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5 Questions To Avoid Working with a Crappy Agency

When you outsource any area of your business- you want to make sure that the business or individual you partner with knows what they’re doing.

When it comes to leaving the responsibility of finding your next D365 hire- arguably one of the most critical, most niche skill sets within your business- with an outside agency: getting it wrong can cost you two things that you don’t want to lose: time and money.

We’ve put together this quick-fire round of questions that you MUST be asking any recruiter before deciding to partner with them. Hopefully, it will help you separate the good from the great:

1.      What is their track record in D365?

With this question you are looking for specialism within the skill set your business needs: D365 FO, BC or CE? All very different skills! Good recruiters know the difference & can explain various things about their track record: types of roles, salary ranges, availability in certain locations etc.

BUT: great recruiters will have highly visible recommendations and testimonials online showcasing their track record over many years (check their LinkedIn page for sure!). The best recruiters will encourage you to speak to their customers directly: seek these ones!

2.      Who will actually be doing the work?

We’ve all fallen victim to a silver-tongued salesperson whose only priority is to get you to sign the paperwork, never to be seen again. Only the poor person responsible for delivering the service is destined to disappoint. With recruiters: it’s vital that you meet with the actual consultant(s) who is going to be doing the work. Who is going to reach out to the candidates? What will their approach be?

3.      How will they vet potential candidates?

The last thing you want is to interview candidates that haven’t been vetted properly. What a waste of time! You are essentially looking to understand their methodology for the work before you see a resume.

Things like: who is going to interview candidates and how many conversations will take place? What questions will be asked to qualify candidates? Great recruiters can explain their process clearly, which should give you confidence when a resume lands in your inbox that they are worth your time.

4.      Do they have businesses that are “off-limits”?

Picking one of the bigger agencies feels like a safe bet, right? Bigger isn’t always better. Think about it for a moment: the larger the agency’s client base, the smaller pool of candidates they can recruit from (well- you’d like to think so anyway!). Ask directly who else they partner with to understand if this might be a limiting factor for your own search.

5.      How are they going to sell this position and your business?

This is arguably the most important differentiator given how fierce competition is within D365 right now. To stand any chance of landing the talent you need, you MUST break through the rest of the noise. Your recruiter is your voice within the marketplace.

Great recruiters ask great questions to spot opportunities, unique to your business, about why someone would want to join. Ask them about how they will position their messaging and create a compelling reason to join. If they can’t get you excited about your business, what chance do they stand getting a candidate excited to interview?

So there you have it: five lines of questioning to make sure that you partner with an agency that knows what they’re doing. Their methodology of searching for and assessing candidates is key- but perhaps more important is their approach to attracting candidates and getting them excited about your business.

Have I missed anything? Comment below!

Feel free to add your own questions that help you assess how good an agency is!

Half-way through 2021: Dynamics Recruitment in a post-COVID world

Like many business systems, Dynamics 365 has had a huge impact on organizations all over the world throughout the last 18 months. For long periods of time recently, companies had to manage their entire workforce remotely, ensuring business output remained successful, at the same time as managing employee productivity.

‘Business as usual’ is a term we’re hearing more often, as employees continue to thrive whilst taking a hybrid approach to home and office working. 

Recruitment in a post-COVID world can be described as a candidate-driven market more than ever before. Despite some employees wanting to continue their remote working, for others: company culture and values matter far more than the ability to roll out of bed to start work at 8:59am.

Overall, knowing how businesses handled COVID for staff last year, and what arrangements were made to retain employees, is higher up a candidate’s agenda than simply salary or an ability to work remotely.

Salaries are increasing – but for how long?

Along with company culture being an important factor for employers to consider, we’ve noticed how important it is that employers keep up with the market in terms of salaries. It’s not enough to simply state that you offer a ‘competitive salary’ – you need to actually determine where your salary sits in relation to other companies your candidates may be looking at.

So far in 2021, we’ve seen an increase in D365 salaries across the board for all skill sets. Projects being delayed due to the pandemic last year have ultimately led to a bottleneck effect of tasks this year – and this has resulted in a fierce war for talent.

Will travel roles resume?

It will be difficult to predict the impact on travel roles in the consulting world by the end of 2022. Prior to COVID-19, 50-75% travel was normal, however, many MS Partners have now proven to their customers that large parts of projects can be delivered remotely, to fantastic success. So it can work. On the flip side- we have spoken to many consultants who can’t wait to get back on the road again.

