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Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

  • 1.  Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    GOLD CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 27, 2020 01:23 AM

    I'm looking to hear experiences of others who have hired a full time NAV developer/admin or business analyst vs relying on consultants.

    - When did it makes sense to do it
    - How did you make the case for the headcount
    - What did the skillset look like?
    - How large is your implementation?


    Thanks



    ------------------------------
    Benji Jasik
    Generate Capital
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    NAVUG ALL STAR
    Posted Apr 27, 2020 03:12 PM
    Benji,

    I am a consultant, I've worked for partners and I've been an end-user.....thought I would share some thoughts.

    Biggest issue is finding the right level of experience for what you need in your organization. The really experienced people don't come cheap!

    What is the experience level, do you need a Finance Business Analyst, an Operations Analyst, a Trainer/Implementer, Developer? You'll find it's even more difficult to find a 'generalist', someone who has background in all of these areas.

    I do believe that larger implementations and growing, expanding organizations can show an ROI for hiring versus using consultants. I had a client tell me recently....but wait with experience things get done faster.....I've been waiting a long time for someone to repeat what I've been saying years.

    Good luck.

    ------------------------------
    Kim Dallefeld, Kim@Dallefeld.com, Ft Worth, TX
    Dallefeld Consulting, LLC
    Member of Dynamics Consulting Group

    New View Strategies, - training and consulting.

    NAVUG All-Star
    NAVUG Programming Committee
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    GOLD CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 27, 2020 03:58 PM
    I need a business analyst and developer.  I am performing some of the BA role today and learning how to develop but I can't scale this and so am thinking about when to hire.  I could probably outsource the development with well written requirements from a solid BA but I'd like the BA to be able to implement

    I'd love any feedback on where to get salary info for business central expertise so I can make a budget request for next year

    The system is key and critical to everything we do as a company, so I need someone who can learn and understand multiple processes.

    Thanks

    ------------------------------
    Benji Jasik
    Generate Capital
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    Posted Apr 28, 2020 07:23 AM
    I'm also a consultant and i'll start by echoing what Kim said - people like this exist but they are expensive.
    And here's the reason why:
    Years ago, being a business analyst - developer was much more common.  I spent a lot of time in the AS400 world and many developers had a pretty solid knowledge of the business.   However, they could do that because they pretty much worked in one language for years.
    Today, being a developer can mean modifying NAV, creating REST API based interfaces, understanding reporting tools, etc, etc.
    What you might consider is a technically adept BA or "citizen developer".  Someone who knows NAV inside and out,including the semi technical pieces like workflow and rapid start but doesn't make changes to actual AL code.  this person may also have skills with Jet or PowerBI.
    Indeed, I find that companies with a lot of development skill in house or the willingness to pay consultants wind up with a lot of changes which may or may not have been necessary.  Whereas a really solid BA with some technology can find ways to do things without modifying the basic software.
    As for resources, you might try salary.com but there may not be enough information about NAV specifically to be helpful. Also, stackoverflow.com has a salary calculator for techies.  Again, entering AL or c/AL won't give you many results.  But it might get you a range.

    ------------------------------
    Adam Jacobson
    President
    Red Three Consulting, Inc.
    Bronx NY
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 28, 2020 08:31 AM
    An additional thought.....

    The experience a consultant may have working with a variety of companies providing the opportunity to not only solve multiple use challenges but to also see how different companies operate can prove invaluable. An in house resource may eventually know you better but they won't be able to continue to bring this type of perspective once they become "internalized."  The fresh take or unbiased view that the correct consultant may provide can be invaluable. In addition, a consultant may be more willing to suggest something correct, but unpopular. They will not need to worry as much about internal politics or job security.

    I would be curious to see what others think about perspective on using outside resources.

    ------------------------------
    Cynthia Priebe
    New View Strategies
    "The NAV & BC training and process experts"
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 28, 2020 10:53 AM
    We have done "all of the above" since we implemented NAV in 2014.  We started with outside consultants (our NAV partner) and a few "superusers" in-house who were trained by the consultants to use the software.  After about a year of consistent work for the consultants, we decided to look for a full-time developer.   We hired the in-house developer who had worked for other companies using NAV but had never been a consultant.  He was able to make most of our changes, but we lacked the vast experience that consultants have after having worked with multiple companies in different environments.  A few years ago we hired a project manager with 10 years of experience working in NAV.  She is a highly technical user who can understand and communicate the business needs to our external consultants.  That has worked best for us.  What I found when I hired the developer was that I still ended up being the one who had to gather requirements and "translate" what the business needed into development terms or sometimes be the "Oh no, they don't really need that" person to stop a 4-week project from starting to fix an occasional nuisance.  NAV resources can be difficult to find, so we have used Nigel Frank (headhunter/placement agency) to locate full-time employees and consultants, as well as assist with salary ranges.  This user group and the conferences are also a great resource for finding consultants/partners who are keeping up with what is going on in the NAV/BC world.  Best of luck!

