Overcoming Challenges in Your Dynamics 365 Business Central Implementation

The implementation of Dynamics 365 Business Central, whether transitioning from an existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution or implementing an ERP system for the first time, can be a daunting task.

This article will help you understand common challenges in each step of the implementation process when working with a reputable partner. It provides valuable recommendations to empower you, when working with your trusted partner, to approach your Business Central implementation with confidence.

Please note that the implementation process outlined in this article represents our approach for a full-scale Business Central implementation. Each company’s journey may be different, and processes may be adapted to fit your technology and business needs.

Table of Contents

Project management methodology chart.

Analysis

One of the biggest challenges during the analysis step of a Dynamics 365 Business Central implementation is getting the right people in the room.

Analysis (sometimes called discovery) is when you and your solution partner review your specific business processes and decide on your requirements. It will consist of several different discovery sessions that are done by module or by topic in terms of what is being implemented. Your partner will work with you to understand your processes and then present you with a functional requirements document which is a blueprint of how they will set up your new ERP system.

The Challenge

You need to strike a balance between providing an understanding of your fundamental business processes and their importance, while also remaining flexible and open to making the necessary changes to best leverage your new ERP. You must be prepared to change your current processes as moving to a new ERP is a chance to have a clean start and take advantage of current enhanced features.

Therefore, in the analysis step, you need to include people in each session who understand the current processes but who can also step back and say, “Let’s not focus on all the details of how we do things now, because we are going to change some aspects as part of moving to Business Central.”

Our Recommendations

  • Include people from the relevant parts of your business involved who can explain the current processes with a focus on what you do, why you do it and what can be improved.
  • The best people to involve might not always be management – sometimes senior frontline staff can be the perfect fit.
  • Make sure that you are providing all the essential information to your partner without drilling too far into small details.
  • Take the time to thoroughly review the functional requirements document.

Benefit

One of the main benefits of getting the right people in the room will be that the next step, solution modeling, will go more smoothly. You will have streamlined the process for yourself by gathering the necessary information during the analysis phase.

Solution Modeling

Solution modeling (sometimes referred to as design) is a crucial step where your partner will configure your ERP system based on your needs and requirements. Sometimes your partner will reach out for clarification or additional details.

The Challenge

Clients often struggle to see the full picture in Solution modeling. Once the environment setup is completed by your partner, it can then be used to demo the new data, configuration, and processes for the client. This allows you to better understand how Business Central will be used in day-to-day tasks.

During this phase, your partner may suggest improvements to improve efficiency, such as in approval processes or purchase orders. Be prepared for your processes to change and remember that these changes will be based on information already shared by your team.
Adaptability is key during this phase, as the new processes may redefine roles within your company.

Our Recommendations

  • Communicate any known limitations, such as staffing and accessibility issues, to your project manager so that information gathering is not pushed further down the line.
  • As you see changes, focus on the bigger picture of implementation rather than the smaller details of each new process.
  • Ask questions at each stage of the process.

Benefit

Based on the information collected during the Analysis, your partner will be able to present you with the best configuration of data and processes that will serve your needs effectively. Being open to these changes and asking questions will make this phase of the project successful.

Data Migration

Data migration will begin with your Master Data. Your partner will want your vendors, your customers, and your GL (General Ledger) accounts to be in the system so that you can be trained with data that is familiar to you. You will be given templates during this stage to fill out and if you have questions, reach out to your partner.

It is good to be aware that later, during the Operations Phase, you will be asked to provide Transactional data such as GL Balances for prior months to replicate comparative statements and outstanding transactions for the opening balances of Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Bank Reconciliation.

Common Challenges

Ensuring a smooth Data Migration begins with your legacy information. If it is messy and does not balance, that becomes a problem that must be reconciled before moving to the new system. Look at your data critically. This is an opportunity to remove old unneeded data and to reorganize the data to meet your current needs.

One of the big challenges at this point in your project is meeting deadlines. Your partner is working to prepare for testing and training promptly and requires your Master Data to do so. During the Go-Live, the Transactional data is needed to allow you to make and receive payments on transactions on invoices processed in your legacy system, do your new bank reconciliations, and provide management reporting.

