This episode is sponsored by Stratos Cloud Alliance, Velosio’s Microsoft partner program. Visit www.dynamics365partner.com to learn more about their partner offerings.
Jeff Edwards recently joined Stratos Cloud Alliance, Velosio’s Microsoft partner program. He and Scott May tell us about some of Microsoft's latest partner incentives and the hottest opportunities in the channel today. We also discuss vertical strategies, Microsoft's performance as their fiscal year nears an end, and what to watch for in FY22 in terms of licensing, program updates, and leadership changes.
About: Stratos Cloud Alliance is the Microsoft CSP Indirect Provider that provides all the sales support, enablement, and services a partner needs to build a profitable cloud solutions business with Microsoft Dynamics 365. With over 33 years’ experience implementing Dynamics business management solutions, Stratos Cloud offers partners a comprehensive portfolio of Microsoft Cloud Business and Productivity Solutions, ISV Products and Tools, Customer Services, and flexible Partner Programs supporting transformation at the pace and investment level that is right for you.
A recent episode of the podcast looked at changing trends in the Dynamics 365 Business Central community, including some of the risks customers face when deploying the software in a fixed fee model.
For another perspective on the topic of fixed fee and the broader outlook on Business Central deployments, we spoke with Robert Jolliffe, founder of Microsoft partner Sabre Limited, to discuss his firm's evolution in delivering ERP projects. Jolliffe explains that while fixed fee ERP projects can be fraught with danger for both the consulting firm and the customer, they can also work well when designed to play to a partners' expertise and matched to the right type of customers.
In the Microsoft channel, partners with strong industry expertise can make the best case for fixed fee, Jolliffe believes, by relying on their knowledge and experience to shape projects that avoid typical pitfalls. Fixed fee does not have to mean low cost, and it doesn't necessarily mean a rapid deployment. But new engagement models can help Microsoft partners differentiate themselves, and Jolliffe talks about how this approach informs not only deployment of an ERP solution like Dynamics 365 Business Central, but also the support, training, and other activities.
Jolliffe also discusses how his firm arrived at its current model, including the importance of learning from other VARs in the Microsoft channel and leaning on his pre-Microsoft ERP experiences. We also talk about the technology that is shaping his firm's work, the challenges of re-branding, and still feeling like a relative newcomer in the BC and NAV channel after nearly a decade.
Businesses set different thresholds for successful ERP projects, and the reasons can be complicated. With budgets that range from thousands to millions of dollars and often little room for delay or rework, it should be no surprise that some organizations end up going live with critical financial and operational business systems that an outside observer might consider sub-par.
Microsoft has taken an interesting strategy with Dynamics 365 Business Central, the company's SMB ERP cloud offering, urging partners to pursue highly repeatable, fixed price deployments wherever possible. That model serves some interests, like accelerating the growth of the customer base, but it has also created tension with ERP professionals who say their years of experience and dedication to customer success have taught them to pursue other approaches to achieve the best outcomes.
Alex Chow, founder of AP Commerce, is one of those ERP veterans who has charted his own path in the Microsoft channel. He says he started his own firm in 2005 to allow him to work with clients in the way he preferred. And while the firm is not the biggest or fastest growing, he says the company's philosophy has held the team on a steady path even as the product and channel trends have shifted around them.
Alex recently wrote about his experiences meeting Business Central customers post-go-live that were living with problematic deployments and the concerns these cases have raised. We discuss some of those observations and more about his broader experiences with Business Central and NAV.
Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by Enavate.
Across Microsoft's broad base of legacy ERP customers running Dynamics GP, NAV, and SL, there is a range of reasons why any organization might consider a cloud migration project. But until they assess the current state and future options, business leaders will be challenged to justify a decision on how to move forward with ERP modernization.
Our guests on this episode, Jennifer Ranz and Chad Sogge of Enavate, discuss the guidance and tools they have developed for organizations considering a move to Dynamics 365 Business Central in the cloud. Jennifer and Chad are veterans of Microsoft's ERP product teams and they have carried that experience in the SMB market with them to Enavate where their team has been developing new assessment tools and guidance around migrations based on Dynamics products and Enavate's own experience with many organizations that have already deployed Business Central.
We discuss various types of ERP journeys today, some of the ways Microsoft partners are collaborating on ERP projects today to benefit their clients, and how to handle challenges like industry-specific needs and historical data. We also look ahead to the future of migrations and how Business Central will evolve to support more customers moving to the cloud.
To learn more about cloud migration, technology and options visit the Enavate blog.
Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by Sana Commerce.
Many manufacturers still struggle to understand and meet B2B buyers’ expectations for online customer experience. In reality, business buyers are just consumers at their jobs. They know that Amazon-level experiences and capabilities are possible, and now their expectations of B2B experiences are rising.
