What You Need to Know About Microsoft’s Success by Design Implementation Methodology Book
When I wrote Mastering Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementations, my main goal was to provide a resource that didn’t exist – an updated guide on how to approach Microsoft Dynamics implementations.
Microsoft outlined its Sure Step methodology in the 2000-2010 period and there were books written and certification tests related to it, but that was a very “waterfall” focused implementation methodology which Microsoft itself had gone away from as we got into the 2010s. My book came out in June 2021 at nearly the same time as another valuable resource – an e-book from Microsoft first released in May 2021 called “Success by Design, Implementation Guide”. I’ve received several questions about how these two books are similar or different and what I think about them.
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My first thought on the two books: The more books about how to implement Microsoft Dynamics Software, the better
It is very challenging to implement comprehensive business applications, so I would advise anyone embarking on the journey to read everything they can before and during implementation. Microsoft's Success by Design Implementation Guide is available for free here. It is a 742-page e-Book and as far as I know, there are no hard copies - unless you want your printer to be busy for a long time).
This e-Book has sections closely related to the five steps of the Stoneridge Client Journey I outline in my book:
- Strategy (Align in Mastering Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementations)
- Initiate (Define)
- Implement (Create)
- Prepare (Deploy)
- Operate (Empower)
We are aligned in sentiment, if not in terminology here. Ultimately, a successful implementation required you to have a good strategy, initiate the process effectively, build the solution holistically, deploy the solution when it's ready, and operate it successfully after go-live.
Throughout the two books, our suggestions are very well-aligned. They recommend process-focused solutions just as we brand our implementation method as being "process-centric." As I went through the e-Book and compare the two, I found far more similarities than differences. In the next section, I'll highlight a few areas where their points might not be applicable or their content might be light for what readers might need.
What You Should Take From Microsoft's Success by Design Book
If you are embarking on an enterprise implementation, I recommend you read this book. The Success by Design book contemplates more complex scenarios than my book such as tenants in multiple geographies and the combination of multiple databases (Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations + Dynamics CRM + Azure, for example).
Frankly, I am a bit jealous of the fancy graphics in the book. They must have had a better graphic designer than I did (spoiler alert: it was me). The book also has several chapters that go into greater depth than my book:
- Chapter 9 on environment strategy does a nice job addressing multi-tenant environments and they hit on performance here. Chapter 17 outlines how to build and test performance, which is critical for high-scale applications.
- Chapter 10 on data management has a section in the first half that focuses on data governance, architect, and modeling with a couple of paragraphs on data archiving strategies as well. Looking back, I wish I would have spent more time on those items, so I definitely recommend you think about that as it will help you with reporting and Business Intelligence capabilities once you go live
- Chapter 11 - If you are deploying CRM, there is a large section on managing solutions that would be a good reference for you
- Chapter 12 is a more in-depth look at security than I covered. I recommend having your technical teams review that chapter in detail
- Chapter 15 is all about integrations, and this is a good in-depth review of things to consider if you are planning integrations with your project. I really like the chart on pages 493-496 which outlines when to use specific integrations or reporting platforms. Every architect should read this
- They didn't have a chapter dedicated to Change Management as I did but they do a good job weaving Change Management into all the chapters of the book. That was a good idea and something I will focus on for future revisions of my book
- I also like the checklists they had at the end of each chapter - when reading it, make sure to take the time to go through those lists to ensure you understand each of the concepts
Some Things for Readers of Success by Design Should Keep in Mind
The biggest caution I have for readers of the Microsoft book is it is largely enterprise-focused. If you are a small to medium business trying to implement Dynamics 365 Business Central or CRM (or even an out-of-the-box version of Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations), you could spend a lot more than you need on your implementation if you follow every step in the book.
Stoneridge's implementation methodology scales down. We take out certain activities in a shorter implementation because the value isn't there for the money spent. Implementing Dynamics 365 Business Central and following each step in this book would cost double what it would otherwise.
Here are some examples:
- In Chapter 3 they talk about the value of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and DevOps. You should absolutely use these in an enterprise or highly-customized solutions, but an implementation including an out-of-the-box solution and some ISVs wouldn't need that level of customization management
- Chapter 4 contains a section about a minimum viable product (MVP) and how that is valuable for Power Apps in particular. MVPs don't have a lot of applicability in business applications because the solutions are so integrated. I would warn you that if you roll out an MVP to the team, make sure you initially target "technology forward" individuals at your organization because if it doesn't work right away, you might struggle to get people to adopt it when you roll it out completely. I'm all in favor of going live with as minimal of a footprint as you can, but the idea of MVPs in Business Applications makes me nervous
- The book talks about Project Organizations in Chapter 8, but I think that aspect requires a bit more time and attention, especially for a client implementing Microsoft Dynamics. Give your team structure some serious thought as you go into an implementation
- Chapter 18 covers go-live readiness and they mention the Go/No-Go on a visual but do not talk about the Go/No-Go meeting. This seems like an oversight, as you will certainly want to have that meeting
- Chapters 20 and 21 talks about Hypercare and post-go-live support. They address a lot about how Microsoft releases updated for Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations and CRM, but neither chapter talks about how to plan for your post-go-live releases. This is a critical part of success with an ERP or CRM implementation. You have to continue to add value on top of this powerful platform and you should do that through planned releases that take into account Microsoft's updates as well
- Microsoft doesn't support ISVs, so there are a few references in the book to ISVs but no real dedicated content.
Overall, Success by Design is great for companies implementing Dynamics business applications in their enterprise. I'm excited Microsoft put this out there and recommended it to many of our clients, as it is a valuable guide on the difficult journey of implementing business applications.
Want to learn more?
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