HELP! I’ve got to Implement Dynamics 365 – #D365ForHousing

Been asked to implement Dynamics 365 (or any application for that matter)? I still remember the mix of pure fear and excitement as I was given the opportunity to do just this over 10 years ago (although it was CRM 4 back then) at AmicusHorizon (now Optivo). My background was customer service and although I love tech I was not a ‘techie’. To say I felt out of my depth was an understatement.

If I’m honest I’d never even heard of Microsoft CRM but I understood its potential and soon started one of the steepest learning curves of my career

How I overcame the fear…and you can too. Here’s FIVE things you can do now!

The good news is there is a way through that initial fear, and I want to share some tips that will help you if you’re in the same position.

  1. Get senior staff bought in – I was very lucky at AmicusHorizon (now Optivo) both my Customer Service (John Barr) and Technology (Jeanette Alfano) directors were very forward thinking. In 2010 CRM was in its infancy within the housing sector but both had the ambition to deliver a brilliant customer service and empower colleagues. This lead to a Customer Experience strategy that had D365 embedded into it. Ensure your deployment is linked to a key strategy.
  2. Set up a brilliant team – Everything I’ve done at AmicusHorizon, Optivo, Radian and Abri has been because of the great people I’ve worked with. There is no way you’ll deliver a system that colleagues use without having a strong team with you. The make up of the team may change depending on what phase you’re in or the functionality that needs to be delivered but a core team who work throughout the project will provide consistency and healthy debate. Here’s a blog I wrote on setting up a team
  3. Take a helicopter view – Its very easy to get dragged into every detail of a D365 implementation. Don’t get me wrong detail is important but as someone who is implementing this system you need to have a helicopter view of the whole implementation AND an understanding of external factors that may impact it. These could range from team members having time off for personal reasons to your organisation running a big campaign that could mean delaying your go live. 
  4. Learn, Learn, Learn – there is a tonne of great resources out there to help you understand Dynamics the PowerPlatform and Microsoft 365 stack. These include free courses, seminars, user groups and even my site. All this and a whole Microsoft community to answer any specific questions you may have. Understanding the products on offer and their restrictions will help you develop your road map
  5. Think, Plan, Act – From the start I probably spent to much time in the act (react) camp. My lack of experience meant that I just wanted to get things done without a huge amount of planning or thinking time. That’s certainly changed and I think I now have a balance between the three. Here’s what the three aspects mean to me
  • Think – Part of this stage is taking time to think about what you need to achieve but also research what others are doing and the challenges they have faced. I’ve had lots of online meetings in the last year helping colleagues across the sector.
  • Plan – As the saying goes fail to plan, plan to fail. Tying into the helicopter view you need to be aware of what’s going on in your organisation (other projects/campaigns that could impact yours) right down to the detail of what you expect the team to do at go live. Spend plenty of time on this part, you can always adapt a good plan but things will get pretty tricky if you’re basing everything on a few notes made on a beer mat. Don’t forget to complete a pre mortem at this stage, it’s a great way to get buy in and identify issues that you wouldn’t have even considered.
  • Act – Get going, they’ll never be a perfect time. And you certainly wont be able to please everyone. However, when colleagues see things moving and your plan coming to life they’ll certainly know what’s expected and by when.

The Results

The great news is that you can get through that initial fear. These tips (and 20 years in the sector) have helped me form a process that I’ve used to:

  • Deliver a core Homes England scheme within Dynamics 365 at Abri
  • Roll out Microsoft Teams to 900+ colleagues at Radian – Adopted 4 months before the start of the COVID global pandemic (I’d be lying if I said we’d timed it like this).
  • Change the way Technology training was delivered to colleagues at Radian – moving from classroom to an online 1st approach.
  • Deliver the first application (Dynamics 365) to the newly formed Optivo – with 6,000 cases being logged in the first month by new users.
  • Set up a framework that saw us hit our % of customers signed up to the MyAccount portal at Optivo
  • Delivered Dynamics at AmicusHorizon (with over 1Million + cases logged by the time I left)

Need some help with Dynamics?

I want to help others avoid the same pitfalls I fell into. To do this I’ve put together a simple model that helps plan your deployment and some tools and process that takes you from a blank page to go live and beyond.

Working with a Dynamics partner already? That’s not a problem, I’m happy to work with them to deliver a system that users love while engaging with your business.

Sound good! Book A Catch Up now to get your Dynamics deployment moving.

Ps. 20% of my profit will be donated to Shelter

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