If you have a hard go-live date but no project plan and project manager that adjusts the critical path daily your project will fail. Listen to actual partner and client project managers discuss their challenges mid-project.

As experienced project managers tend to do, I was reflecting recently on some the well-worn wisdom that seems to bring comfort to people in our role, for example:

  • The fact that nine women cannot have a baby in one month, aka the critical path concept of project planning, and;
  • The Goldilocks concept of project management – what is the right amount for projects of varying size and scope.

In the Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) world I have seen project teams ignore one or both of these concepts. A partner in a national firm once told me that project management is a waste of time when I asked him about how he could improve his probability of success. His firm had just overseen two failed go-live attempts and an implementation budget that had ballooned from $200k to over a million dollars, much to the client’s delight. On the flip side, I have friends in the industry that are full time project managers on AX and D365FO implementation and upgrade projects. Most of their projects are significantly over budget.

So, what is the answer?

In my experience, the project manager, and the wider project management function in our industry, is mainly a clerical function. Even on projects that have full time professional project managers I see very little push back on scope creep and unreasonable mid-project requests from clients.

Project managers must have the experience and the authority to identify the critical path of a project, the available resources at their disposal, and be able to manage specifically to those constraints and, more importantly, customer expectations. These responsibilities are a key discussion point in part 5 of our D365FO upgrade journeys podcast series.

Ironically, I see the new and improved D365FO business model, with its strong trend toward the public cloud, as adding additional stress on the project management function in two specific areas:

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