First — apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez for my blatant take-off of his book title, Love in the Time of Cholera. But it seemed to be too good an opportunity to miss (and next time you put your feet up, I can recommend this book as a great read)!

However, back to my blog topic — which is resources! Finding them and developing them in the competitive world of Microsoft Dynamics 365 consultancy.

Is there anybody out there?

One of the biggest challenges we faced over 2020 wasn’t getting new Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations projects, but finding the resources we needed to deliver them. As borders closed around the world, it was that much more challenging than usual to recruit (unless you're willing to embrace an offshore workforce — but more about that later). In effect, the available talent pool didn’t just start to evaporate, but totally dry up.

Owning the high ground

We’ve been far from alone in our recruiting frustration, and no-one likes to have their ability to grow stifled. Or to let customers down.

But we admittedly make life harder for ourselves through our insistence on only hiring the best people. We’d rather do without than just hire and hope for the best.

For a new hire, joining a high achieving Fusion5 team can be a moment of truth. While a consultant may have been regarded as being at the top of their game elsewhere, their skills may fall short compared with their Fusion5 teammates. (While it’s tough, it does create an environment where consultants compete to lift their game and shine.)

Group of business persons handshake in the office. Group of business persons handshake in the office.

Taking a resourceful approach

The shortage of resources has encouraged us to be more creative — and take a more lateral approach.

By setting our entry bar high, we limit the number of people in the market that we will consider hiring. At a time when — like most of the technology industry — we’re screaming out for great people — the obvious risk is that we’re potentially unable to meet our customers’ expectations.

So, what have we done to make sure we have the people we need, when we need them?

First, we’ve turned our gaze inwards. We’ve already got great people, but could they be even more amazing in other parts of the business? Could we cross-train to leverage their existing skills, industry knowledge, and passion in other teams (while advancing their career path)? And then, there’s our graduate programme. Can we fast track our talented newcomers through a structured process onto the consultant career path with the support of our senior consultants?

And the answer to all these questions was obviously ‘yes’.

And we are doing even more. We are developing a Microsoft Academy at Fusion5 to transform experienced consultants with knowledge in other products into Fusion5 Microsoft certified consultants. We plan to have group intakes of consultants who will participate in individualised Microsoft training programmes, along with Fusion5 consultant certification and training. And they’ll shadow senior people on real projects from day one. By mentoring them every step of the way, we’ll ensure that they’re prepared to deliver to Fusion5’s exacting standards.

We also took another look outwards — at the international market.

Due to New Zealand’s highly successful management of COVID-19, we emerged as an even more desirable place to live. So as borders crept open again, we’ve been able to cherry-pick from a growing pool of outstanding international candidates who had never considered New Zealand as an option before, and support their journey to join our team through a critical work visa.

Father and son traveling by plane during the pandemic.

Why not go virtual?

One thing we didn’t do, though, was invest in building a truly international virtual team. Why not? While we were able to quickly embrace remote project delivery when we went into ‘lockdown’, in my experience, consultants are extroverts — they thrive on working directly with customers and alongside their teammates. Also, successfully implementing Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations requires a cohesive team effort. It’s a big product, with lots of moving parts, and from a consultant’s point of view, it’s harder to manage the process remotely. We’ve all learnt that connecting and progressing projects through the power of a Microsoft Teams meeting is possible, nothing beats consultants and customers being in the same room together.

How does being picky with our recruiting impact on our customer projects?

FACT: We can’t afford not to be picky.

If it’s a choice between negotiating with a customer for a later start date or extended delivery deadline, or hiring consultants willy-nilly just to make up the numbers, we know which option we stand beside. And so do our customers.

How does this impact new business? Well, to be honest, it’s not.

Potential customers are far savvier now than ever before. They do their research, they ask around. And they want the best people on their project. Thankfully, they understand how Fusion5’s commitment to excellence and business outcomes makes all the difference.

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