Looking to appease customers concerned about the sustainability of smaller ISVs (independent software vendors) building add-ons for Microsoft's business applications, Microsoft is launching a new program through which it will offer front-line customer support for the applications of select partners.
The program, called Industry Builder, is now being offered for ISVs developing for Axapta, the highest-end ERP (enterprise resource planning) software in Microsoft's Business Solutions portfolio. Early participants include manufacturing software maker Fullscope, professional services software maker Foliodev and supply chain technology developer Manhattan Associates.
Microsoft Business Solutions head Doug Burgum said the program is intended to appeal to larger customers who would like an extra layer of assurance behind the ISVs they work with. "If something did happen to the ISV, we would be in a position to have access to their intellectual property, so that we could provide ongoing support for the customer," he said in a meeting with financial analysts at Microsoft's Convergence show for its Business Solutions customers.
The arrangement also gives customers a single contact point for support in Microsoft. The software giant will then work on the back end with the ISVs in the program.
Burgum said Microsoft picked Axapta as the debut line offering the Industry Builder initiative because Axapta tends to draw in larger customers more concerned about the financial viability and sustainability of the partners they choose to work with. The initiative may be offered in Microsoft's other business applications lines, including Great Plains and Navision, if the general managers of those lines express interest in it, according to Burgum.
Any qualifying ISV that wishes to join the Industry Builder network will be welcome to do so, Burgum said. Axapta general manager Mark Jensen said ISVs that apply to the program are given a detailed questionnaire, which Microsoft uses to evaluate them on their business stability, ability to provide global product support, and industry expertise. He compared the process to a consumer's credit score; ISVs that rack up enough qualifying points will be admitted to the network, he said.
Microsoft Axapta customer Maple Lodge Farms, cited the Industry Builder initiative as a factor in its decision to use an Axapta-based manufacturing system instead of a competing product. "The fact that Microsoft is willing to take support responsibility for the ISV solution and for the business management suite made it easier for our management team to approve the project," Maple Lodge Farms Chief Financial Officer Greg Scott said in a written statement.