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Microsoft recently released the new ERP solution, Microsoft Dynamics 365. I my last post, I presented my view on how future ERP project should be run. In this post I will discuss what effects Dynamics 365 will have on the business.

New solution, new possibilities

Dynamics 365 has rich functionality, partially in the ERP solution and partially in the complete stack of Microsoft products included in the Dynamics 365 offering. The user interface will be quite different from what most users are accustomed to. Instead of working in different modules and menus, the user will start from a workspace tailored to fit the user’s needs and provide tools and information required to perform the daily tasks. This is a big difference to how you work in most ERP systems today. Information and tools will be more accessible and the user needs less system knowledge to be able to work efficiently.

Microsoft has also added functionality that provides the possibility to easily produce apps to control certain functions in the system; e.g. data entry or search. There will also be support for interactive voice command through “Cortana” which is Microsoft’s equivalent to Apple’s “Siri”.

These are a few examples to illustrate new possibilities a modern ERP system can provide to support the business needs. Since the difference in how business processes will be supported compared with most system solutions today, there will be less need to analyze the current legacy system. Instead you should focus on how processes can be supported based on the new possibilities that Dynamics 365 brings.

How will the business be affected?

To achieve expected results in a project aimed at implementing a modern ERP system, it is essential to create the right preconditions. It is important to challenge how the current system supports your business processes and evaluate new ways based on the possibilities provided by the new EPR solution. You need to create an innovative climate in the project organization and focus on possibilities instead of difficulties. For this clear project goals and change management is essential.

In most cases an ERP project also results in organizational changes. New possibilities, better system support and more efficient processes will free up capacity and bring possibilities to create more efficient organizations. Organizational changes are often a natural result of these changes. It does not necessarily mean a reduction of staff but freed up capacity can be redistributed within the organization. This is however a challenging process and it is important to manage the anxiety for change that might occur in a change project. An organization that goes through an ERP project without any change, has usually not seen a very successful project.

How will the customer be affected?

Future ERP projects will mainly be change or digital transformation projects, which will be more demanding for the customer. There will be a greater need to prepare the organization for the project. Questions like project goals, scope, time plan and project organization needs to be defined beforehand. Base data management, communication and IT-strategy needs to be clarified. It is also important to secure competence to manage the project in terms of project management and change management. The solution is often to bring on external resources to fill this need in order to achieve expected results.

There will be an increased need for client skills in future ERP projects. With Dynamics 365 and LCS LCS (Life Cycle Services), the customer can and will be required to drive a larger part of the project and therefore it is important to define what the partner is expected to deliver. There will also be a need for deliveries of more components that before. Apart from the ERP system, components like CRM, BI, Office and integrations will be part of the solution. You will probably have to engage more partners with different expertise and guide and follow up on their deliveries.  

How will the partner be affected?

It is important that the partner will not market and implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the same way as earlier versions. This is a completely new product which requires the partners to market and implement the solutions in a new way. It is important to be clear towards the customer on this. The customer will need guidance in their choice of a suitable ERP solution based on their situation.

The partner also needs to prepare the organizations for the change that Dynamics 365 and LCS brings by securing the right competence and delivery capability to deliver future projects. Besides competence on ERP, you need to secure competence on other products in Dynamics 365 in order to provide a complete solution for the customer. This can be handled within the partner organization or together with another partner. The partner also needs to secure that the customer is ready for the change that an introduction of Dynamics 365 means. And to provide guidance on what preparations the customer needs to undertake in order to have a successful project.

People-ready software

In 2006 Microsoft launched the people-ready software campaign. It had a nice ring to it; software adopted to people, the users. Maybe people-ready software is actually here with Dynamics 365. The end result is however not only depending on the product itself but also on the performance of all parties involved in an ERP project, on the partner side as well as the customer side.

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