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Dynamics Day In The Life: Upgrading NorthEdge Capital to the Unified Interface in Dynamics

   Words by Paul McQuillan

   on 30/04/2020 15:38:00

imageFor Dynamics Users, Microsoft are slowly moving their cloud from version 9 to the Unified UI. This will change at a pre-set date, or if you are feeling brave as a business you can embrace the change earlier – but as we know, in business change is never easy.

NorthEdge Capital was one such company, looking to upgrade early, with the help of our services and expertise of Dynamics. Usually this would be a typical consultancy exercise, get onsite and build a project roadmap and build that business relationship, however the project start clashed with the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK

James Binnie from our Consultancy Team explains the process for upgrading North Edge to the new Interface in Dynamics.

Go or No Go

Now even with the lockdown, the upgrade clock is still ticking so we had a choice to make. With no idea of how long the lockdown would last, rather than getting that ‘out of reach’ face to face meeting, we needed to find a different solution – This seems to be a theme of mine, but we found the solution in the Microsoft stack in the space of Teams

The solution was simple;

  • Launch the project with the Client with a Teams meeting
  • Set up 2 half day screen sharing sessions where we would share the functional consultant’s screen with the client so they could watch the process in real time
  • Get access to the current Dynamics deployment before the scheduled build days to get a feel for the current build/business processes

    The Upgrade

    The upgrade was split up into the following work streams

    1) The Initial Assessment

    Upon logging into NorthEdge’s Live environment I was pleasantly surprised. All customisations had been handled internally and had been done well. Workflow had been built in a clean cut fashion and the Form design was also tidy. The main cause for concern was the busy sitemap, however with us building a new Unified Interface app, the sitemap would be cleaned up

    For the Sitemap we wanted to streamline down too;

    • Dashboards
    • Activities
    • Accounts
    • Customers
    • Opportunities
    • Referrals
    • Fee’s

    The Client had also checked out the visual change of the Unified Interface, and already introduced the business to the new look of Dynamics. So my sole focus would be building the Unified App and preserving the business processes in our 2 half day sessions

    2) Build time

    So the Teams session was very easy to set up and was stable for the 3.5 hours session (which I won’t lie, was refreshing). To summarise the build I worked in the current methodology;

    • Create a Sandbox Environment – There was no Sandbox in place so I created one from a roll back of Live and introduced NorthEdge to the release cycle standards (Make all changes in the Sandbox for UAT, once signed off the changes can be bundled into a solution and deployed to Live)
    • Build a new Unified Interface App – With our initial assessment done this enabled me to get straight to work. The more thinking time you give yourself on an project, the more you can plan and apply your solution in a methodical fashion. This builds a solid base to work from and then if there are any shifting variables, thinking on the fly is more natural (well at least that’s my ethos)
      • Only use the agreed Entities above in the Sitemap
    • Assess the look and feel of the solution – I am a big advocate of the user experience and more often than not will use that as a point of reference and reverse engineer my solution in Dynamics. So looking at an A/B comparison of the new App I had built v.s. the current version 9 deployment and checking the business processes were working alongside the Form design (can the User still access all the key information in the new App)
    • Dashboards – We have seen some bugs around the default Dashboard reporting in Dynamics so these were also checked
    • Dynamics Theme – This is one of my favorite bits of functionality since moving from the world of CRM 2011. Building a new Theme in the Sandbox environment to really give Dynamics a custom feel for NorthEdge

    3) Review and Wins

    Once completed it was time to hand the reigns back over the NorthEdge and let them test what I had built. With the introduction of the Sandbox this now means those small changes that would just be left can now be actioned (which is something they have embraced). I also highlighted a few data entry points I had identified that could be changed in such a way that would mean they would become more future proof and changeable by the Client (rather than needing a consultant to be involved).

    As a result of combine effort we have now got;

    • The Unified App now built and ready for Live deployment
    • A cleaner User interface that is both PC and Mobile friendly
    • A cleaner Sitemap
    • Key information on one screen without the need to scroll up and down a form
    • A Sandbox Environment to action release cycles
    • A Theme that gives Dynamics a direct link to the company branding

    clip_image002

    “It is a pleasure to work with a consultant who really puts the customer first and doesn’t just think about the £’s.  A real pleasure and as a consequence I think we could have the start of a good working relationship.”

    Derek Knowles, Head of Operations, NorthEdge Capital

    About NorthEdge Capital

    NorthEdge Capital manages over £650m of private equity funds aimed at lower-mid market buy-out and development capital transactions.

    We are looking to invest in like-minded businesses and management teams who have real ambition and the potential to shape global markets from the regional powerhouses. Our track record and the way we conduct ourselves sets us apart, and we put smart thinking and logical decision-making at the centre of everything we do.

    We are looking to invest typically between £2m – £45m in each business we back in growth and development capital, management buy-outs, equity release and buy-and-build opportunities. Our focus is on established businesses, typically with turnover greater than £5m and profits greater than £0.5m.

    Based in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, we understand the engines of the regional economy because we are one.

    The CRMCS Products Used to Achieve this Outcome Dynamics 365 Consultancy

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