In talking to customers who are looking at moving support (for whatever reason), it's quite interesting to hear some of the things they are told by their incumbent Dynamics NAV | 365 Business Central partner to scare them off from moving! So to help, we thought we'd try and bust some of the moving partner myths!
'If you move partner, they won't be able to access or maintain the bespoke code we have written for you.'
Um...in a word, NO! If the bespoke code has been written in Dynamics NAV and is in the customer object range then any partner can see what's been done, make changes to it and maintain it!
But in the World of Dynamics 365 Business Central this may not be true, if you have bespoke work done as extensions, then you need to ensure you have the source code or you will just have a compiled extension and that isn’t transportable!
'If you leave us, you can no longer use the code we have written for you or you can't take it with you.'
This is a slightly murkier area, because it really does depend on what your contract with the partner says. For the most part and in every instance we have seen, the contracts normally grant you the right to use bespoke work or add on for as long as you wish, but the originally partner retains the intellectual property. Essentially, that means you (and therefore your new Dynamics NAV | 365 Business Central partner) can continue to use it, develop it and maintain it for your own purposes. You (and your new seller) can't copy it and resell it to other people. In some cases, customers have negotiated either dual or sole ownership of the intellectual property. In this situation, there are really no limitations around what you can do. The only situation where this could get messy is if the contract explicitly stops you using the add on or bespoke software if you cancel the contract. We've never seen it, but that's not to say they don't exist!
'No, you see you're mid-point in your Microsoft Enhancement contract, you can't move from us until that ends.'
Wrong! In short, you can move your licence and therefore your Microsoft Enhancement contract at any point - the contract is between you and Microsoft, not you and the partner. It's worth checking that the partner contract doesn't stipulate that Microsoft Enhancement forms part of their contract but to be honest, it doesn't matter too much, as long as you've paid you can move or if it's due for renewal then you can move and then pay!
'Ah you see, we know what your code does and how that affects your business - go somewhere else and they won't really understand it.'
You know there is a certain degree of truth in this, but let's explore that a little more...
If the incumbent Dynamics NAV | 365 Business Central partner still has the original team who implemented the solution, then yes they will have some better head knowledge on you and your systems. That's a plus. The reality however? Often it is the case that for systems which were implemented a while ago, the staff who did the original install have moved on and taken with them the aforementioned precious knowledge. The fact you're looking around says that you're not getting great service or direction and therefore this argument only holds water if the original team are there and are actively engaged with you as a customer - otherwise they're not really any better able to help you than another knowledgeable partner.
The success of a new partner getting to grips with taking on an existing system really depends on how good their take-on methodology is. Any good Dynamics NAV | 365 Business Central techie can look at code and the developer notes, to get an idea of how it's working technically. But is that really enough? We don't think so! Which is why when we take on a customer, we do a technical review. We also get the users to walk us through all of their key processes, essentially their 'Day in the Life'. From this we can map technical to business use, and get a much better idea of what we are supporting and in the context of their business. This also helps us identify potential issues, quick wins and start to work with the customer to develop a long term systems strategy.
Oh! And something else we do differently - we don't just send one guy to do the handover. For the long term solution view, we send a Senior Consultant/Developer and a Senior Support Consultant, both of whom will become the customer champions.
If you haven't yet watched it, then check out our NAV Doctor video - which explains it all!
The most common issue we come across are cancellation clauses and more to the point, contracts not being cancelled in time! The majority of Dynamics NAV | 365 Business Central partners will have the following terms in the support agreements and it's something most customers are not aware of until they come to terminate the agreement.
Essentially the clause will say something like 'the agreement requires the customer to provide written notice of termination at least three months prior to the contract renewal date.' In practice, this means that if your support contract renewal date is 1st January, you should have given written notice to the partner by 30th September. If you don't, then legally you're obliged to re-sign for another year. The practical solution? Give notice to your partner every time you renew or negotiate a rolling quarterly contract. We are strong believers that great service, good advice and value for money should be enough to keep customers, so we don't insist on tricky little clauses that tie people in unknowingly.
As you can see, there are a whole raft of reasons and excuses why partners try to make it hard to leave, which is really sad - especially given that they are obviously taking their customers' business for granted, not giving good service or value and then getting uppity and awkward when the customer wants to move on.
A great story we once heard was when a customer phoned their partner to tell them that they were leaving for another partner. Their then existing partner retorted to saying 'That's fine, because we were leaving you anyway!' When we heard the story, it took us back to those playground breakups...'You're dumped! No..you're dumped!'. We guess some people just never grow up!