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The HitchHiker’s Guide to Dynamics CRM Implementation

Post Author: Joe D365 |

OK, so you've been hearing about your company's new upcoming Dynamics CRM implementation for months. The project starts in a few weeks and you want to be as equipped as possible. Preparing for a CRM implementation doesn't need to be like being on an episode of a doomsday survival TV show. Obviously some additional duct tape, a towel and a store of extra drinking water aren't a bad idea, but here are 10 preparation tips that will make your next few months easier:

1. Know Your Role(s)

Identifying Stakeholders/Subject Matter Experts is one of the first steps in preparing for a successful CRM implementation. Ensuring that all of the right people are on board from the beginning will avoid roadblocks later in the project. This means reaching out early and often. Being able to ask specific questions to the individuals that use the systems on a daily basis will help guarantee that the correct requirements are being gathered. This also means that you'll probably have to talk to the squirrelly guy in sub-basement B. Whuughh!

2. "You are HERE"

Having a complete comprehension of current day processes allows for greater transparency into present redundancies, inefficiencies and/or pain points. Documenting these processes also allows for a referential state to refer to back to when discussing future plans. This also speeds up the learning curve for individuals you bring onto the project later. Like Power Objects' wonderful team of knowledgeable consultants.

3. Going Back to Get to the Future

Replacing the current day processes is great, but defining how you want to operate once the system is live is the ultimate objective. Determining why the as-is process is designed the way it is and if any business or system limitations exist that can be eliminated going forward is performed in this step. This is the dream stage. Think big. Think automation. Think about flying cars, auto-shoe laces and hover boards. Just remember, hover boards don't work on water.

4. Sharing (data) is Caring

CRM may not be the system of record for every entity in your line of business. Chances are there will be applications that will need to share data and communicate with each other. You may be thinking, "But isn't that how that how the machines become self-aware?" Yes, that's not for a few years though and also why you will want that extra drinking water and duct tape. Defining a list of applications and analyzing where additional development is required will give you a head start on building those dependencies early.

5. "The new field is connected to the key-field…"

Entity Models and Database Diagrams are integral parts to any CRM implementation. You know, those documents that have words connected by a bunch of spider webs? Apparently there are people who can read those. These "diagrams" allow that squirrelly guy in sub-basement B and his friends to be able to see how data passes across applications. Knowing where these documents exist or creating them up front will save you from having to scramble later in the implementation.

6. Think Inside the Box

It is important to understand the standard features and functions that are considered "Out of the Box" of Dynamics CRM. Every CRM implementation is unique, much like each business is. However, that doesn't mean that every area of CRM has to be 100% customized. Microsoft has previously and continues to build new standard features into each release of CRM, based on industry feedback. Understanding the Out-of-the-box functions will mean minimal customization later in the implementation as well as retaining closer adherence to Microsoft's support model. This will reduce the amount custom code to maintain in the future as new releases are deployed; which will also result in more energy drinks being available in the vending machine. Evidently coffee doesn't work fast enough for developers.

7. Setting Phasers to "Done"

Maybe you are an international enterprise organization that boasts global domination, or you could be a small business that has only begun your quest. Well however large your company might be, defining how you will roll CRM out and to how many employees is important. Phased approaches are often common, where only a specific business line will use the product for a set amount of time. The "light-switch" approach is an option, where go live takes place in an instant, much like turning on a light. Old systems are turned off and new systems are used going forward. This can be beneficial for speeding up the adoption rate and encouraging users to approach the learning curve of the new application.

8. Security!

Having a plan for which users to blame when things go wrong will have access to specific functionality is necessary for any CRM implementation. This not only applies to the functions but to information stored within your CRM database as well. Discussing which groups will be responsible for record changing, user creation and overall administration early in the implementation phase will lower the need for extraneous role creation. Discovering these groups should also help reinforce the future state process plans. An excess of security roles may indicate processes that can be condensed or eliminated.

9. C-R-M, It's easy as 1, 2, 3

It's said that enough monkeys with enough typewriters over time could write Shakespeare. Well fortunately, you're just teaching CRM and training should be much simpler since your organization just switched to a new Microsoft Office 365 plan. Determining the best types of training for an organization is paramount for successful user adoption. Some cultures learn better in classroom type settings, some in a train-the-trainer environment and others with thorough documentation. Most organizations find a combination of those methods successful. Getting a head start with any learning and development from the beginning of the project will ensure a much smoother roll out. The next biggest concern you may have is figuring out how many bananas to buy for your training class.

10. Toga! Toga! Toga!

OK, so a toga party might violate your organizations' dress code policy, but maybe it can be on casual Friday? This may seem like a joke, but celebrating the release of your new product is a vital step in the implementation process. While the business stakeholders have been discussing and planning this implementation for months, the end users have probably not seen a whole lot. They may know a change is coming, but are unsure of the details. Communicating details throughout the process is extremely helpful in combating the "CHANGE BAD!" mentality. Keeping the users engaged, along with generating some positive interaction prior to launch, will help instill comfort in adapting to a new system. On or shortly after the rollout date, hosting a launch party can help ease some of the nervous tensions and open up lines of communications across the teams. The occasional Negative Nancy may still exist, but we can't help you out much there. Maybe slide her an extra piece of cake?

There is an extensive amount of preparation, skill and work that goes into a successful CRM implementation. Discussing the items above as early as possible should help reduce or even avoid some of the headaches commonly found during the process. Please comment if you find these suggestions helpful and tell a friend so that they may benefit as well. If you didn't…well then perhaps you would like an extra piece of cake?

Happy CRM'ing

By Joe D365
Joe D365 is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 superhero who runs on pure Dynamics adrenaline. As the face of PowerObjects, Joe D365’s mission is to reveal innovative ways to use Dynamics 365 and bring the application to more businesses and organizations around the world.

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