Friday, 12 June 2015

Project Management CRM Best Practices - Planning

For a long time I wanted to write an article regarding the side of Project Management for Microsoft CRM.
I will try to explain the best practices and the way to conduct a really successful project, so the first thing we need to think before go to a client and ask what they want, we need to have in the back of our mind all the features and gaps of the solution, this applies to any project when we are proposing a solution.

It`s imperative that our PM`s (if not us) need to have knowledge of the solution, in this case they at least need some basic information unless all the interactions with the client we attend with an Architect CRM solution or Senior CRM consultant/developer.

A PM for more projects his has implement they will never know or be updated of the gaps and features of the solution and those could be important for the client and to the project.
But in any case we can never promise to the client to build the Taj Mahal in 3 months, because that will never happen or will be highly cost for the client.
Therefore when we thing in implementing a project we need to have in mind this amazing triangle and usually we can only choose 2 options.

Along the years I have seen projects going wrong and projects going right sometimes caused by this amazing triangle, but in all the cases we need to analyse and learn from them and to understand what went wrong and what went well. 

The right mix of planning, monitoring, and controlling can make the difference in completing a project on time, on budget, and with high quality results. These guidelines will help you plan the work and work the plan. Ok! But this is applied to all the projects what we have to do for CRM? 

Well, given the high rate of project failures, you might think that companies would be happy to just have their project finish with some degree of success. That's not the case. Despite the odds, organizations expect projects to be completed faster, cheaper, and better. So make sure you divide the implementation in small modules and deliveries, like sales, marketing, products or other xRM development, don’t try to do everything in just one shot, will not work and the client will only see nothing for a long period of time and you not giving any value so build you project based on this premises. The only way that these objectives can be met is through the use of effective project management processes and techniques.

Plan the work and define the task very well for each resource in your team, bear in mind if you are working with several resources in your team for CRM, you need to have concerns in terms on deployment and how you going to deploy the several solutions or solution, and how you will integrate this, so in this case plan some time for the guys to do this. Microsoft CRM has weak line integration solution with no trace, so if you working with unmanaged solution or managed solution keep always a backup of the project, so once more give time for the guys to do this.

Note: This is really high level plan example not for CRM*

The time spent properly planning the project will result in reduced cost and duration and increased quality over the life of the project and make sure you always have the sign off on every delivers you do to the customer and relevant stakeholders.
Let me give you an e.g. of a 3th party solution migration to Microsoft CRM.

First – The project overview you need to set the business drivers and benefits and when this integration will take place, and if is really necessary, importing files or building a console application to do this sometimes could take between 2 days or 2 weeks.

Second – What are the objectives of this migration and what the client will gain with this? Are we just importing contacts or is more than that? Like price list (need to be manually), products or other stuff that the solution need to do some calculations? This type of migration could take you 2 weeks or more depending the quantity of records, so do analyse that.

Third – Is the scope of this migration just for one department, how many business units and organization are we talking about, and in terms of security rules? Do the security model in CRM the same of this 3th party solution and how can we replicate that? How do we get the data and do we need to touch on the 3th party solution? My advice is always don`t touch.

Fourth – Sometimes we need to define the assumptions like relationship tables that are different from the CRM and we need to put same days here to do this analysis and match tables and fields. Have always in concern events like data need to be calculated or comes from a different source. Of course I’m not saying risk like do the client have the right hardware and infrastructure in place and the storage capacity. Don’t forget that when you are doing a migration you will need at least the double of the space the solution use. This apples to any Microsoft CRM migration, like 2011 to 2013 and forward,

Fifth – Do your approach will unfold and proceed normally usually only your own resources or do you have dependencies on others, such as who will give the files?

Sixth – Since we are talking of a migration we need to make sure we are talking to the sponsor and stakeholder of this migration, and we need to define and assign on test phase people form the customer side to test the data under supervision of the stakeholder

Seventh – All the initial effort, cost and duration should be flexible enough to be revised, some migration as I mention before can take 2 days or 2 weeks, depending on the complexity.  As soon we got the stakeholders approved and sign we can consider the workplan done.

*Image key note: This is just an example image, we should describe the implementation by models and functionality mention all the custom development necessary (plugins, custom workflows, business process, etc.)

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