Project Delivery by CRM Consultancy

Business Analysis

CRM Projects succeed and fail on how well the solution understands the wider business environment and user requirements, and strong business analysis is the foundation to ensuring this is done correctly.

Moreso than other types of project, CRM projects are frequently driven by the requirement for Business Change - and understanding the scope and aims for this change at the strategy-level as well as the functional-level can be critical to the correct planning, resourcing and managing of the implementation of Dynamics.

Having experience of delivering 50+ CRM Projects to numerous different types of businesses, we have a strong process for how we analyse the business goals to then focus the project delivery, and we do this by looking at each of the following areas:

Scope and Business Aims
Unmanaged projects can 'sprawl' out of control, defining and tracking scope at an easily understood level allows a project to have is crucial to keep the project focused.
Process
A successful solution is a collaboration between business process and system automation, understanding and documenting these processes as they fit into the wider solution is a key element in analysing the solution.
Requirements
The core of system analysis, identifying how specific items of functionality are required to support the processes. This documentation of these requirements then helps define the low-level size and complexity of the final solution.
Culture
No two businesses are the same and projects can fail through failing to understand the culture and previous experience of their target audience. Any successful strategy should take account of the organisational culture and examine processes and requirements from this view-point.

Understanding: How we do it right

As part of our approach to tackling a new project, we would look at:

Initial Scoping

Here we review the high-level objectives of the project and team structure, building a summary scoping document that documents:

Business Summary
The environment that the project is being delivered into.
Business Goals
Wider goals or Change Management that the project is aiming to deliver.
Processes & Teams Affected
Who will be affected by the project.
Which Stakeholders will be involved in the success of the project.
Roll-out Strategy
How will the project be delivered and what impacts will this place on the organisation - will this be a 'big bang', phased delivery or period of parallel running.
Hosting
The nuts and bolts - how will the systems behind the project be serviced and hosted.
Approximate Project Costing
Speaks for itself! The estimate for delivering the project and business change so this can considered for benefit vs cost.

Functional Specification

From the initial scoping, we then schedule a series of workshops to analyse the key processes and discuss with the teams involved. This then builds a specification for:

Prototype
A limited functionality build of the solution.
Process Flow
Description of each process or business area that will form part of the solution.
User Experience
How the system will work for each process identified.
Functional Requirements
The low-level requirements from the system to build the user experience for these processes.
Fit vs. Gap
Systems such as Dynamics CRM offer a range of existing functionality (Fit) that can be leveraged at a lower cost and higher reliability, and this contrast's against areas where we may need to build bespoke functionality to perfect the User Experience (Gap).
Where possible we use Fit to build a reliable consistent system with easier, more manageable support.
However when an area needs to be just right, particularly to get User Buy-in, then we look at our Gap options as part of the specification.
Detailed Cost
At this point, each process can be costed between Development, Implementation and Training.

Build, Playback, Repeat.

Visualising an entire system and business solution from a Specification and Prototype can be tricky, particularly as the User Experience in CRM is so important to success of the project - as such, our process is to build incrementally to allow for regular reviews and minor changes to how the solution takes shape.

As part of our approach to tackling a new project, we would look at:

Playback
The specification gives us the detailed description of the solution that we can manage and deliver, however we would always want to playback this specification to collect feedback and improve the user experience.
Build
We take the initial prototype for each process & flesh out with the developed functionality to achieve the best user experience. This is done in a series of iterations that combine Playbacks throughout the Build that then contribute to redefining & improving areas where appropriate. This concept of iterative development is crucial for CRM where the User Experience is king. Good interaction is necessary to ensure that the solution stays on-message & applicable to the end user audience.
Repeat
We repeat the process throughout the solution build to ensure that the project is collaborative approach.

Preparation

All the development has been done, and we are almost ready to go.

User Acceptance Testing
The final review, are we ready to go and have we tested the new business processes we are looking to roll-out as much as is possible in preparation for go-live.
Training
Business change only succeeds when we take the end teams with us, and to do this we aim to deliver focused solution-specific training to help the business get the very best from the new solution and new business processes.

Go live

Change is difficult, so as we move from Testing and Review into the day (or period) of go-live, we then put processes in place to make the transition as smooth as possible:

Go-Live Floor Walking
Sometimes the easiest way to manage change is to simply be present to help solve problems, answer questions and provide answers.
Warranty Support
Any system will have some unavoidable problems and that's where warranty support should be on-hand to solve problems and deliver fixes until the solution has passed the warranty period. To us, the period of transition is critical to helping deliver on the original goals of the project and so we prioritise warranty support over all else.

Nerve Centre Training
Deploying new ways of working can pose problems never encountered during formal UAT and Training, so we organise the 'nerve centre' alongside warranty support to help with queries, new training requirements and to provide a knowledge base of information on Dynamics CRM generally and the new solution specifically.

What Next?

In today's world, we view our solutions or systems as a service we provide to our clients - and this does not stop on the day of go-live.

As much as Testing and Review feedback is crucial pre go-live, nothing beats real feedback from the real day to day users using CRM. So our build, playback and repeat cycle does not close out the moment a project goes live, we instead look to work with the business to ensure that the solution is hitting the goals outlined.

End User Feedback - how can we make the system easier to use, how can the solution be improved.
Stakeholder Review - is the new solution giving us the information we set out to obtain? Are we seeing the efficiencies we targeted?
Business Review - is the overall project delivering on the goals we set out during in the Scoping, and is this then proving effective on ROI.
True Business Support
To this end, our post-warranty support is aimed at providing true Business Support rather than a simple Break/Fix model - as the goal is to deliver the business benefits and change that the project is aimed at, not just to deliver a system.

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