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How to Define Scope for a Dynamics CRM Project

Post Author: Joe D365 |

You may have heard the saying it takes a village to raise a child. But did you know that it takes a TEAM to define scope for a Dynamics CRM project?

The purpose of defining the scope is to have an agreement between the project teams and stakeholders about the expectations of a successful CRM solution. A common challenge for CRM projects is discovering early in the planning and design phases that there is an unclear or poorly developed project scope. Too often, project stakeholders operate with little awareness of each other's project objectives, which can lead to a scope that is too broad or poorly communicated to different teams in the workplace.

For example business teams may be focused on CRM workflows, views, and reports to improve business processes and productivity, while IT teams may be focused mainly on security, extensibility or system performance improvements. Additionally, sometimes end-user voice isn't included until the testing phase of a solution rollout, denying them a critical view into how CRM will be used day-to-day during scope definition. Defining project scope can be difficult with this kind of isolated planning, and can result in costly reworks, change orders, and ultimately a CRM implementation with unwanted or unneeded features.

In this blog, we'll look at some ways to effectively plan the scope of your Dynamics CRM project that will help you establish your goals, examine your current system, and make the leap from vague ideas to concrete plans for implementation. These steps will help you prepare to do a CRM implementation with the help of PowerObjects.


Collaboration is Key!

In The HitchHiker's Guide to Dynamics CRM Implementation, we discussed ten tips on how best to prepare for CRM implementation, beginning with identifying your stakeholders. Rather than working in segregated groups, engage these stakeholders to build a consensus on the scope of the project as a unified team. Several planning sessions may be needed, so be sure to start collaboration early in the project and keep the conversations going until you all reach an agreement.

Here are some of the steps you should take when identifying the scope of your CRM project.

Step 1: Identify Your CRM Project Drivers

  • Why was this CRM project initiated?
  • What improvements will your business gain with a CRM solution?
  • What problems will a CRM solution eliminate?
  • Who owns the CRM project, and who is accountable for the success of the project?
  • What are the budget boundaries for the CRM project?

Step 2: Identify Project Objectives & Success Factors for the CRM Implementation

  • What is the impact on the business team(s)?
  • What is the impact on the IT team(s)?
  • What is the impact on the end user(s)?
  • What is the expected impact to your customer?
  • What should the solution look like at the end of the CRM project?
  • What is the expected return on investment?

Step 3: Identify Functional Areas Impacted by CRM implementation

  • What systems will the new CRM project replace?
  • What resources are needed to implement the solution?
  • What data needs to be migrated into CRM?
  • What systems need to be integrated with CRM?
  • What out-of-the-box CRM features can the project leverage?
  • What type of analysis do you need from CRM?

Step 4: Work with Key Stakeholders to Build a Prioritized List of Features Needed from the CRM Project

There are many approaches to this kind of assessment, but here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Collect user stories from key stakeholders (users, managers, and admins): 

"As a [user type], I want to [desired/action] so that I can [desired benefit/result]"

From these documented stories, you can pull out some functional requirements that will later be used for User Acceptance Testing (UAT). These questionnaires can easily be administered in person over or email.

  • Conduct a gap analysis:

A gap analysis discovers differences between your current state and future state by determining what needs to be done to meet business objectives.

  1. Document the current state – point A
    Describe the performance, functionality and features of the tools, systems or manual processes used to manage your business today. Be sure to include quantifiable metrics where possible so that you can easily measure progress.
  2. Document the desired future state – point B
    Describe the future you want to get out of implementing CRM, including metrics you can measure against, i.e. "increase agent productivity by 20 percent."
  3. Identify the gaps
    List the differences between point A and point B.
  4. List steps required to move from point A to point B
    Define and list the steps required to move from current state to future state, including a timeframe, known work, costs etc. These documented steps create a foundation for planning the work needed to implement CRM and help you achieve your point B goals.


  • Facilitate brainstorming sessions with key stakeholders (users, managers, and admins):

Include stakeholders from business, IT and representatives from end user teams and appoint someone to document ideas either on a whiteboard or with sticky notes that can be rearranged on the wall as your team brainstorms. Go around the room asking for all of the CRM-related needs that your group can come up with, including out-of-the-box and custom features, reports, views, security needs, etc. As they are written, put each functionality into one of the following categories:

  • "Need to Have" - Critical for successful CRM implementation
  • "Nice to Have" - Not critical, could be added in a future CRM phase
  • "Not Needed" - Set the boundaries – out of scope for the CRM project

Be flexible as you facilitate this session! Remind the teams that all ideas are good ideas, and shift items between categories as your team completes this exercise. This will prevent your project scope from becoming too large and give you insight between teams on which CRM functionalities are critical. This exercise often identifies threats and risks to the CRM project's success.

Once you have exhausted brainstorming ideas and your teams have agreed on what goes in the different categories, discuss the importance of each scope item and prioritize each group. Again, this should be a collaborative exercise that results in an agreement on prioritized lists.

Your prioritized "need to have" list becomes the foundation for your business requirements. The "nice to have" list can be further developed into a product backlog for future phases of your CRM project. The list of "not needed" items should be documented as out of scope projects.

Step 5: Develop a Project Charter for Your CRM Project

Once you have established the project drivers (intent of the project), objectives, success factors (what a successful outcome looks like), functional areas included in the scope and a prioritized list of CRM requirements; you can write a project charter. A project charter ultimately becomes the baseline from which to begin designing your solution with your PowerObjects consulting team. It becomes the basis to develop functional and technical requirements and project plans.

Once completed, the project charter should be shared with your stakeholder teams and should be a part of the project documentation so all project teams are on the same page.

Change (requests) is Inevitable. Growth (scope creep) is Optional

We know that change is inevitable in every project, so it's best to have a plan to manage scope creep when initiated. You can easily evaluate the potential change to scope following the same analysis approach with your CRM project stakeholders.

  • Is the requested change a project driver?
  • What are the business objectives of the requested change?
  • What are the success factors of the requested change?
  • Will functional areas will be impacted?
  • Where does the change fit into the prioritized list of CRM requirements?


Looking at CRM scope planning through the lens of a collaborative stakeholder group will help build consensus among teams. Identifying project drivers, business objectives, and success factors early will bring CRM project scope into focus and help segregated teams come to an agreement. Finalizing the scope early in the project sets the groundwork for success and keeps teams focused on prioritized work.

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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