Getting Your ERP Project Off to a Good Start

Because ERP projects generally deliver similar core functionality, and your implementation team is already very experienced with Microsoft’s Sure-Step Methodology, it can be tempting to skip the formal Project Kick-Off Meeting and simply dive right into the work at-hand.

I’d like to make a strong case for holding a Project Kick-Off Meeting, regardless of the size/complexity of the project, or the experience level of the customer and the implementation team.

Covering key parameters at the beginning of a project in your kick-off meeting ensures team alignment to project objectives and approach. The materials can continue to be referenced throughout the life of the project as a touchstone for the team to check on progress, identify scope changes, and verify timeline and budget. Here are suggested components for your project kick-off deck, and associated benefits:

  • Introduce Project Team Members

Important that all ERP stakeholders and project contributors are invited in advance to the kick-off meeting (or receive the materials afterward, if they are truly not available to attend in person).

On the customer side, ensure project sponsor(s), system owner(s), business process owners, and other supporting team members from Finance, Operations, and IT are invited to the kick-off (especially if they will be asked later to participate / provide support or information). Core members of the ERP partner implementation team should also attend so they can be introduced.

Benefits:

  • Customer team sees executive leadership (sponsors) at the table, backing the project effort
  • Ensures all stakeholders are aware of the project and understand who will be assigned
  • Sets a foundation for working relationship between customer and implementation team
  • Review Project Scope

A typical ERP implementation scope might seem basic or perhaps inherently obvious; however, prior to an ERP project being approved, there may have been multiple ERP-related initiatives or features discussed internally by the customer during their evaluation or budgeting process.

This means some attendees may come to the table with different preconceptions about the project’s scope and deliverables. This could seriously derail a project later if not addressed up-front.

Benefits:

  • Ensure the approved project scope is clearly communicated and understood by entire team
  • Verify the scope is correct (as per the signed agreement) – any changes needed / allowed?
  • Reinforce upfront alignment among all players: what will be delivered vs what is out-of-scope
  • Include approved project budget here also – reinforce relationship between scope and budget

 

  • Share High-Level Project Approach (Implementation Phases) and Timeline

This is a key opportunity for the implementation partner to outline and describe, up-front, the various phases of the implementation or upgrade project in in relation to the overall project schedule and key milestone dates, particularly release/go-live.

Benefits:

  • Explain phases of the project where customer team should dedicate time to design or testing
  • Answer customer questions about the process, deliverables, dependencies, and timing
  • Agreement on how project will be executed and participation needed
  • Project Team Roles & Responsibilities

Now that the players have been introduced to each other and to the overall plan for executing the project, it is good to circle back and assign specific names to the various roles on the project team. Also key to confirm for customer team members who will be key decision-makers and subject matter experts on behalf of their business area and who will be playing supporting roles on the project.

At a minimum, there should be a Project Lead (or Project Manager) from both the customer side and the implementation partner who will work together to be a hub for project communication and guide the activities of their respective players. For smaller projects, this role may be played by the System Owner on the customer side and by the ERP Functional Lead on the implementation partner team.

The Project Sponsor should also identify whether they will be the overall decision-maker for the project, or if they have identified key System Owners from the business who will represent their departmental business process decisions and needs during critical design and testing phases of the project. Depending on the size of the project, additional customer subject matter experts will play a role on the Core Project Team providing design input, participating in testing or training tasks.

Benefits:

  • Identify early if there are key contributors or stakeholders who need to be added to the team
  • Build shared understanding of what is expected from each team member based on their role
  • Re-affirm how each team member will execute their role during the phases of the project
  • Alignment on responsibilities for key decisions, design input/approval, and test execution
  • Reinforce communication needed between Core Project Team and the business areas they represent – the goal is no surprises for the project team or for the customer organization
  • Next Steps

Great! Everyone is lined up and ready to play their part. This is the point in closing out the kick-off meeting to clearly list specific tasks / activities for the next 1-2 weeks and answer questions.

At this point, it’s also a good idea to decide as a group how often the project team should meet and how project status updates should be shared across the team and to senior management.

Benefits:

  • Kick-Off Meeting attendees leave with a clear understanding of what will happen next
  • Team provides input on frequency and style of project check-in meetings and progress reports
  • Time allowed for questions that were not addressed by the kick-off materials

A kick-off meeting that covers the topics above in high-level fashion can easily be completed in 30 – 60 minutes, depending upon the size of the project and number of players involved.

The reward is that the team will all have a clear understanding of the game plan and how they will be contributing to that plan at the beginning of the project. They will also have a foundation for identifying and communicating issues throughout the project that might impact scope, quality, or timing.

It really is a team huddle and “Go Team!” moment to build enthusiasm and support for your ERP project. Take the first step toward success and team-building with your next Project Kick-Off Meeting.

This article was written by Juanita Schoen, Dynamics Project Manager for Tridea Partners. Tridea is a leading Microsoft Dynamics provider.

Video: Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP Integration – Driving Productivity and Customer Satisfaction

Does your company engage in a highly transactional business with new or repeat customers? Imagine how much better your sales, service and finance teams could operate sharing critical customer data. No more data silos.