Our Recommendation

Make sure that you create a Data Extraction Plan prior to Go-Live. If there is a lot of clean-up to do, do as much as you can in the preceding months. This can make the data extraction, clean up and balancing of your legacy data smoother.

Especially during the Go-Live phase, you may need to prioritize your time. Some data is business critical on day one, such as Inventory on-hand quantities, but other data can wait a week or so. Your partner can help you establish reasonable deadlines for the receipt of both Master and Transactional data.

Deployment

During the Deployment phase, there are two main aspects involving the user: Training and Testing.

Training

Successful training goes hand in hand with user acceptance and adoption, so the overall success of your project, and your return on investment (ROI), hinges on it.

Depending on the size of the organization, often a Train the Trainer approach may be used. This means that key users are trained and they, in turn, will provide training to others in your organization. They also become experts in the ERP system and can provide first level support.

This phase of your project involves training your key users on testing so that they can proceed to the Testing phase. This requires a significant time commitment from your selected key users of the system, so make sure to allocate considerable time for it.

Flexibility and adaptability remain crucial for your team during training. It is common to discover areas which escaped notice during the Analysis or have changed since then that will need to be accommodated. As always, working together is important to produce a solution.

Our Recommendations

Training introduces a change management element as users start using the system. It is important to be patient and acknowledge that adapting to different processes will feel uncomfortable, and it can take some time to adjust to these changes.

It is important that your key users actively participate and remain open to learning so that they fully understand the process, and your partner can address any concerns.

Attending sessions, reviewing videos if anything was missed, and, most importantly, staying fully engaged throughout the entire process will ensure successful training.

Testing

Testing is the first time where the responsibility of the project falls primarily onto your shoulders as the client. This is testing of your new solution by your team, in a real-world environment.

It is recommended that you start preparing prior to Testing by taking note of all the things that you do and the different scenarios that you encounter so that you can duplicate those processes in Business Central.

Common Challenges

The hard part is making sure you capture all the little exceptions. For example, what happens with a foreign currency transaction – how are you going to process that and pay for it? How does this impact the Bank Rec? How will you process corrections? You want to test the rules, but you also want to test the exceptions. The more you have gathered that information during and before testing, the better off you will be.

As mentioned above, this stage is when the biggest responsibility falls on the client. Your partner doesn’t know your business in the detail and scope that you do, so they cannot create your testing scripts for you, because your processes are unique. Full script development relies on your in-depth knowledge of your own processes.

Our Recommendations

  • Stay engaged and ask questions.
  • Aside from the regular meetings with your partner, have internal group meetings to make sure that you have covered all your issues and help each other solve the problems if you can.
  • Spend at least a month prior to the Testing phase examining your day-to-day operations and capturing all the exceptions.
  • Think of exceptions you had a month ago, or a change you had to deal with on the fly – how would you manage it now in the new system?
  • As you start testing your new solution, begin with the easy stuff and then proceed to the harder stuff.
  • If you are unsure about something, bring it up in meetings with your partner.

Operations

During the Operations phase, there are two main parts: Go-Live and Support. Go-Live is when you begin to do your day-to-day business using the new system. During Support, you and your partner work together to resolve issues and questions which come up.

Common Challenges

A common challenge clients have with Go-Live is that some staff can get frustrated when starting to work in the new system. Users may still have a foot in both camps because they continue to use the legacy system to close the final period and are also conducting any new business in the new system.

There also may be some transactional data missing in the new system as staff work to close the last transactions and migrate the finalized data.

Go-live itself is usually somewhat of a nonevent. During the first few days of a project’s Go-Live, staff will still be closing the prior legacy system, so it will take some time before they start working fully in the live system.

Our Recommendations

For a successful go-live, the best approach is to embrace the new processes. Your partner is there to guide you through the transition to a new system and ensure its success. This transition may take some time, and your partner will work with you to address any delays and ensure smooth data migration.

Regular meetings with your partner should be in place to address any concerns prior to Go-Live, so there is no need to feel frustrated or unprepared when the time comes. During these meetings, it is crucial to raise any issues for resolution with your partner. Overall, it is important for your staff to stay calm through the changes and be open to working in the new system. Working together ensures a smooth and successful transition.

If you have questions about your Dynamics 365 Business Central implementation, and would like advice tailored to your specific situation, please contact us.

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