How to Choose the Right Microsoft Managed Services Provider

Whether you are using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, the Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics AX 2012 or older versions of Dynamics AX or Microsoft CRM, a managed services contract is worth your consideration.

From giving you access to business, functional and technical experts, to saving you the overhead of an in-house team, outsourcing will ensure your system is maintained and fully optimized. In addition, predictable costs mean easier expense management and fewer hours spent negotiating one-time contracts.

Managed Services for Dynamics 365

These cloud applications empower organizations to outsource their entire business application support function. Remote consultants can take care of everything from user setup to module optimisation and system tuning.

Support Crisis for Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft will soon end support and security updates for Dynamics AX. This presents a challenge for organizations that are not ready to transition to a cloud-based ERP such as Dynamics 365. If you need to find a new managed services provider, look for partners with existing Dynamics AX application expertise who are committed to the product for the long term.

Key Considerations for Choosing a Managed Service Provider

Before engaging a new partner, business leaders should ensure they are a good fit for the company’s current and future technological and infrastructure requirements, as well as its internal culture. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do you need a partner to monitor your system proactively or is a reactive approach good enough?
  • Will they provide long-term support for a legacy platform like Dynamics AX?
  • Might you need professional service support for upcoming projects? Having one provider for managed services, system upgrades, integration and one-time projects is easier and more time and cost-efficient than overseeing several providers.
  • Do they use the same communication channels as your internal teams and stakeholders?
  • Will they collaborate with your internal teams and technical vendors?

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How to Find the Right Microsoft Managed Service Partner

1. Functional Knowledge

Software expertise should be a given. Those partners with functional skills in finance, procurement, sales and other critical areas should have the additional knowledge to optimize your system for your specific workflows and unique processes.

2. Multi-Channel Communications

A new partner needs to either integrate with your existing ticketing system or recommend something better. Look for one that offers a variety of communications channels such as email, text and other collaborative products used at your company.

3. Certified & Experience Teams

Graduate programs sound great until you find the person working on your issues has limited experience. Before you sign up for any managed services program, ask about the credentials, certifications and make-up of the management and consulting teams who will support your business.

4. Tiered Plans & Custom Options

These allow you to choose the most appropriate level of service. However, they’re not always a perfect fit because most enterprise solutions have a unique technology stack and set of business processes. A partner willing to add custom support features to a tier and that is willing to adapt as your needs evolve is easier to work with and will provide the flexibility your business requires.

5. Scalability

For some organizations, scalability means 24/7 access to regional experts around the globe. For others, it is the knowledge that their partner has enough skilled personnel to handle problems efficiently and execute new projects and initiatives.

6. A Service Level Agreement (SLA)

An SLA is a contract that specifies the level of service your managed services will provide to you such as service availability and response times. Always make sure your partner has put in writing that it will provide the level of service your business requires.

7. Security Practices

Your managed services partner must ensure your business has comprehensive security infrastructure, policies and procedures in place. This should include identity management and physical security (i.e. ensuring cloud-based and ‘real world’ technology resources can only be accessed by authorized individuals) and protocols that ensure data is regularly backed up and updated while always being kept secure.   

8. Customer Support

On top of providing 24/7 support from seasoned professionals, your partner should also provide you with a dedicated account manager and be able to repair on-premises hardware and software rapidly.   

9. Credibility and references

Your partner should have expertise in the industry your business operates in and, ideally, across a range of related industries. It should be able to provide case studies and glowing testimonials from satisfied customers.

About Flintech

The Flintech team have decades of experience leading digital transformation in companies operating in the retail, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution industries. At Flintech we pride ourselves on understanding the nuances of these industries and making recommendations that will give your business the ability to thrive no matter what comes its way.