In my last article I described the general development path of a Microsoft Dynamics AX application consultant. In this post I will discuss Dynamics AX application consultant career options that extend to project management, pre-sales, and leadership.
A consulting job offers outstanding career opportunities for those who desire to reach further in their professional lives. By working at the heart of the business of top organizations – shaping strategic decisions and executing on the most important transformational aspects of a business – a Microsoft Dynamics AX application consultant has the opportunity to explore a variety of projects and business areas and grow professionally more quickly than in any other job position.
An application consultant can work on the partner side, the customer side, or even for Microsoft. Consultants working for partners have the opportunity to gain exposure to a broad range of business cultures and customer requirements. And ideally these engagements focus on a particular business domain to allow the consultant to also develop specialization in a business vertical.
Interestingly, many consultants hesitate to move to roles with Dynamics customers with the justification that they will lose many of benefits of the consulting career. To the contrary, the consultant working for a customer actually gets deeper into the business’s pains and solutions. On the software provider side, the consultant helps partners and customers to know the application in more depth and help in the sales cycle, participate in support, and participate in enhancing the next releases.
The following graphic describes four areas that a Dynamics AX application consultant could realistically take his or her career over the course of many years.
Application consultants begin their career as junior consultants learning the application features and functions. Junior consultants participate in implementation projects to get their hands on the practical job. A consultant can be a part of analysis workshops, contribute to requirements analysis documentation, design & end user documents, hold standard training sessions, support conference room testing, and do end user shadowing and support.
Moving to a higher seniority level, a consultant will get more responsibilities in the implementation project including leading the execution of the implementation project in analysis workshops, design workshops, application configuration, coordination of conference room testing, and managing user acceptance testing. More senior consultants also have the responsibility to guide and lead junior consultants and provide support in complicated cases related to areas like defining business logic and integrations.
The supervisor position is considered the first managerial level where the consultant manages implementation teams (juniors and seniors) and focuses on the quality of execution and deliverables. Supervisors are also a resource to their project teams, handling customer expectations on a function level and identifying business process areas that could be automated.
The consultant may decide to be in the project execution area by becoming a solution architect where he/she provides both technical and functional knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics AX and all related Microsoft technologies required for the implementation.
Because application consultants have experience in business, the application functions, and managing clients, they are often able to manage an implementation project. The project manager role is not into functionality any more – just giving guidance, and mentoring; the role ensures the delivery of project scope on time, on budget, with high quality, and to the customer’s satisfaction. The project manager is also responsible for managing day to day task distribution among the project team, following up on project progress and status, and handling overall customer expectations of the project output.
An engagement manager manages more than one project, provides high-level project oversight, and facilitates communication between all parties involved. This role requires participation in sales activities by drawing the road map of the implementation from very beginning. And when the project moves to execution, the engagement manager is responsible for project quality, timeline, and healthy relationship with customer.
The application consultant may move into sales activities, capitalizing on his/her implementation experience to support sales teams in the selling process by demonstrating application functions to give a proper understanding of Dynamics AX to the customer and provide proof of concept for specific business pains.
From there, an application consultant can move into account management where responsibilities include building and keeping a healthy customer relationship, managing the customer’s product, license and service issues, and closing sales efficiently.
The managing director/CIO maintains an executive level relationship with clients and ensures overall satisfaction with Dynamics AX implementations. As an executive, this role can have responsibility to the board of directors and investors for 4 main areas: financial management, operational excellence, planning and organizational development. In addition to coordination within the Information Technology department (IT), it is a CIO’s responsibility to maintain alignment between IT and the companywide strategy.
We have explored the career path of the application consultant, though the titles and positions will vary from company to another. Each role requires qualifications and years of experience, but each offers the possibility of solving a variety of challenges and developing a broad array of skills.
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