Once the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX/365 (ERP) is complete and day-to-day operations begin, it quickly becomes apparent that having the right service partner is just as important as the one who deployed it. The right one should definitely know the systems you run, your business operations, and work hand in hand with your IT team to prevent failures in order to ensure continuity of your business. It should be the one you trust.
When should you consider changing the MS Dynamics 365 service partner?
There are a number of reasons that might influence such a decision, starting from the discomfort related toyou happen to be working with to the far-reaching negligence in carrying out the tasks. Let’s look at some examples:
You are tired of consultants being unavailable, especially if you often have to go through IVRs, chatbots or leave a voicemail.
Tickets closed with unresolved issues
Your frustration reaches its peak when there are still some unresolved issues because the partner focuses on task completion rather than problem-solving while you expect the application to be always thoroughly tested and problems fully resolved before the ticket gets closed.
Your partner has insufficient knowledge around your system maintenance, application development or experience in your industry.
Involvement and proactivity
In your opinion, your service partner could be more in optimizing the application, implementing solutions to prevent failures or planning the development of the application accordingly to keep up with changing (business?) processes. You might also expect more involvement in promoting the adoption of new tools among users, in training and assisting users .
You are dealing with numerous misunderstandings related to billing, hidden fees, or charges for unnecessary works.
What are the advised criteria for selecting the MS Dynamics 365 service partner?
If you are dissatisfied with your existing service provider and you are confident you need a change, then this time you should do all you can to make a wise choice. A good partner will maximize your application performance, proactively prevent failures, and if they do occur, minimize their time and impact on business operations.
Take enough time to define the partner evaluation criteria and scoring criteria . Here’s our advice on basic offer screening areas.
One of the core assets that a partner can offer are their skills necessary to support all of your company’s IT areas. The partner should not only know your business domain but also understand operations, processes, IT ecosystem, country-specific legal and tax regulations. Even the most dedicated consultants won't be able to handle your requirements unless they are the experts in your industry. Remember that long, rich global experience, a wide scope of provided services, the recognition in the IT industry will always prove the value of a partner, especially if all this is supported by vendor certificates, industry awards and references from recognized clients.
Ideally, a service partner would offer a wide range of services beyond standard maintenance and development. And it's not just about services related to IT platforms, but also value-added services for business, be it financial or warehouse processes or management reporting. It’s all about partner’s efforts to understand your business and the user needs.
Expect your partner to be creative, to find tips and tricks to help you tackle systems, to go beyond schemes. Request the provider to demonstrate their ability to act proactively when it comes to application maintenance in order to prevent outages, with all required procedures and tools for monitoring, diagnosing, testing and optimizing your ecosystem.
… so called for a reason. Talk to the people you would be collaborating with. Working together will never work if the people on the other end don't have the right attitude and are not focused on the client. Client-centricity must be deeply rooted in the partner’s corporate culture, only then will the client be able to count on adequate attention and response, especially in emergency situations.
The availability of the support staff is definitely one of the key evaluation criteria. This applies to both the operating hours and the team size. As a first step, it’s recommended to map your company’s IT team working hours to those of the maintenance partner. Verify the availability of the experts on the partner's side in areas crucial to your business operations during specific periods of time (periods of the day, year, special days/ holidays).
In addition to time availability, review the team size on the partner's side in each of the fields relevant to maintaining continuity of your business, not only the first line of support but also the experts in areas crucial to your business not only strictly technical, but also dealing with business processes. And, finally, do not forget to also review the working hours in the time zones in the entire geographical footprint of your organization.
Having verified staff knowledge, experience and availability, make sure the partner is willing to provide a binding commitment to maintain the agreed level of service. Ideally, they should follow a structured approach to support services, such as the ITIL methodology, and even better if they demonstrate reputable certifications in this area, such as ISO/IEC 19086-1:2016 that provide a useful framework in a provider assessment.
While assessing the technical and operational capabilities of a potential supplier is vital, care should be taken to reflect on the business profile and financial health of the potential suppliers. Consideration should be given to at least such basic issues as the ownership structure, financial history, compliance or pending legal or regulatory proceedings.
Have a clear and transparent contract with precisely defined responsibilities, SLAs and fees. Rest assured you are not caught in a “vendor lock-in” trap. Leave yourself flexibility as to the scope of tasks you would like to outsource and divide the work between your IT team and the chosen providers. Avoid proprietary interfaces to minimize the use of technology that will limit your ability to migrate or transition away. Define the exit strategy and the process before the cooperation starts.
Changing MS Dynamics 365 service partner - transition process
Transition as a process is usually the most difficult part of any supplier switching process. Consequently, the methodology is one of the key elements of partner evaluation and is critical to the success of the project. Let us look at the key challenges
in the vendor change process:
No transformation process can succeed without well-defined rules, procedures and processes. These ensure process control and prevent the unexpected incidents and as result a transformation failure.
One should bear in mind that there are three parties involved in the process, each with very different objectives: the client, the outgoing service provider and the new partner.
Remember that the people involved on each side should have appropriate technical, project management and people management skills and ideally a previous transition experience, and should not be resistant to change.
Sharing all details with the supplier on business processes, operations, IT architecture, applications, configurations is vital for the transition process success. A special attention should be paid to the potential fears of the client-side IT team and any misunderstandings or disagreements should be resolved on an ongoing basis.
Planning starts with a thorough analysis of the client application ecosystem and business processes, followed by knowledge transfer execution and finishes with a handover stage. The project plan should be precise and peer-reviewed by all responsible teams for quality and completeness as well as realistic lead time.
There are many circumstances that are unfavorable for keeping deadlines. Take, for example, the reluctance to cooperate in the IT team of the client, work overload due to other ongoing IT works insufficient resources on the provider side due to other projects or simply a too optimistic planning.
As you can see, the process of switching is very time-consuming and demanding. Especially during the transition process, it is extremely helpful to have trust in the new partner and their experience. You can read more on our methodology here: xplusglobal.com/support