Dan Milani has been working with NAV since 2004; as a Silverware Dynamics Practice Manager, he’s no stranger to the implementation process and its nuances. In this Q & A, Dan talks about his role and responsibilities as a Practice Manager, getting his development team up to speed on Business Central, removing roadblocks, and what inspires him in his work and personal life.
As a Practice Manager, you are responsible for the entire lifecycle of a project. What phases in the lifecycle do you find the most challenging and why?
Getting to the root of the reason behind the project is the most challenging and that’s different for every customer. The customer’s goal is to find efficiencies to make more money, but for Silverware and its implementation team, it’s about finding the bottlenecks and the genuine requirements in order to create a true solution.
There’s nothing like implementing an ERP to uncover where a customer’s data challenges lie. This can be a scary process for many, and those that are resistant to change will often find issues, but that’s all part of the challenge.
Has there been a big learning curve with the evolution of Dynamics from NAV to Business Central and has this impacted how you engage with clients and the technical team at Silverware?
Certainly, from a development side there is always a learning curve, but we have done a good job at Silverware. Our developers are all up to speed. The work is the same, the technology behaves the same, but there are some differences with names. Although the search feature is great and makes it easy to locate what you need.
As far as how we engage with clients, I would say licensing is one of the bigger challenges. Microsoft has implemented the subscription model and that has shaken up the user experience; instead of concurrent users, there are name users.
Can you tell us about an interesting project you worked on recently?
There is not a specific project that comes to mind, but in general, one of the challenges we often see and must help our customers overcome is staffing changes during a project. As a Practice Manager, it’s my role to remove roadblocks and deal with tribal knowledge at the organizations themselves. When a team member leaves, it does create upheaval, but we present our clients with multiple options because we have the bandwidth to do so.
Ultimately, it’s the client’s decision, but we help them see what’s important. I’m here to help the team prioritize and show them that you can hit deadlines safely given the extenuating circumstances. We’ve been through these situations. There’s a good chance we’ve met this situation before, or we’ve dealt with something similar and have strategies to maneuver and get the best possible outcome.
What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
When you work in business systems, you are working with a software and most people don’t look at it as exciting or sexy. Our job is tough, and our goal is to not make people’s jobs harder. The real reward is not about the projects themselves, it is about the benefits the work we do brings, such as helping clients make better budget choices, drive output, push more product out the door and increase revenues. That is rewarding.
As a Practice Manager, I consider it part of my job to help my team members get to the next level. It is nice to see when someone learns something new and it’s rewarding to be a part of that.
Beyond work, we understand Dan Milani has a passion for running and are an ultra-marathoner. What is your typical training regime and what are your plans for your next competition?
I have a love/hate relationship with running and competing. It’s about seeing how far I can push myself. I typically train 3-4 times a week on the road. On the weekend, I’ll do a long trail run on Saturday and on Sundays I will go on a hike.
I’m trying to figure out my next competition. It will either be at Tiger Mountain or I’ll try again for the Javelina Jundred.
Do you think your drive and dedication to running impacts your approach to project management?
The two really aren’t connected for me. Running for me is an escape. I put on my headphones and listen to an audiobook, podcast, or music and go. When I race, its not about time, it’s about personal goals.
I’ve been doing project management for long enough that I have learned how to separate my work from my personal life. I know I would be bored if I retired, so I have no plan to ever retire. But there’s not a specific goal I need to achieve at this point. Our job is to find and provide answers – and while the answer may not always be ideal, there is always a solution and we can find a way to get it done.
Do you have a favorite quote, book, or movie that especially speaks to you?
I learned earlier in my career that you can chase a paycheck, but you will spend more money on things that don’t actually matter. I’m not sure who said this, but I remember hearing a speaker share it at a business event: “What are you willing to give up, to have the life you say you want?”
If you are interested in working with Silverware and have Dan Milani and his team lead the charge on your ERP implementation, please get in touch to learn more.