With the release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, there is a lot of excitement around all that it offers. This is a huge leap in ERP technology, and what value it as a business solution can bring to an end customer's business. Out-of-the-box, there are more new net changes than in all the previous major releases of AX combined. With that fact in hand, I think it's important for customers to understand one of the key factors for a successful AX 2012 implementation. A cornerstone, to any such ERP project. What I'm speaking about is the value a partner brings, for such projects.

Dynamics AX 2012 projects are business focused projects, that are enabled by technology. A good partner should not only understand and be experts at the technology that enables this great solution, but more the real value that the partner ecosystem brings is in vertical knowledge. This is the key to driving value out of such projects, and why it's critical that a good partner always be used. It's never recommended a company go at this process alone. There are several reasons why, and a few of those are as follows.

First, as I mentioned above, vertical knowledge, or understanding the business you operate. This means having experience were it counts, within the type of industry you and your company live and work in daily. Someone once said, "if your to close to the problem, it's hard to see the solution." This is even more true, when it comes to such projects as an ERP / SCM project. Time and time again, I've see where working as a part of a VAR, with a great team of consultants, helps drive real value out of these projects. This includes being able to be a second party, compared to the company, and push the company to make real decisions based on value. The asking of why, and the applying of years of experience for processes for driving to the most flexible, dynamic business aspects for an end customer. This vertical knowledge is key and the most important aspect of what makes a good partner, and what helps drive value for such projects.

Second, this concept of an outside party, which in turn enables new eyes, and new ways of thinking about how things can be done, vs. how things are done. You see, ERP projects are akin to marriages, in that there is the courting process, the getting to know you, the digging in, the good arguments that lead to real value, the continued drive to work together for a better tomorrow, and finally the celebration of going live after all that effort and hard work. Having this second party, that can take the technology, that can take vertically specific domain knowledge, along with the customers needs and drive to the best ROI is a very critical part, and very much a part of the value in which a partner brings.

Finally, we have the technology aspect, and I hope the point is clear this is listed last in line. It's very, important this point - no doubt about it. However this is less the critical path, than the vertical knowledge and years of such project experience that a partner brings. To often I've seen companies try to approach an ERP project, from a technical point of view. There are technical needs, however the project should be driven from a business requirements, and therefore business aspect needs. Still, with that stated, technology is what enables this solution. Therefore it is critical that a good partner understand the technology that is used, so that when the real business requirements ate finally meet, then the technology can be used in such a manner that further drives value, with the least amount of modifications. Understanding the technology, can also lend to helping understanding options of further value, or possibilities that did not previously exists, that come with the new technology. Such things as looking at BI in a different fashion, and being able to quickly and with much more degree of flexibility have true interop between the solution and the outside world around it. 

A good partner, is key to the success of a Dynamics AX project, and this will always be the case, no matter how the technology changes, or what it might can enable. These are business projects, vertical knowledge is required to understand and drive the most value for a customer. There is so much more that I could talk to know about the value a partner brings, however I think the above helps introduce, at a high level, why it's important today, as well as it will be important tomorrow in using partners to have successful Microsoft Dynamics AX implementations. 

That's all for now, till next month!