Each year hundreds of Dynamics 365 Business Central partners come together for annual Directions conference where Microsoft and other technology experts provide important partner and product updates. In this blog, we recap six key announcements that will have a big impact on how partners engage with their customers to close on more business and streamline deployments.
#1 – Improved Cloud Migration Toolkit for NAV, GP, AX and SL Customers
Updates to the Dynamics 365 Migration Program will help you work with your customers to simplify and accelerate cloud migrations as they move away from Dynamics NAV, GP, AX and SL. The program also provides an assessment tool so you can evaluate the technical effort to migrate customers to D365 Business Central.
Microsoft updated this program after listening to customer inputs on just how hard it has been to go through complicated migrations. To address his need, the program explains the value of running ERP systems in the cloud and how to make the transition to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) licensing model. The program also provides best-practice guidance, including how to access technical support.
From the partner perspective, the program includes tips on starting the conversation with customers to build strategies for migrating from on-premises to the cloud. Partners can also tap into migration assessments by nominating customers while leveraging other resources to training marketing and technical teams on assisting with the transition to D365 Business Central.
The migration assessments offered by Microsoft deliver functional and technical overviews, how to best handle customizations, the recommended upgrade approach, and standardized input and output templates. There’s also a Forrester study partners can provide to customers that compares the cost of the cloud to on-premises systems.
#2 – New Onboarding Framework
The new onboarding framework for D365 Business Central emphasizes how Microsoft is helping its partners accelerate their growth and use their talented resources more efficiently. The Microsoft onboarding tools speed up the onboarding process and enable customers to more easily learn how to use D365 Business Central. This will save costs for customers and free up partner time.
The framework provides users with a consistent experience when introducing the D365 Business Central. Partners can still use any methodology they prefer, but the tools in the onboarding framework provide a native experience:
- API management
- Configuration packages
- Setup wizards
- Manual setup
- Configuration questionnaire
- Checklist of tasks to finalize company setup
- Teaching tips, tours and spotlights
- In-context learning with a help pane
This framework quickly produces real-world results for implementation partners. One Microsoft partner enabled a client to go live in one week. Across the organization, the partner reduced the finance setup to hours instead of days, saw 50% lower consultant costs for repeatable work, realized 100% more go-lives per consultant, and trained brand-new consultants to deploy faster.
Another partner eliminated a looming kick-off delay by reducing system setup effort by 75% and onboarding investment by 35%. With tools that helped them scale their workforce, the partner also provided sustainable training and self-service implementation. Their customers can now get running on Business Central faster than ever.
#3 – Permissions/Performance Investigations/Sandbox Licensing
To help with software development, Microsoft is making three key adjustments. Composable permissions now allow you to define your own permission sets by referring existing permissions sets or by excluding specific permissions. This leads to faster onboarding, easy to no maintenance, and improved transparency.
And because developer time is expensive and scarce, Microsoft is reimagining the app management landscape to empower customers, consultants, and partners to make initial performance investigations on their own. Partners can also now purchase additional sandbox users at a lower price point—$6/user with a minimum of five users. The sandbox is great for demo environments, development, and validation.
#4 – Tools for More Efficient Troubleshooting
Partners and customers with technical capabilities can now tap into these tools when troubleshooting issues in D365 Business Central:
- AL Profiler in VS Code to analyze execution time and find performance issues in AL code
- AL Debugger to debug code in a sandbox environment
- AL Snapshot debugger to capture code execution in production and debug offline
- Effective Permissions to verify user permissions and entitlements
- Event Recorder to investigate fired events
- Tables Information Page to investigate table sizes, set up retention policies, and run data compression
- Report Dataset in Excel to verify report inputs
- Page Inspector to investigate page data and extensions
#5 – Add-On Solutions Require Universal Code by 2023
Add-ons or anything developed for D365 Business Central (including customer-developed code) must be written in universal code (cloud-optimized extensions) by 2023 to meet Microsoft’s minimum requirement to exist in the cloud. If an add-on is not written in universal code by 2023, the developer will gradually be assessed increasing fees by Microsoft.
To make the transition, Microsoft recommends publishing all solutions on Microsoft AppSource and using an ISV Development Center to accelerate your time to market. You can also utilize learning materials on Microsoft Learn. This initiative represents a modern independent software vendor approach to ensure all future customers can choose Dynamics 365 Business Central online and find the right apps on Microsoft AppSource to meet their unique requirements
#6 – Partners Can Now Align Solutions to How Microsoft Goes to Market
Effective October 2022, Microsoft is changing the name of its partner program from the Microsoft Partner Network to the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. As part of this change, Microsoft is simplifying the program with solution partner designations, anchored on the Microsoft Cloud in six solution areas aligned to how Microsoft goes to market:
- Business Applications
- Data and AI
- Digital and App Innovation
- Modern Workplace and Surface
The change program will also increase transparency with a new Partner Capability Scoring mechanism, and it will provide partners that specialize in Microsoft technologies with additional tools and benefits aligned to their solution area. All this will give customers clarity on current partner capabilities to assist them with partner selection.
Keeping Up-to-Date on D365 Business Central
We know that staying up-to-date on Microsoft announcements, changes, and updates to D365 Business Central is a big challenge for our partners. That’s why we make sure Stratos Cloud Alliance partners are the first to know when Microsoft issues new information. To learn about how you can take advantage of the many benefits of partnering with Stratos, download the Stratos Cloud Partner Guide today.
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