I was looking through some old documents of mine and found notes I had jotted down after my first big Dynamics NAV implementation. In reflection, I realized that these notes on what could have been improved the first time around are as true then as they are now. Here are my observations:
Get the testing system set up first
The test system is crucial. You want your end users training in an environment that is close to what they will be actually working with. Using a demo environment with too many extra fields and buttons will only confuse them the first time they are using NAV. Start with the basics of what they will be doing and grow outward towards all of the things they could be doing to help enable their business.
Lock down all workflows & train users in the testing system
It is important to interview end users relentlessly and track down who is responsible for what. That way, all gaps are shored up early and you can design the software to make their lives easier. Is there end of month or end of year tasks they will need to know how to do in NAV? Are there unique customers that will require different workflows from the rest? Be persistent.
Implement and update a shared issues list
This is an important piece of communication between the consulting partner and the client that must constantly be dealt with. If there are things you are waiting on, time is wasted if the other side does not know about it. Keep a public list of what is outstanding and whose job it is to address it. Make sure this list is constantly watched and managed.
Have a complete setup list that is tackled ASAP
I recommend a master checklist of areas that need configuring, such as: tables that need importing, posting setup, RapidStart files that will kick off the company’s structure, etc. These setups are the core of your implementation. For any given software program, there are seemingly endless settings and options. Get these handled and out of the way early with the client, and have them sign off on them when completed so they know they are responsible for these settings going forward. This way, you are not scrambling at the last minute to change things when it may be too late.
Most clients place heavy emphasis on reporting, even though it is something that comes later in the implementation process. Know what types of reports, splits, and filters they will need down the road so the foundations of your setup can easily support them without too much configuration. Pay close to attention to the global and shortcut dimensions you choose and how detailed their income statements need to be.
Communicate vacation time to both sides
You do not want to figure out too late that you need to work closely with certain employees only to find they are on vacation for the next week. Have a place where both partner and client can see everyone’s outages. No appointment nor employee is too small to keep track of.
Have check-ins with the Project Managers
Make sure the project managers are frequently in the loop. They will be keeping track of your hours and budget, among other things. It is nice to know where you stand so you can bring in other resources if you have the time and money, or if you are well over budget and need to adjust your current project plan.
Everyone talks about the importance of documentation. It really can be a lifesaver. Do not delete emails. Do not erase a completed to-do list. Write down a quick recap of what you did to solve a weird problem. Make sure verbal conversations are either signed off on a piece of paper or recapped and sent in an email that can be found later. Audit trails are your friend.
NAV Notes Recap
While I can admit there were some things that did not go as smoothly as I wanted on that first project, looking back I was easily able to see how the earlier day-to-day tasks fit into the big picture. Going forward, I was able to trim the fat and focus on how successive implementations can run more efficiently. Hopefully, the areas I’ve outlined above will help you out or confirm what you already know!