YOUR dynamics 365 implementation, DONE RIGHT

When companies decide to deploy a modern, cloud ERP or CRM solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365, they want to reap the transformational benefits of the technology as soon as possible. At the same time, they hope to avoid the disruption, budget and schedule overruns, risk, and uncertainty of poorly planned deployment projects. To streamline Dynamics 365 deployments and ensure that the ERP implementation project is a success, Sikich has developed the HEADSTART approach. We use HEADSTART in nearly every project to our clients’ benefit, and continue refining the methodology as Dynamics 365 evolves along with organizations and industries. No matter if you’re a business leader looking to modernize your technology or a Professional Advisor helping clients find the best partner’ advising companies, HEADSTART could give you a critical edge. As a client, the first time you experience HEADSTART is during the project initiation, when the team first meets to review the project plan. HEADSTART provides the steps we take to implement the scope we defined and agreed on with you. From the beginning, your project plan and the work breakdown structure associated with it are based on the process defined by HEADSTART.

Deployment comes next. This is where you start to see certain HEADSTART assets. What does that look like?

Once your software subscription is active, and the software environment in your tenant and your Dynamics 365 Sandbox environment have been deployed, Sikich does the following:




Once your software subscription is active, and the software environment in your tenant and your Dynamics 365 Sandbox environment have been deployed, Sikich does the following:

  1. Set up an Azure DevOps project.
  2. Create the project in Lifecycle Services.
  3. Establish the environment or environments.
  4. Load applicable pre-configurations.
  5. Load your sample data.
  6. Copy the business process library to Lifecycle Services.
  7. Sync business process libraries and test cases with Azure DevOps (ADO) and establish processes.
  8. Set up core team users.
  9. In the near future, Sikich will also deploy Azure dat a lakes.

We aim to demonstrate the value of HEADSTART to our project collaborators immediately. Some Sikich clients using HEADSTART have, within a week of the initial software deployment, chosen a templated chart of accounts, explored the system, and tested simple financial transactions, supported by the provided task guides.

for Equipment Manufacturers

To streamline Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain and Dynamics 365 CRM implementation projects, Sikich has developed the HEADSTART approach. Our HEADSTART methodology has proven practices for equipment manufacturers, already preconfigured right out of the box.

Play Video about HEADSTART for Equipment Manufacturers: Streamline D365 Implementations


One key goal for HEADSTART is enabling rapid knowledge transfer laid out in a very clear path. We begin by training your technical team or lead on the tasks included in Microsoft Lifecycle Services. Your project participants learn about deploying and managing the Dynamics 365 environment while we provision it together with your technical leads. Typically, Sikich recommends that you deploy one tier-1 HEADSTART environment hosted on Azure, plus two tier-2 environments. These will be used for your ”golden”, testing, and UAT activities. We may recommend additional environments based on scope and transaction volume.

Next, we train your system administrators on how to import and configure users in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply
Chain Management, LCS, and ADO, and show them how to apply the appropriate privileges based on their roles.

Then we move on to data management. By using the HEADSTART
data migration templates, we review the data required to populate the templates to facilitate the first conference room pilot. We are keenly aware of how important your data will be to the outputs of the system and the accuracy and value of the analytics produced. Where our clients are unsure regarding their Data Strategy, we may call in our Data & Analytics team to assist with both strategy and migration.

During the Dynamics 365 implementation project, Sikich also conducts training for clients with their own development team. For all participants, development training includes:

For project managers, training also covers several additional topics:


As you know, Dynamics 365 may not provide all the functions a company needs to support all its business processes. For some businesses, Dynamics 365 provides functionality that is not rich enough to cover their specific use cases. It may also be that needed capabilities are neither currently available in the core product nor are they on the release roadmap.

Microsoft product design meets the broad needs of a wide variety of organizations. When industries need specific functionality, the Microsoft ISV community can bridge remaining gaps in business applications. Some ISVs are highly specialized and provide extensions or add-ons for particular industry segments. Other ISVs provide broader, horizontal solutions—such as tax software—that add rich functionality, flexibility, or automation to the activities in many businesses.

Putting ISV solutions to work

Sikich generally recommends that clients consider ISV solutions whenever practical to add necessary functional depth as an alternative to custom development. Given today’s continuous update cycles and always-current cloud software, custom development is harder to justify. For one thing, it can cause more effort in managing frequent updates at short intervals. 

Also, when clients were used to have more time between upgrades, they could spread the costs of modifications out and thereby control system maintenance costs. That is no longer possible. By releasing highly usable Power Platform tools with minimal coding requirements, Microsoft is encouraging companies to use these resources with Dynamics 365 as an effective way of addressing software capabilities gaps in the software and reduce the number of custom extensions.

If you’re not sure whether using ISV solutions is the best way to go to gain necessary functionality, consider the effort of building, deploying, and continuously maintaining an equivalent extension or modification. Often, it makes most sense to give that assignment to experts who specialize in the capabilities you need. What’s more, qualified ISVs are accountable to Microsoft for meeting coding and functionality standards, not just individual client businesses.


Stringent ISV criteria help avoid software management headaches

Sikich has worked with many ISVs and knows how to configure, deploy, and support their solutions. We follow a rigorous process for certifying and onboarding ISV solutions into our Dynamics 365 HEADSTART implementation projects. We qualify ISV solutions according to the following key criteria:

Evolving the Dynamics 365 standard

We are aware of the possibility that Microsoft may create new functions within the Dynamics 365 standard which will reduce or eliminate the need for ISV solutions. For instance, Microsoft is adding new vendor invoice automation functionality, but this won’t initially be as complete as the SKG solution Sikich uses. But it will be perfectly appropriate for those clients who don’t immediately need a full-fledged solution and might want to transition to more automation by and by. This kind of progressive, expanding innovation happens sometimes, and it’s one reason why trust is fundamental in our ISV relationships. Our clients can be assured that we are prepared to ask the hard questions regarding an application’s future value proposition, differentiation, roadmap, and expected continued development investment.

