Dealing with Projects after Lockdown using Dynamics Field Service

With the world currently dealing with Covid-19 and the restrictions it has brought upon modern life, almost all businesses have seen some struggles, had projects halted or completely stopped all together. However, now we are starting to see these lockdown restrictions ease, it shouldn’t be too long before we are back to our normal way of life, or as close to it as we can be. Find out how Microsoft Dynamics Field Service can help you deal with projects after lockdown.

Many of your customers will be keen to proceed or start their projects once the lockdown fully ends and, so how is your business going to manage to keep all of these projects on track, and make sure your people are all up to date and on the same page? Letting something slip through the cracks when you get busy could cause damage to your relationship with your customers.

Fortunately, there is a piece of Microsoft Dynamics software that integrates directly with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central that can manage all of this for you.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service lets your staff who work out on the road to update and work on projects while on the site, and do not need to have an internet connection to do so.

This lets your customers know that you will be able to fulfil these projects immediately after the lockdown, despite the number of customers wanting to go live.

The Dynamics 365 Field Service business application helps organisations deliver onsite service to customer locations. The application combines workflow automation, scheduling algorithms, and mobility to set mobile workers up for success when they’re onsite with customers fixing issues.


Field Service Roles

Customer service agents handle incoming requests, and determine when to create work orders for onsite visits. Agents will primarily use the application through a web browser.

Service managers track performance metrics and oversee service delivery, finding ways to increase efficiency and standardise processes. Service managers primarily use the application through a web browser.

Field technicians manage their assigned work orders using the mobile app on a phone or tablet, and perform maintenance and repairs onsite at customer locations.

They update Business Central from the app, even when offline. This will then update when an internet connection is made.

Inventory managers ensure field technicians have everything they need to complete their service calls. They also handle product returns and purchase new inventory. Inventory managers primarily use the application through a web browser.


For more information about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service, click here. To speak to a member of the Azzure IT team about your business’s specific needs, click here to contact us today.


Supporting businesses remotely during the pandemic

As we are all aware, the effects of COVID-19 have had a huge impact on businesses and the way projects are delivered. Working from home has become the new norm, and we are relying more than ever on cloud technology and IT efficiency to facilitate collaboration, and to allow team members to seamlessly work on projects together. Take a look at how we’ve been supporting businesses remotely during the pandemic. 

At Azzure IT, we have the in-house knowledge and expertise to service all your IT projects and needs, seamlessly and remotely. Whether you are looking to migrate to a new and more efficient ERP or CRM system, or need some training or urgent support, we’ve got you covered.  

We recently worked with UK manufacturing company Friction Technology, to upgrade their existing business management system to a cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Their old system was very manually driven and time-consuming, resulting in poor efficiency and was affecting their bottom-line. We worked with Friction Technology to find the best possible solution to fit their needs, and then we migrated them over to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, hosted in the cloud. This all-in-one solution resulted in increased efficiency with a simple to use solution, and was delivered completely remotely by our in-house consultants, meaning that the restrictions in place due to COVID-19 didn’t cause any further headaches. You can read the full case study here

Another customer we have recently supported remotely is Aberlour Child Care Trust, having  successfully upgraded them from Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 to Business Central. The project involved implementation, set-up and training, and was undertaken amid lockdown, where we fully supported them with their short timeframes and achieved the requested go-live date in August. One of our dedicated, in-house consultants spent several days delivering remote training to Aberlour’s team to enable the transition to be as seamless as possible. John Coe, Finance Manager of Aberlour, commented: ‘considering the circumstances, and the upgrade, training and implementation being done completely remotely, Azzure have done a great job and achieved the upgrade to our system as asked for’.  

Moving slightly further afield, we have also recently implemented Dynamics NAV 2017 along with a service contract to the Australian branch of one of our existing customers, Castleton, an IT Services company. Castleton have been one of our customers for years, and we supported them remotely to replicate the solution they use in the UK for their Australian business. Castleton shared lots of praise for our consultants, both for technical knowledge but also for the support and helpful approach to building their staff confidence. This has been even more important due to the effects of COVID-19 and home working, meaning that access to reliable remote support is more important than ever. 

Here at Azzure IT, we can support your IT needs and no matter the challenge, we don’t let COVID get in the way. As a trusted Microsoft Gold Partner, we are committed to providing our clients with the highest level of customer service and satisfaction, and our in-house consultants are able to provide you with the support and recommendations to create a sustainable and efficient business, so you can get on with the things that really matter to you.  

Contact us here. 

Microsoft BREP Payment Offer

At the beginning of this month, Microsoft announced a new BREP offer, which has been introduced for all Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central users to take advantage of, which allows existing Azzure IT customers active on their Microsoft Enhancement Plan to renew through us, and receive Dynamics 365 Business Central (cloud) licenses.

This is a new change that will be the new norm now for all of our new and existing customers, and will effect not only the benefits you receive with your Business Ready Enhancement Plan (BREP), but also changes how you can choose to pay for it.

Any of our new or existing customers who choose to renew their Enhancement Plan through us will receive the following benefits:

  • Price point equal to Enhancement Plan Renewal Quote
  • Dual-use and Downgrade rights to your current Dynamics Price List Product.
  • Migration flexibility.
  • Monthly Billing Option

The last benefit has been one of the most requested changes we have received from our customers regarding BREP payments, and the switch has now been made. You can now pay your annual BREP fees monthly, instead of all in one go each time you renew.

To make sure your business qualifies for this offer, and to read more information, see our full page on the BREP Offer here.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us on 0345 467 9950, or take a look at the official Microsoft Dynamics forum here. We’re keen to do everything we can as a Microsoft Dynamics Gold Level partner to make sure our customers have all the tools to make the most out of their solutions.

Visitor Sign In Power App

You walk into the reception of a business you have never been to before, and have to ask the receptionist how you sign in, fill in the old sign-in book, and then wait for the receptionist to go and get the person you are there to see.

This is a very time-consuming and outdated process, making a poor impression on the visitor, and setting a bad tone for the whole visit. This can be changed however, by automating the process using some Microsoft technology.

Here at Azzure IT, we have fixed this problem. We have developed a Visitor Sign In Power App using Microsoft Dynamics 365 that allows you to ditch the pen and paper, and capture your visitor’s details on a tablet, which then gets stored directly into D365.

