By: Linda Rosencrance
“First-out-of-the-gate” implementation claims are bold, which practically invites argument.
Two weeks ago, one partner released a statement claiming the first Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Business edition (D365FOB) customer go-live in the UK.
“One of many,” countered James Crowter, managing director of Technology Management Ltd. in Wolverhampton, UK. At least five such customers in the UK have gone live recently, he told MSDynamicsWorld, calling the Dutch partner’s first-to-market claim “cheeky.” [Editor’s note: MSDynamicsWorld reached out to the partner who made the announcement for comment, with no reply as of press time.]
UK-based Microsoft Dynamics NAV partners are moving forward slowly with the newly available UK localization of D365FOB for two key reasons: they expect a major update in late 2017, and they are concerned about disrupting their existing NAV businesses.
“There’s a dilemma here,” says Crowter. “Do you want to disrupt your NAV business that’s paying all the bills right now? And people that you’ve got in the NAV pipeline just about to sign, do you want them to start asking lots and lots of questions about Dynamics 365, or do you want them to [sign with NAV]? We can’t afford business to stop, especially with CRM where it is, and if the market gets confused about what they should be buying, they’ll stop.”
An early adopter
One of the early UK adopters of D365FOB is business development company White Bruce, which worked with Dynamics partners QBS and Counting Clouds, and members of Microsoft’s TAP (Technology Adoption Program) team.
White Bruce went live on the platform on July 2. The company was replacing its Xero cloud-based accounting software, which the company implemented when it was founded nearly four years ago.
“One of the reasons we decided to implement it was the ability to customize the package,” says lead partner Dave White. “We were looking to do a little bit more in terms of our work processes and the way we do our business. And Dynamics 365, because of the things like workflow and general level of functionality, allows us to customize it by selecting the bits that we need and make it a better fit for our business.”
In addition, White Bruce decided on Dynamics 365 because of its deep integration with Excel, as well as Outlook and Word.
“That allows us to not only report on the data, which a lot of packages can do, but it allows us to publish the data, which is new,” White says.
A big part of White Bruce’s implementation revolved around adapting the company’s existing data feeds for Dynamics 365.
“Microsoft said we were able to give them incredibly useful and extensive feedback on the modifications that the feeds … in Dynamics needed to employ,” White says. “Microsoft listened and implemented [my feedback]. Quite a few of my recommendations were put into Release 7 of the product.”
David White also believes Microsoft partners looking to work with a firm like his should embrace the viewpoint that Dynamics 365 customers need services on the IT side as well as the business side of Dynamics 365 for Financials implementations.
“We are a firm of chartered accounts; we implement cloud accounting solutions for ourselves and for our clients, and we’ve been working with QBS and our partner Counting Clouds to try to get accountants to understand the benefits of implementing Dynamics 365 for Financials themselves and also for their clients,” he says.
“We don’t have all the tools we need”
The handful of D365FOB implementations in the UK may be encouraging. Still, UK-based NAV partners will remain cautious, particularly since Microsoft has announced so many changes between now and October when the platform will contain something more closely matching full NAV functionality, according to Crowter.
“We’re expecting that at Directions EMEA,” he says. “It may not even called NAV anymore – rumors are circulating saying it’s going to be called Dynamics 365 Business Edition on premise. Actually I think that would be a good thing and help make the options clear but I know many in the community who still mourn the Navision name so Microsoft will get some flak.”
Crowter says that currently his sales team is looking at potential customers that have simple, very straightforward needs (including no customization) and pitching the available release of D365FOB.
“But in the NAV world, customers who have had no customizations or addons have been less than 10 percent of the market,” he says. “So the number of traditional customers that can fit into D365 are small, but it’s small because of the restrictions this platform has, and the lack of solutions in AppSource right now. Microsoft has plans to change all of that and when they do it will be successful. Right now, we don’t have all the tools that we need but it improving month by month.”
Technology Management’s first D365FOB was initially interested in Dynamics NAV.
“We said, ‘Look, you’re suitable for Dynamics 365 Business Edition and you can fit on this platform,'” he says. “It was very advantageous for them to do that, so they took that route.”
So, in effect, the UK partners are lying low with Dynamics 365 for Financials while they await the big updates expected in late 2017. And for partners, that wait is not expected to cause a measurable downturn in business, since NAV continues to compete in the marketplace.
“I don’t expect to sign a lot of [D365FOB] customers in the vacation-disputed next three months,” says Crowter. “Everyone including Microsoft have done a very quiet launch, but the intention is to do it properly in the autumn when we get the full product.”