    ------------------------------
    Angela Dunnahoe
    Marucci Sports
    Baton Rouge LA
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    NAVUG ALL STAR
    Posted Apr 28, 2020 11:23 AM
    Angela's path is very typical and they've worked through a great deal of the years to get to a successful state.

    I have to add one thing....be cautious of the resources presented by Nigel Frank. Do your homework. As an end-user I received a resource referral from NF for a guy who listed knowledge of NAV. I happen to know that he had only ever heard of NAV by attending one discovery meeting that I also attended a few days prior to receiving the referral.

    I highly recommend that you talk directly to other users, not an open post here, but through email, phone call, local chapter meeting or at a conference. If you're looking to hire, you might also ask your partner for a reference. A good partner wants you to succeed not just see you as billable hours.

    We all know that 'word of mouth' is your best reference.

    ------------------------------
    Kim Dallefeld, Kim@Dallefeld.com, Ft Worth, TX
    Dallefeld Consulting, LLC
    Member of Dynamics Consulting Group

    New View Strategies, - training and consulting.

    NAVUG All-Star
    NAVUG Programming Committee
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 28, 2020 02:10 PM
    Edited by Mark Anderson May 21, 2020 10:04 AM

    I'm writing extensions, but i have a lot of other responsibilities and demands on my Time, We want add a lot of functionality, so we decided to hire a full time developer. We estimate about 70% dev/30% requirements/functional consulting. (We will be purchasing a dev licenses, so that we can the Microsoft test suite, as the automated tests we can write without it are limited and take too long to wirte)

    Hope this helps

    Mark

    ------------------------------
    Mark Anderson
    Director of ERP Systems
    Clesen Wholesale
    Evanston, IL
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 09:21 AM
    Hi Benji,
    One topic no one has brought up yet about having in house development is the regulation and oversight of that resource. ​I work for a solution center and when we see a company with an inhouse developer we often see there has been no rules or oversight of their work. That means they can write code to their own requirements should they choose rather than follow any rules set forth for development standards. A developer working for our company must follow our proven standards for best practices and documentation.  These standards are all discussed and agreed to internally. Our developers know their work can be viewed at any given time to make sure they are following these standards. And they know it may be seen by any other developer coming after themselves who may need to modify it or just review it for their own work. This additional 'scrutiny by others' adds a layer of responsibility to make sure everyone can work together in the same system without causing each other harm. We often do not find this same attitude with in house developers who are more likely to treat the system like their own domain to do as they wish. Seldom will you find any documentation of requirements or code changes. Code change is quite often done directly from the users mouth to the developers ears and out their fingers! My advice to anyone using an in house resource is to define the processes you want them to follow.  Define the process for gathering and approving the changes. Define the process of documenting the changes to your system, both the technical change and the user facing documentation.  Put in place how you will have oversight that these guidelines are indeed being followed by your in house resource.

    Hope this is helpful.

    ------------------------------
    Crystal Tollison
    Consultant
    ArcherPoint Inc.
    Lawrenceville GA
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 10:27 AM
    Edited by Mark Anderson Jun 09, 2020 09:11 AM

    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 10:43 AM
    ​Indeed Mark! Picking the right company to partner with is critical.

    ------------------------------
    Crystal Tollison
    Consultant
    ArcherPoint Inc.
    Lawrenceville GA
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 12:33 PM

    Hi Mark,

    From your questions on these forums I take it that you have a background in IT and have experience managing and definitely understand development projects.  That puts you in a position to hire developers and work with them per my enormous post :p

    On the side of hiring a contractor, you are absolutely right. I find that despite the amount of development work done in the NAV community, there are a lot of partners that are much stronger on the financial/functional side and development is quite informal.  I think that is because most of these customers are doing small, adhoc developments.  They're adding a few new fields here or there.  They don't necessarily develop a large code base, where unit testing and source control and proper functional and design specifications are relevant.  Those partners try and get into a larger development effort, and suddenly they get underwater really fast.

    Even some of the so-called custom development shops are more hackers.