Visitor Sign In App

The Power App is built using D365 as the source database, a custom entity has been created within D365 to store the following customer information:

  • Name
  • Company
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Who are you visiting?
  • Time in and Time out
Visitor Sign In App Second Screen

Once the visitor signs in they will see an acknowledgment on the screen (below) to let them know the team member will be with them shortly.

Visitor Sign In App Last Page

We haven’t stopped there either. The member of staff still needs to be informed about their visitor arriving without the receptionist needing to traipse through the office to tell them, which is why we have solved that problem as well. Using Power Automate, when the user signs in and selects who they are visiting, a Microsoft Teams notification is sent, notifying them their visitor is in reception.

Visitor Sign In App Welcome

The Customer Visit entity within your Dynamics 365 system will be updated automatically, so you can easily and clearly see which visitors are currently signed in.

Once the Visitor is ready to leave the sign out process takes 3 simple steps

  • Click Sign out
  • Find your name
  • Submit

This App was built by integrating 4 of Microsoft technologies:

  • D365
  • Power Apps
  • Power Automate
  • Teams

This Power App could be extended/modified to allow your staff members sign in and out as well, which would give you a full view of all people who are in the building.

This becomes a major benefit of the Visitor Sign In App, as it can then be used as a Fire Safety log book to track all your visitors currently on site, in case of a fire or another hazard.

If you would like to discuss this Visitor Sign In Power App with us, and how it could benefit your business, please get in touch with our team.

Click here to see the other add-on apps in our range, and how they can develop your business further. Or, see all of our services available on Microsoft Appsource here.

Dynamics 365 (CRM) – The New Unified Interface


What is the Unified Interface and its benefits?

The unified interface has been developed to ensure that users have a consistent experience using D365 across all devices and screen sizes. This means that users of both the web and mobile applications will now have a like for like experience, and with the introduction of model driven apps, system administrators can easily configure apps that only need to be designed once and deploy them across all devices.

Although the system works in exactly the same way as the old interface, there has been a number of cosmetic improvements making it even more intuitive than before. Microsoft have also been working to introduce a range of new features as part of the deployment.

The pick of these new features have been detailed below.


New Features and Improvements


Navigation Improvements

The navigation pane now fits comfortably along the left-hand side of the screen and it can be minimised to offer users even more space to work with records in D365. The recently viewed and pinned record functions have also now moved into the navigation bar for a more seamless experience.

New Quick Create Layout

In the unified interface, the quick create form now opens as a pane from the right hand side of the screen. This means that users can still view and reference information on the record they are working with, while adding new information into D365.

Form Updates

The form updates help users navigate through and find information faster than ever. Users now have the ability to navigate through tabs in a horizontal format. Selecting the required tab will show all the fields, sub grids and other components that are contained within that area. Additionally the reduction of clutter and white space makes the system easier to view and use.

Timeline Layout

The notes, activities and post elements have now been combined into a single work stream in the new timeline function. New filters and visualisations help users sort and navigate through the different record types.

Organisation Charts

Users can now setup organisation charts for account records. This feature can be used to show the management structure of an account in a visual, easy to read format. The organisation chart uses an intuitive drag and drop editor.


How to prepare for the move to the Unified Interface?

As your Microsoft partner, we can help you with your move to the unified interface and provide training on how to get the most out of the new features. For more information about the new unified interface, and how to prepare for the move on 1st October 2020, please contact your Azzure IT account manager.

Or to discuss this with a member of the Azzure IT team, give us a call on 0345 467 9950, or email info@azzure-it.com. 


By Josh Bradley

As you’d expect with Josh being one of Azzure IT’s leading Dynamics CRM Consultants, and an IT guru, he’s acquired many Microsoft Dynamics certifications and always appears to be studying to take another. Josh started his consultancy career path as an apprentice in application delivery and quickly moved to become an Associate Professional, from which point he joined the Azzure consulting team.


CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Best of Breed vs Best in Class ERP

Manufacturing and distribution companies well know that an ERP selection process is a complex endeavour with long-term strategic implications. It is also a project that comes with a certain amount of risk, and requires a significant amount of organisational resources, including time, money and people’s effort. As teams approach the evaluation and selection of a new system, they often run into the concepts of ‘Best of Breed’, vs ‘Best in Class’ ERP.

These concepts have been around a long time and still serve to confuse.

Defining Best of Breed ERP

Industry analysts define a best of breed system as the best system developed to address a specific niche or functional area. The application performs specialised functions better than an integrated system, such as standalone quality management or inventory tracking as an example. Best of breed systems are developed and sold by separate vendors.

A “Best of Breed” solution is often times the best choice if a company’s business requirements are so specific that a single ERP can’t address their unique set of business conditions.

 

Defining Best in Class

Best in Class ERP combines core functions of a manufacturing enterprise into a single, integrated enterprise-wide software suite. There is tight integration between functions, linking manufacturing, finance, supply chain management, quality, inventory, maintenance and other functions in a single universe.

ERP vendors from tier one, two or three develop and market integrated ERP offering the features and functions that best meet the needs of a specific industry.

The Pros and Cons

When evaluating these two different approaches, should a company implement multiple best-of-breed packages or pursue a single integrated ERP solution?

The up-side of single, standalone best of breed applications is that a focused set of features and functions handle specific functionality. Each department is independent in terms of their IT strategy, maintenance and upgrade schedule. Additional benefits include:

  • Flexible approach to managing system upgrades
  • Wide choice of specialised systems and vendors
  • Modular application maintenance

The downside of a Best of Breed approach are the issues associated with multiple systems, databases and vendors. Maintaining multiple systems provides little cross-connectivity, which creates maintenance and integration challenges. It’s complex and resource-draining for many companies.

By far the biggest benefit of a single, integrated Best in Class ERP suite is full data integration across functions. As manufacturing becomes more challenging and complex, best in class systems tightly link data and processes together cross-functionality. The primary pros include:

  • Single system implementation, single database and single supplier.
  • Standardised technology across the enterprise
  • More control of total cost
  • Improved end-to-end process support

The downside of a Best in Class approach is that very often, a single suite can’t adequately address specific core functions. We’ve seen limited functionality in some areas, including product lifecycle management and other engineering-related functions. Additional cons include:

  • Customisation is more difficult
  • Upgrades are more complex
  • Vendor visibility is a risk
  • Potentially less options when adding features and functions
  • Tied to one vendor for support and maintenance

Microsoft Dynamics can be configured to suit your business, whether you’re looking for a best of breed or best in class solution. Get in contact with us today on 0345 467 9950 or email enquiries@azzure-it.com to discuss what would be best for your business.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Azzure IT New Members

As 2019 draws to a close, we are happy to announce that we have three new members joining the Azzure IT team, making additions across the business to strengthen our sales, marketing and development teams.

