You might think that the most important criteria when hiring Microsoft Dynamics AX specialists is experience of the software. For the majority of Dynamics AX positions, a degree of Microsoft Dynamics AX knowledge is essential, however for Project Managers it is often agreed that this can actually be a major disadvantage (the Project Manager is more likely to get sidetracked with the functional side, for example) and can also unnecessarily limit the volume of relevant candidates available. Here we look at why experience of SAP, Oracle, JDE or Baan can be more beneficial than Dynamics AX knowledge when considering your next Dynamics AX Project Manager…
Microsoft Dynamics AX is growing… FAST
Over the last 10 years the Microsoft Dynamics market has exploded in terms of budget size, project complexity, team sizes, product capability and market share. It’s no longer a surprise to hear of Microsoft Dynamics projects at Fortune 500 companies with a £/€15 million budget, across 20+ countries and with teams of 50 people, which used to be more common in the SAP and Oracle world.
This growth brings with it a level of expectation far higher than in years gone by. As the product matures and budgets increase, so does the project complexity – this means methodology, documentation, process, business change and communication are increasingly important to ensure a project is delivered successfully. As a result, the job of the Project Manager is more demanding than ever.
Dynamics AX could learn from its elders
Traditionally, Microsoft Dynamics AX experience has been the key criteria for evaluating skills in AX Project Managers. However, as projects have evolved, the most suitable candidates often have less Dynamics experience, and instead bring knowledge of the scale and complexity from the more mature ERP products such as SAP, Oracle, JDE or Baan.
Project Management methodology
Project Managers need to deliver…….. well, the project. They do not require a detailed knowledge of the product but instead a disciplined background of a proven project management methodology is of vital importance. They must be able to create the plans, governance, documentation, communication strategy and deadlines for the functional and technical specialists to follow.
The ERP university of life
ERP Project Managers who are experts in specific sectors such as retail, manufacturing, logistics and professional services also bring with them a greater range of examples, scenarios and lessons learned from similar sized ERP implementations. This helps them to predict and identify problems in advance that could be missed by an AX product expert who may lack the depth of industry experience on a similar size project. Failure to spot these issues could waste millions of pounds and weeks of hard work from the team that a project cannot afford to accommodate. The danger on the biggest projects is that the smallest mistakes are amplified and can create a larger knock-on effect.
Importance of relationship management
The greatest benefit of considering Project Managers who are sector specialists rather than product experts can be the credibility and confidence they generate. By being able to communicate more effectively with key stakeholders and understand the unique issues and challenges of each individual, the Project Manager provides insights and direction that drives the project forward. As Microsoft Dynamics AX projects grow, implementations are as much about business change, conflict resolution and stakeholder management, meaning Project Managers need to be able to build trust and relationships as quickly as possible. This will happen more naturally when the Project Manager can demonstrate relevant sector knowledge.
All things considered, relevant sector knowledge and a background in a mature ERP should be higher on your wish list than Dynamics AX experience. This will also open up your search to a much wider ERP candidate pool.
Cognitive Group are specialists in Microsoft Dynamics jobs and recruitment with a focus on Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other roles in the Microsoft Stack. Get in touch!