By: Linda Rosencrance
Recruiting for a job that requires Microsoft Dynamics product skills is no small challenge. The list of trained, qualified, and available workers who know Dynamics ERP or CRM products can be perilously short. Scarcity drives up wages – good for employees and contractors – but drives down productivity for companies when they are short on staff.
When skilled CRM professionals are too hard to come by, firms often look to train up employees with the right qualitiative skills but who don’t yet have the knowledge. Often the existing experts who might be candidates to train others are busy doing their jobs, with little time to run workshops or mentor new employees.
Microsoft partners are taking a range of approaches to training more Dynamics 365/CRM professionals, calling on both internal and external experts to give them a lift.
Gus Gonzalez, founder of Elev8 Solutions and a Microsoft MVP, says his business has found an entire line of business in helping Microsoft partners train up new CRM consultants. “When a lot of partners hire new consultants, or new solutions architects, they hire us to go and train them. So we travel all over the world training partners in emerging markets,” says Gonzalez. The company provides services and solutions to Microsoft customers, too, but they have built a line of business around training and certification prep for partners.
Elev8 trains consultants and solutions architects and salespeople for some of the biggest global partners, Gonzalez says.He has traveled to 15 countries this year, training partners who are entering the CRM game. “We teach them how to sell it, how to implement it, how to architect the solutions.”
Stephanie Beaty, director of talent management at PowerObjects, advises customers who need CRM talent to look for candidates to train based on complementary competencies they already have.
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“If you have an internal business analysis or PMO group, those are definitely the titles that you would train,” says Beaty. “Otherwise it might just be your subject matter experts and your key influencers, i.e., the people in the departments that are going to be using CRM who are going to on your implementation team.”
Gail Forkosh, global head of learning and development at Avanade, says that with the release of Dynamics 365 and a strong pipeline of work globally, CRM has become critical for the company.
“We have over 400 certifications around CRM in terms of training,” she says. “We offer a series of boot camps in Europe and North America. We have launched a CRM technical architect community to promote informal social learning. For CRM specifically, last year we delivered over 60,000 hours of training. The average training for CRM is 108 hours per person.”
For PowerObjects, training its consultants keeps them up to date on the “latest and greatest” within Dynamics 365/CRM and it also builds trust with customers, she says.
“All of our consultants have to be certified once we bring them into PowerObjects. So our customers know that they’re getting people who have experience with the application and have been around the block and know what they’re talking about,” Beaty says. “From a partner standpoint, it’s also important to show our commitment to Microsoft as well, and certifications are one method for doing that.”
CRM is one of those priority skills that larger system integrators partners are now seeking across talent communities, Avanade’s Forkosh says. It adds credibility to the team to have individuals with certifications or deep knowledge and helps Avanade sell the jobs, she says.
“Because we’re a Microsoft global partner and we want to return to being the [Dynamics Partner of the Year], Microsoft actually gives us money for CRM training,” she says. “For Avanade specifically, Dynamics CRM is our big bet for 2018. We are planning to grow Microsoft CRM by 30 percent next year. We expect our business to reach over a billion in Dynamics CRM.”
However, there’s a downside to offering such extensive CRM training – partner poaching.
“Dynamics CRM skills are really hot in the market, but there are really not enough people at Avanade to support the growth,” Forkosh says. “What happens is we hire them, we train them and then our competitors take them. So, it’s a challenge to keep these people. We invest a lot in training them but we do have high turnover. We do have goals around continuing to push the certifications, and boot camps will be the best way to build this deep technical knowledge.”