes:

  • 1:45 – Introducing our guests, their companies, and their AX solutions
  • 6:00 – Why smaller manufacturers have selected Dynamics AX over the years rather than an SMB package like GP.
  • 11:00 – Similarities between our guests companies: engineer-to-order manufacturing, distribution, field service, maintenance, repair, and more.
  • 14:00 – What planning have they done so far to move off their AX solutions? And what was the result?
  • 16:00 – Thoughts on the latest Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations software and how the business might change by adopting it.
  • 21:00 – Why the next investment in ERP will be different, and where automation will be critical.
  • 26:00 – Why paper and manual processes have persisted for so long.
  • 30:00 – Are the executive teams sold on the need for these updates?
  • 33:00 – Why automation and reporting go together.
  • 34:00 – ERP projects are exhausting. But there's another way to think about it in a manufacturing environment.
  • 36:00 – Where Microsoft is pushing customers to look for automation and app development.
  • 38:00 – Does the world need a tell-all documentary about building demos for conference keynotes?
May 20, 2019

In this episode we talk with two Dynamics channel veterans who are also relative newcomers to the long-running Directions North America conference and its traditional audience of Dynamics NAV partners. Jonathan Stypula and David Gersten of Dynamic Consulting focused on a broader range of products and clients than just Business Central, but they also see the importance of this product in the future of Microsoft's business apps segment and the channel.

We explore their impressions of Microsoft's messaging, parallels to the Finance and Operations world, whether partner M&A will pick up, and what entrepreneurial VARs will do next.

Show Notes

  • 4:15 – First impressions of Directions NA from a newcomer
  • 6:30 – Did partners leave the event with marching orders for Business Central?
  • 7:30 – What does it take to get GP partners interested in Business Central?
  • 9:30 – Is Business Central a product with two business models?
  • 13:15 – The challenge of trying to operate in both the 5 seat and the 500 seat ERP markets
  • 18:45 – Are partners going to adapt to be more like Microsoft's ideal for SMB?
  • 21:00 – Does it make sense for a GP partner to acquire a NAV partner?
  • 24:30 – Consolidation in the Dynamics partner space.
  • 30:00 – What is your NAV reseller business really worth?
  • 32:15 – What Microsoft and AX partners learned from the transition to D365FO in the cloud, and how they can avoid the same mistakes with Business Central
  • 34:15 – Why are so few NAV partners talking about competing ERPs?
  • 37:15 – Bringing the GP partner network back into the fold at Microsoft.
  • 45:30 – What companies are better suited for Finance & Operations than Business Central? Does seat count matter much?
  • 49:45 – Are GP partner attitudes changing?
May 14, 2019

Our journey through the AX to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) upgrade experience continues with a primer on Microsoft's Fast Track program for D365FO implementations.

Fast Track is a component of every D365FO cloud deployment, whether customers know it or not. It involves multiple stages and activities throughout (and after) an implementation project. The goal, our guests explain, is to improve the likelihood of a successful go-live by ensuring the system is properly designed, built, and ready to operate in a production environment.

Two principal solution architects from Microsoft, Sigita Cepaitiene and Gokul Ramesh, join us to discuss key details of the program, including its origins, how it works today, and ways it might evolve in the future. They also offer insight into what Microsoft is learning, from module usage to project management to One Version, as the company helps customers transition to SaaS ERP.