    So again ... it does come down to whether you are working on a large, well specified and designed project that is going to take a long time (whether you use Scrum or Kanban or other agile methods to manage that), or a lot of small incremental "ad-hoc" changes that are going to be on an as-needed basis that should really be done on the recommendation of a BA/Functional Consultant.  Makes a huge difference.

    -Rob



    ------------------------------
    Robert Jolliffe B.A.Sc, MCSE, MCS - NAV Manufacturing Expert
    President
    Sabre Limited
    Cambridge
    robert@sabrelimited.com
    www.sabrelimited.com
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    NAVUG ALL STAR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 09:35 AM
    Super valid points Crystal!! I've seen too much 'hard coding' just to get the desired result quickly. And yet we all know how that bad programming practice.

    If you focus more on an analyst with development skills, let them prepare good solid design documents, you can leverage your partner's development expertise for your solutions. Putting the time in on your side for the analysis and testing will keep your expenditures to your partner or contract resource down. And this gives you that layer of review that Crystal mentioned.

    ------------------------------
    Kim Dallefeld, Kim@Dallefeld.com, Ft Worth, TX
    Dallefeld Consulting, LLC
    Member of Dynamics Consulting Group

    New View Strategies, - training and consulting.

    NAVUG All-Star
    NAVUG Programming Committee
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 10:31 AM
    Hi Benji,

    You have lots of great answers here from this group.  I'll add my $.05.

    I want to get into the "When did it make sense to do it" and "how did you make the case for the headcount" questions.

    I wrote a blog about this years ago when discussing the benefit of hiring a full time IT manager/network administrator in a small company.  It really comes down to two areas that impact the cost/benefit analysis. Utilization and Supervision.  I will repeat my blog here, but adjusted for a programmer.

    Let's look it at purely for hiring a programmer.

    Utilization

    Our new programmer will be cheaper per hour than a consultant programmer we hire.  Let's assume the consultant programmer is $180 an hour (a fairly standard rate).

    To do our cost justification, let's imagine you hire a $90,000 a year programmer (which is a great price for an experienced NAV developer).  If they get 4 weeks vacation, and there are 10 days of government holidays each year - then they will cost $49 per hour for a 40 hour week.  Plus different payroll fees and their laptop and desk and other costs - let's say it is $60 an hour.

    Your instinct is to maximize their utilization, and keep them as busy as possible programming, But you can't just measure "how many hours a week does this person do programming?" They could spend 40 hours every week doing programming, but do it badly or do programming you don't need, or make your future upgrades impossibly expensive.  They could program in such a way that at the end of the day you cannot fire them even if you wanted to, because they have left you with so much custom code, you NEED them forever.

    Supervision

    The real trick to getting to under $180 (the cost of outsourcing) per hour of useful work is how you supervise this developer.  You aren't necessarily a developer yourself, and none of your management team are.  So you need to rely on them being self managing (just FYI - a $90,000 a year developer is NOT self managing).

    if they spend 14 hours a week doing useful coding in an efficient way, then you are better off to have this developer than subcontract - even if the other 26 hours are totally wasted..

    The trouble is unless you can supervise them correctly, you can't tell if they are doing their coding in an efficient way. You can just seem them coding.  You need to TRUST them do be good, and to tell you if they aren't.

    The other trouble is, they have no motivation or incentive to be efficient.  If they were efficient, they might do less than 14 hours a week of development, and if you saw that you would probably realize that the $180 contractor would be better.  So they will make SURE they do more than 14 hours a week of development.  Sometimes this manifests as them agreeing to do anything an end user wants, writing way too much code, leaving you with messy databases that cannot be upgraded, and often taking longer and longer to complete tasks.

    Summary

    My recommendation is fairly harsh.

    If you can't independently estimate the time it should take to do development tasks yourself, or have someone who can, then you can't manage the developers against those estimates and measure their efficiency. If this is the case - do not hire a developer.

    If you don't have a well defined, large project to do that you can be certain will keep the developer focused and busy AND you are unable to have someone peer review their work, do not hire the developer.

    Also - very important - do not assume that they can do other activities.  A good developer is a good developer. They are rarely a good BI designer, trainer, business analyst etc...  Those people are fantastically expensive.  Do not hire someone expecting them to do other tasks outside their core skill.

    Finally, if your consultant won't provide estimates of time for development, try and talk you out of unnecessary development, or is not accountable to the estimates they have given you - then maybe the consultant is a problem and hiring in house is not the answer.

