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Give a raise to the next person who asks, “When are we going to upgrade?”

By Sarah Morgan, Customer Success Lead Manager, Arbela Technologies

At least once a day someone in your organization asks, “When are we going to upgrade AX2012 R3 to D365 for Finance and Operations?” and you give the stock answer, “When it’s budgeted by the board – we just went live with AX2012 R3 last year.” Then you add the email to your Outlook file labeled “Upgrade Committee” which also reminds you to check your on-premise licensing dates and ask IT about any upcoming fixes. 

With that interruption over, you doggedly go back to running your company because sales are down, inventory is lost, production is delayed, shipping is delayed, and customer service is blowing up with complaints. Just another day.

If this was your day, you might be an operation’s executive and if I were to ask you what you think of your ERP implementation you might say, data is accurate, performance is perfect, usage is high, orders are being fulfilled, and no one is complaining about accessing the system.

Hmm, then why are so many people asking for an upgrade? Do they just want something fresh and new? Or are they seeing the multitude of cloud-based efficiencies written about D365 that could improve what looks like is a rough day at the manufacturing plant. Should the people that are asking about the upgrade become your committee for digital transformation?

The Microsoft Dynamics digital transformation journey is the upgrade to D365. You just made a significant investment in AX2012 R3 which is keeping your business operational, but is it making your profits exponential? The cloud offers less cost of hardware and software, fewer resources, greater access to the IOT’s making use of AI and sensor technology has proven sales increases, recovered inventory, on-time production and shipping and happy customers.

Release Your Staff

Dynamics AX 2012 R3 customers have typically been live anywhere from 1-3 years. Too soon to upgrade right? Wrong. It’s time now to start planning for your D365 upgrade which is the most powerful of all upgrades in your Microsoft Dynamics journey. It’s the version we’ve been waiting for our whole careers to be part of – push-button technology. The more complex your business, the more interfaces, connections, applications, devices, and sensors are at your fingertips to make those latter phases AX2012 R3 wish lists come true.

Smart operations executives never archive the original requirements documents created during the last implementation. Those pages that are out of scope due to software gaps, are now the gold you will use to increase productivity in the next version, or the next ISV solution, or internal proof of concept caused by an acquisition or just growth.

The team members interested in filling those gaps with upcoming versions are the team members best suited for the digital transformation journey. This is your journey to the cloud, a safe place to be after 15 years of security data backing up the cloud-based model. This journey is an organizational transformation journey that you need to be armed with when the board assumes they won’t be spending a dime on ERP for several years after go-live. Your digital transformation committee will feed you example after example of how your competitors in the cloud are beating you.

The tools available to your teams are vast. None more important than the below maturity model shown by Arbela Technologies which diagrams the steps in cultural change. The more steps you take toward the cloud, the more available your staff becomes to get you there.

Embrace Customer Engagement

Most implementations of ERP do a thorough job of addressing key criteria like sales orders, production, inventory, warehousing etc. But not until Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations has customer engagement been so visible, providing a “one customer view strategy.”

As your committee continues to roadmap your journey to the cloud, pay particular attention to customer success stories. Instant feedback, social media responses, returns, lost customers. Never before has “the customer is always right” driven the success and failure of a brand until the cloud. Customer complaints go viral and they impact your bottom line.

You thought you addressed all of that with AX 2012 R3? Well, how is your day going so far? It sounded like orders were delayed, inventory was lost, and the production line was slowing down. That isn’t the fault of AX, but who really cares when customer complaints hit the board level?

The good news? The team you’re going to create to roadmap your upgrade will give you the ammunition and visual diagrams necessary the next time the board calls an emergency meeting to talk about bad press in the marketplace. Those roadmaps can show you how to get on the front end of customer engagement rather than sit and wait for a feedback click.

Optimize Your Processes

The best news I can give you about the team you’ll put in place to begin your digital transformation journey to D365 is the processes that will be optimized and the data that will be cleaned up. That list of gaps mapped to the functionality of D365 combined with products from Arbela Technologies such as ADM will make it easy to give a meaningful answer to the next person that asks, “when do we upgrade?”