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MSDW Podcast: Alex Chow on serving Dynamics 365 Business Central customers

by Jason Gumpert

Businesses set different thresholds for successful ERP projects, and the reasons can be complicated. With budgets that range from thousands to millions of dollars and often little room for delay or rework, it should be no surprise that some organizations end up going live with critical financial and operational business systems that an outside observer might consider sub-par.

Microsoft has taken an interesting strategy with Dynamics 365 Business Central, the company's SMB ERP cloud offering, urging partners to pursue highly repeatable, fixed price deployments wherever possible. That model serves some interests, like accelerating the growth of the customer base, but it has also created tension with ERP professionals who say their years of experience and dedication to customer success have taught them to pursue other approaches to achieve the best outcomes.

Alex Chow, founder of AP Commerce, is one of those ERP veterans who has charted his own path in the Microsoft channel. He says he started his own firm in 2005 to allow him to work with clients in the way he preferred. And while the firm is not the biggest or fastest growing, he says the company's philosophy has held the team on a steady path even as the product and channel trends have shifted around them.

Alex recently wrote about his experiences meeting Business Central customers post-go-live that were living with problematic deployments and the concerns these cases have raised. We discuss some of those observations and more about his broader experiences with Business Central and NAV.

Show Notes

  • 2:00 - Alex's early experiences in the ERP consulting profession and how that led to him starting his own firm
  • 6:00 - Finding other consulting models beyond billable hours, and how to make it a reality for NAV professionals
  • 13:00 - Does traditional billable consulting still make sense for Business Central today as a SaaS offering? And how Microsoft is managing partners today.
  • 17:00  - What makes an organization unique - or just like everyone else
  • 19:30 - What can go wrong on a BC deployment, and what led Alex to write about it.
  • 23:30 - The nature of fixed-price BC implementations and why it can lead to less-than-ideal outcomes
  • 25:30 - What's unique about these companies' issues compared to ERP failures of the past
  • 27:00 - How to improve sub-par implementations and why BC customers might be wary after go-live
  • 31:30 - What differentiates a worker doing repeatable deployments vs specialized service
  • 39:45 - Where to find professional help for BC
  • 41:30 - Response to Alex's article
  • 43:00 - If and how selling and servicing BC has changed AP Commerce
  • 45:30 - Can customers install solutions from AppSource themselves?

Click here for a full transcript of this episode.

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About Jason Gumpert

As the editor of, Jason oversees all editorial content on the site and at our events, as well as providing site management and strategy. He can be reached at

Prior to co-founding, Jason was a Principal Software Consultant at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), where he implemented solutions, trained customers, managed software development, and spent some time in the pre-sales engineering organization. He has also held consulting positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

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