Organizations that intend to implement Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP seek a variety of common benefits from the business application, but in most of the implementation projects I have engaged in there was no clearly defined benefits list that the company management agreed on and no roadmap that leads them to achieving those benefits.
In a new Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation road map series, I will look at the essential activities involved in assessing and adapting ERP software to business requirements. We’ll start by examining planning and analysis, then move to execution challenges of going live, and its best practices (I’ve already covered some detail of deployment in Best Practices for Deploying Microsoft Dynamics AX Opening Balances, then on to post go-live, operations stabilization, and monthly closing, in addition to reporting, and decision support (BI solutions).
Planning a Dynamics AX project
Companies that have decided to get into an ERP implementation project should be working together with a consulting partner specialized in Microsoft Dynamics AX implementations. The customer and partner should clearly define the objectives of the ERP solution as early as possible in the Diagnostic phase. Samples of ERP implementation objectives are:
- Business Process
- Business process automation
- Streamline business process in cross functions operations
- Unified business process across holding and subsidiaries
- Single point of contact for reducing the redundant data within departments
- Segregation of duties, and data access privilege
- Advance workflow and approval matrix ceiling
- Tracking the actual costs against budgeted
- Inventory tracking, and cost control
- Decision Support
- Real time and ad hoc reports for all levels
- Dynamic and dimensional reports
- KPIs and indicators dashboard
There are four different classifications for ERP implementation projects:
- An organization just starting up its operations and will began the business activities with MS Dynamics AX in place
- An organization that handles operations manually (paper work) and decides to move from manual work to automated ERP (Dynamics AX)
- An organization that has operations handled by another ERP system and decide to move to Dynamics AX
- An organization that handles operations with Dynamics AX and decides to upgrade to a newer version of Dynamics AX and/or broaden the amount of functionality deployed in the existing solution.
Each classification has different challenges and implementation techniques, but one of the common challenges – and success factors – is defining business processes and finding ways to standardize and automate them to reduce manual work and increase efficiency.
While working on gathering and analyzing the business requirements in the analysis phase, the implementation team should measure the complexity level of the business needs and how they can be bridged to Dynamics AX.
There are alternative proposals for the requirements depending on the cost and complexity of implementing them. Those proposed solutions are:
- First: a fully automated solution based on application functionality, whether it is standard functionality, a work around, a third party add-on, or a customization
- Second: a “semi-manual” solution based on application functionality in addition to a manual component to complete the business cycle
- Third: a manual solution outside the application to carry out the business cycle.
These alternative solutions should be evaluated in order to choose how the requirements will be fulfilled.
Solution assessment criteria must take into account two positions: business and project management. The first evaluates how important each requirement is for business needs, and the second asses how it affects project scope, time, cost, and quality. The two point of views should reach a mutual agreement to determine exactly how the requirements will be tackled.
The approach that increases the likelihood of success is to define the business objective and the final results which the business need to achieve, and then decide which specific steps in the project will carry out this goal. The agile implementation approach gives the team added flexibility to build the solution iteratively, where the implementation can go live with manual process, or semi-manual, with the understanding that if a manual solution achieves the required business results and objectives then the company will work toward a smooth transformation to a fully automated solution.
In conclusion, full automation from day one of going live is rarely possible, so do not worry about proposing manual or semi-manual solutions that are achievable with regard to project constraints, time, cost, and quality. But in the spirit of constant improvement, do not forget your company’s ultimate goal of fulfilling business requirements through a fully automated solution that provides maximum value.
User Group: Dynamics Arabia