Recipe for a lovely Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations Cake Project

Date Published: 9 April 2024
Tags: Cake Recipe, D365, Finance & Operations, Microsoft Dynamics 365

Ingredients

  • Scope (Menu)
  • Budget
  • Timescale
  • Corporate Sponsorships (Project Sponsors & Steering committee -Restaurant managers/Executive chef(s))
  • Internal resourcing (Core team members or Commis chef(s))
  • External resourcing inc. (Programme managers, or Chef De Cuisine, Project Manager or Sous Chef, Functional Consultants or Chef de partie)

Recipe

Having outlined the need for a project, an organisation will generally follow its internal scoping and budget guidelines to authorise an estimated budget and agree to investigate in detail the costs, requirement, and timescale for deploying the system.

Whilst product selection will be required and can be exhaustive, we write this from the perspective of a global organisation with slightly complex and critical needs, who has seen the light and selected a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations based system.

At this point it’s a good idea to get a Chef De Project (PM) involved who will lead the project brigade from a Project and Program Management perspective. This is a most important character who should be very experienced with Dynamics, preferably understanding the line of business and able to guide the project from start to finish. As the Head Chef is responsible for the overall management of the kitchen, so is the Program Manager, who will lead the scoping, project team/brigade and maintain the project methodology to ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible.

As the project approaches kick off and deep post selection scoping and analysis it is important to understand all the requirements and processes within the organisation, and to ensure that the organisation is ready to resource what will be a large undertaking. As in all kitchens, the size and complexity will vary and therefore the depth and skill required from the kitchen brigade will also differ – some kitchens will have the same resource performing several stations; whilst larger and more complex institutions will have a number of chefs working in each individual station; ultimately, ensuring that the team is capable of delivering the dishes within the time constraints is of utmost importance. Similarly in ERP projects, one consultant and core team member may be responsible for 2 – 3 workstreams within the system; the same resources may be used across multiple tracks; or large teams may be responsible for just one area. Ensuring that all the resources are working together, communicating and reporting progress is up to the Chef de Project.

For a project to thrive it needs a generous allocation of quite a few of the best individuals in the business – that’s always a very difficult compromise but think about – who do you want to design, build, and test the system you’ll be using for the next few decades? Equally important is the skills of the individual consultants, whether independent or part of a large consulting firm. A great kitchen is nothing without a great team of Sous and Commis Chefs, and never, ever, underestimate the importance of the Plongeur.

ERP is almost always bigger than we think, but it is advisable to break it into bite size chunks and trust a good process to get to the right results. Notice we said trust – we need a lot of that and a lot of evidenced granular details – not one or the other.

On a large project the PMO (Project Management Office) can be a substantial team, whereas its often just one or two people on small projects. The quality, experience, personality, and vision of these people will make much more impact than anybody tends to realise in the early days, and cheap amateurs are only going to create problems – they may be expert at breaking eggs but don’t expect any omelettes!!

With the requirements and process established it’s time to organise the project, Waterfall or Agile or hybrid into phases and builds, and workshops with detailed granular planning. Achieving the right granularity of planning will be different for each organisation, and  depends upon risk, corporate culture, complexity, competence, and degree of change. What matters most here is that all the stakeholders understand the approach taken in appropriate detail, have access to metrics they have confidence in from tooling that is not too onerous to maintain.

In the Dynamics world, there are multiple flavours of tooling sets and approaches, mainly orchestrated by Microsoft’s Sure Step and Success By Design with help from Microsoft’s FastTrack Team (project oversight and resources). These toolsets are ever evolving, and the Chef De Project will need to guide this with a strong hand. As a customer within the organisation, you should know what information you need and how this will be served to you.

Building the software out of standard product, integrations, third party solutions and custom development (where necessary) is a long and steady process. During the cooking (build) is a good time to prepare plans for testing, training, and cutover. Data migration can be developed, rehearsed and the inevitable job of fixing source data can be undertaken whilst there is still time on the clock.

The final stages are testing and training, as the flavour is tinkered with and enhanced to create an elegant solution. Most projects are running out of time, patience, and money at this critical point. It really is the worst time to start skimping on the ingredients; it may seem expedient to save a month or two of costs, but it will inevitably cost more if the end product isn’t as good as it should be. The Chef De Project should be providing very strong guidance on whether we are ready to commit to Go Live or not – if the dish is not up to standard it should not be sent out of the kitchen!

A restaurant would be nothing without clean crockery to serve dishes or clean pots and utensils to cook with, but despite this the Plongeur is an often-undervalued member of the brigade. At the end of the day, ensuring all team members are respected and appreciated for their role in the project is fundamental, as this truly is a team effort. So, what does it take to deliver a successful ERP project? As we have seen, it requires a lot of planning, preparation, coordination and collaboration among different roles and teams. It also requires a clear vision, a realistic scope, a robust methodology and a reliable partner. Just like a good recipe, all the ingredients must be carefully selected, measured, and combined to create a satisfying outcome. SIS Global is a Microsoft Partner with over 30 years of experience in delivering complex ERP projects across various industries and regions. We have the skills, expertise, and passion to help you achieve your business goals and transform your operations with Microsoft Dynamics 365. Whether you need a new implementation, an upgrade, a migration, or a custom solution, we can guide you through every step of the process and ensure a smooth and satisfying outcome. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your ERP project.

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