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Q&A: The state of Microsoft Dynamics ERP

An interview with Intergen’s Dynamics Practice Principal, James Page.

With Microsoft Dynamics ERP’s star on the rise since the launch of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 in August last year and the recent launch of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013, demand for Microsoft’s Dynamics ERP solutions has been unprecedented, and more Australasian organisations than ever are looking to Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Dynamics AX – and Intergen – for their ERP implementation.

I talk to James Page, our Dynamics Practice Principal, about the reasons for Microsoft Dynamics ERP’s popularity, and why now’s the time for people to consider a career in ERP.

Why are we experiencing such strong demand for Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions? What does Microsoft Dynamics ERP offer that’s so appealing?

Microsoft Dynamics ERP allows a pretty innovative view of the world. Rather than taking the standard, traditional process and function-centric approach to enterprise resource planning, Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions look at what it is the users of this capability want out of the system. And by focusing on the people aspect, things become much simpler and more powerful. This shift in the ERP paradigm – paying much closer attention to what real people, with real roles, need to get out of their ERP solutions – is what makes Microsoft Dynamics ERP so exciting, I think.

Of course process is still incredibly important, and it’s important to make clear that this new paradigm doesn’t forsake it: process is given its due, but is overlaid with a new, role-centred, people-centric view.

Another reason that makes Microsoft Dynamics ERP such a compelling choice is the fact that Microsoft Dynamics ERP integrates so well with the rest of the Microsoft stack. It’s comforting for users to know that they can bind together a whole host of disparate systems to form a cohesive solution, because of Microsoft’s strong integration story.

In addition to this, we’re seeing a number of clients who are looking to lessen the risk involved with embarking on the implementation of a new ERP solution. For some large organisations the thought of ripping out the heart of their old ERP system all at once is too much to bear. For this reason, people are choosing Microsoft Dynamics ERP for its ability to address discrete workloads – for example expense management, financial management and purchasing – which allows an organisation to systematically move through various areas of an organisation rather than make wholesale change, thus minimising risk. Organisations are seeing Dynamics as a long-term strategy that can be rolled out across the enterprise over a period of time.


What distinguishes Microsoft Dynamics ERP from other ERP solutions in the market?

Firstly, it’s the persona and role-based paradigm. As I said, while process is always going to be paramount, without role context and persona perspective a process-based approach alone can become onerous.

Secondly, it’s the value proposition of the Microsoft stack – the fact that Dynamics works so seamlessly with all core solutions in the Microsoft stable, and the way this reduces integration costs and complexities and takes IT support costs out of the equation.

An organisation shouldn’t have to worry about whether SharePoint integrates with ERP, for example; the core technical competencies should just work. Money on integration should be spent on things like integrating with third party products, or into your supply chain, rather than wasting money integrating systems that should already work together seamlessly. And that’s the beauty of Microsoft’s approach: let’s make everything work together, and then focus our attention on the users of the solution, making it intuitive and difficult to forget.


Intergen’s in strong recruitment mode – across the board, but especially when it comes to growing our Microsoft Dynamics team. What characteristics do you look for in an ERP consultant? What qualities do they need to possess to be successful?

Our clients engage people who they feel can add real value to their business and can interpret what they hear and what they understand to be the objectives of the client and translate these into a technical design using Microsoft Dynamics.

So when we look for an ERP consultant, we’re looking for someone who is able to bring their business experience to bear to capture the process and understand how the client wants to interact with the application to help deliver a quality outcome.

This person may not have any previous Microsoft Dynamics ERP experience; they may have ERP experience from outside the Microsoft fold, or they may have strong business skills and a technical bent. It’s much more about a person’s character and acumen than it is about their technical capability.

It’s about their ability to hold a meaningful conversation and to calmly work through how to make a particular process work seamlessly and effectively in an organisation. A successful ERP consultant will have a calm head on their shoulders, and they’ll be passionate about the role they can play in bringing about business change through the strategic application of technology.


It’s often said that ERP is about business transformation and that technology is just the enabler. So rather than having a technology-based conversation, is it more meaningful to look at the business change that needs to happen, and talk about an organisation’s goals in those terms?

I wholeheartedly agree. When you implement an ERP solution, you’re putting in place a business system that affects people – how they do their jobs, their way of performing their roles. You’re looking at an organisational change process that happens to be underpinned by technology.

The danger lies in being too hasty in determining the most appropriate solution. For example, Microsoft Dynamics ERP might from the outside seem like the logical choice, but a consultant should first be looking at all the processes involved and then finding the right fit once all the facts are known. The great thing about Microsoft is that it may turn out that a particular Dynamics ERP product isn’t the best fit and that the organisation’s requirements are better served by Dynamics CRM or SharePoint, for example; but you can have full confidence that within the Microsoft stack there is the right solution for each organisation’s particular requirements.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that technology considerations should ideally come second to the business objectives and what the client is trying to do. And then technology should be used as a frame of reference – I call it technology constrained business change.


What would you say to someone considering a career in Microsoft Dynamics ERP? What advice or enticement would you give them?

I’d say: What are you bloody waiting for?!

I’d also say that when you’re looking at making a career change it’s important to focus on a sector that’s in growth mode, that’s developing swiftly and that has exciting long-term prospects. I’d also point out the fact that Microsoft views ERP and CRM as mechanisms to drive increased revenues across their classic solutions of Office, Windows and Server technologies, and there is a whole lot of development happening in this space. So they won’t go away.

The other thing is that you need to look at partner longevity and the natural consolidation that has been occurring in the market.  More organisations are recognising that in order to get the most out of Dynamics, their technology partner needs to know the full Microsoft gambit, not just Microsoft Dynamics.  This client expectation is likely to drive yet more partner consolidation. And there’s no one better positioned in the Australasian market than Intergen to sell their depth and breadth of Microsoft experience. 


Be a leader with a career in ERP

Posted by: Katy Sweetman, Marketing Director, Empired Group | 20 November 2012

Tags: Microsoft Dynamics ERP

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