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What should planning for global ERP implementations really look like?

  • Posted on February 15, 2017

(In a hurry? Skip to the end to get our guide on essential global deployment capabilities.)

Maybe yours is a single-site organization, working in one language and in one time zone, or maybe you are regional or even a nationwide market player. In all those cases, you may well find a few highly skilled Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration partners “in your neighborhood.”  But what about when you grow beyond that  [CLICK TO TWEET]?

To deploy a core model and truly global structure for Dynamics 365 for Operations (usually it’s built for a particular home-country location), you may find that it’s not exactly as straightforward as you’d hoped. The seemingly “simple act” of such an expansion (just add more seats, right?) is much more complex. So, are your template and organization rock solid and ready to roll?

As one of the few ERP providers with truly global reach and capabilities, Avanade often leads such local-to-global transitions. And when we run our Readiness Assessment, it’s often surprising what we find: core templates in one language only, Excel and Word test plans that are not replicable, no transition metrics, etc. These are just a few very common and basic issues that make each and every “go live” as painful and risky as the previous one.

Yet most of these common pitfalls could be avoided by remembering your end goal, which is for your organization to work together seamlessly in a unified ERP world. That's what drives all the target outcomes in cost savings, productivity and performance. It helps to evolve your processes along the way from each “go live” to the next. This is where and how you start to combine theory and practice. It’s what constitutes real ERP experience.

For example, it’s one thing to say you can meet local compliance and regulatory requirements because you have the manual and a lawyer, but it’s altogether something else to say you have a team of local specialists, who speak the local language and who have had to apply what they know in the context of local considerations on multiple projects, with the proper toolset and processes.

At Avanade we’ve spent years not just compiling our list, but living it. We have benchmarked hundreds of metrics and key performance indicators, from implementation times and costs, to proper management controls. And in the latter case, a lack of controls can rapidly turn an effort towards a unified global deployment into a succession of one-off and even conflicting implementations, where each “new” implementation compounds the risk presented by the previous one. Here’s a partial check list of some of the things required for global implementations, from “easy” to hard.

“Do you have (and use)…”

  • a common spoken language –e.g., sharable (English) documentation of what has been built and knowledge transfer repository?
  • a common IT language (shared master data files for instance)?
  • duplicable master company templates?
  • an effective way of capturing and documenting process variations by location?
  • replicable regression testing? Automated?
  • coding best practices, including single point of entry for code, change control measures, and proper release management protocols?
  • enforced governance rules, including translating and applying them into daily operations?
  • a structured way of collaborating with various partners in any location?

… just to name a few.

In my own experience I’ve found there is no singular way to roll out a core template. From the very centralized “push” models to the most decentralized ones, the chosen approach can be different due to market dynamics, company culture and organization, and other factors. The key is to know what to look for and then how to adjust. That’s why I find my delivery role so exciting, where the challenge is about balancing different factors and striving to reconcile sometimes disparate goals.

Case in point, let’s say…

  • The CIO has requirements around code, computing environments, and security;
  • The COO wants sufficient business flexibility, without feeling constrained by IT “security” issues;
  • Meanwhile, the CFO needs a working finance function to address risk, compliance and evolving reporting requirements, which need both security and flexibility.

Exhibit A

Global Capability Assessment (see below for access to the full guide)

It’s clear that developing (or buying) all this in an ERP system is a unique challenge. At Avanade, we support large organizations with global reach -- as many as 40 countries in some cases, which is roughly the same number of countries where Dynamics 365 for Operations already meets local regulatory requirements. Along the way, we’ve built a practice around it and captured our global experience in Avanade’s Rollout Repository. So, if you’re thinking about evaluating and embarking on your own global implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, please e-mail me at j.a.mueller@avanade.com and I will send you our first-step guide, Avanade’s Rollout Strategy: Capability Assessment & Goals Setting.

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