How to Start the Conversation with Your On-Prem Clients about Migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central

This article explores the benefits of migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central, and how to start the conversation with clients.

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    You might be blessed with a portfolio of clients jumping out of their seats, eager to migrate to the latest version of Dynamics 365. Most Microsoft partners are not so lucky. For many, it is like pulling teeth to start a conversation with clients.

    “This current version is working fine. We have no reason to upgrade.” “We do not have the money this fiscal year.” “I heard that new version is just bells and whistles.” “We cannot afford the downtime of a migration.” Many client conversations stop dead in their tracks with one of the responses.

    Do any of those responses sound familiar? Then this article is for you. It explores the Dynamics family of ERP and CRM applications and what the latest version of Dynamics 365 Business Central has to offer. It digs into the benefits of migrating that you can highlight for skeptical clients.

    What are the different versions of Microsoft Dynamics?

    Versions of Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) software have been around since 2001. The first four versions—Dynamics AX, GP, NAV, and SL—received their acronym name from one of the four companies Microsoft acquired for their ERP software. All are on-premise, hosted applications.

    Microsoft partners who work with small and medium businesses (SMBs) are most familiar with Dynamics GP—the Dynamics version targeted squarely at mid-market customers. GP is also an on-prem application that relies on a SQL Server backend.

    Microsoft Dynamics 365

    Microsoft launched the latest version of Dynamics in 2016. Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based integration of its ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) services in a unified package. It is available in Enterprise and Business Central editions. Enterprise is for medium-to-large organizations and includes a comprehensive suite of ERP applications. Business Central is for small-to-medium-sized businesses and includes modules for finance and operations, sales, and marketing.

    By virtue of being cloud-based, Dynamics 365 can provide some new, unique capabilities that users of legacy on-premises Dynamics installations will need access to. One of the most valuable cloud-based resources is new artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Microsoft sees how valuable AI can be to partners and their SMB customers and has rapidly advanced its AI capabilities. They recently unveiled a suite of new AI offerings at their Inspire 2023 event for cloud partners.

    For Partners working with SMBs, Business Central is the version they will commonly discuss with clients. The most common upgrade path is from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

    Why should I start a conversation with clients now about upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central?

    As on-premises clients cling to legacy applications like Microsoft Dynamics GP, many need to be made aware that mainstream support has expired. That puts that burden on partners to educate them.

    Software migrations can be resource-intensive too. They require time and careful planning. When migration is inevitable—such as when an on-premises application lifecycle is ending—delaying the process can negatively impact operations if it is rushed.

    Circling back to AI, artificial intelligence tools, like Copilot from Microsoft, are just hitting the market now. Businesses that figure out how to leverage these new capabilities early will have a significant leg up on their competition. If your clients procrastinate on this opportunity, they may find themselves behind.

    And if you are not going to start a conversation with your clients, then you can be certain the competition will. Many of Microsoft’s main competitors in the ERP space, including service providers for NetSuite and SAP, are looking for new clients they can convince to switch.

    The Benefits of Migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central

    Benefits of migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central

    The sooner your clients understand the advantages of migration and commit to taking action, the smoother and more successful their transition will be. You must help them understand the benefits of upgrading to Business Central now and counter your competitors’ messages.

    Cost savings

    Migrating to Business Central can significantly reduce your clients’ operating costs, especially those tied to on-premises management, like labor, IT infrastructure, data center space, all related deployment expenses, and system administration. Additionally, cloud-based solutions like Dynamics 365 are more cost-effective for disaster recovery.

    Advanced AI capabilities

    The latest generation of AI tools are all cloud-based. Copilot from Microsoft is cloud-native and most effectively used within Dynamics 365. The same is true for new process mining tools in Microsoft Power Automate.

    Enhanced security

    Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides more robust security compared to on-premises-hosted ERP solutions. You can give your clients granular control over access, data storage, backup retention, and resource allocation.

