What things should you look for in a top Microsoft Partner? In our business of consulting, there is a plethora of Microsoft Partners, vendors and service providers – actually over 640,000 and counting. Who stands out? At the end of the day, the question becomes, how do consultants differentiate themselves? The answer is simple - by executing on our commitments. It sounds like an easy enough task, but from what you might’ve heard, there is room for improvement.
Microsoft has gone through a number of changes to strengthen their Partner programs, to ensure that Partners have the experience and expertise to take care of their customers. Partners are strongly encouraged to fully commit to competencies, specifically as they are embarking on ERP solutions, (i.e., Dynamics AX, NAV, etc.). Partners have access to training, sales information, advisory hours, presales and cloud support, licensing, etc. It’s all there to help navigate the Microsoft waters, but also to streamline Partners to specializations and core competencies.
Where Partners start to differentiate themselves are through the following acts: consultants are certified; financial commitments are made; goals are set, continuous training is setup and mandatory. What you find is the process of weeding out the less focused in one competency, Partners now disciplined in their core, and armed with a strategic plan to pursue their customer base.
1. A Top Microsoft Partner Participates in Community
Participation in major events such as demos, training opportunities, and guest speaker opportunities are ways Partners differentiate themselves. We are all familiar with Microsoft’s annual Convergence conferences, but it is the lesser known and what I call the “community” events, that are of equal or greater importance. Local chapters of end users are brought together to share ideas and issues with their peers to learn from each other (similar in industry or not). Partners have a great opportunity to teach or inform to a wide audience a new or existing functionality, specific to their core and the customers, dive deeper into issues that others are facing or introduce new information to an old topic. Partners who take the time to do this have a distinct opportunity to hear what is going on in the user community, learn where they need to focus their efforts and truthfully seize upon being a better advocate for their customer. Stoneridge Software is frequent presenter and premium member of both AXUG and NAVUG Dynamics Communities organizations.
2. A Top Microsoft Partner Provides Training Opportunities
Staying with the community theme for another moment, a Partner’s ability to provide training is a large component of those who stand out from the crowd. While Partners get engaged in large and local events, those who truly succeed also take their skills into the educational or continuing education arena. There are many customers/businesses that want to build their own expertise in-house and cannot find the right resources or training classes to get it done. A great way to add value to the Dynamics community and to your company is to
3. A Top Microsoft Partner Hires the “A” Team
Levels of expertise at the consultant level also sets a top Microsoft Partner apart from others. Those taking the time to hire the right skill sets based on company goals and customers’ needs, will be those rising to the top. This means hiring the “A” players; those that are self-motivated, take initiative, and understand the tasks at hand, get them done efficiently, on-time and with few mistakes. Taking the time to ensure that the consultant receives the training, mentorship and frankly, financial incentives to keep them engaged over the course of their careers, will reap multiple rewards for all.
4. A Top Microsoft Partner Delivers on the ERP Project
One shortage in the Partner community is trust from the customer. Do you, the customer, feel that what you’re being told, is in fact what is delivered? This is a huge differentiator where very few Partners get it right. For a top Microsoft Partner consistency is the name of the game. Is it hard to do all the time? You bet. Does every Partner get it right, all the time? No they don’t. But the ones who have mastered all the above and then some, are more consistent than most. It is having the team that can pull it all together for the final push to get the project over the Go-Live line. This goes back to building your “A” team.
5. A Top Microsoft Partner has a Clear Mission
Last but not least, a top Microsoft Partner who succeeds above the rest knows who they want to be when they grow up. They build their mission statement and goals around it. It doesn’t mean everything is defined and perfect, but it does mean they have defined themselves. They have answered the questions: Am I going to be the biggest (over 3,000 employees), the Partner with the most revenue, or the
Nicholas Burton is a Project Manager out of the Kansas City branch of Stoneridge Software, a Fargo, ND and Minneapolis area based Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV partner. Stoneridge Software has an "A" team of consultants who believe in community by representing the industry and their customers at AXUG and NAVUG events, who realize the importance of training for every customer, who provide online training courses through the University of Mary and who believe in the company's mission of 100 percent delivery. If you're beginning the search for a Microsoft Dynamics Partner in the Midwest, check out www.stoneridgesoftware.com. Inquiries can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org 612-354-4966.
by Stoneridge Software