Almost exactly two years ago, incited by a comment from a reader, I wrote an article in defense of Sure Step: Read My Lips: Why?. The point was: is Sure Step a new methodology, or is it just a wheel reinvented?
After having taught about a dozen of Sure Step courses all over Europe (and just preparing to take my flight to Århus, Denmark to teach the next one), I’ve decided to prepare an overview of how Sure Step aligns with other methodologies. Students often ask me about this, and often come with previous knowledge of existing methodologies. Being able to map your existing knowledge to Sure Step will be of great help to learn and understand Sure Step in the future.
So, here is a little reverse-engineering of Sure Step from methodology point of view, and an overview of how it aligns specifically with MSSP, MSF, PMBOK, Scrum and MOF.
Design is one of a kind. Other phases in Sure Step are understood and accepted as good and necessary. But design, do we really do that? Is it really necessary? Who’s going to pay for it? Does the customer really need all those documents? Instead of writing documents, you could have it developed in the same, or less time. And so on and so forth.
As a matter of fact, if you asked me to pick one single most important phase in a Sure Step project, then it’s the design. No second thoughts here, whatsoever.
Here I list the ten most important reasons that I believe make design absolutely indispensable.
Service Providers (or colloquially partners) often refrain from undertaking organization or process changes during implementation projects of Microsoft Dynamics solutions. And it comes as no surprise: there are many risks related to it, and customizations are taken as a more traditional approach.
Customizations are easy to predict, they do come at risk, but at least the risks are known and often easily managed entirely within service provider’s organization and reach, while organizational change is unpredictable, and often exceeds consultants’ knowledge, experience and expertise.
However, with or without intention or consent, organizational change will always happen. No solution has ever been 100% fit, and since the customer must do their business with the solution, the remainder from fit to 100% will always and without exception be satisfied with an unmanaged, unintentional, but evolutionary process change.
Instead of leaving it all to chance, Sure Step offers much better ways.
Sometimes the Degree of Fit might seem like comparing apples and oranges. With 90 extremely detailed fits, and 10 high-level gaps, the degree of fit seems high, but it isn’t. 90 extremely detailed gaps, and 10 high-level fits, make the degree of fit seem low. In either case the degree of fit is unreliable and it doesn’t tell you anything at all.
For a degree of fit to be reliable, all the requirements should be specified roughly on the same level of detailedness. If they aren’t, you might have an extremely risky project before you, and you just don’t see it. Or you might have a slam dunk, and you stand scared to death by the non-existent risks you see all over.
In situations such as these you have to level the requirements to get a more meaningful figure, otherwise your Fit Gap Analysis doesn’t serve its purpose.
But how exactly do you tell apples from oranges in a requirements list?
Many of my Sure Step students have asked me if there are any practice tests, like MeasaureUp, available for Sure Step exam (MB5-858). I used to say “no”, but that has just changed. I somehow missed this, and I am not exactly sure when it appeared, but there is an online knowledge assessment tool which can help you decide whether to take the exam, or to prepare better instead.
The tool is called Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Proficiency Assessment and is available here.
The prerequisites to access the tool are a Windows Live account, and access to Microsoft Partner Network. Since exam targets Microsoft Partners, I’m pretty sure all partners already have access. If you don’t have the access already, just click the link and it will guide you through the process of linking your Windows Live account with your Partner account.