In order to keep up with digitization in the corporate world, even classic business applications are on trial. In many companies there is need for action in order to map all segments across the value chain in future by an integrated solution.
At Microsoft the traditionally separated fields of ERP and CRM are growing together under the umbrella brand “Dynamics 365”; the integrated business application suite “Business Central” is a major part of this. Modern software solutions like this offer lots of opportunities, but the scope of implementing such a system should never be underestimated.
Even though new business applications have different pricing models than before and even offer leasing models, the implementation and conception of such a software solution is still a major investment. And even if manufacturers keep talking about “self-service” and there is no longer a need to provide your own hardware, for complex business processes it will always be necessary to include consultants with experience from other similar projects. Many companies will have to check and adapt their existing processes to the parameters specified by the new software. To this end, lots of plans and discussions are required to ensure the success of the project. So it’s worthwhile to keep the following principles in mind before launching a new project.
Keep the project management in mind!
Classical topics like developing a project structure, deadlines, budget plans, etc. are the forefront and shape the entire project. It’s important to define rules for specific processes (communication, documentation and so on) already in the initial phase to be able to make quick decisions throughout the course of the project. Therefore it is extremely important to set up a project management plan that assigns measurable goals and responsibilities.
Requirement specification management
When creating the specifications, it’s not always necessary to go into detail too much and refrain from detailed specifications that are based on the legacy system. The important thing is to describe the business process as a whole. So the software provider is given the opportunity to get it as close to standard for the required process as possible. The latest generation of Microsoft business software allows customization, but they want to avoid too deep intervention in the application. The customer has the long-term advantage of being up-to-date and being able to use update versions.
With this in mind, the requirements addressed to the software of the individual departments need to be evaluated and jointly decided on whether a modification makes sense or if it is more useful to adapt the processes to the software. In any way, it is important that your company’s essential business processes are implemented thoroughly and consistently in the new environment. In future, when you’re discussing the implementation of a particular business process, you’re going to talk about several software components in order to use specialized systems for the individual requirements. For example, requirements in sales and distribution might not necessarily be met by customizing the sales module, but possibly by adding the Dynamics 365 sales application.
Data quality and migration
A crucial success factor in the introduction of a new business application is – called by a very large number of stakeholders – the “data quality”. It’s important that the course of action is already set in advance of the introduction. The costs involved in data migration are often not insignificant, as inconsistent and incomplete data sources can cause constant problems. While the handling of data imports in Microsoft Dynamics has always been improved in the past few years, there remains a residual risk regarding to the quality of data of the source system.
So it is very important to analyze the data in advance and, if necessary, clean it up before you use it to set up a new system. prisma informatik recommends using the BI software Qlik to check the validity of the data to see if it’s suitable for the data transfer. In this way you can remove a major risk factor from the project before you get started, as a revision and correction is taking place in the current system.
Phases reduce risks
Dynamics 365 offers the possibility of dividing your implementation project into stages without having to forego a holistic implementation of the processes. The individual software areas can be functionally subdivided in order to realize clear implementation scenarios. The process-oriented approach is better supported than a “Big Bang” strategy. With full implementation of all areas, the platform ensures that all processes work together. Ideally, you should start with “Finance” or “Sales” to implement the core functions in “Operations” later. Afterwards, you can add other required areas like “Service”, “Marketing”, “Talent” etc.
Involve your employees
Business software always has an influence on employees. Therefore it’s always advisable to communicate the project as transparently as possible, clearly define the goals associated with the implementation of the system and even provide internal marketing for the project. This allows you to reduce any anxieties and motivate your employees to work more goal-oriented. The positive aspects of the new software are clearly visible: modern systems are more intuitive and easier to learn. You’re counting on the experience your employees have gathered in handling of mobile devices and web-based software in their private lives. Those who are responsible for the introduction of the new applications, should also proactively tackle the perceived negative consequences and develop policies to protect the privacy of employees, for example.
As the name suggests, the enterprise application typically affects the entire organization or at least several areas of it. The implementation of such a software system therefore requires particularly realistic planning. This involves taking account of the overall capacities and departments involved. Even if the software is being introduced by a consulting company, the rule of thumb is, that at least two to three times as much work must be done internally to bring the software to life within the organization.
Forming empowered teams
The implementation of the enterprise software should be realized by a highly capable team consisting of project managers and key users. Ideally, the key user team will rely on a mix of process-minded employees with lots of experience and open-minded employees working together to efficiently implement the business processes in a new, stat-of-the-art software system. A key user doesn’t necessarily have to be a department head, but should be someone who’s familiar with the processes and has the ability to properly recognize the new possibilities the software offers.
It’s important for the team to be ready to break new ground, and not just restore the status quo. This means that the individual teams should also pursue corresponding goals connected to the implementation of a new software system.
IT as a means to an end
Business Software projects are not classic IT projects, but massive organizational efforts. Accordingly they should be positioned in the organization of the company – in the various departments and in management. IT (in terms of providing software) tends to become less and less important in implementing business applications. The implementation of cloud-based SaaS applications and components is an increasingly popular option in many companies. After all, the business world is changing, so the enterprise applications have to change as well. The focus is shifting more and more towards mobile usability and interoperability with other systems.
IT has to provide comprehensive security concepts to ensure that the software used can be integrated in other systems, protected against improper use, and that data protection is always guaranteed.