Some clients prefer to run their own ISV selection and ask us to work with their chosen provider. While such solutions might not become part of HEADSTART, we respect our clients’ decisions and promise to be a good partner with their preferred vendors. If you want to know which industry ISV solutions are certified for HEADSTART, we will be happy to provide a list.

Play Video about HEADSTART for Equipment Manufacturers: Streamline D365 Implementations

for Distributors

To streamline Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain and Dynamics 365 CRM implementation projects, Sikich has developed the HEADSTART approach. Our HEADSTART methodology has proven practices for distributors, already preconfigured right out of the box.


Sikich aims to provide clients with scalable and flexible solutions that fit their needs and allow them to maximize the value of their software by reducing manual efforts, resolving process bottlenecks, enhancing the experiences of business stakeholders, customers, and vendors. All of which are optimized for regular updates.

We have implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 since early in its availability to the general market. We understand and appreciate its strengths and are also aware of its gaps. We exercise great care and discretion in deploying extensions and add-ons. Each modification, extension, or enhancement causes a maintenance overhead. This is less of an issue, but still an important consideration, when we use software tools from the Microsoft Power Platform, like Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI. However, sometimes extensions and add-ons can be critical for a process to run as it needs to.

When it comes to our focus industries – industrial equipment manufacturing and wholesale distribution – we know that Dynamics 365 will typically address 70 to 75 percent of what clients needs. By using ISV solutions, we can often get closer to 85 or 90 percent. However, the last 10 percent can be as important to clients as they may be challenging to deliver. Even relatively small, recurring gaps can make a critical difference in clients’ experiences.

Sound use cases for Sikich intellectual property

To bridge such remaining capabilities gaps, Sikich includes a small number of custom modifications or extensions in HEADSTART deployments. These enhancements may make users’ lives easier by saving time or manual effort, reducing the likelihood of errors, or providing key analytics. Sometimes they help meet essential, industry-specific needs. Sikich is not primarily a software developer, but we offer a license-free, non-retractable set of useful functions—a suite of apps we call an Industry PowerPack. Just like other software changes, these are part of UAT when updates happen. Their practical value is worth the extra effort. We deliver test cases and task recordings for each of these apps and test them thoroughly before including them in our development backlog.

In addition to these extensions and the Power Apps and Power Automate tools we deploy, we have also built a suite of Power BI visualizations that improve on those provided with Dynamics 365. They benefit most of our clients, across all industries. Our current Power BI development backlog includes industry-specific industry metric charts and graphics, which we will release as we complete them. While we keep adding capabilities, we also monitor the Microsoft roadmap and releases in case any of our apps can be replaced by standard functionality. 

USING AZURE DEVOPS TO MANAGE YOUR dynamics 365 Implementation project

Sikich is proud to be one of the more advanced adopters of Azure DevOps (ADO). We make extensive use of ADO, from project planning and execution, to issue management, to task planning. Clients can use ADO for managing their own inputs into Dynamics 365 deployments and carry all that information forward by using it for post-implementation support. The strengths of this unified collaboration environment include:

Within ADO, users can see the entire project plan, including the work breakdown structure. ADO delivers full visibility of the development lifecycle from functional requirements, to development tasks, and on to test cases. Developers can use the bugs feature to create release notes for each set of code changes.

Excellent visibility of project progress and task status is available to all parties working on a project. They can clearly identify gaps and document decisions regarding configuration choices (particularly those that depart from the preconfiguration).

ADO integrates fully with other collaboration tools, including Microsoft Lifecycle Services, Microsoft Project (requires Project licensing), Microsoft Teams, Planner, and Outlook. You can create an embedded project workspace from within Teams.

Embedded in your Dynamics 365 system, ADO gives Sikich consultants complete transparency. They prefer to use ADO instead of external documentation tools like 
Word or OneNote. ADO can serve as a valuable knowledge repository, when processes are changed or redeveloped, or when decisions need to be reviewed.

ADO is deployed with standard charts, queries, and dashboards to enable project oversight.

How does ADO work with Jira?

Some of our clients have embedded Jira product management software deeply into their processes and organization. ADO can work in tandem with Jira. However, organizations without a preference for Jira can use the Sikich Support Ticket work item as a great alternative without any additional cost.

Which licenses do you need for ADO?

Five Basic licenses are free, and the cost for each additional Basic license is $6* per month. Stakeholder and Visual Basic licenses are free. You can find more information and current pricing here

JIRA - SIKICH - Dynamics 365 implementation project
ADO Dashboard and KPIs

Some additional details on ADO access and capabilities:

Stakeholder: Provides partial access to ADO and can be assigned to unlimited users for free. A Stakeholder license is usually best for team members who will be creating and updating work items.

Basic: Provides access to most ADO features. A Basic license is required for project owners, administrators, and anyone who changes the project setup.

Basic + Test Plans: Provides access to all ADO features included in the Basic license, as well as Azure Test Plans. This is required for any users will be working the RSAT tool.

Visual Studio subscription: A Visual Studio subscription should be how your developers are given access to an ADO project, because it also provides them with a Visual Studio application license. Of
course, this is a great option for users who already have a Visual Studio subscription.

Interested in exploring what your
HEADSTART implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365
might look like?