Money down toilet min

How to avoid losing (lots of) money on your Dynamics 365 projects

This morning, while perusing the IT News, I came across an article about a $3.5M loss posted by one of the Australian System Integrators, who provide consulting on Microsoft technologies. The loss was said to be caused by poor project governance and controls, and perhaps more specifically professional service contract cost over-runs.

Is this massive financial loss what you want for your CRM project?

How can you prevent your project leading to this sort of financial disaster?

To me, this story raises a number of questions emanating from “how?”

While I cannot be sure of any of the causes, I would like to suggest that the professional service cost over-runs were caused by some (or all) of:

  • Scope creep – or perhaps little defined scope at all!
  • Rework
  • Development changes taking longer than expected
  • Staff changes within project teams

I am constantly surprised when talking to my clients, how many organisations embark on a CRM project with less effective planning than they would a personal project - and often a personal project with far less financial risk.

While it appears that system integrator at the centre of this story, took this loss themselves, perhaps because of the contracts in place; how can you avoid this happening to your project, or your company?

Let us drill into each of the loss-causing factors a little more deeply.

Scoping to provide any level of detail on which to base the time, and hence the cost, of a project is extremely difficult when the team comprises businesspeople who know little or nothing of the technology, and technical people who know little of the business. This situation creates a “lost in translation” scenario, which can easily lead to increased costs because of the lack of understanding.

miscommunication cr 700x300

Another cause of scope creep is overly keen team members agreeing to changes that were not originally scoped. This also highlights the tension between agile projects and pricing – a topic that I have written about previously.

 scope creep seesaw

 

The quickest and most cost-effective way to avoid losing money like this is to ensure that everyone involved in the scoping has a reasonable understanding of both the technology and the business, so they understand the broader project. This usually is aided by providing some training around the functionality in the technology - prior to any scoping. I have met several technical people who do not know how what business their client operates in!  This is not helpful if those people are to problem solve around the client's requirements.

Scoping is also usually more effective when workshops involve a few people together, rather than working one-on-one with individuals. People working and brainstorming together and coming to a consensus, tends to prevent requirements that are too single-area centric, that are more likely to create challenges later.

Rework is needed either when the requirement was poorly understood so the initial deliverable was incorrect, or when the technical person or team developing it did not understand the technology well enough, so incorrect techniques were used, or unsupportable development was done. Poor understanding of the requirement often comes from poorly expressed requirements, and again this probability of this occurring can be reduced by building education into the project prior to any scoping.

costs vicious circle

Development changes taking longer than expected happens when rework is required – not surprisingly. It also happens when the people responsible for the planning do not know the technology well enough to know what the best way is to provide functionality. A third cause of overrun is when the project uses people who are still learning and who are not mentored adequately.

While staff changes are part of life, they do seem to occur more in these projects. Of course, the great resignation has only increased the rate of turnover within projects. When staff move off a project it almost always results in more work, as a replacement team member is brought up to speed with what they are taking over. If you are unlucky, this also uncovers other issues, which in turn leads to more rework.

Gill Walker asks that anyone on projects thinks about their work with three hats on

I ask that anyone on my projects thinks about their work with three hats on:

  1. The client’s hat
  2. The futuristic hat of a team member who needs to make a change in a year or more
  3. Their own hat

While it may be true that bringing in an outside expert should protect you from these issues, this story, and many others, show that it is not always enough.

So, what do you need to do to protect yourself from these costly challenges?

I feel strongly that the best protection is to ensure understanding by all team members of:

  • The business
  • The technology
  • Project methodology

This also ensures that you do not head into a blind-leading-the-blind situation - people with no knowledge of the technology mandating changes be made by people who do not know why those changes may, or may not add value.

Whenever we speak about understanding, we also must remember that many people, especially in Australia, are working in a non-native language. This means that additional care must be taken to ensure that understanding has been reached, not simply that a message has been given.

While this does take time and hence increase cost of the early stage of the project, when done effectively it will keep the project much closer to the planned budget.

I am strong advocate of boosting education across the project. I also strongly recommend confirming the experience and the certifications held by every member of your technical team. It is important to be aware of both experience and certifications because there are people with many years’ experience who have not maintained their skill levels – and as Microsoft Dynamics 365 is evolving very quickly this can cause problems. It is essential also to have people with experience, and not just those who have passed the exams by exam-cramming but are lacking in real experience. Obviously, there is room in most projects for junior people, and these people often provide great value. However, to really get the value from these newer team members, there must be a way of providing mentoring to them.

In summary, avoiding financial loss and often also personal pain from your CRM projects requires:

  • internal ownership and responsibility for the project, 
  • mentoring of staff and 
  • more education across the entire team than is common.

 

If you would like to discuss how to avoid losing (lots of) money on your Dynamics 365 project, please contact me or call me.

Gill Walker on avoiding information overload

How a successful implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help you (and your team) avoid information overload

Information overload is the excess of information available to you when aiming to complete a task or make a decision. This excessive information impedes the decision-making process, resulting in a poor (or even no) decision being made.  There are many ways that a successful implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE can help you avoid this horrible situation.

Quick and simple capture of client communications

Scope of Processes (Business Rules and Synchronous Classic Workflows) in Microsoft Dynamics 365

There are several different ways of automating your Microsoft Dynamics 365 - which save time and make life easier for your users.

A Comparison of Power Automate and Classic Workflow in Dynamics 365

PowerAutomate vs Workflow

Microsoft Dynamics 365  and Power Platform have several different ways to automate tasks for your users.  It is essential to know which is the best tool for a given requirement.  Each of these techniques (tools) has their role to play in a successful CRM project.  The majority of these techniques do not require coding skills, although they do still require a logical way of thinking. 

This blog is only looking at Power Automate and Classic Workflow.  It is one of a series of short blogs that I am developing as I write a flexible training course for Microsoft's PL-200 Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant exam.

Different search options in Microsoft Dynamics 365

How to search for data in Dynamics 365

This blog is a brief comparison of different search options in Dynamics 365 / Power Platform.  It is one of a series of short blogs that I am developing as I write a flexible training course for Microsoft's PL-200 Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant exam.

There are several different ways of searching for information in your Dynamics 365 applications. Each has their strengths. The search options and the differences between them are also popular questions in the PL-200 (and other) exams. The searches are

  • Quick Search
  • Categorised Search
  • Relevance Search
  • Advanced Find

Why Opsis?

Opsis is all about the clarity, security, and success of your CRM with Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

Gill Walker - Dynamics 365 trainer (MCT) and CRM Success Catalyst

Hello, I'm Gill Walker, the Principal of Opsis.  My commitment is your success with Microsoft Dynamics 365. 
CRM success delivers business success.

My knowledge and experience are available to you, however you need it.

I am

  • Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
  • Microsoft Certified Professional with
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales Functional Consultant Associate
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service Functional Consultant Associate
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 / Power Platform Solution Architect.
  • ClickDimensions Certified Consultant.
  • Longtime member and 2021 Chapter President of PSA. 
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Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal CRM Success Catalyst, Gill oversees all business operations, strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions.  We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring for CIOs and other decision makers tasked with implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365.