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Best Practices for Implementing Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

If you have ever implemented a CRM or ERP product, you understand the stress, sacrifice, and company commitment required to pull off a successful deployment.  And if you have ever implemented both an ERP and CRM at the same time, you probably can relate to the feeling of coordinated chaos!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Brings Together ERP and CRM

To make running your business easier and implementation less stressful, Microsoft recently launched Dynamics 365 that brings both ERP and CRM onto a single platform. As an all in one platform, Dynamics lets you “mix and match” the applications you need, giving you the flexibility to purchase one or more of the following applications: Finance and Operations, Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Talent, Project Service Automation, Field Service, and Retail.

Your organization’s CRM and ERP systems are critical to keeping the frontend and backend processes running harmoniously, so the quicker a successful implementation takes place, the better. If your business is looking to implement the CRM application Dynamics 365 for Sales (previously known as Dynamics CRM) and the ERP application Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (previously known as Dynamics AX), there are a few best practices to keep in mind that will help you ensure a smooth implementation.

Best Practices for Dynamics 365 Implementation

  1. Involve Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

If you are going to implement both applications at the same time, make sure that subject matter experts (SMEs) are able to allocate time towards both work streams.  An SME’s expert knowledge is indispensable to a project – they can provide crucial feedback on the solutions, the implementation, and how the solutions will support the organization. This feedback helps reduce project risk, and support user adoption post-implementation.

However, we can sometimes forget that these SMEs also have a full-time job that they need to keep up with.  To make sure your leadership team understands the importance of SME involvement in the project, you must communicate to stakeholders and steering committee members the impact that SMEs can have on the project, and, in turn, on the business.

  1. Encourage Cross-Practice Collaboration

Always create collaborative workshops for solutions that might cross one or more practices. (i.e. Finance and Operations, Sales, and SharePoint) This is a follow up on point #1.  Be mindful and resourceful in planning ahead with workshops and eliminate duplicate meetings with different consultants by anticipating cross-functional needs.  This will help with pre-design and solution plans that will come up further along in the process, and it will ensure the appropriate questions are discussed with the SMEs.

  1. Finish Customization Before Integration

Any integrations between Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations should wait until all customizations and migrations are complete, and the Operations (AX) system is up and running.  Understandably, this is best case, and not always possible with timelines and milestones to complete.

Prolonging the exercise of data mapping and data script creation until most or all of Finance and Operations is running, will help you lay the foundation for a smooth integration process.  This is because Sales typically won’t take as much time to implement as Finance and Operations, due to application complexities and requirements.  Sales is a bit more flexible and agile when it comes to modifications, so adjusting to meet integration needs is a better option.

  1. Determine the “System of Record”

When the time comes to begin integration discussions, it’s important to determine which system will be the “System of Record” or hold the “Master Data.” Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is typically chosen for this role, but Dynamics 365 for Sales can sometimes be chosen as the “System of Record,” depending on the data it will need to store.  Some businesses may require that when these prospects are converted to “customers,” they are “sent” over to the ERP system, with their information now residing in the ERP system.  Making these decisions around a “System of Record” during integration discussions can help with design options, as well as security requirements.

  1. Make Sure the IT Team is Involved in Decisions

Choosing the right integration tools is usually up to the partner or consultant implementing the solution, but that’s not how it should be.  Since most complex integrations are done by partners and consultants, it’s important that the IT department of the organization implementing the applications be included in the decision-making process (and aware of which toolsets to use).  The reason for this is that when the partner or consultant leaves the project, your organization will need to support the integrated solution and make future updates and modifications.  There are many different tools to accomplish integration needs, so its extra important to make sure your  team determines which tools it will be using, and that the team will be comfortable using them.

  1. Align Important Implementation and Business Timelines

Another important factor to consider when planning and deciding on an implementation timeline will be the “year-end closing” month for your company.  Use this time to back into an agreeable and attainable deployment plan.  The year-end closing month is probably the single most important date that can be easily overlooked during initial planning and can cause delays in Dynamics 365 “go live” plans.

  1. Keep Cross-Functional Teams on the Same Page

Dynamics 365 now brings together the two former product lines (CRM and AX); the same needs to be done with implementation teams.  One important role that many software providers now use to ensure team alignment is the Enterprise Architect. The Enterprise Architect offers cross functional team guidance to both the software provider’s team and your team, guiding all team members toward a common goal.  Whether or not your organization uses an Enterprise Architect, keep in mind that the most successful implementations occur when cross-functional teams are on the same page at each step of the project.

For additional questions on how you can ensure a smooth Dynamics 365 implementation, please contact Hitachi Solutions today.

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