Managing a Dynamics 365 project is, on the surface, nothing more than facilitating an out-of-the-box product implementation that is managed on premises. No longer a tool that needs to be upgraded every few years, Dynamics 365 has grown from being just a Microsoft business solution to a full-fledged Dynamics family member, providing clients with a variety of continuously-updated and oft-enhanced functionalities and cloud platforms.
Indeed, customers are truly owning their CRM now – making it theirs from the aesthetic "look and feel" to fully-customized business functionality. However, with frequent updates being published by Microsoft, this customization is often best suited for a Software Development Kit, when possible. In other words, once you dig just a little below the surface, managing a Dynamics 365 project is, of course, a whole lot more than simply facilitating an out-of-the-box product implementation!
So, how does this impact managing the project? Well, it certainly adds more layers of complexity from a technology perspective, but truthfully, the lion's share of complexity resides on the business side, which makes managing different stakeholders a significantly more complicated job. In today's blog, we're pleased to offer a handful of best practices for implementing Dynamics 365. Enjoy!
- Plan, plan, plan: we all know how important planning is in every project, but the focus here is on planning the infrastructure. See, since Dynamics 365 is online, Microsoft is able to push updates on a real-time, continuous basis. To be on the safe side, always plan all instances you need and request them all at the same time. This will ensure you avoid those dreaded scenarios in which you end up with different instances in Development and Production, for example.
- Revisit Dynamics 365 functionalities before gathering requirements from clients: again, because Microsoft is continuously updating Dynamics 365, offering new functionalities and add-ons, it is so important to know what is currently available in Dynamics 365 versus going directly to custom components.
- Educate stakeholders on Dynamics 365: present a relatable business scenario within Dynamics 365 – don't just show independent functionalities in isolation. A carefully-planned business scenario will give stakeholders a firm base understanding of the expectations. Dynamics 365 is certainly flexible in customization, but sometimes you don't need to re-invent the wheel!
- Use all available resources: Dynamics 365 is not just one web interface, so: consider offering an interactive hub and/or Unified Service Desk (USD). Browse supporting services for Dynamics 365.
- Do not automate the "As is" in Dynamics 365: a critical factor in every successful Dynamics 365 project is the process re-engineering of the "As is." After all, Dynamics 365 is not just a profile management solution. You must always ask the "what" and not the "how." Only after you finish the "As is" requirement gathering and analysis, can you use the business requirements to develop the "To be" model – including the determination of whether or not Dynamics 365 is even the right solution (don't worry… it usually is J).
- Documentation is key: well, of course documentation is important, right? I mean, we're not telling you something you don't already know. Just as important, though, is to walk all stakeholders through this documentation to ensure they are all synced – with the documentation and each other! To that end, "Use case" documentation is critical, as it allows stakeholders to envision the automated "To be."
- Slow down the phase-out of the implementation: Dynamics 365 is a great solution that can be adapted by many different stakeholder groups. However, make sure you may manage all these groups together, especially during the phase-out stage – it may lengthen the project a bit, but keeping all stakeholders on the same page is more than worth the extra time.
We hope these tips will help your next project. Make sure to subscribe to our blog to get all of the latest and greatest Dynamics 365 tips!
And as always, happy CRM'ing!