Below are several tips and tricks to save time and money on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365BC) implementation. The discussion is organized as follows: first, the ERP (enterprise resource planning) self-assessment questions (I) are offered and discounts (II) are mentioned; then, the efficient ways to select a Partner (III) are reviewed; next, license procurement (IV) matters are attended to, followed by development (V) and project management (VI) questions; the Go-Live points (VII) are highlighted at the end of this post; the conclusions are available in the corresponding section.
To learn more about D365BC modules, its financial reporting and budgeting capabilities, the industries and sectors it serves, its license types and their prices and to estimate your implementation cost and savings, visit the corresponding page or contact us.
I. SELF-ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS
To save time and money, it is important to determine if D365BC is the right product. A good implementation (and also the one that saves most time and money) is the one that starts with specific objectives. Therefore, these self-assessment questions help set specific objectives, which, together with other efforts, contribute to the success of D365BC implementation.
- Do you need to reinforce your reporting and improve decision making?
- Do you need a system that has familiar (similar to other Microsoft products) look and feel?
- Do you want to be able to integrate with Dynamics 365, Power Platform or other Microsoft products and beyond via API or otherwise?
- Do you want to move away from Excel or Access to a more robust system?
- Do you have enough people who can carve time for the implementation? If so, how much time do you expect them to spend on this – make it clear to your team and your Partner?
- Do you have the team who is willing to learn new things?
- Have you received any requests from your team to improve your existing system?
- Is your team noticing the “clumsiness” of your current system, but it is so old that it is not supported any longer?
- When do you want to (+ your team and the Partner can) go Live with D365BC – plan for an extra month, in case the things take longer than planned?
- Is this your seasonal spike and you want to postpone implementation to protect the operations – if you implement the new system when the seasonal demand is at full swing, you risk losing orders which would contradict your objective to save, therefore, pick the right dates?
- Are you prepared that the new system is going to take away time (rather than save it) during the implementation period and first two months into Go-Live?
If you would like to discuss these and other related questions with a Microsoft certified specialist, contact us.
II. DISCOUNTS & PROMOTIONS
Although only few, but some Partners (for example, Edocation), offer D365BC implementation and other discounts, promotions, coupons, deals and other savings that you and your company can take advantage of. To save, inquire about your options.
III. FINDING & WORKING WITH A PARTNER
- Local, “organic” & “fair trade” – if possible, consider finding a local official Microsoft Partner, – at least, in the same country, this is to ensure that:
- they know the local peculiarities (e.g. if you and your Partner are in Canada, chances are that your Partner does not need to do research on how the taxes need to be set up – so, you can save money on them doing the research and testing);
- you do not need to pay for their travel and hotel expenses or at least less than if they were far away (if they are in a different country, you may also end up paying for their work visas and wait for them to obtain the documents).
- Hourly rate – ask what the Partner charges per hour of work – typically, the bigger is the Partner, the more they charge, but deliver comparable services – therefore, it may be a good idea to shop around prior to making a decision.
- Implementation packages – by now you may have seen that some Partners offer implementation packages such as “core financials”. However, “core financials” can mean different things to different Partners. Therefore, while comparing the price for a “core financials” package may be a good starting point, it is also prudent to inquire about what is inside of the package (e.g. does it include custom Reports, if so, which ones).
IV. PROCURING LICENSES
- Haste makes waste – if you are planning on purchasing 10 full (Essentials or Premium) licenses for Go-Live, you can do so a couple of weeks prior to Go-Live itself (it should only take a day or so for the Partner to get additional licenses for you). Therefore, at the beginning of the project get only as many licenses as there are people in your team actively working on the implementation. Let’s say, out of 10 full licenses that you need for the Go-Live, only 5 are going to be used by your team members while they are working on setting up and testing the system. If your implementation lasts 6 months, you can save
$89.601 (cost of an Essentials license / month) * 5 licenses * 6 months = $2,688.00 CAD on this simple tip alone.
- Essentials vs Team Member – some of your Users will only need to view the data in the system (e.g. to run a financial report) or do simple actions (e.g. to enter Time Sheets) – these Users should only need a Team Member ($10.20 / month) license which is several times cheaper than a full license. For example, if you have 10 Users who only need to run financial reports, you can save
$9,528.00 CAD each year ((89.60 – 10.20) * 12 months * 10 Users) by using this simple tip.
