What does a Microsoft Dynamics consultant do?

image I wonder what people do with Google (or any other search engine for that matter) results past page two, or three. Or ten.

The other day a visitor came to this blog by googling this question: What does a Microsoft Dynamics consultant do? Two things I don’t understand: first, how far in the search results did they have to go—my blog most certainly didn’t land on first ten pages; and second, did they find here on my blog what they were looking for?

I decided to improve both.

Indeed, what does a Microsoft Dynamics consultant do? To answer this question, I’ll write a series of posts, and I’ll explain what a Microsoft Dynamics consultant is, and does, and I’ll explain top 5 qualities of a great Microsoft Dynamics consultant.

So, to start with, Microsoft Dynamics consultant is not a uniform species; it comes in many varieties. Two most common are application consultant, and technology consultant. As per , there is a third one: development consultant. I wouldn’t personally call developers consultants, but I’ll comply. With one particular partner company I once worked with, almost every Microsoft Dynamics NAV role had two qualifiers: consultant and manager. So if a developer wants to be a development consultant, it’s ok as long as they aren’t a development consultant manager.

Application consultant’s role is the central role in every implementation project. They are also primarily focused on customer. At the beginning of a project they spend most of their time with the customer, discussing the requirements, analyzing them, and documenting them, focusing on understanding how to map these requirements to standard application functionality.

They must understand the application well; they have to be able to recognize that a requirement can be met with this or that specific feature, and to what extent it will have to be customized to fully meet the customer’s needs.

Then they spend a lot of their time communicating with the development team, and explaining them the customer’s requirements,  and what has to be changed in the system to meet them. They make sure that what developers have produced really complies too all the specifications they (the application consultants) have written.

They do a fair amount of testing: they prepare test scenarios, help in preparing test scripts, and personally conduct feature tests, function tests and process tests. The assist the customer in conducting final user acceptance test, and they deliver key user trainings.

They also configure the application: master data templates, posting groups,  categories, modules configurations, supplementary data, security roles, all sorts of stuff. They make sure that the application really works as specified.

Technology consultants do a somewhat different job. They are still primarily customer focused, and they spend a lot of time working with customer. They must know the Microsoft Dynamics application from technology perspective inside-out, they must understand the infrastructure requirements, as they will give recommendations about retaining existing hardware, software or network infrastructure, or about obtaining new one.

They work closely with customer’s IT department: they assist them in preparing the environment, installing necessary prerequisites, configuring operating system and database server.

Technology consultants have two important responsibilities: performance and scalability. They must ensure that technical recommendations they make really result in sufficient performance for the customer, otherwise customer’s productivity may be hindered, and they also must provide a scalable architecture which will allow the customer to grow, both in transaction volume and number of users working in the system.

An important task for every technology consultant is not only to know the technology of Microsoft Dynamics, but to know and understand and preferable have a working knowledge of the whole stack of Microsoft technologies. They use this knowledge to give recommendations both to customer and to application consultants regarding requirements which can be better met with various integration approaches.

They also design and develop data migration, integration and interfaces, and work closely with development team during design and development to make sure that technology requirements are observed and that chosen technologies are utilized to the full extent of their potential.

All in all, the Chinese curse May you live in interesting times really applies to Microsoft Dynamics consultants, and from the perspective of this proverb, Microsoft Dynamics consultants are—cursed!

Come back tomorrow for more in-depth explanations of what does a Microsoft Dynamics application consultant’s job look like through various phases of an implementation project.

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