The upgrade process from Microsoft Dynamics AX to Microsoft Dynamics D365 for Finance and Operations is a unique in terms of the scope of decisions and cost. It includes critical decisions not encountered in a typical upgrade process to the extent it is on these projects including:
Each must be considered carefully. For example, the pricing for AX to D365 upgrades has been a major shock for companies!
While every upgrade project is unique, there is a base of commonality that if addressed correctly can increase the probability of project success while reducing risks and cost.
It is not uncommon that upgrade quotes from AX to D365 for Finance and Operations are from one to one and a half times the size of the original implementation costs. Those are the pure service costs. It does not include the license and new hardware costs for on-premise implementations or the monthly user fees for cloud deployments.
Understandably, this creates enthusiastic and spirited feedback form potential customers.
In addition to the obvious sticker shock we are seeing a lack of focus and specific tools and processes for developing accurate quotes upgrade quotes.
In my experience, the success of the D365 for Finance and Operations product line has stressed the number of competent technical resources available to deliver consistently excellent projects. With the focus on “net new” sales the time and resources allocated to upgrade projects often gets relegated to the back burner. If not in the sales and project quoting process, then definitely in the staffing of resources in the delivery phase.
As a result, we have seen upgrade quotes that consist of a simple spreadsheet that in just over a dozen rows and columns lays out resources and monthly billing totals per resource. No detail as to the tasks that each resource will be responsible for. Never mind a detailed project plan with an analysis of critical project milestones or critical path analysis.
In one case, a multi-million-dollar quote was literally delivered as an estimate based on industry experience. I believe that the bank routing information for the project deposit included more detail.
We have found that the most accurate methodology for preparing an upgrade proposal is to start with a detailed technical analysis of the objects that are required to be upgraded. Objects come in different categories and not all objects are created equally. This requires one to have the ability to not only count the number of objects that must be upgraded but also the relative work effort required for each object under consideration. With hundreds of objects to consider on a typical upgrade project we have had to develop software IP to speed up this process. Manual inspection is too time consuming.
For the technically uninitiated, Dynamics AX objects that must be upgraded include:
- Custom objects
- Custom integrations
- Custom functionality
After objects, what are the next big variables that must be reviewed and quoted for an accurate upgrade project? Typically, these include:
- ISV’s and 3rd party solutions
- Integrations with legacy, proprietary and/or other business systems
- Business processes and operations
- Breadth of functionality used (for example, are we a GLAPAR customer or a global manufacturer)
- Technical capability of the client
- Client users base and subject matter experts SME
Each one of these could easily be a topic for a full blog post and associated podcast.
Giving a quick review on a topic that will be covered in greater detail in an upcoming project management discussion:
Q: What is the one guaranteed method for preventing upgrade quote growth due to scope creep?
A: Don’t upgrade.