There are countless stories of problematic Dynamics 365 programmes, so it’s important to highlight the factors to pay attention to on your implementation to maximise your chances of success. But what do we mean by success?
Success is not only that a Dynamics 365 solution has been deployed that is aligned to the organisation strategy and meets the objectives but also that it has excellent user adoption. That is, the organisation is on track to start realising the benefits that they were seeking.
For a successful Dynamics 365 programme the following factors should be focused on:
- Compelling programme vision - If you have a compelling vision you will inspire people by getting them to buy into your "why?" When Martin Luther King stood up in front of a quarter of a million people in 1963, he said "I have a dream". He didn't say, "I have a plan". Visions and dreams inspire people just as King inspired a generation. Your programme vision must also act as the true north. When you make decisions during the programme regarding scope and direction, remind yourself what your vision statement says.
- Alignment on programme objectives - Once you have a vision, make sure you have clear objectives that are aligned. Are all your leadership team on the same page regarding programme objectives? The last thing you want is a tug-of-war as your programme is pulled in different directions by those trying to serve their own purposes and agendas.
- Business ownership and support - Dynamics 365 is a business application that will transform your business through its implementation. The business needs to be fully engaged in your programme and should not feel it is being done to them by your IT department or senior leadership team.
- Capable business representatives sufficiently allocated - This is perhaps one of the hardest factors of success for the business to implement. To get the best results, you need to put your best people from your business on your Dynamics365 programme as they will know what your business really needs. It is difficult as you will be relying on these people to serve your BAU. I once worked on a programme where the business gave us their worst resource. The resource was already on a PIP (Personal Improvement Plan) and they wanted the programme to be proof that they could get rid of them. What sort of success do you think that situation would facilitate? Backfilling from the bottom and shuffling people up is often the best approach so that you can free your best people up.
- Strong programme governance - Dynamics 365 implementations can be hard. There will be risks, issues and hard decisions to make. You will need to closely control scope and impact assess any deviations. It is easy to let good governance practices slide whilst in the thick of the implementation. Don't! Keep a slick governance cadence operating to keep control of your programme.
- Well defined methodology - When you start your implementation it is vital that everyone knows what they are going to do and how your programme is going to operate. Dynamics 365 implementations are going to require the analysis and capture of lots of different information that then needs to be tracked properly. All system integrators are going to have methodologies - look for the ones where they are really defined and robust.
- Effective programme reporting and communication - The shape of your programme is going to change daily as things are analysed, designed, built and tested. Decisions will be made, and issues will occur. With so many people involved on the programme such as analysts, business representative, the governance team and your organisational leadership team, it is easy to lose track of who knows what. If you don't have the correct reporting and communication on your programme then things will be lost, not understood or there will be misaligned expectations. This causes negativity and may slow down your programme. It is easy for a programme culture to spiral into negativity. In your reporting you should be saying, "We know about that risk - and don't worry, we are mitigating it."
- Emphasis on organisational change management - Design, building and testing your solution is not the end of the story. I have seen countless examples of solutions built well against the design and passing all tests; however, user adoption has been poor. People don't like change, many will resist. Often putting Dynamics 365 solutions into a business function is going to turn people's daily job upside down. And just training and hoping it will be alright is not always enough. Deploying strong organisational change management practices will allow you to assess the changes and put interventions in place. You need to take your end users along the change curve to start being on the positive side of the curve so that, by the time you go live with your solution, they are ready to adopt it with a positive mindset.
The first four of these success factors need to be provided by your organisation's leadership to enable success. The second four are provided by your programme team with support from your leadership. Dynamics 365 implementations can be successful if you plan properly for success.
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