8/12/2011

ISV participation in Microsoft Dynamics Community

For those who doesn’t know what an ISV is, ISV stands for Independent Software Vendor that makes and sells software products which is added to platforms. Dynamics GP ISVs’ develop and sell extended applications to existing functionality of Dynamics GP or build industry verticals on Dynamics GP. In this article, I focus on the level of Dynamics GP ISVs’participation in Dynamics community and why it is required.

Let me go back to a couple of my implementation experiences. Way back, I implemented Dynamics GP Financials for a client which is a large money exchange house. Their primary requirement to have Dynamics GP in house is to conduct an efficient automated bank reconciliation besides other core requirements which are not required for this example. I found the various bank reconciliation solutions offered by the standard Dynamics GP out of the box doesn’t fit well to this client as the client records the bank entries at the General ledger only. So I needed the functionality that can reconcile GL with bank statement and the ability to import even complex bank statements like the SWIFT statements. The implementation budget doesn’t support to have us build an application for this and it is time consuming too. I found one product from Nolan Computers after rigorous and tireless search which exactly does this. we could procure this product at a very reasonable cost and the client is happy. What did we understand in the whole example?  An Implementation that could have been a disappointment for the client or that could have been an expensive affair for the client was totally avoided by utilizing a readily available ISV solution. Similar is the case when a Property Management requirement for a real estate giant was handled successfully by making use of Binary Stream Property Management solution.

Can You believe there are thousands of ISV made solutions available exclusively for Dynamics GP but not known to many? In earlier days, these solutions were listed in Microsoft Solution Finder later replaced by Microsoft PinPoint. One can go this site and quickly search for applications specific to the product and get several solutions that can be readily fit to your requirement.

Identifying the right solution is the primary responsibility of the Implementation partner by conducting appropriate testing and reviews, suggesting the client with the cost benefits through a comparison chart of development Vs. these third party products. So what factors govern a third party ISV to be a right solution? I’d look at the solution compatibility levels followed by the ISV credibility first in terms of the number of years they are into this market to justify their dedication and more number of customer references. Secondly, I’d look at the cost advantage by comparing similar solutions of different ISVs’ versus an in house development. Thirdly, I’d look at the recurring costs in terms of Enhancements and other support related costs.

Now, the question of the ISV responsibility comes in . What do we do if we innovate or develop something? We try to market the solution to the best of our abilities in order to let everyone know about it in the first place. Once an ISV develops and gets their product certified by Microsoft, It becomes it’s sole responsibility to actively market the product by an effective marketing strategy. Part of an effective marketing strategy is to identify your target audience. In Microsoft Dynamics, Where else can the target audience be other than the one stop shop of Microsoft Dynamics Community? I ask the ISVs’, Are you making use of this wonderful Microsoft Dynamics Community and if Yes, then to what extent? Are you making use of several hundred blogs dedicated to Microsoft Dynamics  seeking to write product reviews by first providing them with your demo solution? Are you making use of those hundreds of Social Media communities like LinkedIn to populate your products for discussion and debate? This exercise is not just meant to market your product for maximizing gains through fast sell but in order to create the desired cognizance in Microsoft Dynamics Community that a solution like this exists first of all. I’m not here to judge the participation levels individually but in general, I wonder to what extent? May be I’m ignorant on this so some one can very much enlighten me if I’m wrong.

In effect, When I as a partner or as a client is looking for a solution specific to my need of the hour and I could easily find that solution in the community library. Today, Information flow is so diversified that one article posted on one site travels to hundreds of other sites, thanks to Social Media.

Bottom line is that there is an urge for the Dynamics ISV’s to improvise their levels of participation in Dynamics Community and become more closer to the community thereby helping the community find suitable solutions so that they can in turn avoid reengineering costs for a solution that is already developed elsewhere.