Microsoft Dynamics AX and its Achilles’ heel

Twitter Synopsis: Developers develop or how strength leads to weakness.

From day one of the Microsoft acquisition of Axapta it has been my opinion that if ERP software were sold strictly to developers then AX partners would never lose a deal.

To even a non-technical person the capabilities of the Dynamics AX MorphX development tools were awe inspiring.

It was actually fun talking to Oracle and SAP types and wowing them with customization capabilities that were available in the AX world with minor effort that would essentially require rewrites of their ERP applications from scratch.

Good times!

Of course ERP software people don’t appreciate or evidently deserve nice things so of course this fantastic capability was turned into another opportunity to sink ERP implementations.

Originally it was great fun to be able to say that with AX we can make the software do anything you want. Just look at the software as a blank sheet of paper and let you imagination run wild!

When I hear that now it is typically part of a sad story told to me by management teams from implementations that are way over budget, have failed several times to go live or are just plain disasters.

Of course the customers blame the partners and the partners blame the customer.

Cutting through the millions of words written on how to successfully implement ERP systems here are the real problems that no one is willing to discuss:

  • Developers develop
  • Every customer is special

A recent implementation was the classic example of both problems combining to create the mess.

The partner was a development shop with an “IP in a vertical industry”. That IP it turns out was the ability to fool the client into paying for coding additional functionality that could be resold as part of their ISV product offerings. Please stop me if you have heard the punchline to this joke before.

Question for a business ethics class – is it OK to take AX and replicate the look and feel of an old character based system because the client was “used to the old screens”.

As an aside, theoretical physicists have IP, developers have a lot of nerve.

The customer does not get a pass either.

After schadenfreude the greatest German word that has no direct English translation but perfect use in the ERP implementation world is weltanschauung: a comprehensive conception or theory of the world and the place of humanity within it.

Having worked at one company your entire life, rising through the ranks to finally reside in the executive suite is a great story.

Unless you have never had the chance to develop a broad outlook on your industry, technology and how they have advanced outside of your insular workplace and thereby hampered your worldview. Add to that liability a touch of hubris and you have a complete recipe for disaster.

How many ERP implementation partners have the credibility or even the desire to stand up to an executive and tell them that they are wrong? That they are not special. That their convoluted, home-grown, Rube Goldberg process development requests are a waste of time and money?

None that I have seen.

Gentlemen start your PC’s…we have code to write and IP to develop!

Or as Bruce Willis famously said, “Yippee kay yay……


If you are in the process of selecting a new ERP solution or in the midst of a challenged or failing ERP implementation give us a call.

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