    I hope this is helpful.  Cost justifying a developer is a hard thing to do. Same with a Business Analyst.  I think Angela's approach of hiring an internal Project Manager who supervises technical resources and makes sure they are efficient is a great idea.  Contract PM's can be very good, and can provide that supervisory level skill and save you a ton of money with your consultants also.


    Thanks,

    -Rob

    ------------------------------
    Robert Jolliffe B.A.Sc, MCSE, MCS - NAV Manufacturing Expert
    President
    Sabre Limited
    Cambridge
    robert@sabrelimited.com
    www.sabrelimited.com
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 10:53 AM

    Excellent points on this subject Rob! Glad you posted them on this thread.

     

    Regards,

     

    Crystal Tollison

    ctollison@archerpoint.com

    Click here to schedule a meeting with me: https://my.timetrade.com/book/PWKRN

     

    Employee Owned 500px

     

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  • 16.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    TOP CONTRIBUTOR
    Posted Apr 29, 2020 11:19 AM

    Benji, the old fashion world has not changed. 

    To keep it simple:
    1. Look for a PerDiem with ability to switch as Full Time employee, this will allow easy searches for other people.
    2. Find several bad coding example and ask them what is wrong with it.
    3. Have them bring their documentation on coding performed in the programs.
    4. Get sample documents distributed to staff on completed work on how it will be used, is it end-user staff friendly?
    5. Give them request that you have asked for from out side consultants, ask them for the number of hours and objects/programs to be used.
        This will give you a good estimate of the amount of work they can perform.
    6. Ask their experience with Finance development (Get some verbal), warehouse. Manufacturing, Production, Inventory, Procurement, Jet Report, Power BI. Word/Excel, Outlook, Webservice, Data Exchange. Rare to see someone with all areas.
    7. Trouble shooting: Windows environment, server, web, ports, folders permission, End-User experience. It makes a difference in NAV BC.
    8. Able to discuss topics with End-users, Management, Consultants. Which we know its all different.
    9. Did you calculate the cost of buying the developer licenses and annual maintenance cost.
    10. Some things you may want to send them to prepare ahead of time and to send you the information once you review their resumes, this way you can review their documents before meeting with them.

    You can always reach me for further information.
    Good luck. and nice response from everyone.



    ------------------------------
    Geovanny Fuentes
    BioLegend
    San Diego CA
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    NAVUG ALL STAR
    Posted Apr 30, 2020 04:35 PM
    I feel compelled to offer clarity as I've had a few end-users and some consultants tell me that my comment about Nigel Frank was disparaging. It definitely an unintended consequence, I simply wanted to make the point that you should do your homework when any consultant names are presented to you. The person that I mentioned inaccurately updated his resume unbeknownst to NF; they did not willing refer a poor candidate to me. I truly believe that the group that works on the contract side of NF works very hard to provide the right resource for the job and location. But I'll say again there is no shortcut for checking references.

    All the posts here have given some great advice for anyone trying to find resources, trying to decide on hiring and striving to make the best resource decision possible.  Thanks for asking the questions Benji and thanks to everyone who responded with great ideas and comments.

    ------------------------------
    Kim Dallefeld, Kim@Dallefeld.com, Ft Worth, TX
    Dallefeld Consulting, LLC
    Member of Dynamics Consulting Group

    New View Strategies, - training and consulting.

    NAVUG All-Star
    NAVUG Programming Committee
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Hiring a developer/admin - looking to hear others experiences

    NAVUG ALL STAR
    Posted Apr 30, 2020 11:12 PM
    Hi Benji:

    Great questions and I've been in that boat before - couple thoughts on each:

    • I averaged my annual partner spend over a 3-year period and compared that to the going rate for a seasoned NAV Developer/Analyst + benefits.  In our case, we ended up saving money bringing in-house and lowering partner spend.  We will always want a partner in the picture as they provide backup to our internal resource, know our environment extremely well, and help us think outside of our 4 walls.
    • I made the case for headcount based on the 1st bullet point - it paid for itself
    • Almost 20 years experience across multiple version of NAV (support, AC, and development)
    • For our domestic operations, we have 5 locations and 230 concurrent users on NAV 2018.  For our international locations, we chose Business Central SaaS and that covers 5 additional locations across 5 different companies (100 named users)
    Thanks,

    Tony

    ------------------------------
    Anthony Darden
    Vice President - IT
    Protective Industries, Inc.
    Buffalo NY
    NAVUG All-Star
    NAVUG CIO Council
    ------------------------------



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