Maybe you’re looking to implement a customer relationship management solution or maybe you’re already using Microsoft Dynamics but want to get more value out of it. You’ve decided to work with a Microsoft partner, but an internet search returns thousands of service providers, all with a wide variety of product offerings. How do you choose the best partner for your company?

First, it’s important to find a Microsoft Certified partner. These partners have deep knowledge of Microsoft products and how they interact. They’ve been tested and validated on their level of professionalism, the quality of their work, and their knowledge and implementation of Microsoft Dynamics or the development of add-on solutions.

You also want a partner that offers reasonable support times and excellent product knowledge and that increases the overall value of your ERP or CRM system. Here are some factors to consider when looking for a new partner:

Experience with both functional and technical capabilities. A partner’s project team should include highly seasoned professionals with advanced technical and functional capabilities. They should have a deep understanding of ERP systems, CRM systems, integration procedures, manufacturing, distribution, and system mapping and workflows.

Industry expertise. Microsoft has a wide range of competencies that a partner must attain. Regardless of the stage, users looking for new partners should review they types of certifications Microsoft offers to determine which ones match their specific requirements. Then you can narrow your search to firms that have attained those certifications. Users should also be aware of which industry verticals a partner specializes in, in order to have a clear comprehension of their experience and if they are considered experts in the desired field. Together with the partner’s expertise, users should be able to incorporate best practices by understanding the needs and offerings tailored to their specific industry.

References and testimonials. Check any potential partner’s customer references and testimonials. When speaking to references, not only should you ask about the implementation process but also about proactive the consultants were during and after go-live with your system. Discuss the frequency of communications, the number of training sessions, frequency of user group activities, and informational updates, as these are the long-term activities that create a mature stable solution.

Product upgrade assistance. Upgrades to on-premises software can be expensive, overwhelming, and daunting. Your Microsoft partner should assist your team with end-to-end planning for new hardware needs, downtime, any expected hurdles, and a seamless upgrade with VIP support until your project is complete.

Flexible solutions to meet different organizational challenges. With the flexibility of the Dynamics product line and integration to Dynamics ISV solutions, usually more than one solution can meet your organization’s requirements. Your partner must take into account the software and services you require and ensure that the proposed solution is fully integrated with your goals. The solution should enable you to streamline business processes and increase performance to make the most of your investment.

Access to organizational leaders outside of project management. Each project, whether a new system or module implementation, upgrade, or business process review should be completed with a dedicated project management team. Most partners offer a team led by experienced project managers, which is great, but having direct access to solution and practice leads would be ideal.

Licenses and product lines. Find a team that is a certified Microsoft partner (MorganFranklin is a Gold partner) and a reseller of all Microsoft and Dynamics licensing along with industry knowledge.

Support times and support personnel. Find a team that provides quick response times within a two-hour time frame within working hours. The partner should go above and beyond to make sure your support case is assigned to personnel who are skilled in the area in which you need support.

Level of involvement. Some companies will try to delegate projects in their entirety to the firm implementing the solution. Others will do the exact opposite and actively participate and learn how the product works in order to try and reduce costs. You need to ask yourself what type of customer you are. Do you really have the resources to do all the work yourself or are you better off having a partner involved to help with training and research new solutions and updates?

By considering these key factors, you will be able to gauge your expectations and find yourself one step closer to effectively using your system to its full potential.

But don’t forget…

Be open with your Microsoft partner from day one and ask questions so the partner is aware of your expectations and can meet them. This will reduce your chances of being disappointed with the level of service later on. Also, don’t be afraid to make your concerns heard if you feel your expectations are not being met. It could happen that your organization’s original needs change during the project, and you should let your partner know.

MorganFranklin Consulting is a Certified Gold partner with over 18 years of experience with Microsoft Dynamics, CRM, and technical support. With our business and technology expertise, our team can not only conduct thorough system reviews to identify issues but also make improvements in workflow to last the lifetime of your platform.

By Shannon Mullins

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