10 Key Aspects to consider for a successful Dynamics CRM Implementation

There are several factors that can determine if a Dynamics CRM implementation will be successful or not. From resource allocation to automatic tools and stakeholder implication, implementing Dynamics 365 and Dynamics CRM solutions seems to be a complex puzzle of factors that influence the quality of the final product. In the article below we will go through the most important, recurrent success factors we have encountered during our implementations.

1. Project Management

Adopting the proper project management methodology according to the company culture and project-specific needs is essential to the success of the implementation team. Over the past few years, IT companies have migrated more and more towards the Agile Methodology and SCRUM framework. And for good reason.

This methodology is helping teams anticipate potential problems and mitigate risks before they occur. In some cases, companies are not open to the Agile way of working, being a bold departure from their traditional project management systems. In these cases, a hybrid methodology (Waterfall and Agile) can be used in order to improve the operational efficiency of the implementation team.

There are also cases where the customer specifically requests a Waterfall methodology.  In this scenario, we need to ensure that the Analysis phase of the project is done correctly, and we have the right people around the table. It is also important to have the validation of the business stakeholders for the analysis document. The risk of using a Waterfall methodology is that the first contact of the key users with the application will be during the User Acceptance Testing phase. This can represent a big problem if the processes were not well documented/validated during the Analysis phase because the final solution will not reflect the needs of the key user.

2.Define a clear scope for your project

Many implementations start without having a clear scope for the project. To make sure that the expectations are met, we need to make sure from the beginning that the scope is well defined and understood by the project team. The usual trap in defining a project scope lies in the fact that the Dynamics CRM implementation team assumes that the customer has a great understanding of the capabilities that the final solution can provide and, on the other hand, customers believe that the tool will be able to do anything and everything. By defining a clear scope, the project team can anticipate surprises on both sides, and deliver a solution that meets a specific set of agreed-upon specifications.

3. Define clear roles

Assign the right person in the right role. Another important point for a successful implementation of Dynamics CRM is the definition of the responsibilities and roles for each member of the project team. There is no tried and tested perfect team composition that guarantees success. The roles can be assigned according to the preferred project management methodology, but it is important that the set roles for each team member are respected. There are many situations when the role of a team member of the project team is not clear, and the responsibilities are passed from one person to the other. This can result in impactful delays to the progress of the project.

4. Allocate the right resources for the project

Implementation is not only IT anymore; resources are not only technical anymore. During a Dynamics CRM implementation, it is important to allocate the right resources to the project team. This applies to both the clients and the implementers.

From the implementor’s perspective it is recommended that all the resource allocation be made based on the industry-specific criteria. Usually, resources have specific industry knowledge according to the projects they took part in, in the past. A professional that has experience implementing processes for a specific industry can understand and collect information much better than another one who is interacting with processes for the first time.  In this case, the customer and implementor are “speaking the same language’’. Sometimes during the implementation, the challenge of understanding the customer processes can be more difficult than the actual implementation of said processes in the CRM.

From the customer’s perspective it is important to make sure that resources involved in the implementation have the necessary technical understanding, can make decisions, and are able to play the key user role during the testing phases. There are situations when the people who take part in the implementation are not part of the key user group that will use the product. This can lead to big differences between the processes that get implemented and the process required by the business users.


5. Customer commitment

During implementation, the project team is a mixed resources team, with professionals allocated both by the customer and by the implementor. It is very important to know the amount of time the project team (usually from the customer side) can allocate to the implementation project. In many implementations, the project team from the customer side has other responsibilities in parallel with Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation.

For example: if we are talking about a Dynamics Sales implementation, usually the customer is allocating several sellers and eventually a decision-maker (sales manager) to take part in the implementation.  If it is not well explained from the beginning that their time and contribution are decisive for the project, they will allocate a small amount of time, considering that it is the IT department’s job to make the project successful. The result of this limited time allocation can be that the application doesn’t meet the sales department’s requirements. In such cases, the go-live is delayed because after the UAT phase the project team realizes that there are many missing pieces in the final puzzle that have not been addressed.

6.Project Management Tools

Using a project management tool can prevent implementation issues and mitigate risks of failure. Project Management Tools such as DevOps or Jira can help teams organize the project and support a certain methodology. Tools help you better organize the resources, follow the deadlines, estimate the effort, see the exact progress, and anticipate delays. A key note here is that even if the tool can support the project management methodology, a tool is not everything and it won’t do the job by itself. Knowledge of the methodology principles and how to apply them are also essential factors.

7. Technology accelerates implementations

Tools are very important in the life of an implementation. Usually doing things manually means increasing the risk of mistakes, which significantly increases the probability of spending more time on performing tasks. It is important for the project team to use modern technologies and tools in order to assist them in the tasks they have to perform during an implementation. Currently, on the market, there is a tool for almost every activity that the project team must perform during an implementation. You will find these tools most used in:  Project Management, Code Repositories, Automatic Testing, Automatic Deployment, Documentation, Reporting, Different automation (like is the case of XRM Toolbox), etc.

8. Dynamics CRM Knowledge

Even if the methodology is done by the book and the scope is well defined, it is mandatory to have the right professionals in the team. Dynamics CRM is a low code application that has a vast variety of features included out of the box. Only a professional that has very good knowledge and understanding of the CRM application can efficiently implement a project from all perspectives. Lack of product knowledge can lead to teams developing custom functionalities that already exist in the Dynamics standard package. This results in a bigger effort spent in the implementation, increasing the risk of errors, delaying the project plan, and so on. It is very important to allocate certified resources to the project, based on the modules that are in the scope of the implementation.

9. Do not treat all exceptions

One of the common mistakes made in a Microsoft Dynamics implementation is trying to treat all exceptions raised by the business. Usually, this leads to an overcomplicated process that will be impossible to follow in the end. The project team must be aware that the CRM application must be well adapted to the key users’ needs and should bring a plus in terms of speed, keeping complexity to a minimum.

10. Documentation

Documentation has become a taboo activity with time – everybody sees the importance of documentation, but nobody wants to do the documenting. Even if the documentation can slow down the process of implementation, it is very important to find ways to include it in the development itself. There are several things that are necessary in order to successfully document and maintain documentation. First of all, we recommended having a tool where documentation can be kept. Usually, in project teams, multiple professionals work in parallel on different requests and this causes problems with documentation versioning, the location of the documentation, and so on. We recommend tools like Wiki from DevOps where the implementation team can submit information about their work. Such tools can connect the activities (PBIs or Tasks) with the documentation itself. Using these kinds of tools, we can see exactly what the request for a specific development was, what activities were done to complete a certain task, and the latest version of the documentation. On the other hand, as with Project Management, the tool itself is not everything. We need to find ways to  “motivate” the project teams to document each development. One approach to addressing this can be considering a development task done only at the moment when the documentation is finished.