In the first chapter, you learned about Microsoft Dynamics 365, its various apps/services/offerings, their capabilities, and the disruption in the way business apps are going to be leveraged. In this chapter, we will focus on implementation methodologies and best practices when initiating a project in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.
Once you have chosen to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in your organization and decided on the partner to assist you in this implementation journey, one major decision for the customer and the vendor is to decide on the implementation strategy. Let's now learn how to lay down the foundations for your project success. Whether it is an ERP (short for enterprise resource planning) implementation or any other major business transformation initiative, you must chalk out the...
A methodology is a systematic theoretical analysis of methods applied to achieve one or many goals. This systematic study of methods with a clear process coupled with best practices ensures a higher success rate for goal attainment.
A methodology comprises various tools and techniques, such as phased workflows, individual process workflows, process procedures, templates, samples, aids, instructions, responsibility, accountability, authority, and risks and issues, all carried out in the interest of project's goal to deliver a product or service.
By managing programs undertaken in a repeatable manner, your team gains efficiency, works smarter, and can build an environment of continuous...
The choice of methodology selection is limited but needs to be done carefully based on business goals and project/program goals. The primary methodologies we have seen being used in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations are as follows:
- Conference Room Pilot (CRP): This methodology is a blend of agile and waterfall and can smartly use this to achieve goals of all sizes, big or small. This is widely used and accepted for various cloud-based initiatives.
- Agile: This methodology is good in select scenarios such as development, support, and enhancements. However, for a greenfield initiative of implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, this may not always be so useful. When the project duration is short and goals are clearly defined and non-changeable, this methodology will be found useful.
- Waterfall: This is a traditional...
A project is successful when the expected outcome is achieved, which is measured by the deliverables. The knowledge of which deliverables are needed in which phase of the project is crucial.
Every phase must have a milestone before you hand it over to the next phase, and its achievement should be measured by the deliverables that resulted from the phase.
Hence, we are showing a diagram as well as calling out several key deliverables across phases in your Dynamics 365 implementation, as follows:
The preceding diagram is from Microsoft Sure Step online, depicting the phases and key milestones along with their deliverables. It documents in diagnostics the phase spans, project charter, project plan, Statement Of Work (SOW), and so on.
Let's now learn about each deliverable in conjunction with its phase.
A project is in place for something to be achieved, and any initiative in ERP adoption is considered a major undertaking. Hence, such initiatives should not be treated as mere IT programs but as organizational initiatives.
The definition of a strong start is important and may need to be personalized as per the size and complexity of the project. In essence, when project goals are committed from top to bottom and the vision is accepted by all of the stakeholders of the project, it is considered to be a strong start. Often, this is just like laying down the seeds of a plant and watering them with commitment. While detailed planning will happen shortly, emphasis needs to be given to pre-planning.
Business drivers and organizational goals often trigger the conceptualization of an initiative. Use these levers to pre-plan for the project and have a high level of execution...
The formula for any project's success is to involve the right talent and have a strong team. A team working toward a common goal is a must and each member must be on board with project objectives.
Each team member must be trained in a matrix management style to get the best from them, as this form of organizational structure fosters collaboration unlike any other. Not just Dynamics 365, but any ERP project has so many moving parts that unless the team works in a united fashion, success can't be guaranteed.
Remember that no single cross-functional team is alike, as it is influenced by individual personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, coupled with the unique requirements of each initiative. This is what makes every Dynamics 365 implementation unique; hence, it is important for the project sponsor and the project manager to play the role of a...
Every initiative needs to have a backbone structure that keeps things together. The project charter and project plan are among the top contributors to driving the project and keeping it together.
In this section, we will share insights into the project charter and project plan.
The project charter is the foundation on which the success of a project depends. It must be complete and made as a formal document. All of the initial conceptual planning that triggers an initiative is expected to be taken as the key input.
Project initiation being the early stage, the project contributors/participants suggested in the earlier section must brainstorm, innovate, and commit in this formal document.
Ground rules are constraints and guidelines that are to be made by the project group and intended to help individual members. They must be clear, consistent, agreed to, and followed by the team members. The purpose of ground rules is to adhere to the agreed style of working, which directly impacts the project's success.
The following are some of the top areas where ground rules are seen to be effective and, hence, should be created:
- Team meetings: For example, the ground rule for stand-up meetings could be just highlighting, in brief, the key accomplishments and challenges per track/lead.
- Communication: Verbal communications are a must and soft skills...
Every project must have a kickoff meeting, which is about setting expectations, and clearly calling out and communicating goals. You must involve executives from all sides (partner and customer) in a kickoff meeting.
We would like to share our knowledge by outlining the key requirements for a successful kickoff meeting:
- Review the goals with the key stakeholders and ensure that you have the goals defined in the order of priority.
- Review the project goals and charter. Define and get a commitment on how success is going to be measured.
- Getting team commitment is key.
- Review the project plan in detail. Review the project milestones and deliverables, validate the team structure, roles, and responsibilities fitment with the resources, and emphasize the implementation methodology and the steps to success.
- Brainstorm and seek the team members' acceptance of ground...
The FastTrack program is Microsoft's involvement after the licenses have been purchased to get you up and running fast on the cloud platform, which starts when the licenses have been purchased until the production system has been deployed.
In the FastTrack program, there is a role and responsibility that explains what is expected from the parties involved.
There are two programs for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations:
- Dynamics 365 FastTrack Business process applications: Gets a dedicated FastTrack solution architect
- FastTrack Essentials: Gets a shared FastTrack solution architect
FastTrack-recognized solution architects are an elite group of architects from our system integrator partners, who have consistently led successful implementations of complex scenarios.
Based on our practical experiences, the following are the recommended best practices that need to be evaluated for every project and its goals for effectiveness:
- Identification of the right stakeholders before project kickoff and keeping them up to date: You must have written and verbal commitments from all of the stakeholders toward meeting the objectives of the project and their contribution. You should also have a lot of team-building exercises throughout the duration of the project, as it facilitates the team members working more closely together.
- Ensure that your project charter has the following mentioned in detail:
- The charter must be a formal document prepared from inputs from the key stakeholders. The project charter is not a legally binding document; hence, it is a great place for all stakeholders to openly contribute.
- The objectives...
In this chapter, you learned about the importance of a methodology and the various choices of methodologies available. CRP is the clearly preferred and recommended option, while organizations can adapt to any other methodology depending on the organization's culture and project requirements.
It is important to keep your project plan up to date by keeping it in sync with the latest activities. You may use the baselining approach, which helps to predict the future set of activities and milestones.
Also, you learned about the need for a solid project start and how important it is to lay down the foundations for success early on. The key ingredients to be successful include forming the right team composition, laying down the ground rules (for behavioral aspects), and outlining the goals in the project charter.
After selecting the methodology and project initiation strategy...