Choosing a new enterprise resource platform (ERP) system is a massive decision all on its own. But even once you’ve finally settled on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central as your ERP, you still have more choices to make. Now you need to select a Business Central provider to implement and deploy your ERP solution. The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner you go with will have a significant impact on your experience during the implementation, and the choice could even have repercussions for the functionality of your solutions long after the implementation is complete. This choice deserves some serious thought.
When it comes to selecting your Dynamics 365 Business Central provider, there are two key things to consider:
A NAV Partner vs A Business Central-Only Partner
First, some background. Microsoft Dynamics NAV, previously known as Navision, was Microsoft’s ERP solution for decades. NAV is an on-premises solution, meaning it is installed locally, on a business’ servers and computers. In 2018, Microsoft rebranded NAV to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, a cloud version of their ERP, and has been dialling back support NAV since then. Clearly, Microsoft itself is pushing for its customers to make the move to the cloud, and the market for Business Central implementations has taken off. Microsoft has achieved a large part of what it set out to do: quickly sell ERP systems to a large client base, thereby increasing the number of cloud licenses sold.
Naturally, this led to a huge subset of different NAV providers becoming interested in that space, EFOQUS included. We have, with great success, unprogrammed all we learned about NAV during the last 25-plus years and have taken the jump into the Business Central world.
But not everyone has achieved (or even attempted) this un-programming. There are a significant amount of NAV providers that have turned into Business Central system providers, only to keep on doing business based on what NAV did – and that is a major mistake. Business Central may be based on NAV’s functionality, but it is also so much more than NAV. You need to embrace the new thinking that comes along with Business Central. That means thinking about including apps from Microsoft AppSource along with the standard Business Central platform to add or enhance functionality that meets a specific need for your client vs simply implementing the basic solution and leaving it at that. Believe me: based on the number of flawed implementations we see (and get hired to fix), even that is not as easy as it sounds.
It’s by no means a dealbreaker if your potential Business Central provider was once a NAV provider. In fact, we might suggest that having that depth of experience implementing Microsoft ERPs could be viewed as an asset – as long as the Partner in question has truly embraced Business Central, the cloud, and all the opportunities that come along with them. If they’re still holding on to the on-premises model, they’re not your best bet for providing Dynamics 365 Business Central services.
A Large Consulting Company vs A Boutique Organization
EFOQUS is firmly in the ‘boutique’ category, so I will admit I am biased on this one. I have my feet planted solidly in the second camp. It’s part of the company’s DNA, the way we see the world, and how we want to deliver services to our clients. But I will also be the first one to admit that saying that’s my preference is not the same as saying it is objectively the right choice. It is just one of two (and perhaps many) options. So let’s examine the pros and cons of each:
Boutique organizations are smaller, so they can offer more personalized services and products. They tend to be leaner and have less red tape, so they can act and react with more agility. Typically there is more focus on relationship development, so the client has more input into the process. The downside to this is that because they are smaller, boutique organizations may also be less stable. They rely on fewer staff members, so if someone gets sick or leaves, it can be challenging to maintain the workload. And because you’re getting a more personalized experience and attention, a boutique may cost more upfront than a bigger company. (I say ‘upfront’ because in our experience a less skillfully implemented solution more often needs fixes down the line, which can negate any initial cost-savings)
With a large consulting company, there is no doubt that you get more muscle. They have well-defined processes and huge teams running Business Central implementations constantly. You know exactly what you’re going to get and when you’re going to get it. The downside is that larger organizations are just that – large – and as such it’s harder for them to react as quickly as you might need. Think of turning around a tanker vs turning around a sailboat.
So why does the boutique model appeal to me and EFOQUS? I am very proud of the agility and flexibility that we have built into our business model – combined with the high level of seniority we have amongst our staff. That allows us to be involved in solutions where long-term relationships, quick response time, and a very direct dialog between owners and decision-makers on both sides of the table are key ingredients of delivery and potential problem resolution. This is how we prefer to work, and the clients we work with really appreciate the benefits of working with a boutique firm.
The flip side to this is that we don’t have a huge bench, we run pretty lean. While we have all the ambitions in the world of continuing to be a player in this market, the reality is that our ability to withstand a major storm, like a significant financial downturn, may not be as robust as it is for some of the bigger Business Central providers. Some clients will prefer to opt for the stability and security that a bigger provider can offer, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I know people falling into the camp of larger organizations might try to argue that they can still be quick and flexible – I will politely disagree. They have a much larger number of projects on the go, they have a much more complex sharing of resources across that landscape. That requires a very different structure for making decisions and getting approvals, and it simply can’t happen as quickly as it can at a boutique firm.
Anecdotally – When we started our EFOQUS journey, we partnered up with a much larger company on one of our first implementations, because they had the bench we did not have. When the project was going well, it worked well. When we hit issues, it was different. I like to deal with problems head-on, jumping in to untangle, make decisions, and move on. What I saw, in that case, was that the larger company had a two-week response time just to acknowledge through the project management office that there was a problem that we had to discuss. That works for some, but it does not work for how we do it at EFOQUS.
So after all that, the two key questions that a company embarking upon the journey of implementing Business Central should consider carefully are:
- Is the chosen provider completely embracing the cloud-based Business Central thinking?
- Do I prefer muscle and stability, or do I prefer agility/quick reactions and personalization?
If you figure out these two factors, your implementation will be much smoother, and your experience getting started with Dynamics 365 Business Central will be a more pleasant one for all involved!
So prospective Business Central users/buyers – you will love the product. It is so powerful, so flexible, and such a big part of the Dynamics 365 platform – that you are making the right choice. Just take the time and think of what you are looking for in a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner. It might be completely different from what we stand for – and that is okay! All that matters is that you have gone through the process of identifying what kind of Partner that will work best for you.
If you are looking for a Partner that will give you that ‘deep exhale’ feeling, EFOQUS is the Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner that will not only assess your current business needs but also identify future goals to develop and implement the perfect solution for your business. Get in touch today and see how our team of experts can help you achieve more.