As we close in on the end of 2016 and start preparing for 2017, timing is everything. I’ve noticed an important timing trend while working with our Microsoft Dynamics existing customers over the past few months. Many times our customers come to us with initiatives they are looking to implement. Sometimes they provide a detailed plan, and others provide more of a wish list. In both cases, we take the time to engage with the customer, understand the needs and requirements, and map out an action plan to help drive them to their final target.
We are finding a potential challenge in this practice is that the customer typically has pre-selected a go-live date, which has some special significance in their business cycle, without discussing the process with their implementation partner. This becomes an issue as the customer does not realize or thoroughly understand all of the steps needed to prepare for a successful go live. Our job as software professionals and account managers is to educate our prospects and customers about these stages and their anticipated timetables early in the planning cycle, helping to minimize headaches down the line. We have to be able to show the value of engaging the partner earlier in the process, as it could lead to a lower overall project cost and hitting a go-live milestone instead of pushing one back.
One way to look at this which has been successful for some of our customers, is to look at the timeline in reverse. First, we determine your requested go live date. Then we list the high-level steps required to get there. Next, we put estimated time frames on each step which we have generated from our experience with similar projects and customers. Finally, we pencil in dates starting with the pre-sales discovery. This plan guides us through a successful execution. The list might look something like this for a new Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementation:
Ultimately, these numbers will vary based on the size of your organization, number of locations, and departments, but they are a good barometer of what to expect from a mid-market Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementation. Note, that if you are transitioning from an on premise infrastructure to Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Microsoft Azure, additional planning time should be added.
With all the recent Microsoft announcements surrounding the Dynamics 365 platform (which combines Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM into one solution, named Dynamics 365 for Operations) and Dynamics NAV 2017, there are a lot of decision points to be made in the discovery process. Give yourself enough time to speak and plan with your technology partners for the best chance of meeting your go-live date and important milestones.
The earlier your implementation partner is involved, the more they can help steer you in the right direction and ensure each stage of the process is properly executed.
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