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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dynamics AX project success - Customer Ownership & Expectations

I would like to take some time and talk about some success factors for a Dynamics AX project. Of course some of this can apply to other projects as well, but I believe it's important to understand what makes a complex, or simple implementation of Dynamics AX a success.

So with that said, two of the area's I want to start off with for having a successful Dynamics AX project is Customer Ownership, and customer expectations. These two are for sure key elements in having a successful Dynamics AX project. First let's take a look at customer expectations, since really this is set during the sales cycle of a project.
You see customer expectations are based on what we tell them, and their assumptions from what we tell them. Making sure you do a great walk through, and functionality worksheet with them can really make or break the implementation teams life on the project. Make sure the customer understands what parts are estimated to be mods to fulfill their business needs, what is offered out of the box, and even setting the customers expectations that the real scope of the project can only be done during the discovery phase of the given project. Doing this, the customer expects to have their business processes heavily analyzed, and will expect they have a lot to do in the start of project. Having a customer not understand this, and thinking DAX can do everything they need in 3 months, with hardly no coding means you have an ignorant timeline, wrong expectations, and a very un-happy customer in the end when discovery is actually done and it really took 6 months instead of 3. Now let me break here and say, working out a project budget from past experience with a customer is something very acceptable. Just setting that as a budget awarness, help puts constraints on what the customer might request for the given project, and what the customer will decide as a possible later phase. Also I would like to point out that customer expectations are continued to be developed well into the project. It's not just on the sales & marketing team, but also on the implementation team to keep setting and meeting customer expectations. The proper management of such expectations lead to better understood deliverables for the project, and a happier customer, which translates into a happier project team.

The next part is customer ownership, and just as important as the expectations, can be something that will make or break a project for being considered a success. If a customer takes ownership of the project, then they are involved, understand throughout the process, and when you go live a more prepared solution. This means the solution has had it's new owners hands on it more, understood by the new owner, and again translate to a more successful project. If a customer does not take ownership, then the project suffers from lack of input, and the end result is a solution the customer does not fully understand, and possibly does not even like when going live. Of all the important elements for a successful project, this is sometimes the hardest to work on. The customers attitude towards the change, the user base, the management, all are part of this element. It's up to the project management and entire project team to get and keep the customer engaged enough in the project to where they are taking ownership, and therefore having input.

So there is the first two topics that I wanted to talk a bit about. Of course you can go on and on, show examples, etc. but I believe the point is made. Customer expectations and taking ownership are keys to a successful project.

Well check back soon as I continue to post!

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