Learn how in our 30-minute webinar:

• Hear how companies are benefiting today from integration of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics ERP.
• See what type of data is being shared between departments to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
• Gain a basic understanding of how sales and finance can automatically share data on orders, shipments and invoices

Contact Tridea Partners for more information!

Connector for Microsoft Dynamics

Integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics ERP products has arrived with the release of Connector for Microsoft Dynamics!

Integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics ERP products has arrived with the release of Connector for Microsoft Dynamics! Customers of all Dynamics ERPs now have access to the same simple, reliable and extendable integration with the CRM product that has shipped for GP, AX and NAV previously. Out-of-the-Box entity mappings provide immediate value by integrating the key data in both systems. That basic integration can be extended by adding new maps, or leveraging the SDK to create custom integrations. Connector is ready for use today!

​Connector for Microsoft Dynamics provides:

  • A robust Dynamics-specific integration that “just works”
  • Easy installation and deployment
  • Minimized architectural overhead
  • Transparency when things may go wrong

Connector for Microsoft Dynamics supports new integrations with the following Microsoft Dynamics products:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, 2013, 2015 & 2016 in all deployments
  • Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013, 2013 R2, 2015& 2015 R2
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, 2012, 2012 R2 & 2012 R3
  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013, 2013 R2, 2015 & 2016
  • Microsoft Dynamics SL 2011 SP1

This article was written by Sandra Knight, Sales Consultant for Tridea Partners. Tridea is a leading Microsoft Dynamics provider

Join us for a SharePoint Webinar!

SharePoint 2013 capabilities are often underutilized and the depth of the functionality can be overwhelming, thus hindering adoption. Join us for a SharePoint webinar showcasing popular collaboration tools and a forward look at SharePoint Server 2016.  We will highlight how SharePoint currently integrates with the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM applications and what’s in line for the future of these integrated applications.  We predict a future where we’ll continue to see organizations choose a combination of on-premise, cloud, and hybrid deployments. With the newest developments in Azure, it’s important for you to start considering where cloud computing plays into SharePoint in your strategic plans.

Webinar topics include:

  • Collaboration Tools in SharePoint 2013
  • Forward Look at SharePoint Server 2016
  • SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics: Better Together
  • Deployment Options, including Microsoft Azure

Presenters: Andy Collins of Tridea Partners & Ro Kolakowski of 6th Street Consulting

Event Details: November 19, 2015 at 10:00 AM PST

**Please register for this event by November 17th

register here

Dynamics ERP & Tracking Aggregate Spending to Healthcare Providers

Pharmaceutical manufacturers that are looking to implement a new ERP system will invariably ask about options for meeting requirements of the Sunshine Act, which was enacted to protect consumers by ensuring transparency in the reporting of financial relationships between pharmaceutical companies and health care providers (HCPs). While pharmaceutical companies generally purchase a software system specifically designed to track their aggregate spending to HCPs, the ERP system generates much of the information that is fed into the aggregate spend system.

Typically, money flows from pharmaceutical manufacturers to health care providers in 3 forms, that are generally handled in 3 very distinct manners:

  1. AP invoices directly to HCPs: Vendors that are HCPs are defined as such in the ERP system. Any expenses that are booked in the ERP system directly to HCP vendors are pushed to the aggregate spend system via an integration. Typically, a relatively small number of HCPs become direct vendors in the ERP system. The process of setting up new vendors is generally a highly controlled process that lends itself to accurately defining and identifying an HCP
  2. Employee expense reimbursement: Employees of the pharmaceutical company meet with HCPs and incur expenses that need to be reimbursed to them by the company. Assuming the company has an expense reimbursement system (such as Concur, for example), the expense reimbursement software generally just feeds the core accounting (general ledger) data to the ERP system, and sends the HCP spend information directly to the aggregate spend software. It is therefore necessary to have the HCPs defined in the expense reimbursement system, but the ERP system is not involved in this process.
  3. AP invoices to 3rd party vendors that benefit HCPs: While it is possible to capture this data in the ERP system (on a custom field linked to the PO or invoice) and push it to the aggregate spend system, there are some complicating factors that lead many companies to opt to manually enter these transactions into the aggregate spend software or else upload vendor documents directly to the aggregate spend software in addition to recording the invoices in ERP:
    • Timing: At the time that a PO or invoice is entered, do we necessarily know which HCPs will benefit from the spend? For example, speaker bureau invoices often arrive in advance of the list of attendees (HCPs)
    • Accuracy: HCPs that benefit from expenses incurred with 3rd parties are can be very large in quantity. Ensuring that the correct HCP is selected and linked to an expense can be difficult, especially when many health care providers may have similar names (or even the same names). In such cases, AP clerks that have no direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the expense could have a difficult time selecting the correct  HCP. Aggregate spend software systems typically have matching algorithms to accurately identify HCPs.

This article was written by Matthew Boese, Partner at Tridea Partners, a Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics Partner.