Implementing new tools -- even well-known systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 -- can present challenges that mark the difference between a project's success or failure.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a collection of enterprise-level business applications, such as Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Human Resources, Finance and Operations, that organizations can tailor to suit their needs. Primarily, the platform integrates CRM and ERP capabilities. It also lets businesses automate processes, make data-driven decisions and enhance collaboration.
Despite its benefits, implementing Dynamics 365 has issues. To successfully adopt the tool, project teams must understand these challenges and learn how to overcome them.
1. Data migration
Migrating data from legacy systems to Dynamics 365 is complex, especially when a business has spread its critical data everywhere from aging ERP systems to assorted spreadsheets.
Project teams must see data migration as a key component of the project, rather than an afterthought. They should also conduct a thorough data audit, analyze the results and identify what to migrate into the new service and what to archive. Specialized data migration tools can ensure data integrity through validation checks.
2. User adoption
User adoption plays a central role in any project's success, as it's pointless to implement a new technology if no one uses it. However, employees often resist transitioning to a new system due to a lack of training or fear of change.
To overcome this challenge, an organization should establish a change management team to facilitate smooth adoption and ensure it includes key users at all levels. If the team involves these users early on, they are more likely to support the new tool and share that positivity with their peers. When combined with a comprehensive training program, the project team has a better chance of a smooth adoption.
3. Customization and configuration
While organizations can customize Dynamics 365 to fit their needs, over-customization can happen. This can lead to performance issues and make future upgrades extremely difficult, especially if the team doesn't document these changes.
The IT team should plan for any customizations with the following criteria:
- Stick to the tool's existing features whenever possible.
- Configure the platform using the tools provided.
- If gaps still exist, use the existing customization tools to make changes.
- For integration, use tools like Power Automate, Azure Logic Apps and the Power Platform to extend the platform.
- Only when necessary, use the Microsoft supported frameworks for custom code development to develop the elements needed.
4. Integration with existing systems
As part of a wider enterprise architecture, Dynamics 365 may need to integrate with existing ERP or CRM systems. Depending on the age and availability of open APIs, this process can be time-consuming and complex.
However, Power Automate, Power Apps or Azure Logic Apps can help integrate Dynamics 365 with existing systems. If no existing connector meets the specific need, the project team can create a custom connector, so developers can bring the data and workflows into Dynamics 365.
5. Budget overruns
Implementations often exceed budgets due to unexpected complexities and poor communication between parties. As teams scope, design and develop the service, they should adopt an agile approach to allow for adjustments while avoiding scope creep. This lets teams adapt as the project progresses.
This approach also helps the team identify budgetary issues in advance, so they can inform stakeholders before an increasing budget threatens the project.
6. Inadequate testing
Insufficient testing can lead to bugs and performance issues after implementation. This can destroy an adoption strategy, as bugs can make users less confident in the tool. The discovery of bugs before implementation can also extend project timelines.
To avoid these issues with Dynamics 365, project teams should prioritize testing. This can include unit, regression and integration testing, which teams can automate where possible. When teams complete these methods, they should also attempt user acceptance testing, which can help ensure success.
7. Regulatory compliance
Whether GDPR or CCPA, teams often overlook compliance with regulations -- especially surrounding privacy -- until the last minute, which can threaten the project's success.
Microsoft offers resources that explain how Dynamics 365 meets global compliance requirements. If teams consult with legal and internal compliance teams and use Microsoft's resources during the design phase, they can meet all regulatory requirements.
Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 has its issues, but doing it well can benefit an organization's processes and behaviors. If an organization understands the challenges involved and adopts the strategies outlined, it can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful implementation.
Joel Abbott is a solutions architect with more than 25 years of IT experience, with specific expertise in Microsoft products.