Principal Architect, Real Dynamics
Yogesh has the rare distinction of “FastTrack Recognized Solutions Architect” from Microsoft. He has worked closely with several CFOs to design solutions for them to get better visibility into inventory costs, aging, and levels, as well as improve their collections processes and reduce open accounts receivables. His experience with company splits and mergers enables him to design straightforward solutions with better support for shared services, budget planning, and financial reporting. Yogesh has also authored Implementing Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.
In his spare time, he loves exploring mountain biking trails and supporting non-profit organizations helping people to lead better lives through clean water projects and access to quality education.
With Yogesh’s experience leading more than 20 full-cycle ERP implementations and upgrade projects, he is an excellent resource for community members considering migration.
What do you tell customers considering migration?
Microsoft has been making tremendous investments in the Dynamics 365 and Business Applications platform. The product has matured, and we are seeing a lot more successful implementations. It is an exciting time to be working as an implementer of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Microsoft is more involved and listening/responding to customer feedback more than ever before. There are so many new features released every month, IP acquisitions that are incorporated in the product, marketplace (Appsource) has evolved and even more that you can benefit from.
You also have the opportunity to move to best in class ERP and make this your last massive ERP upgrade. Some preparation and planning can set you up for big success!
What proactive advice do you have for customers for how best to start initial planning? Are there any common issues you usually see early on?
A key decision is whether to upgrade or re-implement. You really want to make this last upgrade and stay on the one version. Here are key aspects to decide on upgrade vs reimplement:
- Do you have any foundational issues with your implementation (e.g. bad customizations, product mastering needs to be done differently)?
- Defining key gaps that need extensions to be built to leave all the prior customizations behind. Take advantage of investments Microsoft has made since your last implementation! We are finding in the field that most of the prior customizations are not needed anymore and out-of-the-box features can be utilized.
Do you advise creating a Proof of Concept so businesses can see the migration benefits? Why/why not?
Migration proof of concept needs to be done by engaging with both IT and Business in order to understand what problems we are going to solve and lessons learned (mistakes) from prior implementations.
Usually we have provided following deliverables:
- Scope – what features will be utilized, extensions that will still be needed etc.
- Proposed Schedule
- Resources needed (Business, IT and consulting) along with the weekly/monthly hour commitment
- Options considered and recommended to get there along with dollar impact. Options can be phased approach for implementation, upgrade vs reimplementation etc.
How do you start identifying the functional gaps that D365 may close to help with business buy-in?
Engage the business in identifying pain points of the current platform and get their feedback on what needs to improve. Then review how those can be fulfilled with the new features in D365 and stack.
Before engaging with a partner, what can a customer do to outline their initial scope?
Get current on the high-level documentation for features being used in the application and new features the organization is planning to use or evaluate. Look at key areas where there are gaps that were fulfilled with the customizations; both customizations that work and those that do not work. List areas of the business that are still pain points and that you would like this implementation to address.
How can customers get an idea of what the costs will be for both licensing and service? Is there any pre-work they can do on their own without bringing in a partner or Microsoft?
Microsoft licensing is complex - you really need some expert advice on this area. The best you can do is evaluate which licenses will be required based on the users and roles. The monthly price is very different based on the role of user e.g. operations, activity vs team users.
Shifting from the CAPEX to OPEX model is change the way IT needs to budget the spend. We have worked with customers to project 5-year licensing and Azure spend, comparison with “on prem” spend (hardware refresh cost, maintenance, and cost to run data center etc.) and it helped them decide.
Your licensing defines whether the project meets the criteria for the FastTrack engagement. If you close the threshold, getting few extra licenses will be great investment in terms of getting FastTrack Architect engaged on the project. Review if Microsoft has provided good incentives for customers who own licenses and on support plan. It has helped customers keep with OPEX cost for a few years.
What are the technical and functional skills a company should be looking for in a potential partner?
Look for a Partner with experience in a similar industry. If your project does not qualify for FastTrack engagement from Microsoft, try to get one of the FastTrack recognized Solutions Architects on the project.
Find Functional and Technical team members that have had experience with at least one or two D365 full cycle projects for an organization of your size, and, of course, gather references from prior customers.
In your opinion, what do customers need to know about Azure? For example, how technical does an internal IT department need to be with using Azure for performance issues and managing subscriptions?
Understanding Azure portal and subscription is key to minimize spend. Define the number of environments you need because their sizing has a role in estimating cost. Microsoft typically provides Sandbox and Build box. You may need to additional sandbox environments for performance testing, training, and data migration practices.
Developer machines in Azure are easy to set up and maintain. It comes with the price tag and adds up quickly depending on number of developers you have. Microsoft is working on allowing developers use their local machines, hopefully it will be available soon and will reduce need for the cloud hosted dev environments.
What resources do you recommend customers use for the migration?
The Dynamics 365 Migration Program is great resource from Microsoft.
Have you leveraged Microsoft Lifecycle Services (LCS) code upgrade tools? If so, what was your experience?
If you are going with the upgrade route, it helps you identify scope and define resourcing needs
Do you have any recommendations for organizations that will be migrating existing reports and BI content?
There are so many additional tools available now with Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft in general – Data Lake, Power BI, Data entities & BYOD. A combination of these tools along with the legacy data is the way to go for BI. Try to utilize the BI stack to reduce data migration efforts and yet preserve visibility into legacy data.
Thank you, Yogesh, for these excellent tips! Access more resources like this through our exclusive AX Migration Community.