By Sandor Schellenberg, Owner and Founder, friendlyITsolutions
As an independent consultant, I work
for different clients with very different approaches to finishing a Microsoft Dynamics
CRM implementation successfully. The most common project management
methodologies used in these projects include Sure Step, Prince II, Waterfall, DSDM,
Agile, Scrum and sometimes a company's own creation.
The choice of a certain project
management methodology seems easy enough, but especially for companies new to
implementing Dynamics CRM or so called xRM solutions, it turns out often to be
The struggle, in my opinion, is due to
the fact that Dynamics CRM is not just standard software that can be
implemented like Office. The implementation of Dynamics CRM requires
consultants with expertise in different areas such as process analysis,
software architecture, data modeling, programming and of course Dynamics CRM
The challenge is to combine these
different areas into one methodology, taking into consideration that your developer
might be used to a more classic approach and your functional consultant might
prefer more agile approach. For example, front-end changes can be applied
within minutes, while programming additional code might take days or weeks.
This article outlines some of the
approaches I have experienced and hopefully gives you some guidance in choosing
your implementation partner in combination with the right methodology.
Systems Development Method (DSDM)
The DSDM methodology can be used as
the start of your implementation. It is especially interesting to start with DSDM
if you would like to start your project with a prototype as a proof of concept.
Keep in mind that DSDM has to be used as
a framework and is often useful if your goal is to deliver a prototype.
The methodology is also very
interesting if you are new to CRM and want to introduce it into your
organization. A prototype makes it possible to involve the people who actually
going to work with CRM. They can experience how it works and that direct
involvement is often one of the key factors for successful implementation.
In case you are comparing different
CRM solutions, this approach is helpful to understand how CRM can support your
After the prototype is tested or used
for a certain period you can extend the application with extra functionality or
by enabling a whole new area in CRM.
The challenge in this approach is that
you have to take it step by step and not implement every block of functionality
at the same time, otherwise you might be overwhelmed by all the possibilities.
The advantage is that you have your base CRM application up and running
quickly, but extending it often requires an additional methodology.
The Scrum methodology is an iterative
an incremental agile development method. This methodology is very interesting
because in time-boxed periods (sprints) you finish part of the overall project
- in this case it could be an element of your Dynamics CRM solution like
relationship management, sales, marketing etc.
Especially from a functional
perspective, this is very interesting because changes can be quickly applied
and the customer can see the application evolving.
The challenge here is that you need to
know in detail what to build from both a functional and technical perspective.
In this method, the functional consultant makes wireframes that are divided
into sprints at a later stage. Developers
are not really accustomed to partially building bits of code and stopping, only
to enrich it in a later sprint. It is important to take this difference into
consideration because you have to clearly know which of your business processes
should be supported in your Dynamics CRM application.
An agile approach like scrum is
interesting and could work if correctly applied. Nevertheless keep in mind the
possible challenges you might be faced with when your implementation partner is
using this approach.
The Microsoft Sure Step methodology is designed especially for products in the Dynamics stack. The methodology defines
six phases e.g. diagnostics, analysis, design, development, deployment and operation. It also defines roles from both customer and consulting side and can be applied to several project types.
The approach is very interesting, because it is tailored made for Dynamics and comes with several document
templates and it combines the customer and consulting/ implementation partner.
Nevertheless, it might be challenge to
follow the methodology in smaller teams, where people are fulfilling more than one role and also the description of the roles might not fit with your
consulting partner. For example, a functional consultant could be mainly
focused on business analysis, but in other company also basic development can
be expected from this role.
In my opinion, the challenge in this
method is that you need to have a good understanding of Dynamics CRM and also
about the method itself and how your team will be working.
Choosing the right methodology might
seems easy, but as I have illustrated, you might struggle with the chosen
methodology, or most likely the methodology you are confronted with through
your consulting partner.
The key factor in choosing the right
methodology and making a methodology work is the experience you have with CRM
itself. In case you are new or just started with CRM, you might to tend toward
Sure Step, because it is tailored made for Dynamics, gives you more guidance in
your project, and takes the customer's role into account.
If you have more CRM experience and your
consulting partner has a more agile approach, then the combination of DSDM and
Scrum could work well, because it gives you more flexibility in defining and
realizing your desired functionality. Of course both methodologies are agile
My personal preference is something of
a hybrid: I like the phases in Sure Step and I often combine it with a prototype
while taking iterative steps toward the next stage.