- When less is more – with new notion of Extensions, it is much easier and safer to do any additional development in the system; yet development can still be a burden to both implement and, especially, to maintain. This is because for D365BC (on the Cloud), Microsoft releases free monthly updates and fixes; these are installed in your D365BC environment automatically (similar to Windows updates), but the extra code added through Extensions, it may be necessary to get developers’ help to update the Extensions manually so that they and the system can work well after the new updates. Therefore, if possible, avoid any development.
- Always ask ‘How?’ – development is one of the areas that can easily go beyond the implementation budget. Therefore, work towards clarity and control the development scope and the related estimate (no need to know all the details, it should suffice to get a general idea of how the development is be completed). Not only it is a good idea to state in the scope WHAT needs to happen, but also HOW the developer is going to achieve this. This can help save thousands of dollars. If a developer already knows how s/he is going to achieve the goal, the task can be considered half done and, since this was an estimate, you typically do not even have to pay anything yet.
VI. PROJECT MANAGEMENT
- “Same old, same old” – some old and reliable project management (PM) practices can help save both time and money and ensure that the project is a success:
- request that each status meeting must have an agenda prior to the meeting – what’s the use to meet without a purpose – you and your team are too busy (and thrifty) for that. The PM should cover in sufficient detail the budget and timeline updates regularly;
- even before you start the project, review what is in and out of scope and keep all parties (your Partner and you with your team) accountable. If you or the Partner need to change anything in the original scope, request a quote and a justification prior to committing to it;
- follow other good common sense PM practices while being open minded to valuable observations and suggestions.
- Request the team you want – if you have been referred to Partner by someone you know becuase the Partner did a good job for them, inquire who (the Partner’s team) did it – you may want to requewsat that the same people should be on your project too. If the project team that has been appointed to work on your implementation is consistently failing (give them a chance) to develop sufficient understanding of your business and otherwise meet the project objectives – request politely that the team should be reinforced or changed – you are paying for the implementation and have certain freedom on the project. If all fails – consider switching the Partner altogether.
- Orchestrate the project – PMs are sometimes erroneously viewed as “budget eaters”. Make sure that you request from your PM all the PM work that you and your team need. There is no need to micromanage, but make it clear to the PM what exactly you and your team need – after all, you have the PM hours in your project for this and it is better if the time is spent on what you need as compared to what the PM thinks that you need.
VII. GO-LIVE PREPARATION & TRANSITIONING TO SUPPORT
- Plan – it is necessary to have a brief Go-Live plan. The PM can prepare it for you – the objective is to ensure that each person knows what, when and how they should act for the cut-off date, balance migration, Go-Live date, etc. Overly complex planning will burn unnecessary PM hours, while a good and brief plan can save hours or days of work and the project budget money.
- Keep calm – by the end of the project (around Go-Live), you and your team may feel a little bit uncomfortable – this is normal, but you should feel confident. It is as much applicable to the system setups as to the project budget. Up to now, the ways to save time and money have been discussed, but sometimes spending an extra dime can save a dollar. This is often the case with the Go-Live as you do not want the time and the money spent up to now be wasted because you do not want to spend a couple of extra hours. Be wise with your budget, not just thrifty. Again, use common sense and do your planning.
- Subject matter experts (SMEs) – make sure that all the questions, that your team has, go to your team’s SMEs (rather than directly to the Partner). This is to prevent the same question being asked to the Partner by different team members as multiple charges are going to be applied each time. Instead, the team can ask their SME and if s/he is unable to help, this SME can direct the question to the Partner.
The tips and tricks above boil down to adhering to best practices in self-assessing the ERP needs of a company, choosing a Partner, selecting ERP license types and quantities, doing only necessary development, enhancing project management and getting ready for the Go-Live. At Edocation, we implement D365BC with all these points in mind. If you would like to discuss your ERP needs with one of our certified specialists, contact us.
1. What is Microsoft Dynamics 365?
2. What is Microsoft Power Platform?
3. SOFTWARE Model (Edocation)
1 All the license prices specified in this post are for on-Cloud hosting. These prices are from the official Microsoft website (https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-ca/business-central/overview/) and were accessed on the day of the publication of this post; the prices may change and they are not a sales quote – contact us to confirm the prices. The prices are subject to the applicable taxes (calculated separately).