Gavin McPhilomey

Firstly, Gavin McPhilomey has recently joined our in-house development team, as we look to continue our investment into this aspect of Azzure IT. Gavin has been working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 systems for the past six and a half years, and has significant experience and understanding working with these systems and building custom applications to work with them.

Jordan Park

Secondly, Jordan Park will be joining us in mid-January as our new Head of Marketing. Jordan is skilled in all aspects of marketing, including digital, content and event planning, and brings with him a wealth of experience not only in the ERP sector but also in other relevant sectors, such as manufacturing.

Carl Swann

Thirdly, Carl Swann will be joining us in mid-January as a pre-sales solution consultant, working with our new prospects to accurately discover what they need from a Dynamics solution, and making sure they get the perfect system for their business. Carl has over five years of experience working as a Solution Consultant, and has all the skills needed to advise businesses accurately and correctly.

We’d like to welcome all three of our new members to Azzure IT, and look forward to a brilliant 2020!

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

25% off Dynamics 365 Sales Professional

For a limited time only, you can grow your sales pipeline by taking advantage of a 25% off discount on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales Professional (formerly called Dynamics CRM) licenses, from now through until June.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales helps your business to create meaningful customer relationships and turn them into transactions, helping you sell more, faster. It brings real insight into the sales and marketing pipeline, so you can forecast demand and deliver the personalisation needed to make a real difference.

Smarter selling with Microsoft Dynamics embedded AI lets you focus on the customer, building trusted relationships and taking action with a solution that unifies relationship data and provides contextual AI-drive insights.

To get 25% off Dynamics 365 Sales, contact us via email at sales@azzure-it.com or give us a call on 0345 467 9950. Or to see all of the Sales capabilities, click here.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Q4 Customer Success

It’s always a great feeling when we deliver a project for a new customer, and get them up and running live on their new Microsoft Dynamics solution. We’re thrilled to announce that we have had two new Go-Lives to close out 2019, ending the year on a high note, highlighting our Q4 customer success.

YPO

Initially Azzure’s remit was a 20 day project to help YPO scope out the project as a whole, bringing together Dynamics NAV with around 40 other applications ranging from product catalogue app, D365 Sales, Website, EDI, Document Output, WMS, Portal, TNT and much more.

Once we had provided a scope and an estimate, we were asked to bid for the business, and we won the bid, beginning the project on the 3rd January 2017.

It’s been a big project for us, delivering nearly 800 days of work. The team at YPO can go into their Christmas break, knowing they achieved an amazing project for the business from which they will start to reap the benefits in the years to come.

And whilst they might want a little break from project work, we are already talking about adding other functionality like SharePoint, Power BI, Dynamics 365 Sales (CRM) ensuring the solution will continue to be an asset to their business.

This has been a fantastic achievement for both YPO and Azzure, and a testament to the skills and ability of our teams to make projects like these happen, and deliver for our customer exactly what they need.

Support Warehouse

Support Warehouse are an organisation who specialise in the renewal of expiring support agreements for Hewlett Packard Enterprise customers around the world. They are part of the Annuity Management Group (AMAG, based in Switzerland). We were approached by Support Warehouse for this project based on the good experience their Head of Finance had of working with Azzure in her previous role at Switch2.

We’ve been working with the Support Warehouse team to implement Business Central as a replacement for their Sage solution, with a view to providing a more scalable and flexible foundation on which to grow their business, and also allow for integration with their existing in-house developed systems.

Some of the key drivers for the project were to consolidate a number of their companies into one Business Central instance and streamline reporting, move onto the same finance platform as sister company Europlus Direct (who currently use NAV 2017), and to serve as a template for the rest of the AMAG Group to use in future.

Another fantastic project completed, a credit to all the Azzure IT team involved on this Q4 Customer Success.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

How Microsoft Dynamics can improve operational efficiency?

How Microsoft Dynamics can improve operational efficiency in your business? Many businesses have fallen into the trap of having a mix-and-match set of inefficient business processes and legacy software systems, which leads to several problems that hamper growth, such as a mismatch in data, difficulty linking processes and wasting time and resources trying to fix immediate pain points.

New ERP software, such as Microsoft Dynamics, can often fix these problems, but only if you define which processes you want to improve before making the ERP software selection. Defining your business’s long term goals early on in the ERP project will ensure that you realise business benefits that are directly related to operational efficiency.

Here’s a few examples of areas where businesses often increase efficiency as a result of their ERP project:

 1. Streamline data entry

A Microsoft Dynamics system can fully automate your data entry processes, which is beneficial because manually entering data not only takes a long time, but it puts companies at risk for several other inefficiencies, like accuracy and reliability.

 2. Inventory cycle times

If your business is holding too much inventory, your Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution can help you more accurately predict demand, which can maximise resources and cash flow. Holding too much inventory leads to increased warehousing management tasks, increased costs to hold the inventory, and wasted time managing inventory that might not be sold.

 3. Integrate a CRM solution as well

When you implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, many functions are combined all into one platform. This means your employees spend less time researching questions for their clients, less time switching between systems and less time tracking down payments and invoices which leads to an overall increase in operational efficiency.

The automation of manual tasks and the improvement of inefficient processes can result in significant labour cost savings. In addition to this, efficiency can increase your employee’s morale and attitude towards problem solving. While employee morale may be a bit tougher to measure than most business benefits, you can always measure your turnover rate and absentee rate to get a rough idea of your employee’s satisfaction levels at work.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

How Microsoft Dynamics can improve your customer experience

A great customer experience is not something that magically happens overnight, it’s a mind-set that is built and reinforced over time by optimising your daily processes and implementing easy-to-use systems.

The key to customer experience transformation is designing optimised business processes and implementing digital technology that supports these processes, instead of hindering them. Here are our four key tips for improving the customer experience offering at your company:

  1. Streamline how your customer-facing employees work

Trying to navigate your way through legacy software can become incredibly frustrating for front line customer service staff members, which is a problem that many businesses face. Using software that is decades old or has been configured too many times can cause more issues than it solves, and leads to it having a significantly negative impact on your customers.

