Playing the Long Game: How to Support your Dynamics 365 CRM Deployment

One of our roles as a Dynamics 365 consulting firm is to not only make your initial CRM deployment a smashing success, but to support you in the never-ending journey of maintaining and building further on your implementation. 

We sat down with five team members to gain perspective on best practices for supporting Microsoft Dynamics 365 deployments post go-live. 

Question: What do you wish people knew about supporting a D365 CRM deployment before going live?

Pete Majer, Principal Dynamics CRM Consultant:

It is so important to have two things set and decided: the team and the plan. Without it, implementations go stale faster than you would think. Make sure your users know the product and are prepared to own the implementation moving forward, and/or be ready to mature the product with your Dynamics 365 consulting partner. 

Rick Trethewey, Senior Consultant Dynamics CRM Consultant:

Issues and bugs will happen with any CRM deployment. This is a guarantee! Surround yourself with a partner who will jump in to solve and support your team with gracious and humble attitudes.  

Cherish Orozco, Principal Dynamics CRM Consultant:

1. Under promise, over deliver. Always.
2. Recognize that change is hard.
3. Focus on 1-2 key areas of value for each user group.

And please don’t sell your users on a shiny new platform and set an unreasonable expectation that it will solve all their problems. Instead, pitch it as a tool that will help them over time. 

Jeff Timmer, Dynamics CRM Consultant:

There is so much power in just asking. Talk to your CRM consultant about the post-implementation plan. Strategize, troubleshoot, and talk through prioritization of what comes next at the start. 

Tom Demana, Principal Dynamics CRM Consultant:

It’s not a destination, it’s a journey. 

Question: What resources do companies need to provide ongoing support to their CRM deployment?

Tom: A browser extension to help with troubleshooting. Something like Toolshed or LevelUp is a must. A plan for how to manage tickets that come in to a helpdesk is critical to success. 

Cherish: One well-managed team inbox or one key person to answer questions and offer support. This person/these people should be true super users. Invest heavily in getting this resource to a maximum comfort level with the platform. 

Rick: Someone to dive into Microsoft Wave Releases. You must understand the general impact on your D365 environment.  

Pete: At a minimum, you need an administrator to help provision new users, add security roles, and help users with using D365. Ideally, you’d have a complete team including a project manager to help drive the vision of the application, makers who can help extend the product by creating new tables, Power Automates, and Power BI reports, and business stakeholders to drive the maturity of the product.  

Your D365 deployment isn’t done when you go-live. Microsoft continues to release functionality and you need to be aware of those updates so you can take advantage of new features.  

Jeff: A trusted sounding board who has insider context on the business. This is key to balancing customization possibilities with business needs vs. business wishes and assigning the right level of urgency and prioritization.

Question: What skills do companies need to support their D365 deployment post go-live?

Tom: A thorough understanding of the business and how the system is built. Troubleshooting skills are key, especially if your team isn’t well-versed in helpdesk types of processes. And patience. 

Jeff: The most successful CRM deployments have support teams that are skilled in discernment and visionary thinking. It’s important to have the ability to pause, step back, and see the big picture. 

Pete: Project Management skills are key to ensuring successful releases post-go-live with a planned schedule and planned features. Skills around administering the system, including creating new users, assigning security roles, and changing system settings. Finally, the ability to configure the system is a big plus. These skills include creating new tables and columns, cloud flows, model-driven and canvas apps, and Power BI reports.  

Rick: Listen hard and speak softly is a good skill to have for all projects. A focus on long-term relationships, and emphasis on effective and timely communication will go a long way. 

Question: What is one pro tip you can share based on your experience?

Pete: If you’re new to D365, take the crawl, walk, run approach. D365 is a powerful platform and if you try to do it all at once, you run the risk of taking too long to show value and implementing functionality incorrectly. Start slow. Get your users on the system with core requirements before adding the bells and whistles (automation, reporting, etc.) 

Tom: Don’t make choices or changes based on emotion. Let the emotions subside, then move forward. 

Jeff: Don’t underestimate the power of supplemental enhancements. These can make a huge difference in change management and letting users know you hear them. 

Cherish: Pick a key person on your team who can easily build rapport with users, learn new things, is naturally resourceful, and who you expect to stay with the company for the long run. 

Rick: You ultimately support the project’s success, but you don’t have to shoulder all the work! Lean on your implementation partner.