Implementing NAV (Navision) through a 3rd party Consultant

Rarely in a NAV implementation that the problem you get stuck on is techincal. As we all know, Dynamics NAV aka Navision is simple to implement and simple to customize. It’s one of the reason why it’s the dominate mid market ERP today.

Most of the challenges you’ll face are with people. And one of the toughest challenges when implementing Dynamics NAV is working with 3rd party consultants the end user company hired to help them implement a new system.

Perhaps, this is one of the bad side affects our industry has brought on to ourselves. With too many software  partners not knowing what they’re doing (or as some people call them: crooks), it’s natural for clients to feel fearful that their implementation will fail. So the client will naturally want to bring an objective 3rd to give second opinions and help the client through this transition.

Most of the time, these 3rd party consultants will have years and years of experience in the accouting software industry. They will often hold certifications, have CPA or MBA background, have good relationship or are friends with either the owner or a top executive of the company, and may have developed or sold the old system they’re replacing with Dynamics Navision.

Having worked with the client before you come in, they’re often unusally firm on how they want things to progress. The challenge is to work with them and sell them on your game plan to get the client implemented successfully.

Some of the pitfalls when implementing through a 3rd party consultants are:
- They try to lead the implementation even though they do not understand NAV or the implementation process
- They claim knowedge of all aspects of clients business, often they don’t.
- Get caught up with “what should be there” instead of opening their mind to new ways for the clients to get things done
- They are pressured to be productive, so they often take a small pieces of a business process and create unnecessary steps, error checks, reports that sounds great verbally, but inpractical when actually doing it.

In addition, some of the non-implementation problems you may encounter are:
- Eating into the client’s IT budget
- Clients avoids responsibility for the implementation of Navision
- Thrid party consultants have their own priorities

As an implementor, you cannot simply brush these people aside. Obviously, they’re able win the hearts and minds of the top executives in order to get the contract. Brushing them aside would award you with the biggest enemy during and after the implementation.

Unfortunately, years in the accounting or ERP software business are not useful if the person has no NAV experience. I equate that to hiring a general doctor and asking him/her to perform heart surgery.

This is not to say that companies does not need 3rd party consultants. They are important to fulfill key expertise you may not have. They are also potential key allies during implementation to convince the users of the ideas and changes in business processes. This is true especially if they have a close relationship with the company management.

Some of the benefits they provide are:
- Organize the relevent people during interview process
- Cut through the politics and get you the information you need
- Help you get the implementation moving when it has stalled

Some of the best 3rd party consultants I’ve work with does the following:
- Provide services that compliments NAV. (i.e. server, Sharepoint, network, etc)
- There to learn NAV with an open mind and attempt to learn table, form, report, etc designer
- Document new processes and procedures after the implementation of NAV
- Eager to become part of your team and learn how to support the client after they’re live

The best case scenario is the 3rd party consultant stays out of your way implementing Navision and help you when you ask for it.

If you cannot avoid working with a 3rd party consultant, the best advice is to let down your ego. Remember that we’re there to do the job for the client, NOT to take the job from the 3rd party consultant.

Take the time to explain the whole process and treat him like he’s part of the management. Again, the key is to convince the 3rd party consultant to allow you to take the lead on the implementation, then have him take the lead for taking over ongoing support.

Ensure that you do not let him/her feel threatened that you’re going to discredit him or take his job, this is NOT what we’re there to do.

Comment List
  • Yeah, unfortunately, being an implementor doesn't just require you to have excellent technical skills. It also requires good inter-personal skills and able to QUICKLY (notice the QUICKLY) identify key allies and enemies within an organization.

    That's why it's always tough to answer general questions like "what does it take to become a good Navision consultant".

  • I would say that in the ideal world then using 3rd party consultants would be a benefit for most implementations. As I see it then the biggest problem in most implementation is that the customer really doesn't know what's up and down when it comes to implementing ERP systems. And many time they really don't know what's up and down in their own business.

    Using a 3rd party consultant who speaks the same language as both the end-user and the Dynamics partner implementing the system, can help everybody.

    But you're also absolutely right that often having a 3rd party consultant on board doesn't really help neither the customer nor the implementation. A consultant many times have a different agenda. One of the worst examples I have seen was when the consultant was an experienced consultant with a different system, which the company had decided not the implement. It was the same consultant who had offered to implement this system. Instead the company decided to implement Navision, and to use the consultant (who had spend a lot of time analyzing the company to quote the implementation of "his system") as the 3rd party consultant.

    Doing the whole implementation project we felt that the only agenda of the consultant was to pinpoint the areas where "his system" would have done a better job than Navision, and then try to get every thing to work as "his system" did already. The result was a much higher cost for the customer. The problem was additionally that this consultant was family related to the CFO.

    I don't really remember how we got this consultant off the project, but after 3-4 months we somehow got the CEO involved and then the consultant was (officially) "moved down" - in reality taken off.

    Then we could finally complete the project. But we never really got the best relationship to the CFO again.

  • Dang... Bad grammer and all... One of the disadvantages of writing your blog in notepad.

  • I see this in many implementations.  

    "Clients avoids responsibility for the implementation of Navision"