Maintaining Social Distancing During Enterprise Application Deployments

March 18, 2021 Kelly Holwagner

Internal IT teams and their business solution partners typically work side-by-side during enterprise application deployments. There are many people involved from both businesses that need to interact, and showing each other where devices and files are located, and how systems need to be configured are a lot easier when working together in person. But when COVID-19 hit and work-from-home mandates went into effect, the on-site collaboration approach was no longer feasible for many businesses planning new deployments.

This was the case recently for BWX, a natural beauty company whose portfolio of brands includes Sukin, Andalou Naturals, and Mineral Fusion. The U.S. division of the global natural beauty company needed to deploy Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance to increase visibility into financial numbers. The leaders of the business were eager to move quickly so they could also automate financial operations and streamline decision-making on financial strategies by leveraging data-driven analysis.

Taking into consideration the social distancing and safety precautions related to COVID-19—and adding in the complexity of the BWX Global ERP team being based in Australia but working on U.S. time for six weeks—the only way to avoid delaying the implementation was to complete the go-live process virtually. After consulting with BWX on how to make this happen, Western Computer applied a virtual go-live approach, using it as a unique opportunity to take the new BWX financial system into production.

 

Microsoft Teams Facilitates Remote Support

While we normally complete projects with plenty of support resources working physically on-site, we were able to successfully adjust our implementation process for a virtual collaboration environment. Given our objective to provide effective remote support, it was critical to devise a model that allowed our consulting team to receive real-time information and feedback from the BWX end-users.

One of our key goals was to work collaboratively to parallel the virtual readiness and support experience as close as possible to the onsite experience. Then, following the go-live date, we continued to leverage our virtual support tools to assist BWX with operations as their financial transaction volumes continued to increase.

One of our challenges was not being present on-site and unable to interact personally, particularly in the BWX warehouse. We solved this challenge with a combination of Microsoft Teams on laptops and phones. With the cameras on those devices, we were able to be as close as possible to traditional personal interaction.

For example, if warehouse workers had a question about something on their RF device, they simply connected to Teams and used the camera on their laptop or phone to show the device. At the same time, our support team could screen-share via Teams to walk through transaction issues and resolutions.

 

SharePoint Enables Issue Status Visibility

We also increased the volume of recurring status calls and checkpoints to ensure core members of the BWX team could come together at the “same table” so to speak. Rather than keeping a war-room whiteboard for incoming issues, we utilized SharePoint and other technologies to manage the queue of items to triage. This created visibility for the full team.

When considering advice for others that might apply the same approach as BWX, training and testing prior to an implementation are always a must, but this is even more so when implementations are done virtually. In addition to upfront training and testing, be sure your business solution partner is on stand-by for access to real-time support when you go live.

There were also ancillary benefits of the virtual approach for our team as well. None of our members encountered unexpected delays due to travel—not to mention the cost savings of not traveling.

If your company is facing the challenge of needing to quickly deploy Microsoft solutions, Western Computer is here to help. As we did for BWX Cosmetics, we will be glad to coordinate all the logistics to make it possible for us to handle your deployment with our Microsoft experts configuring the solution and supporting you remotely. 

Contact us today to find out how.

About the Author

Kelly Holwagner

Kelly Holwagner joined Western Computer as the VP of Operations in 2013 where he is responsible for our implementation projects. Kelly oversees enhancing project methodologies and supervises the continual improvement of the skills of Western’s implementation and support teams. Prior to joining Western Computer, Kelly was part of the Dynamics community for 15 years beginning with Great Plains and was responsible for building supportability infrastructure and continued leveraging relationships and best practices across all of Microsoft.

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