Groundhog Day: How Bill Murray and a groundhog taught me to be resilient implementing D365

By Kimberly Jo Olson posted 22 days ago

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Maybe you've seen the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray’s character is forced to relive the same day over and over until he gets it right and can move on with his life. It may not seem clear how this has anything to do with Microsoft D365 and my implementation, but just hang in there with me.

Like most things I should start at the beginning. If you haven’t read the interview that Sarah Morgan posted, titled:- “Arbela OnDeck: Empire Strikes Back with a New Inland California D365 User Group” then you may want to start there.  I shared with her that in 2016 our company decided we needed a more robust system to leverage our growth and manage our business better. We've been operating our business with paper systems, siloed programs, and developing our own software in-house to handle the demands of our business. Something had to change. Our company was stuck in an endless cycle of data entry, with little ability to analyze it and move onto the next task. Cue the groundhog.

Many of us wish that we could get a redo of just one day. This movie stuck out to me when planning my blog. It also happens to be Groundhog Day today and my first blog post in this movie themed series. I know speaking from experience there have been days on a project I wished I could get a do-over. Unfortunately, most companies don’t get a chance to reevaluate choices in an implementation that led them down a path. My hope is to give you a dose of humor along with some of my own experiences over the last year, so you can have a chance at successfully moving your implementation forward.

In May of 2017 our company kicked off our implementation project with a Microsoft Partner. At that time, we had a different team, but the point is that our company wasn’t setup for a successful implementation. Sure, we knew it would be hard, we were told we would be going live in January of 2018. We had to implement D365 Finance and Operations and CRM for approximately 150 users in just 9 months. For those of you who haven’t started your implementation this alone was going to be a difficult timeline. Our groundhog saw his shadow, and winter persisted for 28 more weeks.

The selection of the implementation methodology and the team we chose weren’t the right fit for us. We didn’t know it at the time, but this is the most important part of your implementation.  Here are some of the lessons learned from a customer’s perspective.

  1. It's about the people; not the technology. Implementing an ERP takes resilience in the face of adversity. Make sure you have the right team internally and externally. The right internal people are ones who really know your business processes and externally they understand your business culture. Choosing the right external team whether it is a partner, a team of independents, or a mixture of both will leverage your project for success.
  2. Be bold and manage the risk. A bold schedule may not work for you. Remember that the definition of bold is risky. You need to be prepared to manage that risk. Every integration and transaction is a risk. We are working in multiple siloed programs and outsourcing payroll. Until we got involved deeply with the data migration we didn’t understand the integration risk.
  3. Plan for the worst. We planned for certain risks. We even wrote them down. We didn’t plan for all of them to happen at once. When facing a Perfect Storm, it is better to have a plan for it than to think it was not possible for everything to go wrong at once.
  4. If you have a short timeline, you need an efficient methodology. Originally, we were working at a snail’s pace because we were just following along with what our partner told us to do. Using a waterfall approach was not the right thing for us or our timeline. We ended up spending 8 months talking about an implementation. We never got to modeling or data migration because we didn’t realize we were following the wrong methodology.
  5. Do your homework. Read, Connect, Verify. I started reading Implementation books written by Rahul Mohta, Yogesh Kasat, and JJ Yadev. Those books helped me understand what was necessary.  If you can attend Summit before you choose your implementation team I highly recommend it. If that isn’t possibly make sure you check references and call other companies using Microsoft D365 for some feedback. Connecting and collaborating in the user group is a benefit where you can learn and support one another.

We are currently moving forward with an Microsoft D365 advisor who helped us get back on track and new Partner who understands our culture. We hired a team of independent consultants who have a better understanding of what we need to be successful. Our new go-live date is 8 weeks away. I will be posting weekly and hope you come back next week to read more on our adventure.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, my blog posts will all be movie themed, I'm in California after all! And I will go into more detail on my experiences with our implementation in future posts. I’m excited for 2018 and hopefully meeting more of you throughout the year at a chapter meeting, inside the user group, or at Summit 2018. You can connect with me through LinkedIn or email me at