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Five Reasons Why Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Will Help Your ERP Implementation

May 23rd, 2011 Sandeep Walia No comments

ERP software is considered an indispensable resource in running and managing the business operations for companies of all shapes and sizes, Although most business persons at a middle management level or higher have gone through at least one ERP implementation and the software itself is mature – there are not many implementation frameworks available Examples of common questions that you and your employees may have are how will this software impact my company? Which ERP solution will best fit the needs and requirements of my business? What is the process for running and managing these programs after installation?

Understanding the need to provide a comprehensive framework that addresses all of the questions and issues concerning ERP solution implementation, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step offers a systematic, standardized methodology that contains all of the tools, templates, and best practices needed for each step of the implementation process. With Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step, customers can experience the increased efficiency, enhanced productivity, and minimization of risk that following specific standards and procedures in the ERP implementation.

Here are five important reasons why Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step should be used in conjunction with your ERP implementation.

  1. Consistent, repeatable model of implementation.

    By providing an implementation model that enables you to follow a series of the same implementation methods applied for businesses of all shapes and sizes, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step provides a system that promotes consistent implementation quality and success at all stages of the process. Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step offers a clear, understandable services delivery approach that can easily be learned and adopted by all members involved in an implementation project.

  2. Step-by-step guidance of the implementation process.

    The Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step system offers a step-by-step implementation approach that incorporates visual elements such as process flow diagrams and charts along with detailed descriptions of each implementation stage. By using the available tools, templates, and resources that the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step methodology provides, a customer gains an in-depth knowledge of solution implementation and a familiarity with the processes involved in implementation.

    General Ledger Approval Journal Process flow that comes out of the box with Microsoft Dynamics AX. Example of standard best practice business process flows that help stream line the ERP Implementation

    Figure. General Ledger Approval Journal Process flow that comes out of the box with Microsoft Dynamics AX. Example of standard best practice business process flows that help stream line the ERP Implementation

    Six phases are contained within the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step methodology: Diagnostic, Analysis, Design, Development, Deployment, and Operation. In the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step program, all six phases offer detailed explanations that each phase serves and the important milestones and deliverables that are expected to be achieved during the phase’s completion.

    Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step reducing risk from your ERP implementation by providing clear phases such as Diagnostic, Analysis, Design, Development, Deployment and Operation.

    Figure: Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step reducing risk from your ERP implementation by providing clear phases such as Diagnostic, Analysis, Design, Development, Deployment and Operation.

    Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step, however, doesn’t provide a cookie-cutter approach. Based on the type of the implementation it has the capability to serve up different templates and deliverables. For example, it provides the following project templates based on your needs:

    Standard Implementation: Typically used as a lean approach to implement an ERP at a single site with moderate complexity

    Enterprise Implementation: Typically used where a standardized approach for implementing an ERP in either a complex single-site environment or in a global/ multi-site organization where country specific solutions have to be factored on top of a core solution.

    Agile Implementation: Uses an iterative, incremental process for developing and implementing the ERP. This project gives customer greater control over the final solution because customers can quickly change the direction of the solution from one sprint cycle to next. Typically used at a single site requiring specific features and moderate to complex customizations.

    Rapid Implementation: an accelerated approach for implementing an ERP with minimal or no customizations. This can be used in situations characterized by a limited scope where the basic application features are desired, and/or where the large majority of the customer’s business processes are not considered as complex.

    Upgrade: Used for ERP Upgrades from one major version to another. This can be for simple technical upgrades or include upgrades with configuration of new functionality.

    With support for different project types that allow detailed information on the diverse selection of implementation processes that fit the needs of a wide variety of businesses and industries you can feel confident in taking a confident step towards your ERP implementation.

  3. Minimization of implementation risk through optimization offerings.

    Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step offers seven optimization offerings that provide guidance for both technical and functional designs and review the performance and operations of your ERP system. These offerings are particularly helpful for large, complex implementations because they effectively and proactively organize the management of project quality from the first phase to the last.

    Through the seven optimization offerings – Architecture Review, Design Review, Customization Review, Performance Review, Health Check, Upgrade Review, and Project Governance and Delivery Review – an exhaustive, independent review of the software implementation is performed to ensure that within each phase the solutions meet the customer’s needs and requirements, as well as offering descriptions on the impact that the various components of the implemented solution will have on the customer’s business operations, and identifying and presenting any potential problems or issues to the customer. Each optimization offering is described below with examples of how Ignify typically delivers these to customers

    Architecture Review: With this Optimization Offering, Ignify reviews the overall architecture, reporting strategy, and infrastructure to meet the customer’s business requirements, which includes operational and delivery review activities that may be initiated and executed throughout the ERP implementation. Through this review, Ignify offers advice to the customer on detecting any operational risks and addressing potential problems before they occur.

    Design Review: We pride ourselves in being able to leverage standard functionality and using creative configuration Vs. customizing the application where possible. Our design review is typically lead by a lead functional consultant to review that standard functionality is used to the extent possible to meet business requirements. In addition the design review is helpful to identify current business pain points that can be met with standard functionality in the ERP that can help increase use of the system and increase the ROI on your ERP implementation.

    Customization Review: Ignify will typically get involved in reviewing modification made to your ERP and evaluate them multiple things including whether the code meets best practices, and whether the code has been customized or can be eliminated since there is already standard functionality in the current version or future version of your ERP. For example, in one implementation that we evaluated we found that a customer had built out a custom Bill of Materials (BOM) not realizing that their ERP already provided native BOM functionality out of the box.

    Performance Review: Typically we get involved in analyzing the performance of your application by using performance review tools including logging, database monitoring, hardware monitoring to identify choke points that are causing issues in delivering optimal performance. Recommendations may include increasing hardware size, re-indexing the database on a regular basis, improving your database log clean-up or setting up an data archival/ purge process on a periodic basis.

    Health Check: With a Health Check, Ignify identifies any problems with the ERP deployment, and offers ways that those issues can be resolved. With the Health Check, a report is provided to the customer that details the data that was gathered and analyzed during the review process, offers implementation scorecards, and then gives the customer recommendations on how to address or fix any possible issues that were identified during the review. With this Optimization Offering, the performance of the ERP implementation is fine-tuned to make sure that the software fulfills all of your business needs and requirements.

    Upgrade Review: During an upgrade very often implementers and customers will focus on just upgrading to the latest version and do just a technical upgrade. Ignify uses the upgrade review as a tool to evaluate if new functionality in the new version is applicable to solve business problems for you and also whether customizations that were upgraded can be replaced with standard functionality. This then allows the path for a functional upgrade and allows you to get the true business benefits of the new version.

    Project Governance: Both during and at the end of the implementation project, this Optimization Offering evaluates how the ERP implementation delivered against its initial vision and performed against schedule and quality, as well as providing phase-by phase recommendations and project health dashboards. With Project Governance, Ignify regularly assesses the ERP implementation and continues to offer findings and recommendations to the customer, ensuring that the customer continues to receive full, proactive support after implementation.

    Delivery Review: With the Delivery Review, the review team works with you after the ERP implementation in order to ensure continued successful outcomes from the ERP software. The review team assesses the overall implementation, analyzing the project delivery process, lessons learned from each stage of the implementation, and offers the customer recommendations for the future based on their resulting findings.

    Each optimization offering provides a report to the customer containing the findings and recommendations of the review team, with the customer then deciding whether to adhere to all the recommendations or a subset of them.

  4. Increased management oversight with Project Management disciplines and processes.

    Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step provides best practices management activities and tasks throughout phase implementation to ensure that all pieces of the integration process – knowledge, resources, procedures, schedules, communications, and so on – are completely tied and connected together into a cohesive, operational whole. Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step breaks down these management activities into different disciplines and offers in-depth information on the activities and tasks that comprise each of these disciplines.

    Complete ERP Project Management offering if available in the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step with 3 distinct phases including Project Initiation and Planning, Project Execution & Monitoring and Project Closing.

    Figure. Complete ERP Project Management offering if available in the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step with 3 distinct phases including Project Initiation and Planning, Project Execution & Monitoring and Project Closing.

    Through the Risk, Scope, Issue, Time and Cost, Resource, Communication, Quality, Procurement, and Sales Management disciplines, you are able to fully organize, coordinate, and oversee all aspects of an implementation project, starting from the project’s initiation and planning process, then progressing to its execution and monitoring, and finally ending with the project’s closure. By providing detailed guidelines for project management disciplines and processes, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step allows managers to identify and assign the specific tasks and activities necessary for each part of the implementation process, thus enhancing the project’s efficiency by determining the tasks to be accomplished and assigning them to appropriate team members, and also increasing the chances of an overall successful ERP software implementation.

  5. Defines the roles and responsibilities for stakeholder involved in the implementation process.

    Because the implementation of an ERP solution involves many people from different areas, determining the roles of each individual within the project and their associated responsibilities can sometimes be a difficult and confusing process. Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step solves this by offering a clear-cut determination of the individual roles who comprise the implementation process and providing them guidance and direction on the implementation phases, tasks, and activities that they are accountable for performing or overseeing. By offering clearly defined roles, project communication is enriched by eliminating misunderstandings about project ownership and assignments and establishing expectations on what the each person’s involvement in the project will be.

Another advantage to the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step role definition process is that it can support the implementation needs of customer organizations of all sizes. For example, in a smaller organization multiple roles are assigned to one individual. By offering a scalable solution, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step covers the functional requirements of all businesses, large and small.

Conclusion

An ERP Implementation is akin to a heart transplant and can be scary and intimidating. However, by putting a sound methodology in place and working hand-in-glove with a capable partner, you can de-risk the implementation and lay the foundation for a successful implementation.

Microsoft provides a very feature-rich and flexible ERP solution for countless companies around the globe and it backs this up with Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step to streamline implementation processes from beginning to end and enhance overall productivity while meeting customer needs. Ignify’s RAPID framework built on Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step offers pre-built deliverables that can help accelerate your implementation and lower cost of an implementation. The combination of SureStep for a streamlined implementation with RAPID for lowered cost and efficiency can guarantee an on-time and in-budget implementation.

