In my role, I talk to clients who are embracing digital transformation every day about how to manage their Dynamics software implementation projects as well as their current strategies and project requirements. Clients often ask whether their project should progress phase-by-phase or whether to complete all requirements at once.
To work out the best implementation method, the size of the project and complexity often determine the answer. In these cases, you are best taking on board your software partner’s advice. But there’s preparation that you can undertake in advance to better manage the software implementation project internally.
Understand the organisation’s strategy
A company’s separate departments regularly work in isolation, on their own process and to their own system requirements. So, I find that quite often, neighbouring teams don’t realise how their processes overlap or affect other departments.
Having an overall view of your organisation’s processes and needs will align requirements. This can stop departments adopting systems which are hard to integrate and therefore cost lots in integration work. We have found that some of our clients’ teams have gone to market for new systems which actually overlap.
Companies that have worked out an overall strategy and opt for a conjoined system architecture can benefit from a more efficient and easier-to-run system. Once a provider is selected you have a better idea of whether a rollout of a solution should be all-in-one or staggered, requiring less time with consultants like myself to advise before a project kicks off. There are solutions like the Microsoft Dynamics 365 stack which will work together using less IT resources to keep everything running and connected, giving you the luxury of a choice in your approach.
Understand the critical path
What’s urgent for the business? Does the process for one department define the process for another, different department? Would different reporting solutions used by specific departments be a better option than one reporting solution working across the whole company?
These are the types of questions that your implementation partner is going to ask you in order to eliminate risk and ensure a smooth project. Better partners are going to identify the teams that are better at picking up change, so they can be the early adopters, process champions and the first domino in the chain to build a successful momentum.
What resources are available, realistically?
Does the business have enough resources, budget and people to work on multiple projects at once? If yes, then get going. But from my experience, this is seldom the case. I find that most clients believe they can rope in multiple departments into an implementation project, but realistically, the execution doesn’t marry up to the initial expectation.
Another major consideration that I suggest you think about is whether your company has the ability and energy to go through multiple phases of projects spanning over a year or two. The marathon vs sprint analogy applies here. By managing stakeholders’ expectations effectively from the start, you can better manage the desire to cooperate at months 1, 2, 23 and 24 of the project.
My advised approach
I have found that spreading projects creates a recipe for success and a culture of change and continuous improvement.
Also, many companies standstill due to the thought of starting a huge project. Spreading projects over phases provides a more agile approach, which ensures enough time is given for processes to bed in providing learning and better execution on the next phase.