    More optimized resources

    The upfront costs of cloud migrations turn off some clients. Partners should not shy away from discussing those, but they should balance that discussion by highlighting the immediate optimizations their clients will gain. Report after report from leading business analysts, like McKinsey Digital, demonstrates how effectively cloud technology provides a competitive advantage by optimizing business resource allocation.

    Centralized data management

    Centralizing data is another immediate benefit many clients overlook. Moving to Dynamics 365 Business Central gives your clients complete visibility into their business operations, no matter the number of satellite offices they have or how many remote workers are on staff.

    In Dynamics 365, everyone is working on the same unified platform.

    They will also all gain access to new, powerful reporting tools like Power BI, which work best on large, centralized datasets. Your clients will be able to make faster, data-driven decisions.

    Secure global access

    Cloud-based Business Central provides secure remote access from anywhere in the world. That capability is another immediate, tangible benefit your clients will see when they migrate. Cloud-based solutions are crucial for seamless collaboration and ensuring everyone works with the same information, whether for remote work, managing distributed teams, or working with their own remote customers. It becomes an organization- and a data-wide single source of truth (SSoT).

    How to start the conversation

    When counseling resistant clients, some of the most effective conversational tactics you can apply include understanding their needs, focusing on the benefits of successful migrations, and sharing success stories.

    Understand your client’s needs

    Understanding your client’s needs is crucial before proposing a Business Central migration. What are their pain points? What are their goals, both for their tech and their wider business? You want to get answers to these questions.

    Take the time to engage with your clients, ask these questions, and follow up on their answers. Discover the challenges your clients face daily. Do they care about inefficient processes? Siloed data? Or need real-time insights?

    Also, ask about their strategic goals for their technology and across the entire business. What are they looking to achieve in the next fiscal year? How about the next five years? Do they want to expand operations? Focus on customer satisfaction metrics? Streamline operations? Or explore new business opportunities?

    Focus on the benefits of migrating to the cloud

    Understanding their strategic goals and pain points will help you steer the conversation toward the migration benefits that resonate most with them. Pick and choose which benefits of a Business Central migration will matter most to each client.

    • Cost savings
    • Enhanced security
    • Optimized resources
    • Centralized data management
    • Secure remote access

    Share success stories

    Share stories of other successful migrations you have done or other available case studies about similar migrations. Those are forms of ‘social proof’—a recognized social phenomenon. Humans have an instinct for copying successful behavior. You can use this to your advantage in conversations with clients.

    For example, here is a case study you could share from a Microsoft partner, 425 Consulting. They helped a bipartisan public affairs firm enhance their prospect and customer experiences with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Marketing. 425 contacted Stratos Cloud Alliance for help demoing and selling Dynamics 365.

    425’s business applications director said, “We started the implementation with Sales since that was the area of greatest pain for our client, and it was a quick win—they loved it.” 425 Consulting’s public affairs client could now orchestrate personalized marketing and sales journeys across every customer touchpoint.

    The Dynamics 365 Marketing and Sales apps worked seamlessly with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Microsoft Teams, and other products, allowing the firm to make faster and better decisions. Utilizing their own in-house resources, 425 Consulting Group implemented Dynamics 365 Business Central as phase three of the project, providing the client with a full end-to-end solution for their business.

    Leverage Stratos Cloud’s Partner Resources

    In our case study example above, 425 Consulting called on Stratos Cloud Alliance to accelerate its Dynamics 365 consulting capabilities. Stratos Cloud supports partners by helping them strengthen and deepen their Microsoft Dynamics service portfolio.

    With Stratos Cloud Alliance, you can offer your customers bundled Dynamics migration packages for existing Dynamics GP or Dynamics SL implementations. You will remain on point with your clients and be able to present them with clear timelines and transparent costs.

    Now is the time to start a conversation

    Do not hesitate. Now is the time to discuss migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central with your clients. Delaying moves any further just risks your clients compromising their own performance with out-of-lifecycle Dynamics GP or SL. And if you are not going to start the conversation, you know your competitors will.

    Need help starting a conversation about Migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central with your clients? Schedule a quick call with our team to get some tips that can help you get the ball rolling.