ERP Specialist – Not just a designation
The day I got to know about ERP, specifically, Microsoft Dynamics AX I was happy to find out that Microsoft has its own ERP (previously Axapta acquired by Microsoft in July 2002). I had been working at TRG Tech at that point in time and received a call from Mazik Global. This company is one of the largest AX product development company (Microsoft Gold Partner) in Pakistan and has its presence in the USA. It is also a former developer partner for the Dynamics AX product development.
With a great passion for ERP but no prior experience with AX, I was inducted at Mazik Global in the Product Development team. The team had the focus of developing features for upcoming functionalities in the AX product. Although we followed Scenario Focused Engineering (a customer centric approach), our main role was development and a bit of UI/UX plus unit testing and sometimes presenting the developed functionality to teams based in the United States. We used X++ which is an entirely different language from the ones we were acquainted with previously. However, after multiple training sessions, we started developing features like a pro.
I had always been curious about how Microsoft Dynamics AX would be implemented in organizations. I had a vague idea about re-engineering and designing the processes and mapping them to ERP, due to the fact that I had taken a course in ERP during my undergraduate. There, we had learned the process and some specific modules of the largest ERP system- SAP.
You get what you desire
I was able to implement what I learned during the course of my employment at Mazik Global when I was recruited at Dawood Lawrencepur Limited division REON as an ERP specialist. I had a basic understanding of the process, the functionality of modules and also the development. I joined the organization when the implementation phase had just begun. However, during the course of my time at REON, I learned different aspects and worked in the following roles:
Being a developer since the start of my career, development was one of my roles at REON and I developed the functionalities by customizing the code in order to extend the functionality according to the user’s need.
Understanding user’s need is not that simple when you are working in ERP. You should know what is already present in ERP and what can be done to extend within the best practices of an ERP. One has to be sure that the newly built functionality doesn’t violate the principles of ERP. Sometimes you have to re-engineer the process for a user to fit the functionality and sometimes you can extend the functionality to fulfill user’s requirement. This made me a techno-functional consultant. I was a technical person before this experience. Well, this continued during my whole journey even post implementation. I developed entirely new functionalities for the user after understanding their needs.
I was the only ERP specialist and everyone sought me out for learning about an existing functionality, new functionality, and troubleshooting. I was responsible for training them. However, I first had to train myself with the help of Implementation partner consultants, which strengthened my interpersonal skills.
Managing AX was just one step of the ladder—an even bigger challenge was to manage the project itself; the timelines, planning, execution, coordination and then the executive meetings. This is perhaps the toughest part since you have to set an example for everyone. For this step, leadership skills are extremely important.
Coordination is one of the most demanding skills that are required out of an ERP specialist. You can’t win the game if your coordination and communication skills are not up to the mark. You have to coordinate
- among departments head
- between end-users
- between end-user and consultants
- between your department head and consultants
You have to arrange meetings and training sessions or similar sessions in this role.
Therefore, whereas the technical aspects of running an ERP system may be taught during the course of education, the other skills required to ensure that the entire process runs smoothly comes with actually being on the job and of course with experience. During my journey as an ERP specialist, not only was I able to hone my technical skills, but also had to smooth my leadership and communication skills. Who says that a computer whizz does not have to be a people’s person? In today’s world, it has become essential to utilize communication skills for the maximum outcome out of a project.
Feel free to share your experiences of working with MS Dynamics AX.