On this episode we talk with Sana Commerce’s Customer Success Team Lead, Roberto Najera, as he shares his viewson the past, present, and future of e-commerce in the context of manufacturer's needs and Dynamics 365 integration. We also discuss findings from Sana Commerce's new State of Manufacturing and E-Commerce Benchmark Report and how some of the findings around levels of investment and addressing current challenges are reflected in Roberto's experience working one-on-one with manufacturers.
Editor's Note: This episode of the podcast is sponsored by the PartnerLinQ Unified Digital Connectivity Solution.
The last year has taught us how volatile supply chains can be. Weaknesses came to the forefront, and businesses and consumers alike discovered the big downstream impact a seemingly small manufacturing or transportation issue can have.
In this episode of the MSDW Podcast, Visionet executive VP Jawad Khan and senior EDI strategy consultant Thomas Smith join the podcast to look back at what has happened to supply chains in the last year and how individual businesses running Dynamics 365 have adapted. Visionet recently launched PartnerLinQ globally.
We discuss how organizations are maturing their supply chain capabilities and expectations, and what today's solutions need to offer to meet those demands.
Jeremy Vyska has worked in the Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 space for twenty years working in a variety of technical and consulting roles. His newest venture, Spare Brained Ideas, marks a new phase in his career as he gets more engaged with the community and develops products and services focused on education, professional development, and customer success. He is also now a published author, with his new e-book, Your First 20 Hours with Business Central, launching this week. Jeremy tells us about the motivation behind writing the book and how it aligns with his broader outlook on working in the Business Central ecosystem today.
Two decades ago, many product companies started their digital journeys with a brochure-style web site. Back then, a static online product list may have met customer expectations, but today's buyers expect something more. On this episode we talk with Greg Hall, director of product management at Cincom about buyer experiences, the state of the CPQ market, and his observations on how buyer and seller priorities have changed over time.
Hall foresees more complex products and services, even products sold primarily as services, using CPQ technology to engage customers earlier in the buying process and more holistically throughout it.
Want to see how CPQ can help you? Visit cincom.com/cpqsync to learn more.
Accountants have plenty to look forward to in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central's 2021 release wave 1. Our guest, Cari Corozza of New View Strategies, has been investigating the finance-related features of this cycle and she has already shared several in a recent article and webcast. Now she joins the podcast to chat about her findings, how she expect's New View's clients to adopt the latest updates, and how others in the community have responded.
Lipi Sarkar joins us to talk about the new book Building a Digital Future: The Transformational Blueprint for Innovating with Microsoft Dynamics 365. Lipi and co-author Vinnie Bansal wanted to investigate how organizations have invested in Dynamics 365 solutions to meet strategic goals and what others can learn from those experiences. Unlike a lot of books in the Microsoft technology space, this one is written for executives, not developers or IT professionals, though anyone with an interest in management and strategic planning could benefit from its findings.
Priyesh Wagh's current work in the Microsoft channel focuses on both Dynamics 365 Project Operations and various elements of the Power Platform. In this episode, Priyesh discusses the types of projects he has worked on recently, his community efforts and experiences as a new Microsoft MVP, and how Dynamics 365 project delivery has changed since he joined the Microsoft channel with CloudFronts in 2014.
There's a new virtual event coming in April with an educational focus for Microsoft technology users but a slightly different origin story.
WWMSTUG (or Worldwide Microsoft Technology User Group) will take place on April 14 and 15. It came into existence because a group of Microsoft partners wanted to provide a virtual educational experience to their customers and decided to invest in the idea together. Two of the event organizers, Jeff Goldstein of Queue Associates and Bob McAdam of SalesPad tell us more about how the event came into existence, what they hope to achieve, and what they hope attendees will get out of it in terms of understanding the Microsoft technology updates related to Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Teams, and more. They also explain the registration model. Unlike a lot of events there is a modest fee to attend, though the participating partner organizations are picking up the tab for some attendees (details on their site).
Note: This episode is sponsored by Continia Software. To learn more, join one of their webinars.
Since we last spoke to Chris de Visser on the podcast he has taken on the role of North America CEO at Continia Software. Continia provides financial automation solutions with a focus on Dynamics 365 Business Central and NAV and, as a vendor based in Europe, has been working to expand its presence in the North American market. De Visser explains how he approaches his role and some of the ways a firm must adapt to succeed in North America compared to other parts of the world.
We also discuss some of the other challenges that Dynamics 365 Business Central has presented to firms like Continia. Veteran NAV ISVs have invested many thousands of hours into transitioning away from Microsoft's previous generation of ERP technology and we talk about why 2021 may be an inflection point in that journey as Business Central gains momentum.
Chris also shares some background on his own role and how his career has evolved as the Microsoft Dynamics channel has matured.
With the tools and services of the Power Platform evolving so rapidly, Microsoft and community leaders face a complex challenge in engaging with the experienced users and subject matter experts from around the world while also fostering an ecosystem that welcomes newcomers.
