Because 10 Commandments Sounded Presumptuous
I thought it was my humble duty to assist the Microsoft Dynamics management team with their to-do list for the next year.
Just trying to be useful.
As an aside, except for some minor product-specific issues, the following list could be used by any ERP publisher, in any market segment any year.
IMHO, of course.
These things are certain at annual software summits:
- The pronouncement that this is the “best year ever to be a partner!”
- The introduction of new software features and functions that promise to provide “the best solution ever!”
- Keynote speakers holding their breath while giving advanced functionality or technology demonstrations that they pray don’t crash.
- Confused partners milling about, complaining, and strategizing about how to react to the latest “plan of the day.”
So, instead of the usual re-heated Pablum, here are my suggestions that would really shake up the market and make a difference over the next year and beyond.
- Code freeze – take a deep breath and give everyone a year to catch up and learn the software they already have. This step may actually take significantly longer, but it would be a start.
- Focus on the real users – instead of trying to figure out how to add the latest and greatest technology, how about some help to the folks that do all the work? A browser interface and a mouse are not the ideal tools for entering hundreds of transactions daily. What was the last ERP software innovation that made life easier for the people in the trenches?
- Technology freeze – the biggest laugh I get in talking to AX users is when I demand to know who exactly it was that asked for Cortana (son of Siri) integration with their ERP system. It reminds me of standing in front of the towel dispenser in every public restroom wildly waving my hands trying to figure out how to make the three inches of paper towel dispense. Not everything is improved with additional layers of technology.
- Stop renaming / rebranding – trying to keep up with the product name changes over the past year or so has given me ADD. But the Adderall has me focused as hell and it is not as bad for my teeth as the meth was. As an aside, what is with the secret product code names? Is this ERP software or a missile program?
- Ride one horse – figure out an ERP solution and ride it. The biggest hidden lifetime ownership cost in ERP is moving from one product to another. I propose that it is easier to develop a scalable product than maintain multiple offerings. Here is your goal and marketing slogan: “from QuickBooks to SAP… we can replace it all.” You’re welcome.
- Sell GP - to the existing dealers. What was once the greatest ERP partner channel in the world still has enough strong, dedicated players to kick some Acumatica, et al. arse. By the way, their channel recruiting staff will be wandering around at Summit picking off more disgruntled dealers. If you need someone to point them out, send me a first-class plane ticket.
- Simplify pricing – if I can’t instantly produce a quote on the back of a business card, it is too complicated. When I have to download a document that is longer than War and Peace, it is insanity. The hidden problems caused by confusing pricing are immeasurable. How about this: one price for all available functionality! It is better to give too much than too little and risk looking like you are nickel and diming the customer.
- Recognize the cloud is not for everyone – I get it, a lot of personal wealth is tied to stock options and the underlying stock price is probably disproportionately driven by how Azure is doing versus AWS and other cloud providers. However, everyone is not ready for the cloud. Accommodate all customer needs. Even the technology laggards. I guarantee a standing ovation at ANY conference where you announced the return of AX 2012.
- Invest in training – take a nice chunk of the R&D budget for the next year and use it to train up the partner community. Free. In-depth. Meaningful. Training. Excellence in implementing your solutions will go so much further than layering on more functions or technology. Think of the goodwill that would be generated among partners and happy customers when they are not training “senior consultants” on their dime.
- Net good, not net new – the myth of the Big Important Partner can’t die soon enough. There is a huge “secondary” market of under-the-radar companies and independent consultants that make a living cleaning up after the mess made by Big Important Partners. Reward great implementation efforts and not sales where the implementation team walks in and says, “you were promised what”?
Bonus suggestion: while we are at it, give everyone the same margin, you don’t need the extra cash as much as the small partner that is trying to make a living supporting your product. Again, think of the good will and how that money is leveraged in the partner community instead of your bank account.
And finally, remember that Mighty Oak Trees grow from Acorns. There are potentially profitable deals that do not want to start with twenty users. There are good companies that have sophisticated requirements and startups with big growth plans that should be on D365 but are turned away by the 20-user minimum. Why send them to a competitor and lose that business for 10-20 years?
I make my living in this space and have over thirty years of experience selling and implementing ERP software. Everything from MAPICS to Macola to Dynamics GP to AX and now D365.
I would love feedback on my list and see what you would edit, add, or delete. I think this industry is dying for new ideas and healthy debate generates them.
Peter Joeckel has thirty years of experience in the ERP world. He is the President and Founder of TurnOnDynamics (TOD) a specialty consulting firm that concentrates on working with Microsoft Dynamics AX/D365 clients. TOD is a partnership of senior AX consultants (no juniors, no learning on your dime) that specializes in providing high level consulting.