However, with life slowly starting to return to “normal”, will CFOs decide to save on travel costs and continue to work large parts of their projects remotely? Or will they decide on-site is better, like the good ol’ days?

Will remote working continue at the same rate?

It’s unlikely organizations will see employees working remotely at the same level as they did throughout 2020, due to lockdowns being lifted and office-based working resuming safely. Despite the convenience of remote working, some peoples have really missed collaborating in the physical form.

Despite the uncertainty of how businesses will best manage their collaboration and productivity going forward, it’s clear from a recruitment standpoint that D365 will continue to enable streamlined business processes, generating 

Why Dynamics 365 jobs are on the rise

We have already seen a noticeable increase in the number of available D365 jobs available this year. There was a consistent slowdown throughout last year in terms of projects, as organizations battled with supply chain challenges; 73% of businesses came into problems with their supplier base, and 75% also were met with production and distribution issues. Add in the economic uncertainties and businesses, understandably, were more concerned with retaining staff than adding more headcount.

Besides the obvious upturn the global and US economy is now enjoying….we can nail down two key reasons as to why D365 roles are on the rise:

Firstly, the D365 projects that were previously being delivered are now behind. Playing catch-up means more talent to deliver, both on the Partner and end-user side. Most businesses have now created slick remote delivery, working alongside physical manufacturing plants or distribution centers. Still, D365 has now been incorporated in more companies, meaning more specialists are required long-term within end-users.

Secondly, businesses that were caught off-guard by COVID-19 have now found themselves in a position where they are raring to start brand new D365 projects, in order to protect themselves against any future pandemics (here’s hoping that won’t happen!).

Get in touch

With the need for good talent higher than ever, we are pleased to continue serving the Dynamics community- and hope that you get some value from our attempts here to summarise what we are seeing in the market. Contact us today if you’d like to talk about your own D365 career or talent strategies for the second half of 2021.

Did Cloud Technology Keep Businesses Afloat During COVID-19?

Overall, 2020 was probably the most unpredictable and unexpected year of our generation so far. Towns and cities worldwide were completely locked down, flights were grounded, offices and shops were closed, and countries faced national lockdowns for the first time, in many cases. With so many people suddenly forced to work from home for the first time last year, leaving just front-line workers in their usual workspace, managing such a substantial remote workforce was a first for many companies. 

Supply Chains were exposed by COVID-19

Being able to lead a business into a digital future is something many companies have had on their to-do list for some years now, and COVID-19 suddenly pushed this to the top of their agenda with no forewarning. Business leaders were suddenly asking questions, such as:

  • How will our supply chain be impacted by remote workers?
  • How can we effectively manage demand planning?
  • How will manufacturing plants be able to keep running?
  • Is it possible for teams to effectively collaborate on tasks from home?

Last year, McKinsey surveyed senior supply chain executives to analyse the effect of Covid-19 on how their businesses were running and how the pandemic had impacted their operations. The results showed that 73% of the companies surveyed came into problems in their supplier base, and 75% also faced issues with production and distribution. Of those surveyed in the FMCG industries, 100% of respondents stated that they had experienced production and distribution problems, with 91% also having problems with suppliers.

The problems organizations were suddenly facing in 2020 meant finding a way to adjust and adapt. For example, increased demand for cleaning and sanitizing products led to distilleries changing their production to create alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Remote working is now the norm for organizations

COVID-19 meant business owners were now less focused on sales figures, ROI and revenue, and more so looking at how to monitor the output of their workforce without seeing anyone in person for months. Maintaining the same levels of productivity may seem doable at first, but without any software to tie an organization’s teams and workloads together, managing each worker’s daily tasks will quickly become impossible.

Given that everyone working from home suddenly needed access to the tools, systems, software and accounts they’d been using on their office desktops, it was suddenly the business leaders’ responsibility to ensure this was a success. Remote working can present numerous challenges in this situation, such as:

  • Product demand
  • Scaling processes 
  • Project planning
  • Cybersecurity
  • IT problems

How streamlined business processes were critical

The number of businesses worldwide suddenly using Cloud ERP/CRM software increased dramatically during 2020, more than 50% of Microsoft’s overall $3B business apps revenue came from Dynamics 365. Remote working capabilities powered by Azure meant that business owners could have access to sales, field service, customer service, project service automation, marketing, finance and operations all in one place.

