One of many improvements the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step methodology has brought along is the revised purpose of the Functional Requirements Document (FRD). This document has long served as cornerstone of every Analysis process of every implementation project: it was the main deliverable of the Analysis phase and it both documented customer’s requirements and explained how they will be met with Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution.
Methodology is a tough topic. There are good methodologies, there are bad methodologies, there are good methodologies gone bad. Methodology is not a silver bullet, it won’t just make any problems disappear, and is hardly ever the single source of success or failure. But a methodology can be a major contributor to success. I could put it this way: you stand much better chances of success if you apply a methodology, then if you don’t. With something as critical as an implementation of business software, methodology is a key success factor. According to Jim Johnson of Standish Group, it’s number nine on their ten identified most important success factors.
Four months ago I attended a conference, where I had a chance to listen to Miha Kralj, an architect at Microsoft, talk about architectures. It was one of the best presentations I ever attended, and ever since I had this topic in queue, but never really had chance to write about it. Most of the stuff he talked about reminded me of some bad experiences about architectures on projects I’ve worked on. Most of stuff here is also not my original contribution to the universal pool of knowledge, and I reuse it with the permission of the author, so Miha, thanks! What I did, however, is that I applied general principles to specific Microsoft Dynamics NAV situations.
The biggest jeopardies often lurk where we least expect them. When implementing an ERP system such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV, what should be one of our best allies, turns out to be our mortal enemy. It has a simple name: The Standard. Standard processes, standard functionality, standard documents, standard system. All these gizmos can turn into gremlins in a blink of an unattentive eye.
Standards are tricky. If during due dilligence, or diagnostic or analysis phase, we hear the prospect or customer utter the word “standard”, what do we instinctively do? Well, in a standard system, it’s pretty obvious what the standard is, and when the customer says that they “just have standard processes” it means that these processes are just covered with such a standard system, right? So we instinctively tend to skip the more detailed analysis of these, because after all, they are standard.
About six months ago, when I was buying a car, a friend of mine, in a typical The Good, the Bad and the Ugly fashion, told me that there were two kinds of cars: good cars, and French cars. I bought a French car. I bought a Peugeot 407 SW (Peugeot says their cars are engineered to be enjoyed) and although I could do so, I am not going to make this a post about what went wrong with this car already so far. This is going to be a post about how the simplest of the features of an ERP system can influence customer (dis)satisfaction, and create long term decisions for, or against a car vendor. Also, not typical for me, I am speaking from the shoes of a customer, rather than consultant, this time. Quite a change for me.