Maybe its a trait, maybe it started with my Dad making me eat everything on my plate as a child, whatever the reason I have a real dislike of waste. Under utilising, whether it be the leftovers at dinner, excess building materials after a DIY project or not using your business software to its full potential, I find myself irritated by this.

So when we find ourselves in todays tough economic environment business needs to leverage everything it has, people, technology, processes to ensure it is as efficient and optimised as possible. Minimise the waste.

Many I get to speak too are unaware they are holding themselves back by not fully understanding what their systems are capable of and therefore not investing to get the most out of them. We are finally seeing technology step up and deliver on the promises of the last decade.

Regardless of system or platform that you use this applies, however I write this from my Microsoft Dynamics 365 view point and while it may seem focused towards existing users fully understanding what they have available for them, its completely relevant for those businesses who are looking at Dynamics 365 and wondering why choose this as your ‘business enablement platform’.

Many organisations have bought licences or subscribed to Dynamics over the past 5 or so years. Most will have customised it to fit specific business processes at that time. Whether it still fit for purpose today and whether key people have the awareness, knowledge of how utilise it are two key questions!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has changed radically over the past 1 year, comparing a version say 3 or 4 years old is well, as they say, apples and oranges. Firstly Dynamics 365 needs to be consider as a platform, not a solution. The biggest misconception is that people still think it is a CRM produce and worse they simply use it as an oversold address book.

When I say its a “Platform”, I need to explain my current catch cry of “1st party, 3rd party, your party!”

  • First Party = A solution built by Microsoft to meet Microsoft’s global view of the market need. I imagine millions of dollars of research goes into determining what these solutions should do.
  • Third Party = Solutions built by Microsoft Partners. These are where a specific partner has seen a niche in their geography, industry or simply a gap left by Microsoft.
  • Your Party = The game changer, apps built by your team to meet business needs for your organisation. Simple or complex apps that will automate or optimise business processes.

For some this won’t seem like much has changed, we have always had partners (ISV’s) who built product, and partners (VAR’s) who have been able to customise to fit your specific business processes. The difference now is in the how this is done and the license structure.

Let’s start with licences, I will approximate in NZD to examples. A first party app from Microsoft is around $150 per user per month. For this you get an enterprise solution designed for a specific purpose that you can configure and modify, e.g. Customer Service, Sales Engagement or Project Operations. They will provide key business process workflows based on the specific needs research and feedback within the Microsoft’s ecosystem.

Third party licences vary dramatically as it is with the partner to create the price point and license their products. Of course you need to have a Dynamics 365 Power Apps license which at ~$15 per user per month are very affordable. To illustrate using Walkerscott as an example our Klevr Property Solution and Klevr Grants Management Solution are $95 per user per month inclusive of the Power App license. These are industry solutions competitively priced for the market we want to sell them into.

And finally Your Party. This simply requires the ~$15 per user per month Power App license. Yes that is it and hence it’s a party. With this license you begin your journey.

With licencing at an incredibly affordable level, working through the How is next. For partners the platform approach is the game changer as we can now build products not for one customer but for a market need at a price point that we can set and control for our market. The Dynamics platform, specifically Power Apps and the Common Data Service (think database) has given us the environment & tools to accelerate our ability to build sophisticated business workflow products. For business users the platform allows you to digitise manual processes (Power Apps), automate repetitive tasks (Power Automate), introduce chatbots or even basic AI use cases (Power Apps). Where historically doing this was expensive and complex resulting in businesses overengineering Excel spreadsheets and inadvertently making them critical business apps, you now have a secure environment where the database, workflow engine and forms builder, in the hands of the rights people, can support the most basic or indeed the most sophisticated business requirement.

With the platform underpinned by a common database service (CDS) and with all parties building using the same tools the users will get a seamless experience whilst for IT you are removing the technical complexities and support hassles of integration.

Technology aside, next comes investing in your people. This change is significant and the skills required for ‘Your Party’ may not exist in the organisation today but the right people most likely will. Building capacity with a mixture of internal and external capability (think partners) will ensure you can realize the potential and effectively utilise the Dynamics platform. With many channels for learning and a global community sharing expertise and content like never before it is essential that key people are given the scope to invest their time in upskilling.

Our recommendation is to start with the setup of an internal function to champion and govern this new approach to solving business workflow and process problems. However with tools so accessible and deployment one click away it is more important than ever for the right controls to be in place from the beginning. This is how IT can lead and support as the discipline of security, environment management and access are understood. Engaging in an all of business approach will result in a far more successful outcome in maximizing your people and empowering them to recognise what Dynamics 365 can do for your organisation.

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