Market Forces

For Dynamics Partner, Long-Term Success Means Long-Term Planning

One Microsoft partner CEO with a 30-year track record of growth credits a strategic plan, with goals that are understood by everyone in the company, as the foundation for success.

Starting in 1985, InterDyn BMI has grown from a small Great Plains VAR into a nationally recognized Microsoft partner with 160 employees and offices in 23 cities and $29 million in revenues in 2014. John Hendrickson, InterDyn BMI's CEO, attributes much of the success and longevity to having a 30-year plan. "You need to have a plan with a vision for the future. All the employees need to understand the plan -- they need to know they have a future with the company and know how they can contribute. That's leadership."

Hendrickson gives credit to Bonnie Robertson, well-known speaker and consultant in the Microsoft Dynamics partner community, for helping keep InterDyn BMI's strategic vision on target over the years. She stresses the importance of planning for the stages of growth, preparing for the requirements of managing a 10-person firm versus a 50-person firm.

Robertson's advice includes the importance of putting in place management that extends past the entrepreneur stage. "A cowboy is great for 10 people and $5 million, but a lone cowboy doesn't work when the business grows to $50 million," Hendrickson says. "Adding in the middle management to support growth is an expensive process, but necessary."

For the past 10 years, InterDyn BMI has taken a two-pronged approach to growth. "In our 2005-2015 business plan, we focused on going national and going vertical," explains Hendrickson. "During those 10 years, the strategy has been driven by our acronym PGV -- Product, Geography and Vertical."

Reiterating the importance of employees understanding and participating in the strategic vision of the company, Hendrickson says that every InterDyn BMI employee knows the acronym PGV. "Product is for a broad solution mix to serve our markets. Geography establishes our national reach and professional capacity. And vertical gives us a marketing differentiator," Hendrickson explains.

To support the product component of PGV, InterDyn BMI represents the full set of Dynamics products and cloud solutions. The mix of solutions allows the company to serve the volume, midsize and enterprise business markets.

The geography component is reflected in national expansion: "Going national was 25 percent organic and 75 percent through acquisition," Hendrickson says. "It's not acquisition for acquisition's sake or growth for growth's sake, it's got to be part of the plan."

The maturing of the Dynamics partner channel has fueled InterDyn BMI's acquisition strategy. "We've been able to find organizations that are ready for change," Hendrickson says. He recommends using your legacy relationships and opportunities for interaction, like Microsoft Convergence and the Worldwide Partner Conference, to make connections with business owners who are open to conversations about change.

As for the vertical strategy, Hendrickson says, "It goes hand-in-hand with the geographic expansion, putting the support services in place." Interdyn BMI has chosen not to invest in its own intellectual property to build vertical solutions. Instead, it taps into its ISV partner solutions to package industry functionality around Dynamics ERP and CRM.

Currently, InterDyn BMI lists 10 industry-specific solutions on its Web site ranging from craft beer to health care. "We package the vertical solutions without specifying which ERP, so that we can switch out the foundation depending on the size of the engagement," explains Hendrickson. "We build landing pages that are specific to the industry."

On schedule with his 30-year plan, Hendrickson has taken the next step. When the Copenhagen-based Dynamics giant Columbus approached him about acquiring InterDyn BMI, a deal completed in February, he understood the importance of the exit strategy. Building the business has to have an end game, a plan for realizing the value gain and providing a future for employees.

Hendrickson's advice should remind every partner how important it is to have a plan and share it with your employees. A simple, clear vision for the future gives everyone in the company common goals that, together, can build the business.

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About the Author

Barb Levisay owns Marketing for Partners, a marketing and service delivery leadership firm for Microsoft Dynamics, SharePoint and ISV partners. She serves as the event chair on the Board of Directors for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners.