Completing a Dynamics 365 upgrade can be a daunting task for an organization, especially if it is the first time. As the Project Manager (PM) overseeing an upgrade, it is important to understand potential unease with the process and be diligent with preparation and communication.
The topics outlined below are basic considerations for a PM who is working to guide an organization through a successful upgrade.
An important part of any project is ensuring that the appropriate resources are assigned. This is especially true with Dynamics 365 upgrades. Upgrading Dynamics 365 to a new version requires a resource with a technical background, including in-depth knowledge of Dynamics 365 and working knowledge of back-end systems. This person would work closely with the client (if applicable) and the PM to keep the project work moving forward. As PM, you should be aware of the basic skill set required for upgrade work and advocate for assignment of a resource with the appropriate skills.
If you are acting as PM in a consulting role for a client, you will also want to work with the client to ensure they have resources with appropriate technical knowledge assigned and available to assist as-needed with the project work.
Dynamics 365 upgrades require access to specific systems. Work cannot be completed until the technical resource has been provided the necessary access (with appropriate security assigned). These requirements should be outlined in advance of the project work starting. Additionally, if you are acting as PM in a consulting role for a client, you should provide these requirements in advance of the first project call. On the project call, these requirements should be discussed in detail. This will allow the project team the opportunity to address questions regarding the requirements as well as necessary next steps that need to be taken to secure the required access.
Acting as the liaison for the Dynamics 365 upgrade work is the most important responsibility of the PM. This is true regardless of whether you are acting as PM within your organization or if you are acting as PM in a consulting role for a client. Start communication early. Supply the requirements to key project stakeholders and resources as soon as the project team is confirmed. Ensure that the entire project team is on the initial call regarding the Dynamics 365 upgrade and be sure to provide an agenda in advance so each team member can prepare. Send frequent written communication. Be sure to send a follow-up after every call to outline key decision points and next steps. Send and receive updates regarding the status of the upgrade work. Ongoing communication will help ensure all resources are aligned and assist with guiding the project work forward.
Prepare a timeline that outlines the key deliverables and who is assigned. Technical resources are valuable and are often in high-demand. Due to this, it is important that each resource is aware of what is expected of them – work to be completed, when it can start, and when it must be complete. This will allow resources to allocate time to implement the work assigned to them, which will assist with keeping to the overall project timeline.
An upgrade will alter various aspects of the existing functionality in Dynamics 365. Due to this, it is absolutely imperative that end-user testing is completed. This topic should be discussed early in the project and incorporated into the timeline. Testing should be thorough and be completed by various business users.
Best of luck preparing for and guiding your upcoming Dynamics 365 upgrade. PM’s rule!
Happy Dynamics 365’ing!