Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Plan

Rapidly plan out your Dynamics 365 implementation using our plug-and-play reference schedule

Microsoft Dynamics is a hot topic these days!

Wherever you look, you see companies replacing their current ERP systems with the cloud-based ERP suite from Microsoft. 

Their current systems (sometimes they have been in operation for more than 10 years) often have severe limitations in terms of integration and performance, and thus are a key obstacle to the company’s ability to serve their customers in the best way possible and meet the needs of the digital age.

Unfortunately, switching to a new ERP system such as Dynamics 365 is not a piece of cake and not a project you can accomplish in a matter of weeks. Yes, it’s a cloud-based system and thus the processes and overall system structure are more or less set.

However, there is quite some effort required to understand how your current processes can be migrated to the new web-based ERP system. And once the requirements are clear, the system has to be prepared and tested carefully before you can celebrate go-live.

Why I built the project plan

To help you understand what steps you need to take, I have built a realistic project schedule for a typical Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central rollout.

Actually, I had it built by an experienced Microsoft implementationPartner with tons of rollout experience. The project plan is meant as a reference to speed up the planning and help you build a solid schedule for your company in less time.

In the following paragraphs I’ll walk you through the overall structure of the plan, and I discuss some of the key activities and potential pitfalls you need to be aware of.

What does the schedule cover?

The plan follows the typical structure of an ERP rollout:

  • Project initiation and planning
  • Discovery phase
  • Design phase
  • Development phase
  • Deployment phase
  • GoLive
  • Post-Go-Live activities

Of course, the fact that you are migrating into a cloud environment instead of an on premises installation does show in the project schedule: There are no major development activities taking place, and instead the majority of the setup tasks revolve around configuring the ERP modules.

Now, let’s look at each phase separately:

Project initiation and planning phase

These are just the common steps you perform at the start of any project: You nominate a project leader – both from the implementation partner as well as from the business side.

You establish the overall project goal and scope, you develop the budget, do a risk assessment and finally you document all project parameters in a project charter. At the end of the initiation and planning phase, you do a kick-off meeting with your team.

Discovery phase

During the discovery phase the implementation team focuses entirely on understanding and documenting the company’s requirements.

This phase involves a deep-dive into the various processes of the company, and the business side must be able to provide as-clear-as-possible explanations of the how and why regarding the processes.

The requirements are then documented in a requirement specification, which is called Functional Requirement Documentation (or FRD)  in Microsoft rollout jargon.

Design phase

Once the requirements are fully understood, the implementation team will work from offsite to find out how the customer’s requirements can be accommodated using the out-of-the-box functionality provided by Microsoft Dynamics.

Dynamics is a cloud solution, which means there is not endless wiggle room for customization and tweaking! But still, the Dynamics platform offers some flexibility for changing the screen layout or adding backend functionality for the customer.

The final deliverable of the Design phase is a document called the Solution Design Document (SDD). This is basically a technical document specifying the details for how the business requirements are going to be implemented.

Development phase

During the development phase, your implementation service provider will set up your system environment.

The system will be provided by the data center you have selected during your contract process with Microsoft. Further steps include the setup of user authorizations (or permissions). Finally, a major part of this phase will be the configuration and customization of the ERP modules you have signed up for.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is provided in two license packages: A Business Central Essentials license which includes the core processes like Financial Management, Purchasing, HR. There is also a Premium license which additionally provides support for manufacturing and services processes.

This project schedule also foresees a first integration test towards the end of the development phase, which mainly serves to test any custom-built functionality (more tests are scheduled for the Deployment phase).

Deployment phase

Your Dynamics ERP system is now fully prepared and ready for deployment and testing. A key step in this phase is the User Acceptance Test (UAT), for which you should prepare detailed test cases.

The test cases can be managed using an app like Jira or Microsoft DevOps. If you don’t want to use a test management system, you can also create test scripts very conveniently in Excel, as I have always done in my ERP projects (download my test plan template).

With a successfully completed UAT, the system is now ready for go-live.

GoLive

The GoLive preparations should start very early. That’s why I have included go-live planning already very early in the schedule. The more careful you plan the transition to the new system (change management!), the less of a hassle the go-live will be.

As with any ERP rollout, the key is to carefully assess the impact of the change on your processes, and then to take the right preparations using the help of your functional team.

In particular, supply chain processes need to be coordinated carefully during the migration and cut-over phase, because you don’t want to disrupt deliveries to customers or face replenishment issues as a result of the system migration.

Post-Go-Live activities

After go-live, there should be a special support phase where the Dynamics experts and key/superusers closely monitor new transactions created in the new ERP system. In case of critical issues, the Dynamics consultants need to respond quickly in order to an avoid interruption of services. This special support phase is also included in the project plan.

Schedule features

Key features of this schedule:

  • Clean and easy to use
  • Microsoft Excel format (no restrictions, no password lock)
  • Weekly timescale
  • With project phases
  • Including detail activities within each phase
  • All steps from project initiation to go-live included
  • Developed by an experienced D365 implementation lead

Who is this schedule for?

You are leading the Dynamics 365 rollout from a business side at your company, and you want to get an overview of the steps involved to make sure all critical aspects are being addressed. In this case, the schedule will instantly provide you a clear picture of what needs to be done.

In the other scenario, you may already be doing Dynamics implementations and you want to fine-tune your method and improve your process . Then this schedule is a great way to see how other experts in your field are managing Dynamics rollouts.

Adapting the schedule to your project

This project schedule is supposed to serve as a foundation for planning your Dynamics rollout. You will need to adapt it to your specific needs and circumstances:

  • Review the list of modules: The schedule assumes the implementation of the entire Dynamics suite, including manufacturing and service processes. Remove the rows for the modules you are not planning to introduce.
  • Review and adapt activity durations: The specified durations should only be regarded as a rough guess. Your durations will be very different! Please make your own estimates based on the specific project requirements, the size of the user base, the implemented modules and other factors.
  • Migration scenario: Add additional steps for your individual migration scenario. The migration approach and effort depends on what system you are migrating from and the number of data records to be migrated (both master data and transactional data).
  • Custom interfaces to other appplications: Are you planning to link your Dynamics ERP system to any other  business applications? For example, to a Warehouse Management system (WMS) or a production planning system? Then you must include the necessary steps for interface development and interface testing in the schedule. Remember also to create relevant test cases to test the backend logic!

Get the Dynamics 365 implementation plan (for Excel)

$27.00
  • Covers a complete Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation and migration from a legacy system
  • Weekly timescale
  • With project phases
  • With modules and detailed activities within each phase
  • All steps from project initiation to go-live, in total 70+ project steps
  • Developed by an experienced D365 implementation lead
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