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MSDW Podcast: Rob Jolliffe on designing a Dynamics 365 Business Central industry strategy

by Jason Gumpert

A recent episode of the podcast looked at changing trends in the Dynamics 365 Business Central community, including some of the risks customers face when deploying the software in a fixed fee model.

For another perspective on the topic of fixed fee and the broader outlook on Business Central deployments, we spoke with Robert Jolliffe, founder of Microsoft partner Sabre Limited, to discuss his firm's evolution in delivering ERP projects. Jolliffe explains that while fixed fee ERP projects can be fraught with danger for both the consulting firm and the customer, they can also work well when designed to play to a partners' expertise and matched to the right type of customers.

In the Microsoft channel, partners with strong industry expertise can make the best case for fixed fee, Jolliffe believes, by relying on their knowledge and experience to shape projects that avoid typical pitfalls. Fixed fee does not have to mean low cost, and it doesn't necessarily mean a rapid deployment. But new engagement models could help more Microsoft partners differentiate themselves, and Jolliffe talks about how this approach informs not only deployment of an ERP solution like Dynamics 365 Business Central, but also the support, training, and other services.

Jolliffe also discusses how his firm arrived at its current model, including the importance of learning from other VARs in the Microsoft channel and leaning on his pre-Microsoft ERP experiences. We also talk about the technology that is shaping his firm's work, the challenges of re-branding, and still feeling like a relative newcomer in the BC and NAV channel after nearly a decade.

Show Notes:

  • 2:00 - Rob's career history in engineering and ERP, including entering the Microsoft channel
  • 6:00 - What it was like entering the Microsoft channel with NAV in 2012, including the growing pains and path toward repeatability
  • 11:30 - The debate over if and how fixed fee BC deployments can work
  • 16:00 - The dangers of a basic fixed fee approach to ERP when an organization has specific industry needs
  • 20:45 - The balance of sales velocity and delivery quality
  • 25:00 - How Sabre's model has evolved, including what Rob has learned from other partners
  • 28:30 - More on transitioning a business model form hourly to fixed fee
  • 33:30 - Other important cloud tech for manufacturers
  • 41:30 - Rob shares a branding anecdote

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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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