Arend-Jan Kauffmann is a consultant and developer focused on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics NAV. He is based in the Netherlands but he works with organizations in Europe, Asia, and the US. Since starting to focus on NAV in 2002, he has developed his credentials and community role to become a Microsoft MVP. Kauffmann spoke with MSDW about his work with partners and the challenging decisions that customers, resellers, and ISVs face as Microsoft's Business Central strategy evolve toward SaaS deployments and more limited forms of customization and add-on solution deployment.

The shifting partner experience

In his role as a consultant, Kauffmann offers coaching and training to partners struggling to keep up with the new pace of change in Dynamics as Microsoft quickly retools from NAV to Business Central. One-to-one coaching helps with knowledge transfer, and for some customers, Kauffmann makes on-site visits multiple times a month. The situation this time is very different than previous upgrades, he explained:

Developers are facing a transition they have never done before. They are facing a learning curve they have never been through. It's quite hard to estimate what it will cost in terms of time and money. Not everything they did before with code modifications in C/AL will be possible with Extensions. They need commitment from budget managers to make sure everybody is on the same page. I find myself talking to all those people in a company about taking the best approach.

To stay current with Business Central, Kauffmann still does outsourced development for many partners, building extensions or prototyping to gain a sense of how new features work. He says his guidance has had to change as Microsoft's roadmap has evolved in the last few years. One typical recommendation to ISVs in the final years of NAV releases was to keep their footprint to a bare minimum to ease the transition to the cloud. But the decision of when to commit to cloud-based solutions varies, he says. He recalled one client that has delayed multiple times in the last two years and another that will take another very different approach.

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