Many companies couple this issue with having inefficient processes, causing twice the harm. Inefficient processes can cause frustration during busy periods, for example, if a task takes days instead of hours, this inefficiency become more noticeable with a heavy workload.

Allowing your employees who use the software daily to provide input is a solution to the problem of inefficiency, and not only shows your employees that you care about their pain points, but that organisational changes in your business are made to make their lives easier. This will lead to a higher level of acceptance towards the new software, and increased willingness to learn and use the software when it is implemented.

  1. Eliminate organisational silos

The ideal for any successful business is that every department works together to achieve the same set of goals, using the same data and same processes. However, the reality for many businesses is that their departments are completely disparate, working in individual silos and not collaborating together.

Silos generally develop as companies develop new teams and departments around business critical functions, an effort which often neglects the customer experience factor in favour of financial gain. As a result, different teams have different goals, are judged on different benchmarks and all begin pulling in different directions.

Instead of making individual teams responsible for your entire business’s customer experience, you should consider making it a priority for every member of your staff, implementing customer-focused metric and KPI’s for each department. This is a significant step to removing these silos that damage customer experience, and get everyone back towards working for a common goal.

  1. Improve the training you give to employees

Reviewing and updating your business’s end-user training guide on a quarterly or annual basis is a good precedent to set, as it keeps your processes accurate and up-to-date. During these reviews, it is crucial to assess what your employees in the field are doing in comparison to what they are being taught. This is critical as the processes being used in the field by individuals could be better than the ones being taught to your other team members. By reviewing this and receiving feedback from your team, you will create a more prosperous culture and exceed your customer’s expectations.

  1. Leverage your analytics information

Analysing your customer data gives your team the opportunity to provide your customers with a much more personalised digital customer experience. This is one of the most important aspects of providing a positive customer experience, and having up to date and accurate data is pivotal to this.

Understanding the services most valuable to your customers can give you a perfect reason to expand upon a particular service offering with a customer, and in other instances you can use this data to develop more successful marketing campaigns and better targeted advertisements.

Obtaining this accurate, real-time data can be very difficult without an integrated ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics. Dynamics allows you to see all of this information in real-time, and have it available immediately when speaking to a customer or replying to a query, through the use of D365 for Customer Service.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Improve Competitive Advantage with Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central has innovative functionality in areas such as manufacturing, business intelligence and analytics, and can help your organisation gain or improve competitive advantage. If you’re considering investing in or changing ERP systems, you need to ensure that the system is going to give your business a competitive advantage, but how can you do this? The answer is business process re-engineering.

Simply put, business process re-engineering is the process of evaluating the current processes and workflows within an organisation and rethinking and redesigning them in order to make improvements.

Business process re-engineering is most effective when conducted before making a decision on a piece of ERP software, as it ensures that your business does not blindly adopt an ERP vendor’s generic industry best practices which might not be appropriate for your unique business goals. It also ensures that when you adopt your best practices after working with a vendor, they are guaranteed to improve competitive advantage.

In some cases, generic industry best practices can even decrease your competitive advantage, because your competitors may have implemented similar systems and could be running the same practices, diluting your business’s unique selling points and making you uncompetitive. This is why Azzure IT help custom develop solutions specifically tailored for your business, addressing it’s pain points, and planning for achieving your long-term business goals.

While going through the process of improving your business of improving your business processes, it’s also crucial to actively look for inefficiencies in your customer and revenue related processes to identify any opportunities where you can improve competitive advantage.

If you’re hoping to develop your competitive advantage to the best it can be through the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics, then it is vital that you also focus on CRM functionality, as it is critical to the customer experience. Competitive advantage is a high level business benefit that is usually achieved through improving the customer experience, using a tool like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.

To explore either of these topics further with a member of the Azzure IT team, call 0345 467 9950 or email enquiries@azzure-it.com

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

5 strategies to help your business realise its long-term goals

When companies first venture out into the ERP marketplace, they will see limitless possibilities to improve their business. However, somewhere along this journey, many projects hit difficulty and the promised business benefits often fall short of expectations and their overall long term goals, leaving a lot to be desired.

Azzure IT have found that this low benefits realisation is often due to both the buyer and the provider failing to define the expected benefits of a solution, and align the business around some common goals early on in the project life-cycle. We have found that organisational alignment is not always at the top of buying business’s priority lists when selecting a new ERP system, and more often than not, companies are trying to find a system as quickly as possible to address their immediate pain points, therefore losing sight of their long-term business goals.

While staying focused on realising long-term goals is not always easy, Azzure IT have devised several strategies to help businesses ensure they see the benefits of their new ERP system, that can be implemented both before and during their selection process.

 1. Understand where your business is right now

Addressing the pain points in your current processes can be an excellent way to begin the journey for finding a new ERP solution, as it lets you fully map out exactly what you will need it to do.

During this mapping process, it’s vital to capture the right detail, and the correct amount of detail. For example, you will need to measure exactly how long a process takes, how many systems it has to go through to completion and how many people know how to do the process on your old solution, so that you can accurately measure improvements post go-live with your new solution.

As the business goes through the process of identifying pain points, it’ll gradually find opportunities for improvement, which can be used as a requirements document when searching for a new solution, and an appropriate vendor.

This is also the ideal time for a business to start considering how to not only fix the processes that aren’t working, but also to identify which mediocre processes they want to improve on as well, and how a new system can help them achieve this.

 2. Outline your expected benefits, and how you will judge ROI

When we first embark on ERP projects with businesses we work with, we help them clarify their overall business goals, so they can determine whether Microsoft Dynamics can support these goals.

To help these businesses answer this question with any degree of accuracy, we help design future state processes based on the improvement opportunities they have identified previously, while mapping where their business is right now. To do this, we identify their current pain points that they want to resolve, their long-term business goals, and how they want to achieve them.

By conducting this process, it enables both Azzure as the vendor and the buying business to quantify their expected business benefits. For example, it enables the business to quantify the time and cost that it will take to achieve a current state process change, and a future state process.

Once the business has estimated all their expected benefits, one of the most effective tools is to develop an ERP business case. This tool allows the business to set key performance indicators (KPIs) to judge the upcoming project on, and track them throughout the project and post go-live.

