With the release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, came a true generational shift in ERP platforms. Having worked with this release from Microsoft for nearly two years now, I can say that marketing tag line is so much more than fluff, or neatly crafted headline. By far with this product we have seen more net functional adds than in any major release of AX, and actually all previously released major versions combined. Beyond the functional net adds, which is the major focus of any such project, the technical depth, integration with the stack, and changes within the data model bring a whole new level of powerful flexibility that frankly did not exist in the past.

AX 2012 Model Driven Layered Architecture


With all of these great functional and technical changes, the process for reducing customers time-to-value, and helping customers understand the larger picture still remains the same. It's very critical, even more so than ever, to have the right mix of project focused resources, pulling together in order to execute well, in turn being able to deliver for the customer a timely solution, that enables their high level value points, of why they are doing such a project in the first place. With this focus in hand, this means, that it's critical for projects, be that new or upgrades, have the same, repeatable process for implementing applied to the execution of such an undertaking. 

Microsoft Sure Step 2012 is that methodology that sets the correct framework, vocabulary & tools for enabling the execution of such goals, as an AX project is meant to enable for an end customer. This includes for any size customer, be that small or multinational organization, and if new implementation, or upgrading is the focus. 

Sure Step 2012 Online Image

What we must understand, from a higher level, still needs to be clear at this point. This is being able to map correctly, with the customer their 'As-Is' story, to help set where they are and how they achieve their current process. Moving from that Analysis / Discovery set of processes, the next step from a business process modeling point of view, is creating the 'To-Be' story. This 'To-Be' story should align with higher level value points, that the customer lays out, from the single question, of: "What exactly are you trying to do?"

In the creation go the 'To-Be' story for a customer, generating those business process models, then drives to true GAP Fit Analysis. This combined with the Functional Design of the configuration and setup of AX 2012, for empowering customers end goals, creates the actual project task. Be that functional or technical. Doing this in a very agile way, with a lot of involvement during the modeling process with the customer fully engaged, and taking ownership early on in the project for data, and processes is key for creating true scope. 

These are the critical, from a high level of course, steps that enable a project to at least try to be successful when it comes to executing on the true scope, and creating the overall total solution for a customer. Further to this point, it's more and more the case that Microsoft Dynamics AX is just a part of the total solution for a customer, and why it's important to have a Solutions Architect on your project team that can help shape those bigger picture needs, into project reality. Working with many roles through the life of a specific project. 

The above, by far is a high level description of the process that I've seen work over the years of implementing AX for customers. Taking the 'As-Is', crafting the 'To-Be' to target the customers high value points, to create a true plan of execution that will take a customer from project start to deployment and use. There are so many different roles, and parts that have to come together for successful ERP projects, and understanding why a project is being attempted, from the customer to the implementation part is the critical path, to allow a project the chance to succeed. 

I hope, for anyone reading this article, that you can take this and either nod your head in agreement, as your well into this thought process, or your able to use this as a launching board to ask those big picture questions, and align yourself correctly to enable true project success. A successful project, is one that meets the customers value points for attempting the project, which is simple terms means you've added value to the customer by completing such journey with them.

Let me end, with this is the first in a series that I plan on continued focus here at the Microsoft Dynamics Community Site. A focus around Project Success, and how this is enabled, executed and repeated. This, by far, I believe is a critical topics, and so each month I will dive deeper and deeper into this area of Project Success. With that, my next focus for this series is around "Learn from the past", which will be a focus on points that we have seen make a project derail and go bad. The idea, is not specific project examples, but common threads, that can help develop early warning signs. It's always been a great learning tool, understanding what does not work, and ERP Project's are no different than any other topic.