How wide is the Microsoft Dynamics skills gap (and how can you help bridge it)?

By Christa Boffa

It’s hard to talk about tech without mentioning the skills gap that has been widening steadily in parallel within most of its ecosystems. And, although the industry has been growing rapidly for a long time now, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred this upward trend even higher—resulting in an unprecedented mismatch between this demand for tech, and skilled professionals to fill the ever-growing number of roles required to help organizations on their digital journey.  

With Forrester’s Global Tech Market Outlook for 2022 To 2023 predicting a sturdy 6% growth in the global the market, one that’s significantly faster than pre-pandemic—it’s safe to say that unless tackled directly, the tech skills gap will likely keep growing at an alarmingly fast rate—hampering not only digital projects, implementations and transformations, but business growth as well.  

The Microsoft ecosystem is no exception—with professionals holding those much sought-after Microsoft Dynamics 365 skills being an invaluable resource for organizations on their digital transformation. There are many reasons behind this. Microsoft Dynamics is growing at an unprecedented rate—by 25% in FY21, and 27% in the nine months ended March 31, 2022 when compared to the same period ended March 31 in the previous year so finding Dynamics talent on the market is difficult right now. Plus, tech isn’t the only industry that’s been undergoing extreme evolution in these past years. As the pandemic uprooted life as we knew it, and as tech continued to make its way through other industries, processes including those in marketing and sales went through a massive change, or even evolution to what they were prior to the pandemic.  

As more industries and processes become tech-dependent, it only makes sense that Microsoft’s cloud-based platform, that brings both Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) functionalities together becomes such a widespread choice. And, for that same reason, Microsoft has been modeling its platforms according to the shifting needs of businesses and society at large. And, although this is imperative for the platform’s success, this also means that professionals within the ecosystem need to be up to speed with the latest knowledge and skills required—which is not always as straightforward in such a rapidly-evolving sector like tech. This inevitably contributes to the widening of the skills gap within the industry.  

In this blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Microsoft Dynamics 365 skills gap, and how your organization can adjust your recruitment and staff retention strategies to  ensure you’re in a position to secure the best talent.  

What does the Dynamics 365 skills gap look like?  

The shortage of IT skills is far from being a new problem—and is something organizations have had to contend with for a long time now. However, the pandemic has shone a light on the gaps riddling the industry, while at the same time, applying even more pressure on it.  

With various restrictions imposed through the different phases of lockdowns, and the resulting shifts in consumer behavior, organizations worldwide rushed to implement digital solutions to maintain their operations. These same organizations needed the right talent to help them implement or migrate to Dynamics 365, and, you’ve guessed it, they found themselves competing for talent with all the businesses that had the same idea.  

This derailed plans for many organizations and caused several delays on their scheduled Business Applications go-live. Perhaps unsurprisingly in our Nigel Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft Business Applications Edition, we found that 45% of the organizations surveyed weren’t able to launch their implementation or migration on their scheduled date—with almost half (48%) of Microsoft Dynamics users surveyed citing a lack of appropriate skills as the biggest hurdle to Microsoft Dynamics implementation, up from 35% in the previous year. Similarly, a further 33% blamed staff shortages.  

Having a Microsoft Dynamics expert on board to help analyze your business’ needs and ensure a smooth execution is a must when implementing a new CRM or ERP solution—and that is something business leaders know all too well. This is why amidst this struggle for talent, more businesses assessed their benefits and salaries package to become more competitive in the hiring market and attract (and retain) those much sought-after Dynamics 365 professionals, in a bid to protect their talent from being poached by competitors.  

Although it contributed massively, the pandemic wasn’t the only factor that widened the skills gap even further. One other major phenomenon overhauling the hiring market is the Great Resignation, and the effect it had on Microsoft talent, too. As a result of the shift in values and priorities, a need for more flexibility, and better balance between their work and private lives, many Microsoft professionals were among the mass exodus of workers who left their jobs in pursuit of their dream role. This has naturally put more pressure on businesses to adapt to these changing needs, or risk perishing—and have put extra urgency on pulling on the same rope to close the skills gap now, before it becomes too late.  

Why is it crucial to close the Microsoft Dynamics 365 skills gap?  

The IT skills gap isn’t going anywhere unless businesses put in collective effort to attempt to close it. A 2021 study by McKinsey & Company found that among the 87% of companies who mentioned having skill gaps or who expect to within a few years—22% said they’re expecting this skill gap to occur in the following two years, and a further 22% in the following three to five years. When combined, that’s a higher percentage than those that said they were experiencing a skill gap right at the time (43%) 

This means that the disruptions organizations are experiencing, such as delays in implementation and migration, increased stress, costly mistakes made by inexperienced staff, employee turnover, just to mention a few, are only expected to get worse unless we tackle the issue now.   