In addition to the creation of KPIs, a business case should also focus on estimated costs as well as expected return on investment (ROI). While you can estimate ROI without focusing on a particular vendor, many companies will re-calculate expected ROI once they’ve evaluated several enterprise systems. Ultimately though, your business’s ROI will depend not only on which piece of software or vendor you select, but on how well the project is executed.

We also see many companies coming to us who justify their ERP purchase by pointing to issues with their legacy systems, such as a lack of support, scalability or a decrease in vendor viability. While these are legitimate reasons to consider implementing a new system, they must be coupled with a series of more ambitious, long-term business goals.

 3. Create a realistic and manageable project plan

One of the key reasons that ERP projects stagnate and do not reach completion is that the unrealistic expectations set at the beginning of the project are never realised, causing frustration and a lack of motivation to complete the project, eventually leading to a lack of support at board-level.

Many companies inaccurately estimate the time, budget and resources that are required to effectively implement a full ERP system, and this often causes issues later on down the line, putting the whole project into jeopardy.

The best way to ensure that your business does not fall foul of this is to leverage the help of a trusted and knowledgeable Microsoft Dynamics vendor, such as Azzure IT, to help you define a realistic project plan.

We also ensure businesses include activities that are overlooked in project plans, such as change management and business process management. These activities help companies realise more tangible business benefits.

 4. Make sure everyone knows the system you’ve chosen

You can’t realise business benefits if end-users aren’t prepared to use the new software. This is why it’s essential to communicate with and train employees as early as possible.

We provide a series of on-site and off-site training to help clients identify resistance to change early in the project, so they can proactively address it. This training reduces change resistance and helps employees understand how their individual processes support project goals.

 5. Continually measure your long-term goals

By continually identifying where the gaps are between your project’s projected benefits and actual benefits throughout the process of implementing an ERP solution, you help your team understand what they are doing well and how they can improve.

A session of root cause analysis can identify the causes of these benefit gaps. A common root cause is end-users using workarounds because they don’t understand the importance of embracing the new technology and ways of working.

It’s also important to continually measure benefits post go-live, even though the ERP project team will most likely be tired and ready to move on from the project, but successful ERP projects never end.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Signs of an ageing ERP system

With the pressures of business and keeping pace with the day-to-day work tasks, it can be difficult to find time to step-back and reflect. An ageing ERP system is a bit like noticing your own personal ageing – day to day you just don’t spot those small signs, but maybe you’re not bouncing out of bed quite the way you used to, or spot those new laughter lines your face has earned, until you see your reflection in a mirror. Just like that fantastic new ERP solution you acquired just a few years ago – when installed it was leading edge, it had all the latest features, came with some integration as well, and it saved you so much time and money. Is that still the case, or is your company being held back by an ageing ERP?

The degradation of any business system is also a gradual process that businesses just naturally adapt to over time. Back then it was OK for the reporting to be a monthly process, as spreadsheet-wizards pulled together data from disconnected systems. It was normal for data and company information to be held in spreadsheets and emailed around, outside your secure systems, and no-one really spotted the absence of any ERP solution road-map, delivering those all important new enhancements to keep pace with your businesses change!

More than 90% of consumers said they would consider taking their business elsewhere rather than work with a company that uses outdated technology.

For small and midsize businesses (SMBs), deciding to overhaul your accounting software or business management systems may seem like a daunting task. But what is the real cost of trying to maintain a system that is no longer keeping up with demands? Whether the result is lost sales, customer dissatisfaction or compliance risks, failing to update your technology can be a costly decision.

Easily upgrade your ageing ERP system to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, a modern, state of the art ERP and Accounting solution, designed specifically for small to medium-sized businesses. Previously known as Microsoft Dynamics NAV (or NAVISION), it has a long established pedigree whilst still being a modern, up to date cloud solution. It features everything a small to medium-sized organisation needs to manage their back-end business processes, and is designed to be moulded for each and every industry. 

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Looking beyond your EORI

More then ever before the main stream message to UK businesses would appear to be ‘prepare for a no-deal Brexit‘, with Wholesale and Distributors, along side Manufactures, being at the forefront of this advice. The FWD (Federation of Wholesale Distributors), announcing on their website earlier this month that ‘The likelihood of a no-deal Brexit is currently as high as it’s ever been. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to leaving the EU on October 31st, with or without a Withdrawal Agreement.‘. 

As preparations continue to ramp up in the UK, the HMRC has taken the symbolic step and started to automatically enrol all relevant traders that are VAT registered to have EORI numbers.

Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number – being the unique ID code used to track and register customs information in the EU.

Key for helping UK businesses trade with the EU once we have left, the HMRC is sending letters to businesses over the coming weeks to advise of their assigned EORI number. But whilst this number is the essential first step needed to continue trading, it doesn’t resolve the wider implications Brexit is likely to have on your supply chain management.

Whilst the Financial Times, reported on the 2nd August, that the majority of FTSE organisations have plans in place, no-doubt related to their fiscal position, many SMB’s are unprepared simply because they don’t have the resources, fiscal or otherwise, to work out all the scenarios of what could happen. Many simply having to continue as normal until the outcome is known and then try to adapt.

Delivering certainty to your SMB business

With such changes on the horizon, as a wholesaler or distribution the future is uncertain, the environment is as best fluid, if not challenging – so how can you bring some business stability when all-around you’re faced with such volatility?

Many businesses are turning to technology to help. Through Business Software (ERP and CRM) you can gain a better understanding of your business, your supply chain and electronic data interchange (EDI), and customer and vendor demands, so that you can make the sorts of strategic business decisions that will help you to reduce costs, predict stock-levels, be more efficient, whilst delivering outstanding customer service.

As an unrivalled software solution for warehousing, transportation, logistics and customer service – Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central has been designed to increase revenue and profit, giving you tighter control on all aspects of distribution and helping you to improve your margins.

Benefits including:

End-to-end visibility – complete knowledge of stock levels, delivery times and order requirements.

Import/Export – multi-currency functionality and landed cost tracking allow for accuracy when buying or selling your products abroad.

Inventory insight – gain insight into customer purchase analysis, alternate vendor options, and all product costs.

Streamlined & automated processes – improve service and delivery times with a slicker order process in one system.

Improved customer & supplier relationships – faster responses to customer queries and suppliers.

Real-time information across all departments – give the right people the right information when they need it.

To understand how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can help your business, download our industry guide. 

