8 Critical ERP Pre-Implementation Planning Steps for Microsoft Dynamics 365

You’ve decided to adopt a new Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solution, but you haven’t signed on the line yet. That’s a great first step, but there’s still a long road ahead. Here are eight key items for your pre-implementation planning checklist to ensure that your Dynamics 365 implementation is successful:

1. Get Your Project Team Organized

An implementation project of this scale will require a well-structured team of capable, outside-the-box thinkers. The executive steering committee (ESC) should develop the strategy and direction for the project, set goals, and monitor the team’s progress. The project manager should lead the planning and execution of the project, while also getting regular feedback from the ESC and communicating it to the rest of the team.

And the core team of business process owners (BPO) should each tackle a different functional area affected by the project, participating in process designs, data conversion, and system testing. Make sure to choose team members who understand your business goals and have excellent organization and leadership skills, and remember that they’ll need the support of leadership throughout the project.

2. Evaluate Your Technical Readiness

Assess your organization’s technology stack to make sure you are ready for implementation. One of the first steps is determining which version of Azure Active Directory (AAD) is the best fit for your organization and then synchronizing it with your local active directory. AAD is crucial for providing single sign-on (SSO) capabilities across applications, as well as multi-factor authentication and self-service password resets.

You’ll also need to prepare to migrate your apps, such as Exchange, Sharepoint, and Office to the cloud. And since just about any ERP project will involve integrations with other applications and external partners, you’ll need to determine what those integrations are, how they’ll be performed, and whether they’re real-time or on some other schedule.

It’s worth investigating Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) solutions to find ways to connect apps and services if there isn’t already an integration. Finally, you’ll need to determine project sizing for your organization based on factors like time zones, languages, and peak hourly transaction volume.

3. Figure Out Your License Requirements

The next step is to download and study the Dynamics licensing guides from Microsoft’s website. It’s not exactly fun, and the guides can be tricky to navigate, but it’s vital for you to know the strengths and limitations for each license option.

You’ll also need to figure out how many named users will be using the license, which is a change from GP and NAV. This step can be particularly murky, so be sure to consult your implementation partner to determine the best fit.

4. Plan for BI and AI

The new generation of Dynamics ERP solutions use business intelligence analytics and artificial intelligence-powered tools to boost operational efficiency. To make sure you fully leverage these capabilities, make sure your data architecture is designed properly. This involves gathering an inventory of the data sources that BI and AI tools will use, including data source types, as well as an inventory of the people who will need to access that data.

You’ll also need to plan out the dimensions (such as customer attributes) and measures (such as calculated values, percentages, and counts) that will suit your organization’s enterprise analytics needs. With a comprehensive understanding of all of these concepts, you’ll be able to build a semantic model that will make it easier for future users to browse and use your data.

5. Assess Your Security

All that data prep work will be for naught if you don’t sufficiently protect it. Ask yourself: Are my systems secure? Am I sure? And can I prove it?

We strongly recommend engaging an outside IT audit team to review your operational practices and systems configurations, including your servers, workstations, routers, and firewalls, to identify possible risks and vulnerabilities. The right partner will tailor their audit to your organization, fully describe each finding, and recommend actions to address them.

6. Prepare Your Data for Migration

Data migration is long and complex, so it’s best to start planning as early as possible. First, look at your ERP project as an opportunity to purge and archive irrelevant data from your current system. There’s no sense in bringing your clutter with you. Then, think about whether you want to re-number or re-code your master data files. Whether you opt for a meaningful or random schema, this can help you organize your data for the migration process.

Open transactional data will always be migrated, so be sure to write off small balances, pay down open vendor invoices, and write off obsolete inventory. Historical transactional data should be pushed into a data warehouse so that it doesn’t take up room in the new system. You’ll also need to design your new chart of accounts and, if necessary, start re-coding your historical general ledger transactions.

7. Document Your Business Processes

Documentation can be laborious, but the benefits are clear. You’ll have a resource for training, analysis, and process review, and you’ll be able to retain institutional knowledge when a key person departs. It also gives your users a roadmap for consistency, which creates the opportunity for continuous improvement. With your processes documented, you can form test cases that will help you determine if the system is working as expected.

8. Train Your Employees

Successful adoption of any new tool depends heavily on how well the users of that tool are trained. Don’t wait until your new ERP solution is implemented to start training your employees. Instead, take the time to craft a training plan that aligns with the day-to-day tasks your employees will perform with the software and offers different modes, such as classroom training, video tutorials, and training manuals, that will cover every type of learner in your organization. You should also consider conducting extensive hands-on training for capable super-users who can then train other users, provide additional support, and promote wider adoption within the organization.

Lay the Groundwork for Implementation with Sikich

At Sikich, our expert team can provide the consultation, planning, and support your organization needs to make its Dynamics 365 ERP implementation project a successful one. Learn more by reading our ebook or reach out to us today.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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