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When an organization makes the decision to take steps to execute on digital transformation initiatives, they must consider key factors to ensure a successful outcome. In fact, Gartner has reported that organizations experience failure rates on planned strategic initiatives of between 50% and 75%, which means the devil is in the details when it comes to realizing your strategic vision.

In the context of deploying a new enterprise system like Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management, both customer and implementation partner must be able to correctly diagnose the problem set even before a project implementation starts. A pre-implementation diagnostic phase adds detail to high-level requirements and enables leaders to move with confidence to the implementation phase of an ERP project. It’s important to point out that a successful D365 implementation will only occur if the organization maximizes the out of box offerings and finds a strong implementation partner with Dynamics 365 and specific industry expertise to layer onto the core solution.

Above all, a diagnostic phase with the right priorities and goals improves overall success by encouraging an organization to think before they start. You can read more about the diagnostic phase in a previous article; the focus of this article is on what happens next.

Business Process Management for a D365 Implementation

In any ERP implementation, business processes are the main drivers to start defining the solution that is being implemented in the project. Processes act as vital components not only in the as-is stage at the beginning, but also in the to-be stage at the finish.

As part of a D365 implementation, workshops involving both the customer and partner are critical to ensure an understanding of what is currently in place and what needs to change across the organization.

Business Process Management (BPM) facilitates the communication in a visual language that the business understands; a common language that acts as the bridge between customer and partner and the high-level requirements of the diagnostics phase and deeper level requirements of the design phase during implementation.

For a partner to be an asset in workshops, they need functional consultants who speak the right industry language because customers will have functional experts who do not understand Dynamics. Without an industry-educated partner, there is little hope for a successful collaboration that leads to meaningful and transformative change. 

Much of the hard work in the design phase involves getting agreement on process across multiple departments, organizational layers, and even countries. Without this effort, there is significant risk of failure to deploy the to-be model successfully across the operational model. Although not always a given, one way of working and one operating model across an organization is ideal for success. It not only promotes the adoption of best practices, but it saves money by improving quality and productivity.

If the project at hand is intended as the defined case, a core template can then be developed for the first rollout, which can be taken to other departments and countries as a quick start where only design time need to be spent on the exceptions required for that specific country.

While it may seem like there are several steps involved during the design phase, they are all crucial because if the scope management is wrong, the project team is likely to encounter more change requests along the way. Processes are the main placeholder for requirement gathering and scope management. They can also serve as the framework for defining an organization’s overall innovation and improvements. Therefore, it is important to understand the connections that processes show between different business units, roles, functions, task-level steps, and systems.

Process, people, and technology are the key to the design phase, all must be understood and nurtured by both partners and customers. Intelligent transformation platforms that have BPM at their core can connect processes to people and technology by use of a collaboration portal and a repository where everything connects based upon the Zachman Framework. Zachman states that by answering What, How, When, Who, Where and Why in relation to people, process, and technology, you get that holistic view of your organization which gives you the ability to build a digital twin of your organization.

Thought Leadership

Throughout the design phase, the partner continues to be instrumental to the success of the implementation. They must continue to use their technical and industry knowledge to provide a future vision for the customer. Furthermore, they should be able to define standards with the customer (to-be) based on out of the box features, third party solutions (ISVs) and specific industry process models.

The partner also has the responsibility to dig deeper into the fit-gap analysis from the diagnostic phase. Beyond standard features and ISV solutions, the analysis provides perspective on the required customization, probably one of the most important parts for the customer as this is where a lot of the cost of the implementation will be. This is critical to get right.

Partners and D365 customers who leverage process management software to capture and formalize this way of working will be more successful than their counterparts.

One Way of Working

In addition to what has already been outlined, the final step of a successful ERP implementation is the broader concept of "one way of working". While BPM acts as a language for collaboration with the customer, a BPM platform facilitates the communication between the customer, the functional consultants of the partner, and the technical consultants who need to validate that the scope can be accomplished in the agreed upon timeline.

A BPM platform can facilitate “one way of working” from strategy to execution. By grounding process standardization into business strategy, an organization gains the ability to ensure one operating model – a truly holistic approach. The connection with business strategy also makes it easy to make difficult scope decisions.

As for the holy grail of a successful D365 implementation? Find software that provides a well-defined BPM world view that reflects the real business and can be analyzed, adjusted, and applied to D365 and other digital systems incrementally, both during your project and into the future to achieve optimal business performance. With the right tools, it is possible to connect the same business processes, from design, DevOps, and automated testing through to change management and user adoption. That’s the holy grail for a successful D365 implementation.

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