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Manufacturing an intelligent future

It’s certainly time of great disruption and change, in the UK Manufacturing & Engineering sector – on the one hand the environment is in a prolonged period of Brexit uncertainty adding to our falling GDP and consumer spend being it’s weakest since the mid-90’s. On the other hand great opportunity as businesses are exposed to the new digital era creating a future where ‘intelligent manufacturing‘ is becoming a reality. 

What is certain is that both these external forces are set to have a powerful impact regardless, and if you look to our European manufacturing counterparts, it appears we’re not alone with environment disruption as they’re also experiencing troubled times. Germany’s economy slipping back into negative growth, French industrial production dropping sharply in June by 0.6%, and conditions in Italy’s manufacturing sector deteriorating for a 5th consecutive month in Feb 2019. So whilst Brexit uncertainty isn’t helping UK business stability, manufacturing disruption isn’t a UK specific problem and businesses need to ready themselves for change.

Being exposed to both these external forces, it can be difficult to know what strategy to follow to enable you to adapt – should you hold cash to see your business through the market changes ahead, or is that going to leave you behind your competition when they’re investing and streamlining to keep themselves fit for the future?! 

Ignorance is bliss, but it’s not a viable strategic response to new technologies

To adapt, you need to Evolve

Evolution is about transformation and needs to be a constant business force, but all too often we fail to recognise what our business and market environments are telling us. Whilst your business may not need to be an early adopter of emerging technologies, turning a blind eye to them isn’t an option either. As a business leader, you need to stay abreast of new technology and understand how it’s impacting your industry and business.    

With profound digital changes occurring, businesses will fail if they don’t engage now. I’ve never seen the pace and level of change that we are going through; and because of that, we talk about this being the ‘fourth industrial revolution’

Empowering intelligent manufacturing

As businesses seek to find novel ways to create new business value, empower and up-skill their workforce, optimise their operations and innovate for a sustainable future. Advanced technologies like AI, mixed reality, I-o-T and automation are helping drive Industry 4.0.

From the front office to supply-chain to the factory floor, Microsoft solutions can help improve manufacturing operations by streamlining daily work, driving greater efficiency, safety and productivity as well as helping enhance employee performance.

For example:    

Microsoft 365 is equipping organisations, including Firstline Workers on the factory floor with the skills and tools they need to keep up with digital manufacturing in a secure environment. Microsoft Teams is transforming how today’s manufacturing workforce collaborates and communicates securely.

With mixed reality applications Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Layout, companies are using Microsoft HoloLens and HoloLens 2 to dramatically boost productivity, compliance and safety.

Intelligent, connected field service through Dynamics 365 Connected Field Service can help manufacturers quickly detect and resolve issues, leveraging connected devices and machine learning and in the process, driving efficiency and reducing costs.

Delivering a unified approach to financial and business operations across manufacturing, supply chain, distribution and retail is made easier by Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.

The future of manufacturing is all about applying new levels of intelligence across all aspects of operations, with disruption triggered by AI, mixed reality and IoT, redefining the value chain from engineering design to customer engagements to supply chains.

To understand how digitalising your manufacturing processes can help your business, contact Azzure IT today. We have significant experience helping companies like Make UK, S+B, Mastenbroek and process engineering companies like Snowdonia Cheese.

If you would like to move towards Intelligent Manufacturing with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central please get in touch.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Azzure IT’s Q2 Go-Lives

The second quarter of 2019 was a very successful one for Azzure IT, with nine new customer go-lives with their new Microsoft Dynamics solutions. This quarter has seen three different types of solution being implemented across an eclectic mix of companies, including not for profit foundations, gyms and manufacturing companies.

NAV 2017 Go-Lives

Azzure facilitated one Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 implementation this quarter, with a leading distributor and manufacturer of laboratory equipment, glass blowing products and specialised glass components for the industrial, laboratory and research markets. This business has over 50 years of experience in the manufacturing of precision glass materials for industry, laboratory and research companies.

They originally engaged with Azzure IT after it became apparent that their previous X Suite solution was not up to the task of managing their business moving forward, and couldn’t support their ambitious growth plans. Their new Dynamics NAV solution will offer the business a robust, scalable and solid foundation to grow their business from.

NAV 2018 Go-Lives

2019’s second quarter saw Azzure IT implement five Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2019 solutions, with the first of these being with a registered charity and company established to provide and promote community support, recreational and arts services. This business was looking to accurately record their financial entries and produce accurate financial reports, and thanks to their new Dynamics solution, this is now possible. Additional benefits of the solution to this company include the ability to accurately place purchase orders with their suppliers, and accurately account and record for VAT.

The second NAV 2018 go-live of 2019 involved a popular hotel group, who were running their business on a number of disparate systems, which lead to significant problems. This business first engaged with Azzure IT due to the disconnect within their business and that sales and inventory information are being duplicated with a risk that potentially different information is being held on both systems about an individual account. Thanks to their new Dynamics NAV solution, a seamless process from start to finish has been created with the information flowing from their front end offering into the back office. This will fundamentally improve their reporting and provide a scalable solution to the business.

The third project to go live was completed with a leading assembler and distributer of medical pressure care related products. This business were previously on a combination of spreadsheets and a Sage 50 solution. They were very keen to replace this solution, and were looking for a new system to reduce their manual effort and improve their visibility through their business. They were also looking to improve their reporting structure and improve their supply chain management and finance functions.

The fourth NAV 2018 go live involved a privately-owned organisation providing products and services to the cleaning and hygiene market. Their previous system included a Sage 50 solution, Act CRM and Quotewerks, plus lots of external spreadsheets, creating a lot of manual effort and data duplication that leads to errors and potential customer service issues. Their previous systems and processes were inhibiting the growth of their business and as such, senior management decided to go to the market and eventually chose to work with Azzure IT, and implemented a new Dynamics NAV solution.

The final Dynamics NAV 2018 go live of 2019’s second quarter saw Azzure IT work with a rapidly growing business building plastic and metal addictive manufacturing parts. Profitable growth is the key goal for this business, who are looking to become a larger scale manufacturing business with more repeat production that will see them physically move to a larger site. To support this growth vision, they had a desire to implement a fully scalable ERP solution that can deliver best practice, while remaining configurable. They found this solution in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and chose to partner with Azzure IT to see this growth come to fruition.

