In order for a Microsoft Dynamics 365 project to succeed, it is critical to get input early and often from the key stakeholders. Oftentimes projects are driven from either the business or the IT side of a company. However, the most successful projects have these two sides of the business working together from the start to the completion of the project.
Why don’t companies always have IT and business working side by side? If you take some time to think about this question, it seems a bit rhetorical. Of course, both teams need to provide input based on their unique knowledge bases – however, this often isn’t the case.
The desire to conduct projects in a siloed manner can stem from distrust. If teams are meant to work together, the individuals need to share ideas and to trust each other. Some of the mistrust can be a byproduct of failed past projects that were not worked on in tandem. When the business conducts a project without sufficient input from IT, things can be missed.
Here are some examples:
- Not taking into account the amount of data that needs to be transferred from a legacy system.
- Not formulating a plan for the data transfer from a legacy system.
- Not accounting for any integrations with other systems.
- Security planning.
- Testing plans.
- Go Live planning input.
- Incomplete knowledge regarding IT enterprise planning.
When IT runs a project without significant input from the business, there are also risks:
- The use cases for Dynamics 365 development are not fully realized as the IT team members don’t use Dynamics 365 in the same way the business does.
- The IT team may not understand the pain points the Business is trying to address with the build/upgrade.
- How will success for the project be measured?
- It is important to understand the strategic vision when implementing the application – the business may own this knowledge.
- Incomplete knowledge of how training should be delivered.
- How to win at successful user adoption.
It is not uncommon for Dynamics 365 projects to fail when a business unit tries to lead the project in a siloed fashion. It can be challenging for companies to move to a cooperative development between IT and the Business, but the benefits outweigh the negatives in so many ways. Some of the benefits include: gaining trust between the two areas of the business, less meeting time, less rework and the higher likelihood of creating a product that functions as both groups require.
Benefits to Collaboration
Let’s expand on how having the two groups work on the deliverable can be beneficial. By working together on a project or initiative, the teams can learn to work together. Both groups are stereotypically very different. Oftentimes if you asked the business, they would stereotype IT as moving very slow and methodically and not understanding the needs of the business. If you asked IT, they might say the Business can be very reactive and lacks an understanding of what needs to be done to the IT infrastructure to get what they need built. If the two groups are encouraged and allowed to work together, they can learn about each group’s needs and requirements.
When these teams better understand each other’s requirements, this can promote a better working relationship in the long run. The teams can learn the facts behind the stereotypes to hopefully promote a more productive and successful working environment. It can lead to a solid partnership with shared goals, metrics, and deep collaboration.
Collaborating for a Successful Project
It is imperative for the two groups to start working together on the vision for the Dynamics 365 build from the inception, and all team roles should be represented. For instance, it is tempting to try to save on budget and try to roll in certain team members later in the project such as the quality assurance (QA) and training resources. This can backfire and the cadence of the project is affected when the project has to pause to catch up the late joiners.
Another very important requirement is to get input from the business users that will use Dynamics 365 on a daily basis. The team needs to understand what their roles are and how they will use Dynamics 365. This will allow the team to capture all use cases and to provide innovative input. Consultants need to understand the business in order to be consultative. They also need to understand the vision for the future. This helps them to create a backlog and to help guide the project through the first phase. If we tried to build a system that is perfect from the start, we would never get to a state to release the build.
Saving Time with Collaboration
Let’s take some time to talk about the possible time savings by having a collaborative project team. When demos are presented to the entire team, all members can give input and a discussion can occur. Team members can hear pros and cons from both teams and better understand the direction the team chooses to follow. Instead of showing the build to IT and then to the business – it is done at the same time, which allows for decisions to actually be made sooner. The stakeholder(s) in the project can serve as a “tie-breaker” if there are decisions that need to be made.
When we talk about a “demo”, we are assuming that the project is following an agile methodology. Agile development definitely has pros and cons. Not all companies can or want to adopt this methodology as it can sometimes increase costs due to the need for more meetings. That said, agile development does allow the project team to see progress and to provide input through each of the development stages. So if the project is headed in a direction that the company did not intend, it can be righted before the project is done. Of course, the stakeholders need to remain engaged for the entire process for this to occur.
By having a collaborative team with high stakeholder involvement, there is better transparency for the project. If the project gets behind in development, it is visible right away to the stakeholders. This was the stakeholders can provide input on feature prioritizations. When it comes time to prioritize the backlog, they have the knowledge and background to do this, as they have been involved in the project from the start. For example, if there is a change in business needs for the company, the stakeholders can re-prioritize what the team works on.
In the end, a collaborative team with the right members can produce a Dynamics 365 environment that is useful to the company. Both IT and the Business have knowledge of how it was developed and why. They will also understand what is in the backlog for the next phase, and when it is time to start on the next phase, they can move forward. The team will be accustomed to working together and can successfully start another phase of the project.
Happy Dynamics 365’ing!