Plus, with Salesforce estimating that the digital skills gap could cost 14 G20 countries $11.5 Trillion cumulative GDP growth, not seeking to solve this issue will not only put individual businesses at risk, but national economies as well. This is why more and more organizations and leaders are recognizing the importance of bridging the digital skills gap now, before it’s too late.  

5 ways you can help close the Dynamics 365 skills gap  

Closing the digital skills gap isn’t going to happen overnight—and realistically, there’s also the risk that it can never be closed completely, especially considering the rapid rate at which technology is evolving. However, we can all make a difference by investing and supporting talent in the ecosystem to match up, as much as possible, to current and future demand with specialized professionals.  

We’ve curated 5 ways you can contribute to help bridge the Dynamics 365 skills gap, that will not only benefit your own business, but will help strengthen the ecosystem at large too.  

#1: Invest in training and development opportunities 

Perhaps the most straightforward solution is to support your staff’s training and development journeys. In our latest Microsoft Business Applications Careers and Hiring Guide, training and development opportunities ranked among the top ten perks that would draw a candidate to accept or consider a new role, together with opportunities for career progression or a defined career path, and the desire to develop personally. Similarly, 41% of respondents said that the lack of career or promotional prospects was enough for them to start considering a new role. 

Making sure you’re offering competitive training and development opportunities is essential now more than ever. This can take various shapes and forms, such as contributing to certification costs, setting time aside for your employees to undertake any courses during working hours, and team training sessions, just to mention a few. Embracing a learning culture means that your team is more productive, but they’re also likelier to feel more valued, and happy to work with you too—meaning they’re more likely to stay with your company rather than being tempted away by competition.  

#2: Upskill your current workforce  

You might not always need to look far to find your ideal candidate. Sometimes you may find them where you less expect them to be—among your existing staff. Learning about your team, and their ambitions and interests not only helps you establish a better rapport with them—but also makes it easier to identify those employees who’d like to expand into the line of work you’re currently looking to fill.

Plus, with 31% of the Microsoft professionals surveyed in our Careers and Hiring Guide: Business Applications Edition 2022 saying that if their current employer didn’t meet their need for new challenges, they’d consider a new role—upskilling your existing workforce can also be a way of providing them with the change and fresh opportunities they may be looking for.  

#3: Provide an effective mentorship program 

Mentoring and coaching programs are an effective way of equipping employees with the tools they need to succeed and advance through their careers. Mentors can help their mentees learn new skills, including those much sought-after soft skills, and gives them the tools and know-how they need make better decisions for their professional growth.  

Whether through a formal or informal mentorship program, those organizations with robust mentorships programs can also support technical understanding, as protégés are able to tap into the knowledge of their experienced mentor—helping more employees develop the skills you need onboard, too.  

#4: Cast a wider talent net  

We’ve already concluded that Dynamics talent is scarce, but you may be restricting your choice of talent even further by using outdated hiring strategies that no longer match today’s hiring market. Eliminating criteria that could have previously influenced the background, or location of your candidates means you’ll gain access to more talent, and in doing so, you’ll also contribute to improve your organization’s diversity, as well as the ED&I efforts of the Dynamics ecosystem overall.  

And while criteria, such as location, might have made sense when most employees were office-based, in a hybrid- and remote-first world, this is slowly becoming obsolete. Plus, flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere is something Dynamics candidates are looking for—with 32% of professionals saying they’d be willing to consider a new role if their prospective employer offered home working solutions, and a further 22% said the same about flexible working hours. So rather than just attracting employees, this is an almost-sure way of making sure they won’t leave, too.  

Similarly, reviewing your job ads to ensure they include requirements that are truly needed for the role can help you reach those candidates that didn’t pursue university, whether that’s because they didn’t have the opportunity to do so, or just because they chose not to.  

These are just a few of the ways businesses can cast a wider talent net and boost their diversity and inclusion too. If you’re looking for an in-depth guide on how to improve ED&I practices, we’ve got you covered with some more suggestions here 

#5: Work with a specialist tech recruitment firm  

The cost of a bad hire goes way beyond having to look for a new one. Studies by Zippia estimate that one single bad hire can cost a company up to an average of $14,900. That’s quite the expense, especially considering that it takes at least six months for companies to break even on new hires, with the average cost-to-hire of an employee being $4,425 

This is why more organizations are partnering with specialist tech recruitment firms like Nigel Frank to find their next Dynamics 365 hire. Our talented team of experts can help you effectively navigate the Dynamics 365 hiring market, and our ever-growing, and extensive list of Dynamics 365 professionals means we can help match you with the right professionals you need to help you achieve your business goals and dreams. 

Are you looking for your next Dynamics hire? We’re here to help.

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