Business Central Cloud Go-Lives

As 2019 continues on, the trend of more and more companies moving towards the cloud is becoming more frequent, and the three Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Cloud go-lives completed by Azzure IT this quarter is a testament to that.

The first cloud Dynamics solution to go live was with a public limited company dedicated to improving the sustainability of water intensive industrial and domestic processes. This project was dedicated to the setup of this business’s core finance system and approval process, and they will also be using the system for inventory management. This company was looking for a step up from their previous Sage 50 solution, which was restricting their ability to operate effectively. As a result of this project, they will have a complete accounting solution that also allows them to manage inventory.

The second Business Central Cloud go live involved a not for profit organisation focused around helping disabled children and adults in a number of areas, including rehabilitation services, education or mobility solutions. The objective of this project was to enable this organisation to work more proactively as an organisation with a more regimented process behind the way they want to go about their day to day business. These goals were achieved by implementing a Business Central, cloud hosted solution.

The final go-live of Q2 was a rapidly expanding group of companies that run a series of gyms worldwide, investing in an end to end Business Central Cloud solution. This business required a solution that would enable them to scale, whilst improving efficiencies and introducing more robust controls. Due to their rapid growth, they required a scalable solution. The solution provided by Azzure IT will help them manage their accounts across multiple entities in different countries. They will also be able to switch between companies and perform consolidation, which in their previous Sage system, was incredibly cumbersome.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Stockpiling for Post-Brexit Britain

The United Kingdom has been very hard to predict for the past few years. Fluctuating weather, changing Prime Ministers and elections, votes and referendums seemingly every week for the past few years. The biggest of these is undoubtedly Brexit.

For many businesses during times of uncertainty, especially in the manufacturing, distribution and warehousing sectors, the go-to strategy is always stockpiling resources. It offers re-assurance that no matter what the outcome, our business won’t be that badly affected because we bought all of our stock before anything happened.

This has almost certainly been the case since the announcement of Britain’s impending divorce from the European Union, with The Guardian reporting that the UK has recorded a record good trade deficit in January and February of 2019, as the country brought in more from overseas than it sold, widening the total trade deficit for good and services by £5.5 billion. The outcome of this stockpiling has been very mixed. Firstly, Britain’s economy has strengthened in the first three months of the year, with growth of 0.5% being helped by the high rate of stockpiling, a significant improvement on the 0.2% in the previous three months.

However, the uncertainty around Brexit and the impending “no-deal” scenario has already had a great impact in March, with these sectors going down 0.1% month by month.

If this sounds familiar, and could be happening to your business, it’s critical to now ask yourself:

“I’ve got all my stock ready, now… what’s next?”

A problem for any inventory, warehousing or distribution business when they sit on a lot of stock is them losing money through not being able to sell all of the stock they have hoarded, and it costing money to keep it in a warehouse, and paying their staff to manage it.

Normally, businesses will be able to predict their working year, and identify the peaks and troughs, and when they will need more or less stock to meet their customers demands, and not feel overwhelmed or overstocked. This has been slightly thrown out of the loop with the uncertainty around Brexit, with many businesses buying in excess stock to overcome potential tariffs or lack of supply when the UK leaves the EU. This has caused quite significant problems, because businesses that normally do not hold a lot of stock are now struggling to sell it on, and is causing them to quite seriously leak money maintaining it, and often losing track of what has been bought, when it was bought, where it is and if it has been sold or not.

This leads to a flurry of problems, such as difficulty when forecasting budgets as you can not accurately predict your sales, becoming overwhelmed with the sheer amount of unsold stock in your warehouse, and not being able to make important decisions as you do not have access to the latest data about your business.

Battling these problems can be very difficult if your business is working on an insufficient stock management system or even multiple disparate systems, not letting you see all your information in one place. Your business could also be keeping all these important figures on spreadsheets, or maybe just in someone’s head!

So, how can these problems be tackled?

To even begin tackling the problem of excess stock and trying to sell it on, your business needs to have all the right information available, at the touch of a button. A Microsoft Dynamics Business Central system can help your business intelligently manage it’s inventory and supply chain, making sure you know exactly what is in your warehouse, how much stock you have and where it is.

It can simplify the way your business looks after your inventory, and lets you accurately predict what you’ll be selling, when you’ll be selling it, and where it will be going to. It also shows you exactly how much you paid for it, and how much you will be selling it for, letting you quickly and accurately work out your profit, margin and other sales figures. This lets your business make decisions with the most accurate, up to date data available, restoring confidence and accuracy back into your business.

To find out more about how a Business Central system can help your business prepare for a post-Brexit Britain, click here.

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Software selection criteria and process

Regardless of your business software solution needs, or type that you’re looking for, it’s critical to avoid purchasing the wrong solution and partner mix. The business software market is saturated, boasting a repertoire of systems targeted to all kinds of companies, across many industries and selecting the right option can seem daunting, but it needn’t be.

Here, we will lay out 3 important stages of the business software selection process:

Project team – getting the stakeholders together

Most importantly, and before all else, you need to establish a project team. Implementing any enterprise level software solution is a complex project, which will require careful planning, time, commitment and broad-business support. Failure to engage all the right business stakeholders can mean the difference between implementation success and failure.

Key project roles include:

  • Project Sponsor – the person at the highest level in your company who is supporting this initiative and will ultimately authorise spend and the project to proceed.
  • Project Leader – the person who is primarily responsible for coordinating the project management, timeline and ultimately the software selection process.
  • Project Team – the key stakeholders and department heads who will be responsible for ensuring that the software will support the requirements of the business. This body of individuals will ensure you have a well-rounded view of your business’s needs.

Assessing your requirements – analyse your business

Now that you have the project team together, you must undertake an internal assessment – a crucial stage in which you outline your initial requirements, sometimes referred to as an RFP (Request for Proposal). This document presents your preliminary requirements and will enable you to confidently approach vendors, and compare their software and service offerings.

It’s useful to provide details of your organisation’s strategy, structure, systems, skills, employees and values, as the context won’t be apparent from a functionality list. It’s crucial to outline the scope of the investment. What core goals and outcomes need to be achieved? Also, listing any constraints imposed or assumptions made, will enable a potential provider to remove unsuitable options.

Example: Improving financial management: accelerating financial reporting Accurately connect data across accounting, sales, purchasing, stock, and customer interactions to build an end-to-end view of our business.

