5 phases of Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP implementation

A Microsoft Dynamics ERP implementation project consist of 5 major phases: analysis, design, development, deployment and operation.  We will review these 5 phases in this article.

Analysis: in this phase, Thinkmax functional consultants works with the client to determine the scope of the project.  The consultant asks questions to gather the business requirements from the client. Based on the requirements and the capabilities of the ERP systemThinkmax then identify which functionalities fit the client’s processes and what are the ones that does not fit.  We perform what we call a Fit/gap analysis.  The gaps are analyzed to determine their level of complexity.   

In this phase, we also review the technical architecture, the interfaces and the data migration elements.   

At the end of the gathering sessions, Thinkmax is able to create a project charter, which is a document to identifies the scope of the project (list of functionalities to implement), the estimated costs as well as the expected timeline of the project.  This document is ultimately signed by the parties (Thinkmax and client) so the work can start. One of the key factors for success in this phase is to ensure client participation to cover all needs to avoid scope creep during the implementation 

Design: The goal of the design phase is to define how the business requirements included in the scoping statement (done in the analysis phase) will be implemented.  In this phase, the consultant goes into more detail with the subject matter experts from the client to design the solution.  For the elements that were identified as Gap, customization is required in order to satisfy the business requirements.  All the customizations are documented in FDD (functional design document.  This document is created by the consultant and approved by the client.  Once approved, development can begin (will be covered in the next phase: Development).   

Also, in this phase, the processes and the configuration of the system is documented. A checklist is used to make sure all configurations are completed.  In this phase, the consultant and the client work together to build a list of unit tests.  This list allows to test the system to make sure it corresponds to the business requirements.  One of the key factors for success in this phase is to have all the subject matter experts that are involved in a specific process available together when we perform the design sessions, so that the processes are covered from A to Z without missing links.  

DevelopmentThe goal of the development phase is to develop the functionalities defined and approved in the design phase.  The specifications are documented in a functional design document (FDD).  This document is used by the developer to build the functionalities based on the business requirements.  Once the development is completed, it is tested by the functional consultant, and finally by the client to make sure it meets the requirements.

In this phase, we also start the rounds of integrated testing; typically 2 or 3 rounds depending of the magnitude of the project.  During the round of integrated testing, all the departments involved in a process sits in a room and we simulate various scenarios A day in a life of, where we execute all the steps that we would perform when the ERP system is live.  We are then able to identify if some processes need to be adjusted.  This would include also the interfaces (if it applies) as well as security roles.  

One of the key factors for success in this phase is to make sure all the development are fully tested, not only the main scenarios, but also the edge cases. It is worth it to allow enough time for testing to avoid rework.  It is very important that the subject matter experts are available during those tests (integrated testing rounds).   

Deployment: The deployment phase is where all the efforts of the project team come together for a successful transition to the new Dynamics 365 ERP solution In this phase we conduct training sessions to the end-users.  Also, in this phase, all the system testing is completed and the client provides the sign-off to acknowledge that the system is ready to go-live.  

Once the sign-off is given, the project team prepares a cut-over plan to prepare the new production environment. ‚Äč 

One of the key factors of success in this phase is to make sure we have enough time to train all users before the go-live.   

Operation:  Dynamics 365 system is now live! During this phase, the Thinkmax team provides post-production support and transfers knowledge to the client. If problems arise, they are analyzed and resolved.