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Dynamics: Britain’s Got Talent?

26 February 2014
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There is a problem with home-grown Dynamics NAV and AX talent – there’s simply not enough of it.  With what seems to be a dearth of new UK talent entering the partner community, how can partners continue to grow their services revenue in line with Microsoft’s growth aspirations for the Dynamics market? 

It’s been over ten years since the original Navision and Axapta solutions were brought into the Microsoft fold. Rightly Microsoft expects these significant investments to deliver year on year growth.  This filters down to the partner community with Microsoft continuing to revise up its expectations of NAV and AX system integrators to deliver ever greater levels of customer wins and deployments.  Each partner conference places great emphasis on ratios detailing the amount of services revenue Microsoft believes should be attached to every licensing sale, but where these calculations fall down is that they do not appear to be related to the actual capacity available in the channel.  I’ve yet to meet a successful AX or NAV practice with banks of consultants or developers ‘on the bench’, so if a shortage of skilled staff is hindering your ability to grow, how can you address this if the local candidate pool is empty?

I’m finding part of the solution in overseas job seekers.  The economic challenges across Central and Southern Europe, coupled with the employment opportunities and preferential taxation rates in the UK, have led to experienced overseas NAV and AX consultants seeking work in Britain – and a marked increase in the number of non-UK developers and consultants that have approached me in the past twelve months.

At this point in time I think these candidates are a great asset for the UK NAV and AX community as they can bring additional depth to a partner practice thanks to their technical skills and knowledge of foreign markets.  This is often coupled with lower salary expectations, which for any business monitoring its recruitment costs is no bad thing.

One question I am often asked: “is this not removing opportunity for UK developers and consultants?” And my answer is “absolutely not.” There isn’t a move against home-grown talent, in fact we have clients that are expressly demanding UK educated candidates, especially client facing consultants. But we do have to be realistic. There’s a shortage of certain core skills coupled with experience and expertise. Filling the gaps left by that shortage means looking overseas. Having a new pool of people can only be a positive thing, and until we can find a way to increase the amount home-grown talent we have, we should accept that a portion of this will be from other countries. 

I think the big challenge is going to be when the home economies of our overseas talent improve and they decide to go back – where will we find our rising stars then?

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