The biggest priority for many business leaders was to ensure seamless access to their CRM and ERP systems all in one place. For larger organisations, the sudden scale and pace of remote access for employees put their existing enterprise systems under tremendous strain throughout the pandemic, meaning a new platform was sought after and utilised worldwide. Dynamics 365 enabled businesses to do the following:

  • Speak to customers
  • Take, track and manage orders
  • Generate reports to make intelligent, timely decisions
  • Teams to have access to other teams’ tasks
  • Video calls, conferences and presentations using Microsoft Teams
  • Integrate Office 365 
  • Share and co-author files & documents

Software like Dynamics 365 kept businesses running

Despite the unpredictability of the future of many organizations over the last year, Enterprise Cloud software like Dynamics 365 quickly became one of the most popular investments for businesses to ensure processes continued to run smoothly.

Look out for the next Bond Patrick blog, where we will be discussing what the Dynamics 365 recruitment space looks like now, in a post-pandemic world.

How to nail your internal ERP implementation team: options, roles & attributes

ERP implementations are complex beasts. Even the smoothest implementations are a substantial undertaking – and many are anything but smooth.

They take a lot of time. And they cost a lot of money.

How much? According to Panorama Consulting, the average implementation takes more than 17 months to complete, and costs from 4% to 5% of a company’s annual revenue. What’s more, an astonishing four-fifths of implementations take longer than expected.

With such high stakes, it’s vital that your ERP implementation is in good hands – whether you choose to manage it in-house or through a group of contractors.

Before you start building your team, read on to find out about the roles and attributes you’ll definitely need to deliver a successful implementation.

Contractors or permanent staff: Which route is best?

There’s no right and wrong when it comes to choosing between an in-house team or a group of contractors. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and the ‘correct’ approach will depend upon a wide range of factors, from the complexity of the project, to the makeup of your organisation.

However, broadly speaking, the pros and cons of the two approaches can be defined as follows:

In-house, permanent people:

Strengths:

  • Greater flexibility to change priorities and control deadlines
  • Knowledge is retained in-house once the project is completed
  • Reduced risk of key information or company secrets being leaked

Weaknesses

  • Building and managing a new department can be challenging if you lack the requisite technical skills
  • Unlike with contractors, you’ll still be paying the team post-project
  • Establishing a new department risks distracting from your company’s core focus

Contractors:

Strengths

  • Contractors are ready to go from the project start date, often meaning the lead-in time is shorter
  • No need to expend managerial time on career development plans, appraisals, one-to-one reviews, training sessions, etc.
  • Fewer internal distractions; contractors can ‘get on with things’ while you concentrate on your day job

Weaknesses

  • The difficulty of assembling and managing a contracting team when you lack relevant technical skills
  • More difficult for management to understand what’s being done, and whether the team is focusing on the right areas
  • Contractors have less motivation to ‘go the extra mile’ than in-house employees
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The basic makeup of an ERP implementation team

Every Dynamics 365 ERP implementation is different. A host of factors – the size of your organisation; your location; the level of customisation needed – affect the scale of the project, which in turn influences the type of people required to deliver your implementation. But the ‘average’ team will be made up of the following roles:

  • Executive sponsor: Sits at the top of the project org chart, acting as a liaison between company leadership and the core project team. The executive sponsor has ultimate responsibility for keeping the implementation on track and in line with expectations.
  • Implementation project manager: Whereas the executive sponsor will likely have other responsibilities outside the ERP implementation, the project manager will be involved day to day, directing, delegating and facilitating actions as required.
  • Solution architect: Also referred to as a business analyst or product manager, the solution architect will go through your existing processes and speak to each department to understand what they need from the implementation.
  • Functional consultant: Responsible for taking the requirements set out by the solution architect and identifying how the ERP solution can fulfil those needs. For smaller implementations, the functional consultant and solution architect may be the same person.
  • Technical consultant: Handles any coding needed to bridge gaps between your requirements and the limitations of your chosen ERP software. As such, they have both technical and functional knowledge of the product, as well as understanding the necessary development languages.
  • Test lead: Responsible for thoroughly testing the ERP system – a stage that can make the difference between the success or failure of your implementation. Ensuring that the product works largely as expected from the outset also plays a big part in driving user adoption.
  • Super user: Unless you have a permanent developer or administrator, you’ll want a dedicated super user – someone with a genuine passion for the product, and a desire to learn more about it – to provide day-to-day support post-implementation.

It’s almost always preferable for the management aspect of the implementation team – namely the executive sponsor and implementation project manager – to come from within your business. The same is true of the super user. But unless you have people with the necessary technical skills, you’ll need to recruit in order to fill the other roles.

