This post provides several tips that can help companies save time and money on implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP system.
The very first thing that can help save time and money is determining whether D365BC is the right product. A good implementation (and also the one that saves most time and money) is the one that starts with the specific objectives and self-assessment in mind. Therefore, these questions, along with your other efforts, may help start D365BC implementation on “the right foot” and save on it:
I) Why do I need a (new) ERP system?
– Do you need to reinforce your reporting and improve decision making?
– Do you need a system that has familiar (as compared to other Microsoft products) look and feel?
– Do you want to be able to integrate with other systems through API?
– Do you want to move away from Excel or Access onto a more robust system?
II) Is my team ready?
– Do you have enough people who can carve time out of their day-to-day business activities and dedicate it to the implementation? If so, how much should they spend – e.g. a day per week, two hours a day, etc. – make it clear with the team and the implementation 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 no one can even support it?
III) Do I have enough money?
– What is your budget for the new ERP system? Have the top figure in mind and make sure that your quote for D365BC implementation is at least 15% under your max – this is because D365BC projects can go 10 – 15% over the budget (Edocation team often comes under the budget, but it is better to have a plan B just in case).
– Are you ready to pay the monthly subscription costs for your D365BC licenses?
IV) Am I going to get the new system on time?
– When do you want to (and your team and the implementation Partner can) go Live with D365BC – have a spare month, in case the preparation takes a bit longer?
– 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 (and not save) time during the implementation period and first two months into Go-Live?
If you are still thinking, you can ask one of the Partners for a consultation. Some, like Edocation Corp., offer a free consultation.
If you have made a decision, then, there are some tips to help you save your time and money which is important as implementing D365BC can be both time-consuming and costly. Saving time is important to help ensure that the employees engaged in D365BC implementation, can also perform their day-to-day business activities. Saving money is important as it can be spent on something else such as improving your company’s products and services or giving a bonus to your employees for all their hard work (instead of paying to an implementation Partner).
There are several things that are involved in D365BC implementation and it is possible to save in each of these categories.
Finding & Working with an Implementation (Microsoft) Partner
1) Local, “organic” & “fair trade” – if possible, consider finding a local Partner – at least, in the same country, this is to ensure that:
a) 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 research and testing);
b) you do not need to pay for their travel and hotel expenses or at least less than if they were far away (e.g. if they are in a different country, you may also end up paying for their work visas and wait for them to obtain the visas).
2) Hourly rate – ask what the Partner charges for one hour of work of their consultants, project managers and any other people they are planning to be involved in the implementation – typically bigger Partners charge more, but often deliver comparable services – therefore, it may be a good idea to shop around prior to making a decision.
3) Implementation packages – by now you may have seen that some Partners offer D365BC implementation packages such as “core financials”. As the experience shows, the “core financials” term can mean different things to different people. Therefore, while comparing the price for a “core financials” package by different Partners may be a good starting point, it is also prudent to inquire about what is inside of their package (e.g. does it include custom Cheque, Sales Invoice and other Reports and if it does, which ones exactly).
1) Haste makes waste – you may have heard this old saying – it turns out that it is fully applicable to your D365BC implementation. Here is how you can save. 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 two 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 (testing, training, etc.) on the implementation. Here is how it works. Let’s say, out of 10 full licenses that you need eventually (for the Go-Live), only 5 are going to be used by your team members while they are working on seting up and testing the system. If your implementation is 6 months, you can save
$89.60 (cost of an Essentials license / month) * 5 licenses * 6 months = $2,688.00 CAD on this simple tip alone.
2) Essentials vs Team Member – some of your Users will only need to view the data in the system (e.g. a finance performance manager) or do simple actions (e.g. entering Time Sheets) – for these Users, it should suffice to get them a Team Member ($10.20 / month) license instead of an Essentials ($89.60 / month) or Premium ($128.00) license. For example, if you have 10 Users who only need to run financial reports (e.g. heads of departments), including PowerBI reports, you can save
$9,528.00 CAD each year ((89.60 – 10.20) * 12 months * 10 Users) by using this simple tip.
