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Crestwood Associates

Documenting your Dynamics GP ERP Implementation – Striving for the “Goldilocks” Approach.


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    You are in the process of planning a Dynamics GP ERP Implementation.  You’ve tried to think of everything.  But one of the areas that often gets overlooked along the way is documentation.  You would be surprised how often documentation is not done (or done poorly).

    And then – how much is enough? If you under-document, you are flying by the seat of your pants, and we all know how well that usually works out.  Things fall through the cracks, you get over-budget surprises, delays, or other repercussions that lead to a less than successful and more costly project.  Likewise, you can actually have a project over-documented, where every detail has been captured and recorded for posterity.  Neither of these situations is ideal.

    Goldilocks was on to something….not too hot and not too cold, but just right.  And the key point here is that the documentation should be appropriate for the complexity of the implementation.  A 3 user Dynamics GP implementation using General Ledger and Payables Management, with no data conversion, and very few customizations will require less documentation then a 30 user Dynamics GP with full financials, distribution, many customizations, and integrations to other external systems.

    As a minimum, you should have the following documents:

    1. Project Implementation Plan – this is the overall roadmap to your implementation.  How much detail it has will be based on the level of complexity of the implementation.  Regardless, this should include some common general categories, including Analysis and Detail Requirements Definition, Software installation and Configuration, End User Review and Acceptance testing, Customizations (reports, forms, financial statements, and other requirements), End User Training, Data Conversion or Beginning Balance Setup, Production Go Live, and Follow-up Support.  Things change quickly and often during almost every implementation, so anticipate this and allow some cushion and have some flexibility along the way.  And often it is best to manage to just to the higher level categories, when checking to see if you are on time and on budget, rather than the more detailed specific tasks.  Keeping an eye on where you stand at a high level can go a long way a successful implementation.
    2. Project Status Update Document – you need to have a regular status project meetings and a document to use as part of that.  This document can be very simple, identifying what was recently completed, what is next to complete, any open unresolved issues that came up, and who has responsibility for open issues and next steps.  This not only gives you the feeling of progress but also avoids that uncomfortable “oh I thought he/she/you were doing that” conversation.
    3. Future Enhancement Document – during the implementation, you almost always find additional capabilities you want or think you need.  Too often people try to cram all of these new needs into the initial implementation.  Think hard about if these additional needs are really critical your operations.  If not, put them in a Future Enhancement Document and plan to possibly implement them later.  This helps keep your initial implementation on time and on budget.  And you would be surprised how often, after some months go by without these “needs”, you realize you really didn’t need them after all.
    4. Customizations Reference – if you are making customizations along the way (and you almost always do), you need a separate document that details these.  These customizations include form customizations (e.g. invoices, checks), custom reports, use of user fields to track additional information, third party applications, any database level changes such as modified or additional stored procedures, etc.  Having a clear understanding of where and how customizations were made will help you shake out any issues that might occur in these areas during the implementation.  And it will also help immensely in the future when you upgrade your system, move it to different servers, or work with different consultants.

    The key is again is to have the appropriate level of documentation for the complexity of your implementation.  Microsoft provides many useful documents to use as part of their Best Practices documentation library called Sure Step.  But this library includes many forms, and often you will not need all that level of detail.  Strike the proper balance and you will have the “just right” documentation for your implementation.

    Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have: Rick Feterick, Crestwood Associates, 847-394-8820 x48, or [email protected].

    by Crestwood Associates LLC – an Indiana Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner.

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