The Global Power Platform Bootcamp, taking place live (virtually) on February 19 and 20, offers one indication that users around the world still want to learn from each other when it comes to Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI. Last year's event consisted of 40+ local in-person meetings around the world. And though this year's event will be virtual, the organizers are expecting an even bigger set of meetings.
As people grow their own Power Platform skills, they can add value to the community by adopting a "show and tell" attitude, says Microsoft Power Platform senior evangelist Jon Levesque, who joined this episode along with Kent Weare of Microsoft's Power CAT team and two of the event's organizers, Kunal Tripathy and Vivek Patel. The group discussed the event's evolution, what attendees can expect to hear from Microsoft, and what it means to promote community as virtual communication persists.
This episode of the MSDW Podcast is sponsored by Stratos Cloud Alliance.
Microsoft continues to forecast significant growth in Dynamics 365 business, but to achieve it more partners will have to get involved. But building a practice focused on business solutions is quite different from cloud, productivity, or other specialties.
Our guests are Len DiCostanzo, Principal Consultant at MSP Toolkit, and Scott May, Director of Channel Development Stratos Cloud Alliance. We discuss Dynamics 365 as an opportunity for partner growth in the Microsoft channel. They lay out research on the market opportunity, the options partners have when it comes to building a D365 practice, and some of the factors that firms should look for in a prospective distribution partner.
Join us for a quick recap of top headlines from the first month of 2021 in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform channel.
As the pandemic drags on, the Microsoft business applications community is finding a new and evolving ways to connect. The DynamicsCon virtual event began in 2020 and will run for the second time in March. To learn more about how it began and what is going into the next event, we talked to the founder, Jon Stypula. MSDW is a media sponsor of the event and we wanted to discuss both the event has developed and where Jon hopes it will go in the future.
In this special edition of the MSDW Podcast we are featuring a recent conversation between Microsoft MVP Rick McCutcheon and Microsoft global strategic ISV alliance manager John O'Donnell on how partners are utilizing Microsoft AppSource. Rick originally published this conversation as part of his Partner Talks series.
Microsoft launched its AppSource ISV solution directory in 2016 as a replacement for a collection of old and fragmented systems. The initial coverage compared it to Salesforce AppExchange and Microsoft promised it would lead to higher ISV solution quality and that it would evolve quickly with.
Nearly five years later, AppSource has evolved and grown, though probably not as quickly as Microsoft has wanted. Still, most ISVs in the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform space list their solutions there, and some partners even list services offerings. Some vendors report closing sales thanks to the platform, others don't.
In this conversation, O'Donnell emphasizes several strengths of the platform, from its global reach to its expanding set of offerings, beyond Dynamics 365 and Azure into other areas of Microsoft's business. They also discuss some ways vendors can optimize their listings to get the most out of the platform today.
The Microsoft's Dynamics 365 FastTrack team has been holding a TechTalk webcast series in recent months featuring the use of various tools and capabilities of the Power Platform in the context of strengthening a Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (a.k.a., Finance and Operations) system.
Series organizer and FastTrack architect Rachel Profitt explains that, while there is lots of great material on Power Platform and likewise plenty of information available on D365 F&O, customers and partners can still find it hard to connect the dots that open up the full range of solution possibilities.
Profitt and principal technical specialist Murray Fife of Microsoft's Black Belt team recently co-presented a new session in the event series on AI Builder, and they discuss with us some of the highlights of that session, the audience reaction, future plans for the webcast series, and the broader outlook for building momentum in blending Power Platform tools with ERP.
Dynamics 365 Business Central is Microsoft's SMB ERP product of the future, so changes still to come are to some extent predictable already starting to play out: incentives for legacy ERP customers to plan for a transition to BC; greater urgency on partners to transact via Microsoft's CSP program, and a GP product roadmap that has shriveled to almost nothing.
But given these realities, what is to be done? The economics of ERP are changing along with the rest of IT and enterprise software. We discuss the impact of some of Microsoft's latest moves like new cloud assessments for on-prem customers (not necessarily through their partner of record) and the latest channel sales incentives. These changes, will impact customers not just in terms of whom they consult with, but what types of partners can really serve their needs in the future.
This episode is sponsered by HCL-PowerObjects.
As the Microsoft Power Platform has enjoyed greater adoption, the challenges of managing security, governance, data migration, licensing and other needs have gained greater urgency for customers.
John Doris and Jamie Barker of HCL-PowerObjects join us to discuss their experiences working with a wide variety of organizations that have been investing in the Power Platform to modernize their systems and processes. We dive into the most common challenges as well as other considerations that both partners and customers are dealing with like the future of front office and back office applications, the impact of Microsoft Teams, and Jamie and John's experiences helping organizations build a Center of Excellence.