Never turn down or delay a Dynamics project again
It can be hard running or building an IT services business – closing deals at the right time, balancing consultant supply against project demand, mixing the right resources while balancing the books, and so on. In the Microsoft Dynamics space this is often made harder as there is a crucial additional challenge – the talent pool is simply not big enough, and this has been an issue for at least the last five years.
This has some clear effects on partners and projects:
- It keeps Dynamics salaries higher than comparatively skilled workers in many other Microsoft products
- It is an expensive risk to employ staff unless they are highly utilised and not on the bench
- It is tempting to move staff with key or scarce skills from project to project before they are finished, risking project success and lowering customer satisfaction
- An alternative to this is to start projects later than the customer, you, and Microsoft want
- This can lead to delays in the customer signing Microsoft product orders, which affects your cashflow, Gold and Silver certifications, and relationship with Microsoft (particularly at their half- or full-year end).
So how can you help avoid peaks and troughs in consultant demand, particularly those with niche or hard-to-find skills, but balance the books by not having lots of benched consultants? One part of the solution is to build up a network of reliable, trusted freelancers, and create a virtual bench.
At 365 Freelance we have faced and solved these problems directly, as we are ex-Microsoft and/or ex-channel partner leads. We recognised how hard it was to find good people, and saw that many of the top consultants had opted out of full time employment to become freelance contractors, so that they could choose the projects they wanted to work on, when they wanted to work. However, finding and hiring these people often meant dealing with recruitment agents who often added little value apart from an introduction service, yet charged a very high mark up for each day the consultant worked. We saw that there had to be a way to provide an expert, tailored service so that partners and end users could find the resources they needed, when they needed them, without paying a fortune.
That’s why we focussed on helping to develop the consultants. We have created an online community of Dynamics consultants where we give them access to first-class training for certifications, plus the ability to promote their skills and availability for hire. Dynamics partners and end users can get in touch with them and hire as many as needed.
What typical issues do partners face that 365 Freelance can help solve?
- Presales. The first need is usually to win good business. Create a great first impression. Often, new (and sometimes established) partners cannot afford a full-time presales guy, so use delivery consultants. In many cases, this does not work – the viewpoints and skillsets are too dissimilar, rapport and credibility are lost, and often, so is the business. The answer? Build relationships with great presales guys, and then hire them only when you need them to build and run demos. It works.
- Training. Do you need resources to provide in-house or end-user training? Why use your valuable and chargeable consultants to do lower value training? Good trainers and good consultants require overlapping but different skillsets, and usually consultants command higher fees, so it makes sense to use specialists for each job. Hire efficient, specialist trainers whenever needed.
- Niche skills/lumpy projects. Projects often arrive at unexpected times (if only customers would do what they say, when they say….), and with a limited resource pool, it is hard to match supply with demand, particularly if the project needs some niche skills which are hard to find. Rather than building up a team who are on the bench waiting for work, build a Virtual Bench. Meet and agree terms with a range of consultants before you need them, and then hire them only when you need them. It works, and saves a fortune.
Many partners have already adopted this approach. What do they say?
“It is very easy to use, saved us a fortune on fees and we managed to find the right resource very quickly.” JL, Managing Director, leading UK Dynamics partner
“I found an offshore consultant who appears to have all the skills I need for the price range I wanted, within just a few minutes.” WF, VP Professional Services, leading US NAV partner
“Thanks so much. We found some great consultants through your website that helped complement and scale our business fast.” CJ, Managing Director , leading UK CRM Online partner
“I have been telling Microsoft for years something like this was needed.” – Jackie S.
About us: 365 Freelance is the first online platform that gives Dynamics partners and end-users instant access to hundreds of contractors. With a network spanning 89 countries, it allows companies to search for freelancers based on their skills, rates and available dates, enabling them to find the best person for their projects without incurring the hefty fees typical of recruitment agencies. Register here – www.365freelance.com.
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