So you want to be a Dynamics AX developer? The reality at companies is that ERP careers are not filled with people that majored in ERP studies. There isn’t even an ERP degree. However, some ERP companies like SAP and a number of VARs offer programs designed to prepare candidates for ERP careers.
Dynamics AX programs, just like other ERP related programs, are not offered in colleges. ERP companies know this and this is why a majority of them tend to in-source ERP support.
Many companies jumped to using ERP software back in the late 1990s because of the obvious benefits of running an integrated application for a variety of business operations. Another part reason for the adoption of the system was the fear of potential failures in legacy Y2K systems.
Most big companies are using ERP systems to run some of their operations that are not directly related to production. Examples of such operations include procurement, HR, finance and other primary operational systems specific to their businesses.
The major shift towards use of ERP systems came too quick in a market with no graduates read to operate the systems. The lack of expertise and knowledge in ERP systems and the ever improving functionality in earlier software versions means many companies have to rely on external bodies to help achieve this.
Despite the lack of skills in the industry, ERP jobs like Dynamics AX developers are advertised and filled frequently. Where do Microsoft Gold ERP Partners and other VARs find the candidates for these jobs?
Your Entry into Dynamics AX Developer Careers
Unlike what many people think, not every employee working in the IT department is a nerd. Within the last few years, IT has become a necessary skill and students are graduating from college having mastered the basics of IT. While some students may have majored in software engineering or other IT related programs, this does not mean they are the ones who fill all ERP vacancies.
What is important to remember is that ERP systems mostly control business functions. The business functions may be related to finance, project management, supply chain processes, procurement and so on. Many ERP software companies are hiring graduates from diverse fields to manage their ERP systems. However, the graduates will usually be required to take periodic specialized courses on the ERP systems being used by the companies and keep abreast with changing industry standards and practices.
Most companies source their ERP employees in-house. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the employees are usually not IT graduates but have some background in IT. The employees may have some business related degree like human resource, procurement, management, supply chain and so on, with some basic knowledge on IT operations. These are the people that understand various company processes and so it makes sense to have them operating the ERP software that helps in accomplishing the various tasks.
But for Dynamics AX developers, a lot more is required than a business related degree and basic IT skills. Typically, you will need a major in Computer Science, Information Science or equivalent work history. You will also be required to have some experience in MS Dynamics AX Development, be proficient in programming languages like VB.NET, C# and others, have experience with SQL Server and SSRS, preferably be knowledgeable in web services (WCF, SOAP, XML), have experience with Microsoft TFS or equivalent code management/SDCL software among others.
Apart from technical qualifications, you need excellent communication skills and be able to work with users to troubleshoot issues or help them understand functional issues, be able to communicate functional requirements or changes both at functional and technical levels, be knowledgeable in software development best practices and functional process design, among other skills.
The most important thing to remember in your goal to be a Dynamics AX developer is that the skills you learn in school are only a foundation of the work ahead. You may have to take advanced Dynamics AX programs and demonstrate an ability to understand process problems and use the software to solve them or make the company’s workflow more efficient.
Core programming skills as well as business problem solving skills are necessary for anyone looking to be a Dynamics AX developer.