Dynamics 365 – Adding CRM to your ERP Practice

I was wandering around the ***Summit today at the Tampa Convention Center and noticed a lot more non-red badges than red ones. The red badges are CRM Partners, the others are either GP, NAV or AX. Knowing what is about to be presented here shortly for Dynamics 365, I tried to put myself in the mind of a non-red badge wearing attendee.

The ground shifts slightly for the ERP partner

Dynamics 365 is introducing quite a different set of parts and pieces than the CRM partner has been used to. In addition, what we have known, goes away in about 3 weeks. But for the ERP partner, GP, AX and SL continue as they do today. Yes, there are a couple of new variants, but nothing is forcing the ERP partner to have to do anything differently right now. There are certainly opportunities for them around the new cloud AX and the Business Edition “Financials”, and I would assume they are looking at those with some level of interest. But, I don’t think they are looking at CRM just yet.

Microsoft’s Ideal Partner

I have written previously about Microsoft’s new “ideal” partner. This partner will offer it all: Office 365, CRM, ERP with a nice helping of Azure on the side. There are very few partners who fit the ideal mold today, and somehow the rest of us “less than ideal” partners still survive, and many thrive. How motivated are these less than ideal partners to move towards the ideal status? Time will tell, but it’s worth looking at.

A stroll in the Garden

I don’t know squat about ERP. I am a user for our own purposes, but I would not feel in the slightest bit comfortable talking to a prospective customer about it. I would assume many ERP partners feel the same way about CRM. And both of us may feel that way about Office 365 and Azure. It’s just not in our “wheelhouse”, but Microsoft says “waa, waa” get over it… you wimp. I am not one to accept being considered a wimp easily, so we will take a walk down the ERP side, at least with “Financials”. Should our tip-toeing into your garden cause you concern… well, not us alone. But I have a feeling a lot of us are going to be stomping on each others’ tomatoes soon enough.

Swapping Vegetables

If I, and other CRM partners, are peeking over the fence at your garden, it seems fair that you should be peeking over at ours. Fast-forward to somehow you concluded that CRM should be in your quiver (I would have expanded on that but I can see people massing towards the arena behind me and I gotta go soon).

Ways to add CRM to your ERP practice

  1. Build your own. For the long-term this is probably your best option. You will clearly make the most revenue this way, but you will have a ramp up period that could be costly, and take a while. In the meantime, others are gaining market share.
  2. Buy a CRM Partner. If you have the pocketbook, this is also a viable option. I expect we will see quite a bit of CRM and/or ERP partners buying each other this year.
  3. Partner with a Partner.  Provided that you can find a compatible partner, who does not overlap your services or covet your clients, this is an option also. It has the advantage of speed to market, and is a quick way to round out your services offering. But to be honest, your partner will keep most of the revenue generated, and regardless of your deal, they will not really be under your control.
  4. Use a Packaged Deployment model. Of course, I have to plug our RapidStart CRM solution, because it was designed exactly for this scenario. You remain fully in control, and can go-to-market today without investing a dime.

Why the Time is Now

Let’s face it, the CRM partners are going to be running around like chickens with their heads cutoff for a while just getting their own houses in order. It may be a while before they move towards ERP in large numbers. But with the comparably minor changes on the ERP side, you can actually start looking at CRM today, and moving towards that ideal partner model faster.

Just a few thoughts that occurred to me around Dynamics 365, that unfortunately I don’t have time to expand on further today. If you see me walking around, don’t be shy!

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