  • Assumption: Solution must ensure processes are compliant with XYZ rules.
  • Constraint: Must chart financial performance, in real time, with built-in dashboards.

After outlining these high-level, strategic aims, a scoping exercise should detail the projects deliverables – what is in and out of scope. The document should enable a potential provider to deliver you clarity regarding their solutions capabilities and budget parameters.

In many business you will end up with a long-list of requirements, some of which will conflict and others that are evidently more important. In those situations adoption of a requirements weighting approach is recommended, here the business has the opportunity to decide which elements are of most importance. In doing this, the project team is exploring, discovering, and documenting their needs and as a result increasing internal understanding and alignment, which in-turn increases the likelihood of project success.

Remember that many solution partners have industry specialisms, and will happily work with you to understand your business, and how todays’ next generation business software can be best implemented to transform your operations, through better business processes.

Resources (time and budget) – the true cost

Equally important as the RFP and scoping documents, is pinning down time-scales, any internal resource time needed, and budget amount. Establishing the true cost sounds like an easy process, but the web is full of articles about software implementation projects that have exceeded budgets and failed to achieve deadlines.

Whether purchasing a lifetime or subscription based licence, you should calculate your costs on the same basis. For budgeting purposes, this is best done on an annual basis, to include all software licences, any bespoke development requirements, training needs, and support costs.

Ensure that you are specific and be realistic with timescales for each stage of the projects process – requirements analysis, software evaluation and selection, purchase, implementation. Give yourself enough time to do a thorough job but don’t leave it open ended – you might be surprised how quickly a well-planned project can be implemented these days.

Remember that depending on your circumstance the selection process can take just a few weeks through to several months, so it’s key to make sure that a realistic approach is taken to estimating the project teams’ time, as an indirect cost of the project. 

If you require help understanding your businesses needs, the right solution implementation approach for your business, either as a SaaS or on-premise solution, or simply understanding which solution would be best for you business, please contact enquiries@azzure-it.com

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

The UK’s Leading Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Provider

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

Selecting the right ERP implementation partner for your business

When it’s time to replace or upgrade your legacy business ERP system, the importance of choosing the right solution is critical. The system should not only support your current needs but provide you with the flexibility to scale, grow and adapt. No doubt your search has led you to industry leader Microsoft Dynamics 365, but there is another equally important decision to be made, and that is your choice of ERP implementation partner.

All ERP implementation partners are not equal

Choosing an ERP implementation partner should be just that, entering a partnership, this decision will make the difference between success and failure. When you work with people who you trust, that understand your business, and talk the same language you can avoid bad decisions, reduce implementation timescales and costs.

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution will provide the foundation of your business operations for the future and a great ERP implementation partner will help you make the most of your investment, helping your organisation thrive in the digital world. The partner you choose should help you take full advantage of technology to improve your business processes for a long-term return on investment (ROI).

Some useful areas to consider are:

Don’t ignore the human factor – communication and style

You may sometime have been forced to work with someone you didn’t see eye-to-eye with or even with someone you didn’t particularly like or respect. So minimise stress and possible complications by choosing a partner who is on the your wave-length.

Pay attention to how they respond from the start, if you have trouble getting quick response during the sales-cycle, that’s a clear warning sign. Talk about your current processes honestly, they should be interested in how your business currently operates and be looking for opportunities to streamline processes. Ask them about their relationship with Microsoft, remember that not all partners have a first-degree connection with Microsoft, so ensure your partner is well connected with Microsoft experts, it will save you pain in the future.

Size isn’t everything – bigger isn’t always in your interests

You might assume that bigger companies have the most experience and reliability, but be aware that size comes with its pros and cons. Larger companies often have more bureaucracy, and often it takes longer to get anything done. A simple request can slow down the whole process while they pursue everyone’s approval. Look for a partner that is large enough to support your needs, but small enough to be efficient.

Larger partners often have standardised solutions and don’t allow for thinking outside the box. You may be pressured to do things their way or be charged extra for a customised solution. Look for a partner that embraces your vision and thinks creatively to give you the exact solution you want.

Smaller partners often have more flexibility when determining cost. A nimble partner can work with you on meeting your budget, and they can make strategic decisions about their people and their clients. Look for a partner that is focused on doing what’s right for you and within your budget and for whom your success is a priority.

Are they aligned to your values?

Choosing the right partner is vital to maximising your investment in your business system (ERP | CRM). Ensuring the provider is aligned to your values and business goals will insure your maximum return. You’ll want your culture and business approach to align with those of your partner, if not, you risk the success of your entire project. A partner that fully understands your needs will enhance the functionality and performance of your final solution. They should also boast a selective but appropriate add-on collection, either through their own Intellectual Property (IP) or their technology partners, which you can implement as your business requires.

Know what’s being delivered – scoping it out

Perception is 90% of the truth. What you think you’re getting maybe far from the reality. We advise substantial scoping initially to ensure you’re getting what you need, in the time frame you need it, for the price you agreed. Avoid any nasty surprises at the end, systems that fall short, or great functionality you wish you’d had bespoke, by ensuring your partner scopes out your requirements thoroughly. Understand the partners process, they should be able to clearly define their implementation processes, backed up by project plans and time-frame estimates.

It’s not all about the software – training & Support

Discuss what the training program will look like. Find out exactly what kind of training they will provide to your team, how long it will take, and if there will be ongoing options. Also discuss with them their post-implementation aftercare, many partners offer different levels of support to meet the unique requirements of clients. You might also want to ask them what percentage of their clients have worked with them for more than three years.

Are they recognised by their peers – accreditation

Ask about the industry certifications, awards and training of the consultants that will be working on your project. Find out what qualifications were needed to receive that certification and how often those skills need to be updated. Ask to speak with their “Partner Account Manager” to discuss the re-seller’s reputation and track record.

In summary
Above all, the partner you choose should be invested in your success. They should be eager to answer all your questions and demonstrate their expertise and professionalism. Ask the hard questions and demand straight answers, from the beginning.

Remember, the choice of partner can make the difference between success and failure of your software replacement or upgrade. Know what to look for and choose a partner for success.

If you require help understanding the right implementation approach for your business, either as a SaaS or on-premise solution, or simply understanding which solution would be best for you business, please contact enquiries@azzure-it.com

CONTACT

Azzure IT
10 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH, UK

t. 0345 467 9950
e. enquiries@azzure-it.com

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