Moving from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central – Part 4: Additional Project Variables

By Sean Solberg | June 11, 2020

Moving from NAV to BC: Additional project variables

In the previous three posts in the Moving from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central series, we have highlighted the more objective variables in any migration project from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Busines Central. Unfortunately, when estimating the scope, budget, and timeline for your project, the most elusive variables remain. These are both harder to quantify upfront and can permeate all other aspects of the project. In rough terms, these variables typically influence about 30% of the timeline and budget.

Some examples of these variables include project team makeup, decentralization of decision-making, travel requirements, security requirements, to-be workflow changes, to-be company structures within the application, partner familiarity with your business and database, and partner capability overall. If the data and code decisions described in previous posts are the science of the project, these variables represent the art.

We’ll hit on five of these areas here, starting with team dynamics.

1. Team Dynamics

This is where you get your family excited about the move and all committing to their respective roles. The aspects of team dynamics you can best control are 1) team makeup and 2) flexibility of decision making. Put together a good core team of functional area experts with sufficient time allotted to the project and a good attitude toward change. In conjunction with the functional area representatives, make sure someone with the authority to make small-to-medium scope and customization decisions are always in the room. The less back-and-forth needed to get answers to “can we” and “should we”, the more fluidly the project will progress.

2. Travel

Travel seems more straight-forward, but can sometimes cause tension if not defined properly upfront. If you and your partner don’t happen to reside in the same city, work together to put together a clear plan for how many on-site visits you expect and at what points throughout the project – and then try to stick closely to that plan.

With the use of MS Teams and remote connectivity, it is much less important than it was even just a few years ago to be in the same location for every stage of the project. In fact, many projects can be completed effectively without your partner making a single visit.

Technology aside, there is sometimes value in being able to work through an aspect of the project face-to-face. The most typical areas where this can be warranted are the more intense process review sessions, initial testing and training, final user acceptance, and at go-live. Spend some time with your partner considering how you measure cost/benefit of face-to-face time and get those preferences applied to the project from the start.

3. Workflows

Two of the main benefits of moving to Business Central are the improved processes and integrations afforded in the solution. While you will certainly want to take advantage of those, you may also see the project as an opportunity to improve other workflows less influenced by the move to BC.

This is a healthy approach but can throw a timeline and budget off-track if not understood at the outset. Make sure you and your partner have gone over any areas where you will be looking for improvement. They can help identify if each of those improvement areas will be a natural byproduct of the move, or if some additional reengineering might be necessary.

4. Security

Security is not fun; there is really no way around it. Of all activities on the project, the time spent defining security, executing permission assignments, and testing access will be the least rewarding. Think about how you child-proof a home. You need to really stop and reflect on every way your family could get themselves into trouble or damage your home. Likewise, you will want to consider how many locks you are comfortable with on the doors and whether a full-on surveillance system is needed.

You could take a shortcut and assign “super” rights to all users, but you will likely instead want to control and manage data access and rights throughout the application. Minimally, consider some typical areas to protect or lockdown, including the general ledger, payment processing, credit card information, and social security numbers. Worth noting, these are the regular targets and things can get more nuanced once we move beyond this first layer.

Your current security configurations will likely not port directly to BC and adjustments (minimally) or restructuring (more likely) of your security configurations will be needed. If you have spent some time considering what you want to protect and what investment is justified, you should be all set when you get to BC.

5. Partner

In any move, if you don’t like and trust your movers, you are adding risk to your journey. Likewise, if you are not communicating effectively with your movers, things can get forgotten, misplaced, or delivered to the wrong rooms – if not to the wrong address.

For the move to BC, your partner’s experience with the tools, access to additional internal resources, general expertise with the application, and familiarity with you and your business will all contribute to a successful project. If you are working with a new partner, make sure you spend time familiarizing them with your processes, current pain-points, and your team. Whether you are working with a long-time partner or a new partner, also be sure to walk through the project in detail before the kick-off so you are sure that your assumptions are their assumptions.

Finally, there will be documents intended to define the project (SOW, project estimate, project plan, etc…). Do not assume these ensure 100% clarity and consistency in vision. All documentation will lack, at some level, a sense of goals or more abstract nuances in various areas of the project. If you and your partner are in sync from the beginning, the documents should rarely need to be referenced after the project starts.

Summary of Moving from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central – Part 4: Additional Project Variables

The variables discussed in this post should be clearly understood by you and your partner, despite their somewhat subjective nature. Consideration of these points before you start, and a strong relationship with your partner, will ensure success - even when small surprises arise throughout the project. If you and your partner share the same vision, there is almost always room to shift things around slightly and stay on-time and on-budget.

A successful move means everyone knows what’s important, where everything goes, and how to get there – as well as the flexibility to work together in the event the moving truck gets the inevitable flat tire at some point along the way.

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