The 3 Problems That Lead to Late, Over-budget Implementations

After working with Microsoft Dynamics AX/Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations for the last decade as an end-user, implementer, consultant, and in sales. During that time I have participated in many of the following conversations:

  • Dynamics implementations go over budget
  • Add X months to your timeline for a realistic expectation
  • Expect Change Orders in your Implementation

Here are three primary reasons Dynamics 365 implementations go over on service hours, budget, and timeline, and how to prevent them.

Implementation Takes More Hours than Estimated

The implementation partner will look at the business processes a company needs to implement and the level of effort needed to implement that process. For example, workflows are needed for purchase order approvals. Simple Company with a small number of employees, and one approval step will take X hours. Complex Company with multi-layered approval and if/then scenarios will require Y hours. Either X or Y is included in the statement of work.

So often, companies want to be simple, or state that they are like Simple Company in the example above, and the implementation partner allows for X in the statement of work. Then, in design, it comes to light that the company’s requirements are more like the Complex Company in the example above.

With hundreds of business processes supported in Dynamics, this can scale very quickly. To prevent this, implementing companies need to take a hard look at their business processes and be sure to communicate their goals during the sales process. Furthermore, the implementation partner must steer their ship within those waters, and not drift the company into complexity that was not agreed upon.

Timeline Creep

Both Simple and Complex companies typically want to go live as soon as possible. After all, Dynamics 365 is an investment of time and labor, and the entire organization will be eager to leverage a modern, cloud-based platform.

So in the sales cycle, the implementation partner receives pressure to deliver sooner, consolidate, work in parallel, be agile, all of the above. Often, this lasts through discovery, but as we really get to the decision points, the project slows. The Controller is on vacation and can’t sign off on the chart of accounts, the Purchasing Manager is at supplier meetings and won’t be available to sign until next Wednesday. With the best of intentions, your project timeline is falling apart.

While some project timeline changes are natural in a project and included within project management, extensive and repeated timeline changes will greatly affect the timeline and budget. To avoid a timeline slip, be in a position to make required decisions within the window provided in the project plan by having back up approvers.

Not all changes are due to client schedules. If your implementing partner is not meeting their timeline commitments, approach them with the same aggressiveness you would use with your own team above. After all, we are mutually pursuing an on-time and on-budget implementation.

Change Orders – New Scope

In the previous two sections, we faced change orders because a process became more complex, and the timeline stretched. The third factor that results in change orders is scope, the five letter words that can lampoon both time and budget.

A solid pre-sales discovery should reduce the number of additions that get added during a project, but it will never prevent it. It’s up to both parties to keep the team excited for the new features that are available, but within the timeline and budget constraints of the first phases, so that anything that is added is truly critical to the project. 

Templated Implementation Methodology

One other method to Control Scope and Mitigate Changes to timeline and budget is to use a templated implementation methodology that reduces the volume of decisions required to get up and running on Dynamics 365, while delivering powerful content and managed upgrades. 

Questions about the upgrade process, Dynamics 365, or templated implementation methodology, email our consultant today.


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