Tip #297: What to consider before changing your CRM partner

It’s not you, it’s me

This is not a novel way to start a new year but sometimes we do need a fresh start, and that means saying sayonara to the existing partner, would it be either your spouse or your CRM partner. To discuss this sensitive topic, we invited some experts in the field of CRM customer psychology to stop by the Tipping Truckstop.

truckstop

Jamie “Xerox” Miley:
I was wondering about how to advise larger, heavily customized clients on things to consider when switching partners. The following is a list of three things that stand out right off the bat, but I was wondering what other considerations and concerns people have seen that need to be taken into account.

Issue: Custom Source Code Location
Current Partner is using an in-house Team Foundation Server system when they sent us custom source code for the plugins and other custom solutions. The question that raises is whether or not current partner was diligent in keeping customers internal source code version control repository up to date with the latest code at all times.

Mitigation:
Ask current partner if they had a clear process they have been following in order to update your source control repository, whether followed or not, request the latest copy of the source code for all custom code that pertains to your implementation.

New Partner would prefer to have customer version control (if TFS) be the repository for all source code after the Partner switch. If no Team Foundation Server system is available, we do have an in-house TFS that can be used for source code version control.

Issue: Hosting
While the implementation at customer may be on-premise, you should validate with current partner that there are no components hosted by current partner that need to be migrated to a different location

Mitigation:
Ask current partner whether or not any customizations or items are being hosted by them in proprietary environments. Even if something is missed, it will be discovered in the upgrade regression testing process and can be retrieved and re-hosted at a later time.

Issue: Partner of Record Change / Support Considerations
Partner of Record is held with current partner which leaves them as the main contact with Microsoft for your account for support and/or any Microsoft Partnership considerations.

Mitigation:
Formal partner of record change form completion and submission to Microsoft with new partner and associated Partner information. New Partner will help you with this process when the time comes.

Gayan “Not Daddy” Perera
Couple of other things we’ve noticed:

  • Add-on solutions / licensing of those add-ons
  • Open source solutions that are installed without proper licensing considerations / no migration paths
  • Networking side of it (DNS, Routing, Certificates, Security etc)
  • SQL server licensing (especially going from SPLA to On-Prem or version jumping)
  • Lack of system documentation which might cause you to miss hidden services
  • SharePoint integration / migration of data responsibilities

To add to the source control issue, we’ve come across situations where the code provided by the previous vendor doesn’t match the code running on the server. When this happens on web resource it’s not such a big deal but on plugins and integrations it becomes a nightmare comparing compiled assemblies…

Anne “Ex-MVP” Stanton
You might recommend that they leverage a tool that can export the documentation of their solutions. This will allow them to see if the partner documented the custom fields within the system and they can then potentially leverage that information to ask for more documentation or to get a discount on services to provide more documentation. Additionally requesting any other documentation that might be available.

David “British Scientist” Jennaway
Source control is a big issue. For plugins and web resources, one other mitigation is to attempt a import into a separate, test deployment, and check if all functionality still works. Of course, this does depend on having sufficient documentation of what the expected functionality is, but it can give hints of potential problems.

Integrations is another big one, which can throw up major technical issues, but also challenges regarding responsibility for each integration with another system.

Neil “Lagavulin” Benson
Not much to add, but I encouraged one of my customers to switch from their previous partner’s source control system to a Visual Studio Online system managed by the customer. All our consultants we able to access VSO at no charge to the customer because we all had MSDN licenses. Customer sleeps better at night knowing that their source code is tucked safely under their pillow.

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