1) When less is more – with new notion of Extensions, it is much easier and safer to do any additional development in the system; yet any development that exceeds layout modifications (e.g. to move things on the “Sales Invoice” or “Cheque” Report for you), can still be a burden to both implement and, especially, to maintain. Microsoft releases monthly improvements and fixes for D365BC (Cloud). These get installed in your D365BC automatically (similar to Windows updates) and for free (i.e. as a part of the monthly license cost). In theory, all Extensions should work fine with every new release (particularly, if an Extension builds a new Table rather than tries to adjust an existing core Table or function). In practice, however, some monthly releases require that the Extension code should be reviewed and updated by a developer. Therefore, as much as possible it is a good idea to avoid any development. This being said, sometimes, it is wiser to allow some development as it advances your business processes substantially. Bottom line: if possible, avoid development, but not at the expense of critical business efficiencies.
2) Always ask ‘HOW’ – development is one of the areas that can easily go beyond the budget. Therefore, work towards clarity and control the development scope and the related estimate. Not only it is a good idea to state in the scope WHAT needs to happen, but also HOW the developer is going to do it. This can easily help save thousands of dollars because if the developer has committed towards doing the work that way, it is hard to back up and justify a different way and even if that happens, it is much easier to negotiate a discount. Moreover, if the developer already knows how s/he is going to achieve the goal, the task can be considered half done and you have not paid for it anything yet. You do not need to know all the details, but a general idea of how the development tasks is to be fulfilled should suffice.
1) “Same old, same old” – some old and reliable classic project management practices can help save both time and money and ensure that the project is a success, therefore, all PM basics must be covered:
a) request that each status meeting must have an agenda prior to your meeting – what’s the use to meet to chat about general stuff – you and your team are too busy for that. Moreover, you are here to make sure that your budget and timeline are closely monitored and not to speak about the PM’s general impressions or experiences;
b) even before you start a project, review what is in and out of scope and keep all parties (you and your team included) 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;
c) follow other good common sense PM practices while being open minded to a good piece of advice.
2) Request the team you want – if you have heard from your fellow company that this Partner did a good job implementing D365BC for them – inquire who (the people) did it – you may consider asking the Partner that the same person / people should be on your project too. Alternatively, if you see that the project team that has been appointed on your implementation is consistently (give them a chance though) failing to meet your expectations and develop sufficient understanding of your business – request gently that the team should be reinforced or changed – you are paying for the implementation and have certain freedom on the project. The word “gentle” is the key there – no need being or making someone upset. If all fails – consider switching the Partner altogether (either after or even during the implementation) – again, the word “gentle” is the key.
3) Orchestrate the project – PMs on projects are sometimes erroneously seen as “time eaters”. Make sure that you request from your PM all that you need, including regular budget to actual reports with projections, project updates, etc. Avoid micromanagement, but let your PM know exactly what you need and let her/him do it for you and your team – after all you have PM hours 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.
Go-Live Preparation & Transitioning to Support
1) 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 and even days (e.g. on fixing).
2) Keep calm – by the end of the project (around Go-Live), you and your team may not feel 100% comfortable, but you should feel confident. It is as much applicable to the system setups as to the project budget. Up to now we have discussed the ways of not spending extra time or money, but sometimes spending an extra dime can save a dollar. This is often a case with Go-Live as you do not want the time and money up to now be wasted because you do not want to spend a couple of extra hours now. Be wise with your budget, not just stingy. It may be unwise to develop a new tool right at the end, but fixing something for Go-Live to save on much more time-consuming fixes later on can be wise.
3) Subject matter experts (SMEs) – make sure that all the questions, that your team has, go to your team’s SMEs. This is to help avoid a situation where any question that your team encounters go directly to the Partner, especially if the questions are the same. Let the team first ask their SME and if s/he is unable to help, this SME can direct the question to the Partner.
The tips above boil down to adhering to best practices in choosing a Partner, ERP licensing, development, project management, and Go-Live preparation and readiness and should be used with the consideration of your unique implementation needs and context.
At Edocation, we implement D365BC with all these points in mind. If you would like to discuss your ERP needs with one of our specialists, contact us.
1. What is Microsoft Dynamics 365?
2. Dynamics 365 Business Central: 2019 Release Wave 2