Monday, August 30, 2010

Sure Step Myths Debunked

I have been teaching Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step curriculum for a couple of years now. And with the changes in the partner program, the past 6 months (and even the past year) have seen the fullest classes I have taught in a long time. I definitely enjoy hearing the different experiences from a variety of Dynamics partners (AX, CRM, GP, NAV, SL). Contrary to popular belief, it is not only the "large" partners who have found benefit and efficiency by implementing Sure Step in their practices. I have heard just as many success stores from small to medium sized partners as well, who have one to two offices at the maximum.

But, of course, it's not all success stories and I thought I might take some time to debunk some of the most popular myths or confusions surrounding Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step.

"It's all about the documentation"
During the first day of class, I find that students are repeatedly flipping to the documents tab in Sure Step to locate information. But the real value in Sure Step is in the reference tab, where you can locate valuable guidance on project activities and project management disciplines. The templates and other resources are linked directly in to the guidance in the Tools, Templates, and Links pane at the top of Sure Step.

"It only applies to large implementations"

I think this, too, tracks back to the misunderstanding that Sure Step is only about documentation. It is equally about process. Activities can be conducted formally or informally or not at all, based on the scale of the project. Use the project type filter in the upper right hand corner of Sure Step to filter the project activities. For example, pick Rapid to filter to the simplest list of activities or Standard for a step up in complexity. And, again, it doesn't have to be about completing ALL of the templates. Focus on the process, and use the documentation that supports your project goals and plan.

"I don't know where to begin"

Okay, fair enough. But here are a couple suggestions. First, in Sure Step, under Additional Resources, select Information Flow- Key Documents. These documents and activities (yes, the image of the flow is hyperlinked to the appropriate activities and guidance in Sure Step) are a great starting point as they represent the "spine" of the Sure Step process. I suggest to students to review this flow, and then think critically about the failures in their organizations. Pick a failure (or something you could do better if failure is too strong of a word), and start with that activity/guidance/document. Nothing says you have to adopt ALL of Sure Step at the same time. Pick your battles, and pick the ones that are the easiest wins for your organization. Consistently have issues with customizations not being quite what the customer wanted? Look at the design documents highlighted in the design phase. Requirements not clear enough in the diagnostic phase to create a reliable high level budget for the project? Look in to the available decision accelerators to assist with the requirements gathering and scoping process during pre-sales.

"My customers won't pay for this"

I do truly appreciate this perspective, and there are challenges. But I think we have to acknowledge that as consultants, project managers, companies, that customers are not only buying software (which is generally a fairly fixed cost from partner to partner) but they are also buying our approach. Prove that your approach will lower their risk, their cost, while increasing their satisfaction with the implementation process and ultimately the software, and I think the argument becomes easier. The flip side of this, is that a reliable process also generally leads to better morale internally as well. Again, I am not saying it is always easy, but that it can be easier when you have a repeatable process that is consistently successful and you can demonstrate this to your customers and prospects.

For those of you thinking about attending the GP Partner Connections conference in October in Orlando, definitely check out the Sure Step 101 workshops and roundtable for even more info on Sure Step in general and adoption in particular!


Mike said...

Christina, Very helpful points. Thank you for posting this!

Christina Phillips said...

Thanks, Mike!