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Home / IT Blogs / Planning to Implement Microsoft Dynamics AX on Your Own? Think Again
June 14, 2018 - by Manoj Nair
You’ve done your research. You have chosen Dynamics AX to better manage and control your supply chain, finance, production, planning, and project management processes. But if you’re planning to implement Dynamics AX on your own, think again. Failed implementations are not only disastrous for organizations, they also have a grave effect on employee morale and productivity. Choosing to implement an ERP system is half the battle, but to ensure a successful deployment, you need an experienced, well-qualified implementation partner who will enable you to get the most out of your ERP system – investment, features, capabilities, and more. Since purchasing and implementing an ERP system is a complex undertaking, choosing the right partner can be indispensable to success.
Key challenges in Dynamics AX Self-Implementation
Implementation can have a major impact on the long-term success or failure of your Dynamics AX ERP. If you’re thinking about attempting it yourself, you may be in for trouble. Since the cost of investing in Dynamics AX software itself is so high, many organizations look to restrict any further expenditures and choose to implement the software on their own. The initial investment can cause disillusionment of the original goals for investing in an ERP in the first place. Since the learning curve for Dynamics AX is steep, bringing resources up to speed can be a true challenge.
ERP implementation is also a long-term activity; having an internal project team that is 100% dedicated to the project is very difficult. Some of the challenges include:
How an Implementation Partner Can Address These Challenges
An experienced implementation partner is your best tool for ensuring Dynamics AX success; a partner will enable you to make the most of your investment and work with you to create a mutual and comprehensive understanding of project objectives, implementation, training and development plans, methodologies, and enlist project coordination requirements. Here’s how an implementation partner can help address a lot of these challenges:
Knowledge, Skills, Experience
The knowledge, skills and experience that a partner will bring to the table are beyond compare. With established project methodologies across the development and implementation of applications and custom developed solutions, an implementation partner can efficiently implement the system as well as manage change within the organization.
An implementation partner has a pool of industry experienced consultants who are certified and well-versed with implementation best practices. Because consultants have experience of working on several similar projects, you are likely to experience a higher probability of success. Not just that, you can also save implementation time and money and decrease the risk of failure.
Strong product as well as process knowledge is a given; an implementation partner who is familiar with Dynamics AX will have a better idea of implementation processes, available industry-specific third-party products and pre-built add-ons and can therefore suggest applications or customizations to help you meet business goals and overcome the challenges unique to your industry.
Best Practice Knowledge
Access to re-usable components and the presence of a knowledge repository can speed up the implementation. Being well-versed with best practices and technology developments can enable you to benefit from them in the best way possible. A partner will also be able to automate some of the processes and demonstrate sustainable quality, speed, agility, and cost reduction—ultimately enabling a smooth Dynamics AX implementation.
An implementation partner’s experience will enable them to efficiently analyze existing infrastructure, identify gaps or issues, and build a project management plan that is curated to your business.
For Dynamics AX implementation to be a success, proper testing is extremely essential. Very often, organizations who claim to have sufficiently tested their ERP implementation end up with completely disastrous outcomes. Inadequate testing can result in several lingering bugs that are discovered very late in the project lifecycle. It can also lead to less knowledge about the uses and benefits of an ERP system since testing is a significant part of learning.
An implementation partner will be able to conduct end-to-end testing for a successful Dynamics AX implementation. These include functional testing, load testing, performance testing, as well as user acceptance testing. Each test phase will include several rounds of testing, and each round will encompass a greater scope and depth of testing.
Proper Test Plans
With proper test planning and design, a partner can define appropriate test cases and ensure the ERP system is tested across various business scenarios, the test results are recorded, and corrective actions are planned. Until each test case is successful, the cycle will continue in order to minimize the number of failed test cases that will be revisited in the next round of testing. Since automated testing is faster and can be executed by multiple virtual machines in parallel, you will be able to achieve new business capabilities quicker and drive substantial value.
Pool of Testers
An experienced implementation partner will most likely have a pool of testers who not only collect and maintain data from existing sources but also generate huge volumes of test data to ensure superior implementation quality. These testers will continuously explore, learn, and apply the most efficient approaches for ERP testing and ensure proper test data is available at all times.
Since ERP solutions have features and functionality that are customized as per your distinct requirements, the modification will impact multiple modules and systems. The testing team will capture every change and the related impact for complete traceability and train key users so that they can carry out business level testing themselves.
The victory of your Dynamics AX system doesn’t end at go-live; supporting the system all along is what defines success. As ERP systems become more and more complex, there is a need for ongoing optimization of system use and productivity.
Although there is a myriad of ways of learning how to use a new software – each depending on the complexity of the software, the effectiveness of the method and the associated costs, an implementation partner can efficiently drive the “train the trainer” concept. By training a select number of your key employees/users from different departments as internal trainers – who have excellent knowledge of business processes, understand the organizational culture, and speak the language of the organization – they will be able to transfer this knowledge to the other employees of their department and also act as the first point of contact in case of questions or problems.
Since issues, bugs, defects, and faults are an unavoidable part of any Dynamics AX implementation, how these issues are identified and resolved makes all the difference. An implementation partner will be able to implement a robust issue management process that offers complete visibility into unresolved issues, their severity, category, and due date. By leveraging the right tools, you can be in a better position to understand what the issue is, how it can be solved, and how the repercussions can be avoided or minimized, allowing your project management team to focus on core tasks.
Backup and Recovery
Since ERP is a complex system, backup and recovery needs to encompass the full range of data sources and backup modes. With an implementation partner on board, you will be able to get more out of your Dynamics AX system with smart and flexible back up and recovery. You can ensure your ERP applications meet each of your service-level requirements while supporting required customization, extensibility and integration across your Dynamics AX environment. With flexibility of data backup, you can increase business agility and responsiveness, eliminate downtime of critical applications, increase your rate of innovation and accelerate time-to-market.
Customization if Necessary
When it comes to ERP, customization is usually a dreaded term. However, it shouldn’t be feared. Although heavy customizations are not advisable, a fair amount of configuration and personalization ensures that Dynamics AX software meets the unique needs of your business and helps achieve a competitive edge.
With an implementation partner, you can ensure all configuration changes are well documented. As the Dynamics AX implementation project goes on, you might need to make some customizations based on your business infrastructure. Documenting all changes allows everyone to figure out the original features, understand easily what the changes are, how they will work and what affect they will have on the overall implementation.
An implementation partner will also ensure sufficient code review that will help in finding and preventing bugs and in transferring knowledge between development team members. With sufficient code review, you can ensure code quality and correctness, minimize the number of bugs, ensure the code conforms to agreed coding standards and let everyone in the development team share knowledge.
Together, You Can Have it All
A system as massive, costly, and time-consuming as Dynamics AX should have the right implementation plan. And you have a better potential of success with an implementation partner on board – a partner with extensive knowledge, skills and experience in similar implementations, with a large pool of certified and expert resources, time-tested project management methodologies, robust testing techniques, and training, support and customization capabilities. Such a partner will help in reducing the learning curve your organization will be faced with, helping you leverage the business process gains of Dynamics AX and achieve the goals that were originally envisioned.
~Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success – Henry Ford
Learn more about how an experienced implementation partner can help your business implement Dynamics AX successfully.
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