While digital transformation may be the buzzword du jour, the benefits an organization can realize by implementing a holistic, cloud-based solution are very real. And with the rapid advancement of cloud business applications, it’s easy to imagine that implementing a new solution may be as easy as downloading an app and tweaking a few settings. However, for most businesses, it’s a littlllllle bit more complicated than that. For example, the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 is based and built on Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM — both Tier 1 solutions. While the cloud allows for more frequent updates, more flexible licensing, the ability to drill down on actionable intelligence, and many other perks, implementations are still complex projects.
That’s why now, maybe more than ever before, it is so important to pick the right partner for your solution, industry, and vision. With over 20 years of experience being in the partner selection hot seat, we've noticed that organizations that ultimately end up having a successful implementation generally ask some of the same questions. Here are four of the top questions we're asked by a client who is serious about transforming their business:
- How well do you know the solution? This may seem like a no-brainer, but it comes up fairly regularly. A partner that has a deep understanding of the solution knows what works well vs. what areas might be better served with a best-of-breed solution. They can size up your business needs and give a realistic expectation of deadlines and costs. With speed and agility being critical components of any digital transformation, be sure to look for a partner who is keeping their own technology up-to-date. If their add-on solutions and applications aren’t ready when the base product updates, that means you’re going to be working with out-of-date software as well.
- What do you know about _____ industry? Strictly speaking, a plumber and a heart surgeon both fix things — but you wouldn’t call a surgeon to fix your faucet. The same is true about partners. A partner that understands what makes your industry tick also understands what problems are keeping you up at night (and how to address them.) They know exactly where the solution works well for your needs out-of-the-box and where there’s a gap. One of the ways that Microsoft Dynamics is unique is that Microsoft understands that there isn’t a single blanket approach that works for every industry. By teaming up with partners who are vertically focused, Microsoft is able to offer a tailored solution that is great to start with and enhanced by a team of experts who know the industry and vertical.
- How will you fit in with our business culture? Plans for digital transformation and growth usually come to life at the top, but they can be squashed pretty quickly on the way down if there is not internal buy-in from the rest of the company. A savvy partner understands this. They’ll work to adopt the culture of the client and meet with both the key decision makers and the everyday users to determine exactly how the solution should work. By engaging the folks who will be working with the software day in, day out, a good partner makes the employees feel a sense of ownership of the project — improving usage and adoption rates long after the last consultant is gone.
- Will you be honest and show us some tough love? Showing tough love can be...well...tough. While all partners want to make their clients happy, for some, this attitude can lead the client down the primrose path. In an effort to please the customer (and sometimes due to a lack of industry knowledge) a partner may heavily customize a system to fit the existing way a client is doing business – even if that way isn’t a best practice. Experienced partners with a knowledge of the particular industry may be more confident in challenging a client to think past “how it’s always been done” to “how it should be done.” A digital transformation isn’t nearly as effective if existing bad practices and problems are simply recreated in new systems.
Digital transformation - despite its buzzword status - is a game changer that isn’t going away anytime soon. And like any game changing advancement, there will be some organizations that take on the challenge and succeed and others who fail. Picking the right partner who has a deep understanding of the solution, your industry, and your vision for what you want to become all tip the scales in your favor to end up in the “Success” column.