Show Notes

  • 3:10 – Introduction to our guests
  • 4:55 – How to think about Fast Track in the context of Office 365 and Dynamics
  • 8:45 – What kinds of customers are benefiting from the program, and how?
  • 15:15 – How the program combines technical and consultative elements.
  • 16:45 – How has partner acceptance of the program been?
  • 19:00 – How does a Fast Track project get kicked off?
  • 20:00 – The metrics and telemetry data that the Fast Track team monitors leading up to go-live
  • 23:55 – Can customers and their partners get more of this information during the analysis phase rather than the implementation?
  • 29:30 – What has Microsoft learned from the telemetry data?
  • 32:45 – What are the biggest challenges the Fast Track team is seeing in upgrading AX customers, and can Microsoft help guide customers more?
  • 38:15 – Why Fast Track is focused on SaaS and not on-premises.
  • 40:30 – How do AX customers that aren't ready to upgrade yet get themselves in the best shape today to take on an upgrade in the future?
  • 42:45 – How does One Version impact the Fast Track approach?
  • 45:45 – Can Fast Track push back on customers that are not ready to go live?
  • 48:00 – Do partners align well enough with the specialized skills of the Fast Track team's approach?
  • 50:15 – How does Microsoft look at the remaining AX user base and their timeline for upgrading to D365FO?
  • 53:10 – Areas of investment for the future, including code upgrade/update estimates.
May 3, 2019

In the era of on-premises ERP, private hosting partners offered a relatively straight forward value proposition. For many small to mid-sized businesses, especially those without a robust IT department or data center of their own, hosting had (and still has) measurable value. But that story changes when the future of an on-prem ERP is mostly in the public cloud, as we see with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.

While the story has changed, it is not over for Microsoft partners who traditionally focused on hosting and private cloud services. For one, most AX customers have not yet upgraded to D365FO, nor do they have immediate plans to do so.

Second, as we have seen in previous episodes of this series, an ERP running in the public cloud and managed by Microsoft is not a simple arrangement. Partners and customers alike need new skills on various Azure services and tools to be able to properly manage both their IT infrastructure and its costs.

Add to that the fact that a D365FO solution on Azure will become just one node in a multi-cloud topography for most organizations, and the role of a cloud services partner starts to come back into focus.

Tyler Doerner, VP of sales at WatServ, a hosting and cloud services provider and Microsoft partner, joins series co-host Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics and MSDW editor Jason GUmpert to explore how both private cloud and Azure services are impacting Dynamics customers. We discuss how private, hybrid, and public cloud services are changing the partner channel, what Dynamics AX customers are doing today to plan for F&O, hybrid cloud scenarios are most important today.

Show Notes:

  • 00:35 – Background on WatServ and Tyler's history
  • 1:30 – Why hosting and private cloud infrastructure ought to be part of the D365FO upgrade discussion
  • 5:15 – A brief history of AX hosting in the Dynamics channel
  • 6:30 – The shift in hosting from private cloud to Azure IaaS
  • 8:15 – Why some AX customers remain hesitant on a D365FO upgrade today.
  • 10:00 – IT's role of the future (briefly)
  • 13:00 – The challenge of finding talent with cloud expertise
  • 16:45 – Why does D365FO on-prem cost the same as SaaS?
  • 20:00 – How much of the value in D365FO is the cloud infrastructure and promised level of support and how much is in features that are cloud-only?
  • 25:00 – How have cloud and hosting conversations changed in the Azure era?
  • 27:15 – Why developing a multi-year, multi-step plan from on-prem to the cloud is a realistic ERP strategy today, and why organizations are still lacking the skills to do it.
  • 30:00 – Why WatServ chose to add Google Cloud (rather than AWS) alongside Azure
  • 31:30 – How well are organizations dealing with their multi-cloud topologies?
  • 34:45 – What are cloud service partners' relationships with Microsoft today, and why those changes mirror other ISV areas on which Microsoft has encroached.
  • 37:00 – Is Microsoft ready for AX customers to move to D365FO?
May 1, 2019

On this episode we talk with Microsoft's Aleksandar Totovic about what he willl be presenting at  Directions North America 2019 next week in Las Vegas. Aleksandar described these sessions on his blog recently, and he explains here some of the factors that went into his decision to take on topics that are forward thinking and probably a little outside of the conventional NAV and Business Central partner's plans. The common theme of the sessions – figuring out how to incorporate other fast-moving Microsoft business applications with Business Central – underscores one of the big opportunities and challenges that partners face: deciding where to invest precious time and resources in the Microsoft channel.

