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How to Empower Microsoft Dynamics Partners to Build their ISV Solutions on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management and Move to AppSource
Monday, November 21, 2022
Reading time: 8 minutes
We’re all aware that organizations need to be able to react effectively when market conditions and customers’ evolving needs are changing rapidly. Organizations that already have their ISV solutions developed on other platforms but would like to have a separate ISV solution built specifically for Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management are no exception. However, in this case, challenges may arise around determining where to start, and figuring out how to achieve the best results and satisfy customers.
Based on our experience working with large companies in the ISV market, we are going to share how to empower the Microsoft Dynamics Partner channel to build their ISV solution on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management and move to AppSource. We’re here to demonstrate that it’s not as difficult as it might seem at first sight.
Sharing Best Practices When You’re New in Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management ISV Market
Building a complete solution on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management and becoming a member of the ISV market always carries a number of market and business development questions. If you’re not in the Dynamics ecosystem yet, you might need an advisory about the channel and how to proceed further.
If you have a solution on Dynamics 365 Business Central and you have a very rich customer base, you probably feel ready to build your ISV solution on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management as well. Therefore, if you have your solution applied for both products, it automatically extends your customer base. But you might feel a little bit unsure as you would be entering corporate customers and large projects area.
Working with large companies in the ISV market is not a deal breaker. Here are some best practices that we learned while doing so:
- The right team and close relationship with the Partners. The product owner, the ISV, and the Partner who will help to build the solution are all key to success. Especially if you are the Dynamics 365 Business Central ISV solution owner and you need to have the solution on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management, as in that case you might not have enough knowledge yet and you may need a Partner to help you with your first steps into the market.
- Working together with Microsoft. Usually, Microsoft has some programs and channels that would partially fund moving your ISV solution to Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Microsoft will give you quite strict timelines which you will have to meet. It’s crucial for Microsoft that they stick to its budgets, which are tied to their fiscal year.
- AppSource validation. You must take into consideration that validation is supposed to happen when you have the solution, but it needs to be approved for AppSource on time. You need to leave at least three weeks for the testing and approval cycle to be able to get Microsoft funding on time.
The Actual Prerequisites of Success
Even though you know what business challenges your solution will tackle and you have a clear vision how it is supposed to look like, here are several tips that you can follow to make your product development execution even more efficient and ensure that the final result is a success:
With all these components in place, we can guarantee that you will have a smooth and successful project.
We at Companial are confident that being visible is powerful. Therefore, if you want to have your solution widely reachable, AppSource should be taken into consideration. When Partners come to us with questions on a business-specific matter, our first initial response is “why aren’t you on AppSource yet?“
Microsoft AppSource primarily works for your salespeople, and it works as a quality marketing tool. Besides that, being on AppSource also helps to strengthen your relationship with Microsoft as it gives your company visibility with Microsoft’s people. This is especially true if you’re on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management, as Microsoft does a lot of internal activities and is very interested in the gold-built extended solutions. Microsoft is constantly looking for such solutions because they see huge value in them in and will therefore help you to get your ISV solution in front of the customer. Microsoft keeps investing in AppSource as a tool and it is becoming more and more powerful and useful for your market.
When the Solution is AppSource Ready
When your ISV solution is ready to be moved to AppSource, what happens next?
Let’s go deeper into the requirements of AppSource:
|Managed by the technical team||Managed to AppSource by the product team|
Out of scope
In the left column are the technical items: code analysis report, binaries, deployable packages, and models. They will be added into the development scope because, if building the solution is based on the best practices, all of this is supposed to be ready for Dynamics 365.
The right column is the list of items that Partners should already know from the scoping process. They have to be aware that there will be some tasks they need to do before providing a solution for AppSource validation. Business process models and test scripts are needed to prepare the solution for evergreening updates on Dynamics 365. Then, business data is supposed to be prepared along with the product name that you will go to market with. The methodology is needed as well in order to describe what business issues this solution is going to be solving. When all these tasks are performed, the solution can be submitted to AppSource and validated.
AppSource Validation usually takes approximately a week. If you need test scripts to be added to the scope, you can add them as a scope item. The only question is how many test scripts and extensions you will have to build, so try to keep it a little bit of flexible scope. Everything on these lists is important to know upfront because there will be two teams working in parallel – one team developing while the other takes care of all the soft product requirements that are needed for AppSource.
The Lessons Learned
As we continuously help Partners to understand the scope, help them to design the solution on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management, and consult on how to move solutions to AppSource, we have learned some important lessons. Here we have split those lessons into three categories – technical, budget and project management.
Technical: When negotiation is happening, it’s very important to identify what’s supposed to be added in the first instance of the solution. The features and functions that were removed or that were not added in the initial development scope – keep them. You should keep them because they might be reviewed during continuous development. It could be that even at the moment of testing, the product owner will recognize that maybe some feature was supposed to be added into the first development instance of the product because it just doesn’t make sense to have it separately. Keep in mind that some of the functions and features could be moved back and forward between two lists.
Testing is also quite a heavy area because when consultants start testing the functional flow of the solution, they usually start getting different code errors and they start missing functionalities. We have learned to keep communication very smooth. Every single bug must be registered in a separate email to keep communication clear between people, and ensure there’s no wasted time or misunderstandings.
Project management. During the project, we not only have technical tasks but also non-development tasks. Non-development tasks are for the product team to prepare the product for AppSource. The project manager who is managing development also has to keep track of non-development tasks that exist in the project, and the product owner together with the project manager from the Partner side also have to be on the same page. During reporting, everything must be communicated – how we are doing on the progress of the technical side of development, and how we are doing on the progress of the product development assets. Functional testing is supposed to start a little bit earlier depending on the solution, however, Partners that are moving solutions from different frameworks like Dynamics 365 Business Central might be lacking specialists on their teams. That means that Partners have to hire somebody, so while development is happening that particular person also has to be trained, and hopefully, there are at least three months for testing depending of course on the solution size.
Budget. It’s very important to foresee the budget not only for the hard part of the project, like development tasks but also for communication. 15% is the safe area – if the project is 5000 hours, the project manager will spend about three days doing nothing but managing this particular project.