Switching from legacy systems to a new Microsoft Dynamics solution can be complex without the right team and resources for the job. Our Dynamics 365 consulting team at Surety Systems recognizes this and understands that it’s our job to be there for every step of your Microsoft Dynamics implementation journey.
Read on to learn more about the key phases, best practices, and considerations for a successful Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation and where our senior-level Dynamics consultants can come in to help.
What is Microsoft Dynamics?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers a complete suite of robust business applications that facilitate better operational efficiency and improve customer experiences, allowing for automated business processes and greater system flexibility without increasing total costs.
Microsoft Dynamics Implementation Process
An implementation strategy identifies the strategic decisions made in planning, implementing, and deploying a new Dynamics 365 solution and facilitating growth across the entire technical landscape.
Here’s a look at a few common steps in the Microsoft Dynamics implementation process:
1. Answer the “Why”
Merge your Dynamics 365 investment into your strategic goal and mission by understanding which criteria and elements of your vision can be covered with a new Dynamics platform. Create measurable objectives, such as “Achieve the highest customer satisfaction score in our industry within 2 years.”
After you’ve established your “why,” concentrate on the requirements of each department across your entire company. Curate broad requirements, identify critical pain points, and understand potential efficiency benefits for your internal teams. Make a list of your results and organize them in order of predicted business value and priority across business units.
2. Curate a Cross-Functional Team
In the next stage, your organization will build the ideal project team to help design and implement your strategy. To provide constructive system support and insight into how Dynamics 365 will affect daily operations, key stakeholders should understand their respective business departments and how the Dynamics 365 solution will improve functionality across their teams.
Many businesses believe that a Microsoft Dynamics implementation only concerns the IT department, so they focus core staffing objectives on the IT department to handle the implementation. And, while an internal IT team does play a critical role in software implementation, business users offer a different perspective and create more practical objectives for system use.
Keep your focus on hiring business analysts, subject matter experts, and other team members who have a deep understanding of your industry and are committed to project execution to guarantee the Microsoft solutions you choose achieve your most critical business goals.
3. Define Goals
Consider your project’s scope and the outcome. What does the implementation process entail for your internal teams? Will certain teams or the entire organization adopt the new Microsoft products? Which operations will the software support? Setting goals in advance will allow you to plan appropriately and meet critical business needs.
If you’re working with an implementation partner, you might be asked to assemble a set of KPIs that will prove successful implementation and adoption in the long run. Collaborate with key users, system administrators, and department leaders to identify measurable results and exhibit the business value realized due to a successful deployment.
4. Create a Plan
Planning is essential for any business project, but it’s particularly important when deploying a software solution like Microsoft Dynamics across teams.
With the cloud-based nature of Dynamics 365, users should assess core infrastructure and system design needs to ensure the right people have access to externally hosted applications without decreasing system performance or affecting current system operations. It’s also critical to consider how implementing D365 will affect your company, including critical people, processes, and performance.
To help your business adjust to its new system in the future, here are a few questions to consider:
- What kind of organizational structure adaptations are required to implement the new system?
- Are any other noteworthy changes and developments taking place simultaneously?
- Which positions or departments will be affected?
- What training resources does the company have?
- How will executive sponsors, partners, or external support services be chosen?
- How will the new system impact the user community?
- How will organizations bring on and manage new users in the system?
5. Understand Dynamics 365’s Capabilities
Because Dynamics 365 has so much to offer for organizations across industries, examining the solution’s capabilities and potential for your unique organization is crucial before going live.
To learn more about how the platform can help you grow your business or which Dynamics 365 offerings are right for your organization, consider consulting online Microsoft Dynamics resources or partnering with a team of expert Dynamics 365 consultants like ours at Surety Systems.
6. Do a Process Review
Analyze your organization’s current processes and procedures over a specific period to gain better insights and visualization into critical areas of improvement across the board. Adequately documenting existing processes and creating better plans for future innovations allows for significant time and cost savings throughout the entire implementation process.
7. Evaluate Current Tools and Systems
Make a list of all the software programs used by each business team or area of the organization that will be covered by the scope of your new system. Are all software systems and patches current and up to date? Ensure your existing systems can seamlessly interact with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and critical staff members are acquainted with the new solution.
8. Clear Data
Analyze the quality of your existing data sources, decide which data will be transferred to the new Dynamics 365 solution, and remove any old, redundant, or unnecessary data. The data in your system determines how valuable it is, so ensuring accurate and up-to-date information from the start plays a critical role in your organization’s continued success.
Data purging typically takes a while and requires significant work from employees across the company. Once your data has been reviewed and polished, ensure it is easily accessible for all authorized users during implementation.
9. Train and Test
Ensure all users know core testing capabilities and the entire testing process across your organization. Plan for a small group of end users to assist with testing to ensure users in every position and department can successfully perform their duties in the new Dynamics system. This way, internal teams will also have a chance to practice using their new D365 solutions before their go-live date.
