When implementing a new or upgraded enterprise resource planning solution, companies often need the advice and assistance of an outside consultant. These people can utilize their outside experience with ERP implementations to help their clients go in the right direction throughout the process. For Dynamics NAV, Microsoft takes things a step further by having their partners that sell the software also serve as consultants to their clients. The end result is that businesses instantly gain a person to turn to throughout the transition. With this in mind, there are a lot of things that a firm can do when working with a partner to get the most out of them and the overall project.

Toward a greater integration
One of the things that can be done to improve the use of a Dynamics partner is to have that person integrate with the company staff over the course of the project. The question is how. Tech professional Rick Carlton, in an article for ERP Focus, suggests that the first step is to have a partner be an observer to the situation on the shop floor and in the office. By shadowing stakeholders instead of ingratiating on them, not only can these consultants learn about the work culture and environment, but workers themselves will feel more comfortable with someone who isn't looking to put himself or herself into company where he or she doesn't belong.

After time in observation, the partner should become the go-to person for suggestions once this person has made an initial assessment. That includes making a list of fixes that the ERP software can address, as well as recommended modules that will help the business do better. With the partner feeling like a part of the team, management will be more compelled to listen to his or her advice to design a better system. Finally, the consultant should help establish guidelines for change management, which is intended to help all company staff successfully transition to the new software. This includes developing ideal training methods as well as working closely with employees who may be resistant or reluctant to use the new system.

Making it worth the price
Of course, along with integrating a partner into the business, manufacturers should be considering the return on investment in working with them in the first place, as Rick Carlton noted in another article. There are various considerations when performing this function. The first is figuring out project expenditures. If a company cannot hire a local Microsoft Dynamics partner, it may need to spend money on expenses such as lodging and travel to bring someone in. It then has to consider the cost of selecting the software. That includes conducting research on the company's operations and how Dynamics NAV would fit into it, as well as administrative fees and consulting resources.

After assessing these expenses, businesses have to consider the cost of implementation, something that is especially important when working with a partner. All of these can then be seen through the lens of projected cost savings, both in terms of the implementation and through working with the partner in question. This information can help determine the ROI and whether to move forward with the project.

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