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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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Now displaying: 2019
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?
Feb 12, 2019

CRM has been an accepted enterprise software market segment for decades at this point, but debate still rages about where to seek the next great opportunities for growth and innovation. Analyst Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research, sees consolidation around broad centralized platforms as one of the next big trends of CRM-related technology and economic impact. He recently wrote about his outlook for the CRM market in next decade for MSDW and we wanted to continue the discussion around topics like consolidation, platforms, industry-specific solutions, and the technology that could have the biggest direct impact.

In addition to advisory services in the enterprise software space, Denis has written three books, including, "Solve for the Customer," and "You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It." Most recently Pombriant published, "The Age of Sustainability," about the economic and technical solutions to global warming.

Show notes:

  • 4:15 - SaaS and Cloud interrelationship – what drives what?
  • 7:45 – Why will platform drive the CRM ecosystem in the coming years?
  • 11:15 – What industries are ready for a new generation of CRM applications via platform opportunity?
  • 15:00 – Making micro-vertical scenarios a reality
  • 19:00 – Will any ISVs dedicated to the Microsoft business apps platform establish themselves as major vendors?
  • 25:00 – The evolving role of channel partners
  • 27:30 – The opportunity for software vendors to compete on pricing and licensing
  • 30:00 – What else Denis has planned for 2019
Feb 8, 2019

Our Microsoft Dynamics AX to 365 upgrade journeys podcast series continues (catch up on parts one and two) with a very different perspective: the observations of a Dynamics AX 2012 customer still in the planning stages of their next upgrade.

Kenny Mullican is CIO of Paragon Films, a plastics manufacturer based in Oklahoma and a Dynamics AX 2012 R2 customer. Paragon Films is the perhaps a perfect AX 2012 manufacturing customer. They use most AX modules, work across multiple sites, and, thanks to Kenny's team, have managed a stable, standards-based, lightly customized (relatively speaking) ERP solution for several years.

Now Kenny and his team are in the process of evaluating where to take their ERP solution in the future. An upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations would seem to be the logical path, but there are questions. Chief among them:

  • Is Microsoft ready with the tools and
  • How much will this effort cost? Or to put it another way, is it still an upgrade if it costs more than the original ERP deployment four years ago?
  • For a company that doesn't see value in a shift from capital expenses to greater operating expenses, is an on-premises deployment the only viable option?

Kenny walks through his team's approach to AX 2012, what he has learned so far about his D365FO upgrade options, and the questions that still remain. We are also joined once again by ERP and AX veteran Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics to share his perspective on both manufacturing and AX upgrades.

Show Notes:

  • 3:00 – Paragon Films' AX deployment and ERP history
  • 6:30 – Why Paragon Films still sees room for improving and expanding their use of AX
  • 9:00 – Looking down the road to a D365FO upgrade: "It has to happen at some point"
  • 14:00 – Could Microsoft push back end of support for AX 2012?
  • 16:00 – Can partners transfer understanding from past AX to D365FO upgrade experiences to the next upgrade project?
  • 19:30 – The type of project estimates that AX customers are getting for D365FO upgrades
  • 24:30 – Adjusting from an AX level of access to a more restricted cloud solution
  • 27:00 – Why the operational expense of monthly per user fee of a cloud model doesn't appeal to all AX customers
  • 29:00 – Other concerns that a manufacturer has about going to the cloud
Jan 31, 2019

You might imagine that the choice between a new cloud or on-premises ERP solution would be carefully reasoned, with sober analysis and PowerPoint presentations leading to a final decision, the reality can feel more like a hostage standoff when real users start weighing their options.

In episode 2 of our series exploring Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) upgrade and migration projects, ERP and AX veteran Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics joins us to share his experience helping companies evaluate their options. As Peter explains, a D365FO upgrade evaluation is full of surprises, from the nature of the internal debate to the technical considerations.

For more on this episode, read Peter's related article.

Jan 25, 2019

On this episode we catch up with Nicholas Hayduk, founder of Engineered Code to learn more about what's coming next with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal based on the still-new April 2019 release notes. There are some exciting updates, like the removal dependencies on first party Dynamics app objects, and intriguing hints at the future like a new way to display of external data.

Nick is a Portal and Adxstudio veteran and he recently wrote about the April 2019 release wave on his blog.

Jan 24, 2019

What are Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) upgrades really like? As fascinating as you might expect, and then some.

In episode 1 of a new series exploring current upgrade and migration projects, ERP and AX veteran Peter Joeckel of Turn On Dynamics joins us to make the case for why these projects are turning out to be so different from the many ERP upgrades and migrations he has seen in the last twenty years.

We also use this brief episode to lay out plans for subsequent podcasts in the series on topics like project management, organizational planning, and the technical readiness elements that have become critical to D365FO success.

Jan 7, 2019

On this episode we talk with John Silvani, President & CEO of Gravity Software. John wrote an article for MSDW in 2018 describing his experience running a SaaS ERP business built originally on Dynamics CRM Online and now on the Common Data Service and the Power platform. We talk about the evolution of Gravity's partnership with Microsoft, his thoughts on the evolution of CDS and the Power platform, and advice for other businesses looking to use Microsoft's business solutions ecosystem as their platform of choice.

Show Notes:

  • 1:20 – John's background in the Microsoft channel
  • 3:15 – Formalizing xRM and the decision to build on it.
  • 4:30 – Why doing xRM with all custom entities
  • 7:00 – How ISVs are adapting to licensing and product changes for PowerApps and CDS-based solutions
  • 12:00 – Managing the ISV relationship with Microsoft as an ERP vendor: cooperating vs competing
  • 17:00 – Expanding an ISV offering and ecosystem with platform tools like Flow
  • 20:45 – Gravity's channel building efforts. And advice to other prospective Microsoft partners.
  • 24:40 – What to watch from Microsoft in 2019
  • 26:00 – Trends from partners and buyers to watch for in 2019
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