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How to identify contractors to manage your ERP implementation

You understand the roles required to deliver your implementation. Now it’s a case of finding people to fill them. If you’re hiring contractors, prioritise those with the following characteristics:

  • Product-specific knowledge in Dynamics: This goes without saying. If they’re not product experts, they’re not the right people to deliver your implementation.
  • Experience on similar projects: Ideally with similar types of organisation – those from similar industries, of a similar size, or both.
  • Excellent communication skills: It’s vital that external experts are able to keep internal stakeholders – particularly the project manager – in the loop.
  • Superb time management: With a lot of moving parts, it’s important that contractors are able to manage their time efficiently to maximise their resource.
  • Problem-solving capabilities: Lots can go wrong with an ERP implementation, so it pays to work with people who can find solutions fast.
  • Ability to work under pressure: Deadlines will constantly need to be hit in order to keep the implementation on track.

How to identify members of your in-house ERP implementation team

Building a dedicated in-house team to deliver your implementation is likely to require more time than hiring a group of contractors. You’re not just looking for people to perform a specific set of tasks; you’re looking for people who’ll add genuine value to your organisation. As such, you’ll still need them to possess most – if not all – of the traits described in the previous section, along with these additional characteristics:

  • Shared cultural values: Presumably, if you’re hiring in-house, you want them to add value for the long term. New hires are much more likely to stick around if they buy into your cultural values.
  • Desire to progress: Ambition is a good thing. It means they’re driven to keep improving – which is vital if you’re to enjoy the benefits of building an in-house team.
  • Ability to provide product support: Your ERP team needs to keep adding value post-implementation. A natural next step is for them to provide ongoing product support and training to new users.

Conclusion

Given the benefits of retaining skill sets and knowledge post-implementation, hiring a permanent in-house team is often the preferred route. If the project is planned well enough in advance, building an entire in-house team is certainly feasible.

Of course, in some instances – where speed-bumps and curveballs crop up during the planning phase – a quicker lead time will be required, which may necessitate hiring contractors. Even in this scenario, it’s still possible to retain some knowledge in-house by building a hybrid team of contractors and permanent staff.

Either way, with ERP implementations potentially running for two or more years and costing millions of pounds, the recruitment stage is vital. But assembling the perfect team from scratch is never easy.

So why leave your implementation to chance? By partnering with a specialist recruiter, you can be sure that you’ll find the best people for the job.

We have vast experience of working with end-users to build permanent, temporary and hybrid Microsoft ERP teams from the ground up.

Click here and get in touch today if you are ready to start building your Dynamics 365 implementation team.

Are you certain the grass isn’t greener?

There’s never been a better time to be working in the Dynamics 365 space. After a slow start to 2021, the demand for good people is insane.

However, with so many options out there, finding the right role can feel like walking through a minefield. Filtering the daily recruiter messages, making time outside a busy schedule- we know it’s daunting.

So it’s vital to have someone in your corner who knows the space, and can make it easy for you.

Like we did, for Steve.

Steve’s story:

Steve’s been in the Dynamics space since it was Axapta, and has helped many businesses solve ERP-related problems over the years. Having worked with agencies before, Steve had this to say:

“There appears to be a general trend within the recruitment space to fill a functional/technical position, often with a “warm body”, as quickly as possible.”

“I’ve felt that this perceived shoe-horning into opportunities I’ve been both over or under qualified for has resulted in considerable wasted time, both for me as well as the organization looking for the right talent.”

A story all too familiar, it doesn’t have to be like this! He continues…

“While not actively looking for a new position, Bond Patrick reached out to me with a genuine interest in where I felt there were growth gaps in my current professional direction (D365 experience!). I was not barraged with an array of “shiny” new opportunities, but rather a series of well thought-out questions as to what would make my career path more fulfilling.”

“My schedule at the time Ryan reached out did not afford any reasonable opportunities to engage in career path discussions.  Ryan worked with me outside of “normal” hours, arguable over and above the call of duty.”

A few remote interviews later and Steve, in his new role, is helping a business who manufactures educational toys and games for the future generations. With an education background & a large family himself, the ERP problems he now solves bring genuine purpose to his life.

“Ryan clearly wanted to find the right person for the client, but he also wanted to make sure that there was mutual fulfilment for the candidate as well. The career opportunity that Bond Patrick has presented will help provide relevancy to my professional path for the foreseeable future, and it’s given me a renewed purpose in my work life.”

Just like Steve, we’re here to help you, too

Let’s talk about how we can help you find purpose in your Dynamics career.