Show Notes:

  • 1:20 – A little more about Aleksandar
  • 2:30 – A brief Directions Asia recap
  • 4:40 – Why look at using D365 for Talent with Business Central?
  • 8:00 – Why partners should be encouraged to promote and propose holistic Microsoft solutions, not just Business Central.
  • 9:30 – Why the CDM/CDS is relevant to Talent workloads, other HR solutions, and the future of Business Central.
  • 11:50 – Scenarios in which a combined Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and Business Central customer could benefit from doing traditional ERP tasks in a model-driven PowerApp.
  • 17:15 – Sessions that Aleksandar is looking forward to at the event.
Apr 26, 2019

In a recent article, the co-host of today's podcast, Peter Joeckel, shared his perspective that the Dynamics AX user base falls into one of three categories as it relates to their Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) upgrade prospects:

  • Small to mid-market and simple;
  • Large and complex but well funded;
  • Mid-market and complex but financially constrained

That last cohort, the constrained mid-market customer with complex customizations, is staffed with tense IT managers harboring the legitimate fear that the financial losses tie to an upgrade-gone-wrong could do real harm to the business overall.

In this episode of our Dynamics AX to D365FO Upgrade Journeys podcast series, we meet Irene, an IT director at a manufacturer running a not-so-successful AX 2012 system (she preferred to leave her company out of the discussion). Their AX implementation began in 2012 RTM and "it was not an easy implementation," she says. They faced many of the hurdles you hope not to find when executing an ERP project: the lack of a change mindset, a conservative (and seemingly un-engaged) executive team, and some technical deployment problems. Since their less-than-satisfying go—live, they have been working to steadily bring back features and functions that should have been there from the start.

Now they face the prospect of an upgrade of some sort. Irene explains how she evaluated the two primary choices: upgrading to D365FO in the cloud or upgrading to AX 2012 R3. It's not a scenario (or an outcome) that will earn itself a flashy video at the next Microsoft conference, but it's one that might seem more believable for a certain set of AX customers weighing their options today.

Show Notes

  • 3:15 – Introducing our AX customer guest and her company's current state
  • 6:15 – Past history: why the company is moving cautiously ahead after its original AX 2012 implementation
  • 9:45 – What their upgrade analysis looked like and why others will have to move from AX 2012 to D365FO first.
  • 12:30 – How the company made their decision on the next steps considering factors like customizations, reporting, and user experience.
  • 15:00 – Can a move from AX to D365FO really be called an upgrade?
  • 20:30 – AX was implemented to "make corporate happy" originally. Is anyone happy now, and who's not?
  • 22:45 – Why our guest is optimistic about the long term future at her company with D365FO – with some reservations like affordability. Would love to know Microsoft's strategy to keep adding value.
  • 26:00 – What it means to be in the midrange of ERP buyers when looking to the cloud.
  • 30:00 – How much are service providers quoting for an AX 2012 to AX 2012 R3 upgrade/re-implementation? And how would it have compared to the cost of a move to D365FO?
  • 35:00 – What a recent group of AX users had to say about planning for a move to D365FO?
  • 37:45 – Concerns over partner pressure to move to D365FO, and what is probably driving it.
  • 41:00 – The company's long term plans for the next five years.
  • 42:00 – Predicting Microsoft's plans for long term support of AX 2012 versions.
Apr 26, 2019

The podcast is back with a look at some of the most important articles and features from the last month. It's an episode that is heavy on Dynamics 365 Business Central news as Microsoft ramps up the April 2019 release and communicates its plans to partners, both in Asia last month and in North America in May. We also review some new insights from subject matter experts in partner channel strategy, manufacturing, banking, non-profits, Customer Engagement, Finance & Operations, and more.