It’s crucial to consider whether your staff will receive critical software training offline, online, or through partnerships with an external consulting firm. To ensure your employees make the most of their new Dynamics 365 solutions, end-user training must be role-based and customized to your employees’ learning styles and availability.
10. Evaluate and Go-Live
On your team’s go-live date, all authorized users should be ready to handle any hiccups, including responding to user questions, providing additional technical support, or responding to changes across the new system.
Implementing a new enterprise system is not a “one and done” approach, meaning that the need for both internal and external system support doesn’t just disappear once your Dynamics solution goes live.
After going live, users must prepare for ongoing system updates, consider critical user feedback, plan for change and continual improvement, and ensure system operations stay aligned with business requirements as corporate priorities shift.
Best Practices for Dynamics 365 Implementation
Here are a few critical best practices to consider when implementing new D365 solutions:
Pick Software Development Lifecycle Tool
It’s crucial to plan where you’ll keep all the work being done throughout the implementation process – from task management to operations in the code repository. Once you’ve chosen the right software development tool, you must decide which software licenses are required before beginning the project.
Determine How You’ll Measure the Status of Implementation
Consider the current status of team engagement, budget, and timeline and assess specific measurement metrics used to determine organizational success. This way, users involved in critical phases of the implementation process are prepared for ongoing engagement metrics over time.
Make Sure You Understand Your End-to-End Business Process
Every aspect of your most critical business areas must continue to run as expected on your new Dynamics 365 platform. And, a solid understanding of critical system operations and procedures helps ensure no phase is overlooked.
Ensure You Have Dedicated Team Members
Organizations across any industry should ensure all members of their implementation teams are fully committed to the entire duration of the implementation process – from start to finish.
Who Should Be on Your Dynamic Implementation Team?
The number of team members and each person’s responsibilities will vary depending on unique business requirements, but the following key individuals should be considered for your implementation team:
- Implementation project manager: This team member will track the resources, budget, and timeline required to complete the project at hand and ensure all other team members understand their responsibilities.
- Executive sponsor: The implementation will ultimately belong to the executive sponsor, a business partner that offers a thorough awareness of the implementation process, impact, and goals across the board. They will provide direction and oversight to ensure your project stays on track, no matter what.
- Subject matter expert (SME): The SME, typically a senior team member or consulting partner, represents a specific department, area of the organization, or phase of the implementation project to ensure all critical business requirements are met.
- Business analyst (BA): This position is frequently held by an external consulting partner who carefully examines your current processes and procedures to determine what functions correctly and what doesn’t. The BA will assist you in creating essential project criteria, locating process efficiencies, and building more effective project plans across teams.
- Technical architect: It is crucial to leverage support from a technical architect to help with developing integrations, building system architectures, facilitating more efficient sustainment planning, and connecting the “plumbing” of the D365 platform.
- Super users: Super users are typically the “early adopters” and are prepared to invest time in rigorous D365 training. Once they’ve completed the required super user training, they’ll impart their expertise to other team members and offer support for non-technical issues.
- Test lead: One of the most crucial steps in the implementation process must be completed before your Dynamics system goes live: testing. Before going live, an assigned test lead ensures the new solution functions properly and identifies any areas of improvement before bigger issues arise.
5 Common Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Challenges
Here’s a look at some of the top five challenges companies face while working to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365:
- Lack of Compatibility: Most of the time, existing procedures, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, and toolsets used to manage your internal operations are already in place. Because of this, integrating those products with your new Dynamics 365 solution can be difficult and lead to several compatibility issues over time.
- User Adoption: Industry research suggests that most employees don’t use the entire suite of CRM tools. So, just because you purchase licenses for your whole company doesn’t ensure all employees will use them in the exact capacity they are intended to be used.
- Use of Wrong Tools: The tools you decide to use can make or break your Dynamics implementation. It’s advised to review each device before implementing it to make more informed decisions and ensure your technical investment is maximized in the long run.
- Information Security: When using Dynamics 365, you’ll spend a lot of time and money training your end users to utilize the Dynamics platform, databases, and included capabilities to prevent security breaches and unauthorized data sharing.
- Data Migration: To migrate your CRM data, users will map the data in their legacy platform to your new platform, validate your data after the migration, and create a backup copy of your data. Users will also leverage various tools when migrating to a new CRM or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution to ensure the data is cleansed, migrated, and exchanged properly across systems.
How Can We Help?
Whether you need additional support for critical supply chain management operations, help outlining implementation plans for new Microsoft solutions, or just an extra hand troubleshooting your current Dynamics solutions; Surety Systems can help!
Our senior-level, US-based Microsoft Dynamics consultant team has the functional skills and experience to help plan, manage, deploy, execute, and monitor your most important Microsoft Dynamics projects, automate processes, and follow agile practices for continued success over time.
Are you interested in learning more about Microsoft Dynamics implementation phases or where our team of Dynamics 365 consultants can fit in your organization?
Contact us today!