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How can we customize Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step?

I’ve been teaching and evangelizing Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step for the past two years to Microsoft Dynamics partners.  A recurring question is “How can we customize Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step?” and mostly this question is raised even before I start teaching the content.  I can always expect this question regardless of the region where I am teaching Sure Step (Benelux, Baltic, Balkan, Scandinavia, UK …). It is a recurring and universal question.

You might think that I hate that question. The answer is no and as a matter of fact I really love that question.  It’s the perfect bridge to my key message: by implementing only a few fundamental techniques from Sure Step you could increase your chances for project success, profitability, customer and employee satisfaction significantly. So why do you want to start by customizing Sure Step?  Spending that energy and time in implementing only a few of the basic principles from Sure Step would result in much more added value for your organization than the customization effort could ever realize.

If you think about it, this question is also a bit funny. We, software implementers, are usually skeptic about all the customization requests that we receive from our customers when they implement ERP or CRM solutions. We are usually surprised why they always want to change the ERP or CRM system even before they understand the basics about their new system. And now we are acting in exactly the same wayJ. We try to do the same when we are firstly introduced to this new thing called Sure Step: change it, make it to resemble to what we have, … .

Now, this is not so strange. We want to change what we don’t understand and so do our customers. So the best thing is to learn first and understand this new thing. Now guess what? At the end of my trainings, nobody wants to change it anymore.

Let’s go back to these basic Sure Step principles that will help you increase your project success in no time. What crazy principles am I talking about? Well I’ve got a list of these but I am only going to address one in this blog (you can’t have it all and there is no such thing as a free lunch).

I want to address and get your attention for the “over planned Deployment phase”.  When I ask people how they manage projects I usually get the same type of answers:”We have a methodology, we work with phases and we have documentation”.  When I then start digging a bit deeper, I usually conclude that these phases sometimes don’t make any difference at all in terms of project quality. Why? Because sometimes people think that their project is guided by phases while in reality they are not working with phases at all. They only have one phase because they don’t respect the principles of phases and the planning of activities and deliverables within the phases is not smart at all.

One of the striking things is that the bulk load of mission critical activities and deliverables are planned in the deployment phase.  Or let me rephrase that, are postponed to the deployment phase. That means that most of the activity is going on right before the planned go-live, very late in the project lifecycle. That is not really smart.  

Why not? First of all, with so many planned activities and deliverables in one phase, it will become very difficult to manage it. You will be forced to eat the whale in one bite.  When you keep all the activity for the end, you can only identify most of the problems and issues at the end. So you will lose all your pro-active power. Remember you are near the supposed end of your project, being pro-active requires the identification of problems as early as possible. Usually around this period of time you are also running out of time of budget but corrective actions need budget and time?

Good deployments need active customer involvement as well. If you keep most of the significant customer activity for the deployment phase itself, it will be very difficult for the customer to get all this activity planned. Remember, their resources also have a business to run.

So over planning your deployment phases is asking for problems, you should be spreading your activities and deliverables much more over your complete project lifecycle. How can you do that? What do you need to plan when, in which phase?

Well, Sure Step can give you these answers instantly and we (Plataan) can help you to see and understand this instant value whenever you wantJ.  Follow a Sure Step training, it is an excellent investing and the ROI is proven (by myselfJ)

And please, do keep asking how you can customize sure step! I love it.


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