Show Notes:

Mar 12, 2019

With Extreme365 Europe just weeks away, we catch up with Microsoft MVP Mark Smith, a.k.a nz365guy, for a preview of his plans for the event and a few predictions of top areas of discussion around the business of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

Show Notes:

  • 2:00 – How Mark will be participating at Extreme365.
  • 5:15 – How will Executive Exchange attendees be looking at quickly approaching changes in areas like automation and practical AI advances?
  • 13:15 – Power Platform in contrast to Microsoft's first party D365 apps
  • 18:15 – Fitting the needs of partners serving small and midsized organizations
  • 21:30 – What Microsoft MVPs are really like
  • 25:30 – On becoming a Microsoft professional without a traditional educational path.
  • 27:15 – Mark's session on how ISVs can build on the Power Platform
  • 29:30 – The challenge of running a systems integrator to pivot to an ISV approach.
Mar 7, 2019

On this episode we catch up with a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations upgrade project in process. We talk to project managers from both the partner and customer side to learn how each of them has navigated a challenging project with a very rigid deadline that is just two months away. From daily standup calls to project tools to executive sponsors, our guests, Arun (the customer project manager) and Ebrahim (the partner project manager) talk about their progress so far, technical hurdles of ERP on Azure, and how they have dealt with change management.

Show Notes:

  • 3:30 – Project basics – where it's at now and some current issues being dealt with.
  • 6:00 – Why the go-live date is so rigid on this project, and what how that has shaped the critical path and project management considerations.
  • 8:00 – Why this project has multiple critical paths (and why this project really looks more like two simultaneous projects)
  • 11:30: The Azure infrastructure skills gap when moving to F&O and the challenges of stabilizing on Azure as the services iterate rapidly
  • 15:00 – What differentiates an AX upgrade project from a D365FO upgrade project
  • 18:00 – Is it possible to accurately account for contingencies when working with a D365FO environment in Azure?
  • 22:00 – What kind of project methodology is the team using?
  • 27:00 – How fast are change orders being approved?
  • 28:30 – More details on the project team and user base size
  • 31:00 – How the project team is using Microsoft Project
  • 36:15 – Halfway through the project, how is the upgrade team's spirit holding up?
  • 40:30 – How to keep daily standup calls tidy
  • 42:30 – Final thoughts: Azure challenges are not to be underestimated
Feb 18, 2019

When Dynamics AX customers first examined Microsoft's cloud-first vision for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, many of the questions revolved around how users could remain on-premises into the foreseeable future. As the years have passed and Microsoft has pressed its case for SaaS ERP, the hardline on-prem segment has diminished, partly due to a clear view of what on-prem D365FO really looks like and partly due to a ceaseless campaign by Microsoft (and other ERP vendors) to promote cloud as the default option for new projects. Microsoft's progress on addressing key regulatory, security, and technical concerns of the public cloud seems to be helping, too.

Stickiest of all the on-prem debates, however, has been the hybrid question: how can an organization run both public cloud ERP and support sites that can't afford to stop operating if they lose connection to the outside world. Microsoft promised an architectural answer to this challenge, but their progress remains uncertain. In the meantime, D365FO partners continue to work with clients to develop real-world solutions.

On this episode of the series, we talk with Ken Edwards, a practice lead at Centric Consulting, on how he advises clients on the challenge of hybrid. Ken has worked on multiple generations of ERP and CRM from both the customer and partner side and explains that, in his view, the progress Microsoft is making with D365FO will not only change the conversation about hybrid, but about ERP investment more generally.

Show Notes:

  • 1:00 – Introducing Ken Edwards
  • 3:00 – Where does Ken think Microsoft really at with hybrid scenario support? Anywhere?
  • 5:30 – How quickly are buyers' attitudes toward on-prem vs SaaS changing?
  • 8:00 – What kind of organization is starting to look hard at SaaS today?
  • 14:00 – Can teams realistically lower risk and cost on a cloud upgrade, and should they expect their partner can guide them?
  • 17:30 – Would you rather have a thousand three-user clients or three one thousand user clients for cloud ERP?
  • 22:15 – How is Microsoft reaching F&O customers directly with support tools?
  • 25:30 – What to listen for next from Microsoft with product roadmap, deployment capabilities?
  • 27:15 – The noticeable shift of accounting and ERP software from a business project to an IT project
  • 36:00 – Does Microsoft have an update this spring on its hybrid plans laid out in 2017 and early 2018?
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