When planning for Global deployment of Dynamics AX, organizations may be wonder about the right implementation approach. They may have questions like whether to deploy on the all the geographical sites and companies at the same point of time or to go with a phased manner of rollout approach or may choose the ‘out-of-the-box’ vanilla features in the first phase or to go with the detailed comprehensive business process mapping?
Most of the global organizations choose the “Roll Out” approach for their Dynamics AX implementation initiative where they can derive several benefits which can drive the Organization to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Generally, smaller organizations having operations within smaller, defined geographic regions will be fine with a full-fledged big bang approach of implementation. However, larger corporations with multiple geographic reach will find Rollout Implementation as a better option.
The key areas this paper will focus on are:-
- What is the “Rollout” approach?
- What kind of Program Management is required?
- Benefits and challenges
ROLL OUT APPROACH
Dynamics ERP global rollouts, by their very nature, have far reaching implication on organizations as a whole. The two most frequent used ERP implementation strategies are a big bang or a phased rollout.
Big bang approach, as the name suggest, where all the modules go live at the same point of time. But where there are multiple group companies and regions are involved then phased rollout is the only best suitable option that companies are going with.
Phased rollout is mainly divided in to 3 steps where first, all the global organization wide standard processes are analyzed, mapped and documented. First, the HQ will go live with the must have features and side by side different companies / countries rollouts are started. And once each company / country starts stabilizing on the Dynamics AX platform, then feature enhancements are considered and developed as per the need of the respective local company in turn to map the remaining business processes and compliance to local statutory and regulatory requirements are met.
Major benefit from such phased rollout is higher success rate and less risk of failure, and further skills and experience gained at each rollout helps to smooth the processes in to the next rollouts.
In any global rollout there are main two phases which is analysis and implementation. In the Analysis phase standard business process requirement definition of the global template is outlined and documented. Later design and development of the global templates is done in the second step.
The project can progress quickly once the global template is finalized and handed over to the local consultant to control the addition of the localization, testing, data migration and the go-live process.
In these templates, it is very important to define the owners for each of the templates which are part of the deliverables. Instead of defining the tasks centrally, it is better to allow a degree of freedom to local rollout consultants as they are the local compliances and business process experts.
Below are the few main templates which are released after the initial analysis phase and then local rollout team get the knowledge transfer on the same and then take it further to finalize them based on the discussion they are have with the local process owners.
- Pre FRD
- Pre Fit & GAP list
- Pre SDD
- Pre Data Migration Plan and Templates
- Pre TDD
- Pre Operation Manuals
- Sample test cases
While using such global templates, it is crucial to define the master template owner who will determine what functions, processes and features are matched with global standards and can be added in the templates and which others are locally driven. He possesses the ownership of what are the content that can be added and later used for the future/planned rollouts. Further it is recommended to provide a shared repository for the accurate document anagement within all the stake-holders of the project.
COUNTRY SPECIFIC LOCALIZATION
Global templates are defined based on the ‘Out-of-the-box’ vanilla feature plus adding the ‘must-have’ processes of the organization which required across all the rollouts. But it is very important to understand the local requirements in relation to the regional legal compliances in respect to the tax, accounting, auditing are reporting needs.
Microsoft Dynamics localization is available for major ~35 countries. So the implementation partner need to confirm the availability of the Microsoft localization standard pack or any further customization is required in to that.
One caution is required to be taken here, that such country specific localization should never be assumed by the team. Each requirement should be drafted properly and tested thoroughly in to localization pack.
ROLLOUT EXECUTION TEAM
In the global rollout execution, multiple stakeholders come together from the different regions and geographies. A balanced combination of the offshore and onshore team is the key for the success, so utmost care is required in selecting the internal and external project team and stakeholders for both global build and local deployments.
Communication is one of the key factors for the success of the rollouts, bilingual consultants are preferred who have command of a second and relevant language. They are handy in bridging the gap between the local business users and the implementation team.
Additionally, below are the few points that are crucial from the perspective of selecting a proper execution team.
- Consider using local AX implementation partner’s team for the accurate implementation of the country specific localizations.
- As a part of the proper movement of the remote team of consultants, there should be proper track of the visa status and the expiry dates.
- It may be difficult to have the inclusive environment where all stakeholders communicate at the same point, even using the video conferring so it is critical to establish routine communication process.
The large and complex nature of a global ERP Rollouts requires a similarly expansive & robust program governance model.
Rollout program management plan consists of the following synopsis which should be covered in the local project plan.
- Project Overview containing basic information, project objective, timelines and progress
- Global Rollout Plan
- Project tasks plan and status overview
- Project scope for each rollout location
- Deliverables of each phase
- Project team formations
- Project operation policies consists of steering committee, project conditions, interfaces etc.
- Rollout schedules with dates and deliverable
Additionally below are the points that are very critical for the program governance of the Rollout approach.
- It is very important that all the parties and stakeholders should have the knowledge of the key deliverables which are expected from them along with the key dates.
- There should be a central project control tool, where tasks and progress can be holistically viewed by all the project stake holders.
- Project manager should keep the regular structured project update meetings.
- Consider the local holidays and time-zones for the better project governance and execution. Further need to understand the local working hours so that system related tasks can be performed smoothly.
- Need to consider the weekends of the specific country regions particularly like gulf countries are having Friday and Saturday as weekend, Nepal generally works from Sunday – Friday etc.
BENEFITS & CHALLENGES
- Higher success rate
- Process standardization
- Better learning curve
- Optimized resource utilization
- Well defined test case scenarios
- Easy change management
- Working in an eco-system which consists of multiple stakeholders
- Communication challenges
- Task management
- Budget control
- Local regulatory and legal compliance challenges
- Longer implementation timeframes
Dynamics ERP global rollouts, by their very nature, have far reaching implication on organizations as a whole. Therefore, it is crucial to look at the potential effect of the rollout approach on each companies and locations. Risk mitigation and change management need to be a critical project governance focus during the life of the project.
If the first rollout of the implementation is successful and a team immediately experiences the benefits of the new system, then it creates confidence and enthusiasm within the organization. And once the rollout is been done then organization may think up to have a centralized support center for further enhancements and change requests and all these will ultimately lead to lowering the Total Cost of Ownership. So have the best approach and processes in your hand to have the successful rollouts.
All the best!
About the author:
Jainal Shah is a Solution Architect at Synoverge Technologies. Synoverge is a leading technology provider of ERP, CRM, Microsoft & open source technologies and mobility software solutions to organizations worldwide