Are you one of the many Dynamics Partners finally embracing going to the cloud – but that cloud is raining on your revenue and productivity parade?  You have more questions than answers, more new acronyms to learn and you feel like you are working 40 hours to make $5 in profit – what was Microsoft thinking?!?

I feel that way almost daily, who am I kidding, I feel it hourly!  But then I also get really excited and invigorated with the very next breath.  The market is shifting and it’s an exciting time to be on the wave!

Customers are asking about new technologies and new options for managing their unwieldy systems.  It’s a new world for us all – and one where the only constant seems to be that of unrelenting change.  This all means opportunity… not an opportunity for the faint of heart that is, but opportunity for those willing to fall down and keep getting up to try again.  There are new concepts, new vocabulary, new architecture – things just work differently in some ways.  Revenue is meager, margins are thin and there is no room for errors in the proposal and planning process.  

I am working with a few of Dynamics NAV Partners now who are making the transition.  I thought I might share some lessons learned – in an effort to enable the greater cloud good.  Because, let’s face it, there is plenty of business out there and the more customers we collectively transition to the cloud, the easier all our lives get.  

So let’s figure it out and be on the crest of this wave together.

Determine why YOU are going to the cloud?

Partners are making this shift for a number of reasons and no matter your reason, being aware of your actions is critical to your success. 

Which one are you?

  1. I am ignoring this trend… I am doing well enough servicing my existing customers and don’t want to invest what is needed to transition.
  2. I don’t have an overarching plan!  Customers are asking, or demanding it, so I am following leads and seeing where this goes. 
  3. It’s inevitable, so we might as well adopt a plan (kicking and screaming some days) and go after the market.
  4. It’s a business decision, we see the writing on the wall and want to be a market leader.

Depending on your stance, you really need to follow a set of tasks that support business needs.  For example, if you don’t have a full plan, but are simply responding to customer requests, then you might find a Cloud Partner to take on that business and make it a pass through for you.  Then you can acquire the customer with little investment.  This enables you to slowly build a cloud practice yet still provide high levels of customer service and, more importantly, maintain the customer relationship.  If this is you, start researching – find a Cloud Partner you can trust and build a long term relationship.

If this is a full-fledged business decision and your entire company is on board, you likely need to immerse yourself in the activities to gain experience as fast as possible.  Attending workshops, modifying marketing, creating a new breed of salespeople – who are able to tele-sell, and hiring or training technical staff to configure cloud based solutions. 

Whatever your path, make your Cloud strategy work for you.  Understand your own needs and work within that structure.  If you don’t have to have a well thought out go-to-market strategy, recognizing you don’t is important… behave accordingly.

Allocate Resources

No matter which category you are in, you will need to set aside resources to effectively launch any sort of Cloud offering.  Make sure your resource allocation matches your goals.  Don’t dive head first into teaching your whole organization how to speak cloud if you don’t intend to invest in that area.  And likewise, don’t think one person in your organization can carry the load if you are making a solid shift into cloud.   Here are a few best practices:

Step 1: Dedicate a core team to lead the way

These should be thought leaders and team members who aren’t afraid of paving a path and figuring things out.  I find Partners have to ask some questions many times, from different angles and at different points-of-view in our ongoing dialogs before they really understand.  It’s frustrating to learn new things, so your core team needs to persevere.

Once a few have an offering down, they can evangelize your plan with the rest of the team.  There will always be a resource internally, who understands your business strategy and the cloud component together.

Step 2: Build a set of tools and processes to support your cloud business

Repeatability is key here if you expect to have volume AND profit.  Your cost of sales must go down to make this model work.  Find ways to leverage assets that exist or partner with a vendor who has assets to support you.   Sometimes, it’s the simplest task that evolves you.  For example, I keep a running list of questions Partners ask me and then regularly send to my team to add to our documentation.  I don’t want to answer the same questions over and over, so I need to enable learning without my effort. 

Process is just as critical.  This gives you a set of tasks to execute to create success.  You don’t want to reinvent the wheel with every sale and implementation and you need a way to ensure consistent quality.

Build assets and use them. 

Step 3: Revisit, Review and Revamp

The good thing about this new world is that a simple mistake can be immediately rectified and tried out again on the next deal.  But you must take the time to step back and look at the overall activity.  Are your resources using the assets and following a process?  Are the assets supporting the business and process?  Is the process actually working?

The two cent rule – people are bound to give their opinions and they are the ones you are trying to get to buy and use your services.  Ask for feedback and take it under consideration.  Make changes.  Evolve.  Grow.  Sell more.  Create volume.  Create a revenue stream.

Leverage Your Resources

There is so much information out there, you just have to find it and make good use of it.  Customers want to be enabled so share links, blog posts, and anything you can leverage to help them.

Specifically for Dynamics NAV on Azure, the resources I found to be most valuable are listed below:

Microsoft Azure Trust Center

YouTube: What licensing options are available for Microsoft Dynamics  customers

IDC Study: Successful Cloud Partners 2.0

NAV license user types

Microsoft material how to bring your solution "in" Office 365 "on "Microsoft Azure”

Customer case studies: Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Microsoft Azure

ERP in SMB Partner Marketing Campaign Resources

Expect to Make Mistakes!

Again, there is so much to learn and the world is changing.  Expect that not everyone will have the answer today.  Realize we are all trying to get to the same goal and give room.  I find the most effective partnerships are ones where we all bring pieces of information to the table and collectively learn together.  We make our mistakes together, but we also have success together.

To recap – well, there is so much more than just the above, but these are the things most fresh in my mind after working with a handful of Dynamic partners who have attended RAMP training, or have customers demanding Cloud ERP solutions and are working to deliver proposals and implementations in the cloud.