Succeeding as a Microsoft Dynamics Consultant: Versatility through Functional and Technical Skills
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a thorough working knowledge of how best to assist clients as a Microsoft Dynamics consultant. When I was first getting started, though, I remember having a bit of an “identity crisis.” You see, I came to the Microsoft Dynamics consulting world with a varied background. I had some tech experience and an understanding of development on the one hand, but I also brought some major soft skills to the table. I remember my boss asking me early on, though, how I actually classified myself. Was I a technical asset? Or, was I a functional consulting expert?
As it turns out, I consider myself to be a bit of both. And while specialization is certainly important in certain careers, I believe that my versatility as a Dynamics consultant is one of my greatest strengths. In this blog post, I’ll discuss the importance of developing both technical and functional skills in becoming a well-rounded Dynamics consultant. Note that while my experience is primarily with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, all of the information here has broader applications when it comes to Dynamics. For example, someone specializing in Dynamics ERP stands to gain just as much by diversifying their skill set in both the functional and technical directions.
Functional Consulting: Seeing the Big Picture
Functional consulting means keeping the big picture in mind. You’re not just problem solving or writing lines of code. Instead, you’ll need to meet with clients and stakeholders, present information to clients and team members, and work together in collaboration towards the common goal of delivering a customized software solution.
Of course, seeing the big picture doesn’t mean losing sight of the technical details. Far from it. In fact, my experience has been that there are situations where a purely functional understanding can be a major roadblock in terms of goal setting and expectations when it comes to making changes and updates to a system.
I’ll use an example from my own experience to illustrate. Keep in mind that there are any number of comparable examples from other Dynamics systems, too, such as Dynamics ERP.
Imagine that a client needs to make a change to the way they manage contacts in their current system. As of right now, the most specific they can be in terms of a contact’s location is the country where they’re located. They want to replace that country option with several cities instead. For example, they want to replace “Germany” with “Munich” and “Frankfurt.”
A member of the functional team sees one task to be completed here: replace “Germany” with “Munich” and “Frankfurt” in the drop-down list. Easy, right?
Not so fast. Here’s what the technical team has to think about:
Update the field itself on the back-end
- Ensure that reports have been updated
- Make updates to current data
- Check to ensure that the change functions as expected
- Make the change live
There are a surprising number of steps involved for such a simple update, and this is something a purely functional consultant might lose sight of.
Technical Consulting and the Back-End
A technical consulting expert brings their own versatile skill set to bear on developing client solutions. Where a functional consultant needs certain soft skills in order to do their job, a technical expert has to command an understanding of development, data management, software integrations, working in the cloud, and more. That’s a lot to think about, and it can be difficult to integrate these two worlds as a consultant. But managing to do so will make you a hugely valuable asset for your clients.
Combining Technical and Functional Consulting Expertise for Dynamics ERP and More
As a Dynamics ERP consultant, you’ll find that clients look to you for expertise and advice on a huge variety of tasks. One minute, they’ll need your help with data migration and development assistance. The next, they’ll have questions for you about project management and big picture integration. Living up to these expectations is challenging, but the best way to do so is by developing a well-rounded combination of functional and technical skills.
I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to keep a foot in both the functional and technical worlds. As a result, I’m a major asset to the clients I work with. By diversifying your own understanding and background as a consultant, you’ll be able to offer clients a superior level of consulting assistance.
Are you thinking about a career related to Microsoft Dynamics? Here at AKA Enterprise Solutions, we work to ensure the success of both our team members and our clients.
ABOUT AKA ENTERPRISE SOLUTIONS
AKA specializes in making it easier to do business, simplifying processes and reducing risks. With agility, expertise, and original industry solutions, we embrace projects other technology firms avoid—regardless of their complexity. As a true strategic partner, we help organizations slay the dragons that are keeping them from innovating their way to greatness. Call us at 212-502-3900!