Assert Implementation Partner for an Acceptable License Arrangement

Mike Anders, CIO, Braun Intertec Corporation
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Mike Anders, CIO, Braun Intertec Corporation

Microsoft in the Past and the Future

Braun Intertec is a multi-disciplinary consulting engineering firm, with a tradition of innovative use of technologies to  address our clients’ needs as well as improving our own business (Intertec stands for “Inter-related technologies”, as a nod  to this trait). Braun Intertec began to grow rapidly following the Great Recession, and it was clear we needed to make  significant technology investments— including core infrastructure and a new ERP platform. Microsoft has always figured  prominently into our solution set when we are making new investment decisions. Key factors include a rich and growing  portfolio of Microsoft products and services to choose from, as well as ready access to the expertise and training we  require. As we looked at ERP solutions, Microsoft Dynamics AX figured into the mix. Our industry requires tremendous  collaboration between suppliers, project owners, contractors, and other stakeholders. As a result, SharePoint has been a key  solution for us. We selected SharePoint as our collaboration package for the future as well, migrating from SharePoint 2007  to 2013.
 
"Microsoft vigorously updates its technology, so you have to be diligent in managing updates and upgrades. You can’t just fire and forget it!"
 
Change with Changing Microsoft Platforms

With any technology, change is a constant. Microsoft vigorously updates its technology, so you have to be diligent in  managing updates and upgrades. You can’t just fire and forget it! When we selected Microsoft Dynamics AX, a key  differentiator was the significant investment Microsoft was committing to product improvements, including industry-specific  functionality. However, a downside is that ISV and implementation partners (and ourselves!) struggle to maintain and build skills on the most current versions. Microsoft realizes it’s difficult to move a whole industry with them, but it’s something they should pay more attention to.

Lessons Learned—Mismatch of Expectations

During our ERP selection process, we used advisory services for requirements match, licensing strategies, and implementation  approach. While we arrived at an acceptable license arrangement, we should have been more assertive with our implementation  partner about what our expectations were on execution pace and delivery date. We had a mismatch of expectations—not fatal,  but it created unnecessary friction for both parties. My advice is to not be date-driven to sign a deal, but rather ensure  you use the contractual process to gain agreement on implementation expectations.

Prioritization and Governance

Microsoft has a rich and rapidly changing product and services catalog, including multiple solutions to address issues CIOs  are concerned about. As a fast-growing business, our biggest issue is prioritizing our IT initiatives based on business value and focusing resources to get meaningful  results. If you try to do everything, Microsoft (and others), will help you do  exactly that.  There’s a lot of neat stuff out there—but your governance process needs to drive IT investments, not the other way around. It’s important to understand what your priorities and capacity are.

Engage in Different Communities

There’s a broad community to help you  understand Microsoft products and services how they operate and how they can be  implemented. For material technology decisions I’ve found engaging with peers is an important step in understanding the full  picture—pros and cons. Microsoft is a great broker for creating such relationships, both via introductions and the forums and events they sponsor. Engaging in those communities is an important step for any CIO or IT professional.

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