How Dynamics 365 Has Turned “Managed Services” on its Head
For decades now, we have heard the term “Managed Services” used as a panacea that should allow Enterprises to outsource many of the IT tasks needed in the care and feeding of Enterprise ERP solutions. Is this a model that Microsoft has made irrelevant? Are Dynamics 365 Managed Services a thing of the past?
Dynamics 365 provides a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees:
- High Accessibility – 24/7/365
- Constant Real Time Disaster Recovery (replication, back-up, and regional fail-over)
- Global Security
- Data Encryption
- Database Maintenance, Licensing and Management
- Constant Application Updates
What’s left for the traditional Managed Services providers?
In fact, can they even do it without specific Dynamics expertise?
The answer appears to be a resounding ‘no’.
Hosted vs. Cloud Application
Old school ‘hosted applications’ still require all of the services listed above. The only thing that these deployments actually accomplish is putting an application that was architected for local servers on servers in the cloud.
Do you have a long running script causing performance decay? How about conflicting batch jobs hogging processor speeds? A hosted application solves neither. It still requires a coordinated response. Only now you have 3 parties involved in the process: users, local IT and your Managed Services provider. Yikes.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 was architected, from the ground up, as a true cloud application. Performance is constantly monitored so users are warned and solutions are suggested for these types of issues as they happen, not afterwards when you are left to pick up the pieces.
How does this affect Dynamics 365 Managed Services going forward?
Dynamics 365 Customers will still need support post-implementation, far from something as broad as ‘Managed Services’ – it breaks down into three areas:
- Help Desk – problems will still arise over simple break/fix issues (why won’t my checks print?) and functional questions (how do I do this?). Find a Partner that provides this service without enormous up-front costs, ‘use it or lose it’ financial models, or full consulting rates for simple problems and questions.
- Constant Update – without a fully knowledgeable local IT staff, this new Microsoft feature can seem more complex than it actually is. Find a Partner that will make sure your testing suite is ready, will coordinate the conversation with Microsoft on ‘update weekend’ and manages the actual process. They should inform you if the update is relevant to you well before it happens. Some Partners even provide this service as a flat fee per update – making the process financially predictable.
- Development Services – all of our clients chant the new mantra of ‘as vanilla as possible’ for ERP deployment, but there will always be something that requires modified code. Always. Development services are usually among the cheapest that Partners offer. Much cheaper than trying to attract and train these resources yourself. Make sure the Partner follows best practices (full documentation, annotated code, understanding underlying process flows) and invest your money in Business Analysts.
The landscape is constantly changing. Invest where you should and let Partners handle what they do best.