For more best practice guidance email us at dynamics@ignify.com

Authored by Ashley Harbaugh and Sandeep Walia. Ashley is a Technical Writer at Ignify and Sandeep Walia is CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a leading provider of Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions to mid-market and Enterprise businesses. Ignify has been ranked in the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle, Microsoft Dynamics Presidents Club and was selected as the Finalist for Microsoft Partner of the Year in 2010. Ignify has offices and team members in Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois, Washington, Canada, Malaysia, India, Philippines.

Make your ERP project more than just a new system that works like the old one did

December 18th, 2009 Sandeep Walia 1 comment

I'm still surprised at how many customers still insist that the new system work exactly the last one does or supports their business process like they had it before the project. A fundamental question then is - why are you doing this project? If you are just looking for a nicer looking interface with no meaningful results then don't even waste time on an ERP project. Modern ERP systems bring with them bundled best practices. And an ERP project is the perfect time to re-evaluate your business processes and bake those processes into your new implementation.

I lead the implementation for an global Activity Based costing (ABC) effort for a 1 billion dollar division of a Fortune 10 customer. Of the many things I was analyzing, one key element was how people spent their time.One report in particular took about 5 person days of time to get ready every month. An annual cost of over 15,000 ($40/hour X 12 month x 5 days x 8 hours a day).This particular unit had a net profit margin of just $1 million on revenues of $1 billion and such reports were a gold mine to bring that net margin up. However, the cost to auotomate this report was estimated to be in the $45,000 range as it was a fairly complex report. The management balked at this cost. So we started digging into ways of simplifying the report. The report was initiated by a person in San Jose, California. Other data was filled by a finance person in Singapore and then by a team members in UK, Phoenix, Malaysia, UK and Germany. Certainly a lot of coordination and time. When finalized, the report was distributed to about 50 executive team members. I took the approach of reaching out to each recipient to ask them what was truly critical in the report so we could eliminate some of the complexity of the report. The results were staggering – none of the recipients ever readthe report and felt it was something that others probably found useful. Instead a simpler report was designed that cost only $2,000 to write and built in a day and was actually useful to all the divisional heads in improving their bottom-line. The report was completely automated and required no manual intervention.However, the fact that we developed a report that saved $15,000 is not so significant as the fact that had we not dug deep enough to find out the true pain we would have spent $45,000 ensuring the system worked like the client worked prior to the implementation and achieved nothing in the process. Are you sure you are not doing this to some degree?

I even found traces of this at Ignify. When we cut over to Dynamics AX – we got the ability to attach each receipt or expense with an AP invoice. We no longer had to sort and catalog these on a portal as Dynamics AX automatically catalogued our attachments with the invoice that was posted. However, our booking team members for a full 6 months after going live on Dynamics AX kept uploading the booking receipts to the portal while our payables team kept cataloging this in Dynamics AX. Of course we stopped the earlier process of uploading to the portal as soon as we found out. We had found a better way to do this, adopted it but forgot to tell someone to stop doing what they were doing :-) . How much work goes on that is useless and redundant. In my ABC analysis project that I had done – I found it was very significant. Employees were spending approximately 40% of their time doing non value-adding activities. When you cut over to a new system – leverage its intrinsic benefits of best practices. There is no better time to re-engineer your business process and ask 'How can I make this better simpler and more cost-effective' for every process. Weigh the cost with the benefit. The highest benefit with the lowest cost is when you can leverage what is out of the box and use that.

When Ignify adopted Dynamics AX globally, we cut out several redundant and manual processes – the workflow and ability to review postings, role-based security allowed us to cut out all the manual approvals that we had.We are still learning to improve but we implemented Dynamics AX globally for 300 employees across seven offices in 6 weeks by staying vanilla. We made zero customizations and drove our business to the best practices Dynamics AX provided to us. We spent a lot of time on business process design and how each process can be improved over what we had today. We spent time writing up process training documents for pretty much every finance, accounting, collections, and AP job – how to post a credit card transaction, how to post vendor invoices, how to post wire transactions, how to apply a customer payment. It was great- suddenly we moved from an undocumented, disorganized set of processes to a methodical way of doing business that supported our core consulting and software implementations.And these processes were written 100% by the Dynamics AX task recorder tool and have Microsoft Dynamics AX screen shots in them. At the heart of it we asked ourselves if we were a complex business and the answer was a resounding no. We are a simple business model and we wanted everything to be simple and easy to understand. Our goal was to make our processes even simpler and yet have the desired level of controls which Microsoft Dynamics AX did a great job of bringing to the table.

Microsoft Dynamics AX was great for us and has been great for our customers but I'm not proposing that as your ERP. I'm proposing that whatever system you choose to work with, that you leverage its native strengths and use the ERP implementation as a way of strengthening and simplifying your business processes and getting more for less. I've also run into situations where customers want to wait for writing up the perfect business process before starting an ERP project.That can take a really long-time and you may never start. The ERP application you choose will give you business processes out of the box as a starting point – use that as a spring board to move to the next level.

Sandeep Walia is the President & CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify is a Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle Partner and ranked in the top 18 Microsoft Dynamics partners. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 3 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine.