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Sure Step Essentials

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is a methodology and a tool for project managers implementing Microsoft Dynamics products.

Project Management? Lots of people think that Project Management is working with a phased based approach and writing documents. Other people know it is more than this but do not seem to get any further then defining phases and writing and delivering a number of documents.
Others confuse project managers with document and backffice administrators.

Project Management is quality and your quality can be only as good as your company culture allows it to be.

A project is: a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product service or product
Temporary and unique: this means lot's of uncertainty and means risks.

That's why we need project management! To manage these risks, to be pro-active, to achieve the project goals.

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requierements(source PMBOK/ PMI).

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is delivering this: knowledge, skills, tools and techniques.
So we are happy to use this.


If you want to have ultimate result, you need to understand the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology. If you limit yourself to the definition of phases and some document deliverables, you will not be sure stepping!

People would also like to turn project management into a fill-in-the-blank process.
‘Just give me some forms to fill out that will walk me through the entire planning, scheduling, and controlling thing,’ they say.
Unfortunately, it just won’t work.

It’s like the belief that scheduling software will make you an instant project manager.It won’t. 
Unless you understand the principles behind scheduling, the software will only help you document your failures with great precision. 
The software is a tool.” 

- James P. Lewis

Yes, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step defines phases.
Yes, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step defines document deliverables.

But Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step defines much more, let's have a look at some essential parts out of the methodology:


Breakdown_3 How do you define your scope best? Break your scope up in small manageable components.

For this, use the Work Breakdown Structure technique.
Info by Microsoft about WBS

Info by Hyperhot about WBS

The psychologists say our brains can normally comprehend around 7-9 items simultaneously.  A project with thousands or even dozens of tasks goes way over our ability to grasp all at once.  The solution is to divide and conquer. The WBS helps break thousands of tasks into chunks that we can understand and assimilate.  Preparing and understanding a WBS for your project is a big step towards managing and mastering its inherent complexity. 

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is aligned with other project management methodologies (PMI, Prince2, ..) in advising the WBS technique. Under Project Management/ Disciplines/ Scope Management you will find "create work breakdown structure":

Surestep_scope_mgmtIn the HTML section for this activity you will find Sure Step explaining the essentials of the WBS technique and also in tools and templates you will find predefined WBS'es for your projects. Off course, you will need to make a WBS for your particular project content as well.

Essential for a WBS: think in terms of Deliverables!

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a deliverable oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team. The lowest level components of the WBS are tasks, sometimes called work packages. Do not start or limit yourself with defining"tasks".

The WBS will be as of then an important instrument for your project. It creates a universal project language for all project stakeholders and will be the basis for many other things!

Benefits_of_wbsThe WBS will be input for:

Project Schedule
Project control

2. Use Estimating techniques
Estimating techniques can be "top-down" or "bottom-up".
Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step says:

"Estimation techniques include the use of consulting experts, estimates from similar projects, bottom up or parametric estimating. Parametric estimating uses the advantage of similar and repeatable work to estimate it once and calculate the frequency of it. The estimation process for a project is a summary of different estimation approaches. For example, time for project management is often estimated in relation to project indicators, but development estimates are mostly established using a bottom up approach. A top down approach (given budget or timeline) needs the flexibility to adjust the scope for a successful project execution. Iterative estimating helps to adjust the scope in accordance to the constraints."

Use your WBS for the bottom up estimating.

Question yourself: what are our company estimating techniques? Do we use this in a consistent, structural way? Do we use a combination of techniques? If not, then how accurate can/will your estimates be?

3. Develop a project schedule by using PDM and CPM
Precedence Diagramming Method
CPM?: Critical Path Methodology
Sure Step is advising both techniques for the development of your project schedule:

"Develop the project schedule including activities and milestones logically sequenced with precedence relationships as well as leads and lags"



4. Prepare project tracking and reporting
Sure Step recommends "Earned Value Techniques":

Diverting from the defined project baseline should be identified as soon as possible. Depending on the complexity of the project or the project team, it is necessary to make use of methods to measure the project performance. The earned value concept (EV) is a commonly used method that integrates project scope, cost and schedule to help the project management get an overview of how the project keeps the defined baseline and what causes variances to it.

Planned value (PV)

Amount spent on a task between the task's start date and the status date.

Example: Total planned budget for a 4-month task is $400 and it starts in April. If the status date is set to June, the PV is $200.

Actual cost (AC)

Amount spent while performing work on a task during a given period.

Example: If the 4-month task actually incurs a total cost of $125 during the first 2 months, the AC is $250 (but the PV is still $200!!)

Earned value (EV)

Amount that should have been spent for a given percentage of work performed on a task.

Example: If the 4-month task has 25% of the work completed after 2 months, the earned value is $100 (but the PV is still $200!!)

Essential is that your EV followup is aligned with your breaking up of the scope.

Do you master these basic techniques?


As my opinion "top-down" Estimating technique is more powerful.

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