Editor's Note: The following MVP Monday post is by Dynamics CRM MVP Jerry Weinstock
Let’s look at some of the features of theMicrosoft Sure Step Methodology and how you can use them to improve the delivery of services to your Microsoft Dynamics clients.
In the last year, I have done a complete turn-around regarding my perception and use of the Sure Step Methodology. After reading this blog posting, I hope you will end up where I am now – an enthusiastic user of the product. When I first saw Sure Step several years ago at the Convergence event, I was initially very impressed and intrigued. However, after digging into it a little further I became disillusioned and ignored it for several ‘reasons’:
- I did not need any help. I have been doing CRM implementations since V1.2 came out in 2003 and I am good at it.
- Our clients would not pay for a project management line item.
- Sure Step was excessively complex for the size projects we do – it is only necessary for the “big boys”.
- The learning curve for working through the Sure Step application environment was too complex and not intuitive.
In the last year I have come around and learnt that those ‘reasons’ are almost entirely wrong!
Let’s get started with two takeaways regardless of your role:
- Dynamics Partners – if you are not using at least some of what Sure Step has to offer you are not operating as effectively as you could be. You do not need to map every step and use every template to receive benefits.
- CRM End Users – you should be asking your partner or prospective partners about how they will leverage Sure Step to get you to where you want to go.
The Sure Step Methodology will help your project be:
- More predictable
- On Budget
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the methodology since so many resources are available. There are over 500 Word, Power Point, Excel and Visio files that are setup as templates that can be used to jump start your project planning, proposal development, and analysis preparation.
Sure Step can be applied to any of the Dynamics ERP solutions or CRM. One very powerful component of the methodology are the Decision Accelerators.
- Accelerated Proof of Concept with CRM Online: An accelerated process to validate specific customer relationship management scenarios on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online or On-Premise application.
- Requirements and Process Review: Review current processes to determine the requirements for the future state.
- Fit Gap and Solution Blueprint: Determine how effectively the customer’s requirements fit with the proposed Microsoft Dynamics solution.
- Architecture Assessment: Confirm the architectural design and infrastructure needs for the Microsoft Dynamics solution.
- Scoping Assessment: Estimate high-level cost and put a resource plan in place for the deployment of the Microsoft Dynamics solution.
- Proof of Concept: Validate the customer’s requirements with their own sample data in a test environment.
- Business Case: Prepare a solid business case for implementation of the Microsoft Dynamics solution.
- Upgrade Assessment. Review current release of the Microsoft Dynamics to ascertain the best approach to upgrade to a subsequent release.
Perspective and Use Turn Around
Abandoning my original bah humbug attitude is easy now as I look at several of the resources we have successfully used in consulting engagements during the last year.
Fit Gap– We use this template regularly to report on our gap analysis engagements. Once we modified the template for Word and Excel with our branding and adjusted the outline for the size projects we generally implement it has significantly reduced the time it takes to create the customer deliverable. And in the spirit of judging a book by its cover I can tell you that the immediate reaction to the deliverable is that it is a very professional presentation of the findings- we have more credibility and the clarity of the presentation of the findings are improved. Additionally, since we have a consistent format we can spend more time on the findings and less time figuring how to format Word and/or Power Point.
Accelerated Proof of Concept – For a number of recent CRM implementations we have been contacted by the prospect because of our online digital marketing program. In many cases, we never meet the client in person, the CRM platform is CRM Online hosted by Microsoft so there is no infrastructure work to do on site and with the application in the Cloud, a new CRM environment can be spun up in 10 minutes. Consequently, clients expect a similar level of speed to success and a simplified acceptance process.
We have used the Accelerated Proof of Concept with CRM Online Decision Accelerator for all our CRM Online implementations. The components of the POC are:
- High-level requirements review
- High level Fit Gap Analysis
- High level Architecture Assessment
- Preliminary Business Value Assessment
At our company, we have morphed this into a rapid implementation process for those clients that will end up staying with CRM Online. The great thing about following this methodology is that you can map the process steps to the 30-day trial period for a CRM Online instance. Once the POC is accepted you can then move to the next Milestone after a Go-Live that tweaks the system to further map to the way the business works.
Onsite-Offshore Work Effort – Although this topic in the methodology focuses on understanding how to manage offshore development it can also be applied to any subcontracting environment. There are no specific templates that are associated with this resource – it utilizes resources in other sections. However, it can be a great way to start the thinking on how and who will be accountable for the split in the work breakdown schedule. We create our own version of the graphic for each project where we are subcontracting out some work. Then it is taped to the white board to make sure all involved continually are reminded of our primary role and who is doing what on the project.
Additionally, when we are brought in by other CRM partners to assist on their projects we use this internally to guide us during the subcontractor negotiations at a big picture level.
The Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology in part or in whole has something for everyone in Dynamics implementations. Partners can get started today by using this link to get to the main page inside of PartnerSource for Sure Step. https://mbs.microsoft.com/partnersource/partneressentials/serviceplans/surestep/
About the author:
Jerry Weinstock is the Business Development Manager at CRM Innovation. Jerry has been working with CRM since the 1.2 release in 2003. CRM Innovation builds Email, Marketing and Event Management solutions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Twitter: @crminnovation
The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager for Dynamics, Excel, Office 365, Platforms and SharePoint in the United States. She has been working with MVPs since her early days as Microsoft Exchange Support Engineer when MVPs would answer all the questions in the old newsgroups before she could get to them.