Deploying a customer relationship management (CRM) tool such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 can be a complicated undertaking. Before beginning the deployment, your organization needs to be sure it has:
- Coordination among the disparate teams and players contributing to the deployment
- Education for the members of your organization tasked with using it on a regular basis
- All the necessary IT specifications needed to support such a transition
While this may seem like an intimidating prospect, with the right amount of planning your organization can oversee a smooth and seamless transition. Once you do, you’ll be able to experience all the benefits of using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement.
This guide will walk you through the necessary steps for your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement CRM deployment. It is broken up into five sections, each tied to a specific action:
- Identify roles and responsibilities
- Create a communication and training plan
- Review your systems to ensure you meet all requirements
- Conduct training
- Additional resources from Microsoft
Identify Roles and Responsibilities
To start, you’ll need to identify a deployment team that will manage the process. Below are the roles and responsibilities needed for each member of this team. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, multiple roles may be assigned to one individual.
Think of these individuals as your strategic planners. Your business managers will make the decision over how your organization will use Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. This will be critical as you move through the deployment, as their decisions will need to be communicated with your entire organization (or, at the very least, anyone using the system). Business managers will be responsible for mapping your processes and identifying any needed customizations as well.
The project manager (PM) will lead the deployment efforts through its entire project lifecycle. They’ll oversee implementation across the entire enterprise. They’ll are responsible for ensuring the business manager’s vision for how the product will be used across the organization comes to fruition.
Network Technical Staff
While the business manager thinks in terms of strategy and the PM thinks in terms of the overarching process for deployment, the network technical staff are in charge of operations. They’ll be responsible for handling the actual deployment of Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. They’ll also determine how users will access the system.
Customization Technical Staff
When the business managers or PM identify the need for any type of customization during the deployment, this portion of the team will step in. An offshoot of the network technical staff, the customization technical staff will handle any special requests needed during the deployment. Your team may fluctuate depending on your specific needs. Additional team members may include:
- You may identify an independent software vendor (ISV) whose services you’ll use to assist in the various parts of the process.
- Members of your human resources or operations team to help assist with administrative concerns or to issue hardware.
- Your communications team who can work on messaging for how the deployment will impact your organization.
- Additional IT staff who can specialize in assisting with your staff’s hardware or software that needs updating prior to deployment.
Again, how your deployment team looks may vary if you have different needs. But the four groups mentioned above will be responsible for the bulk of the technical tasks involved in the deployment.
Create a Communication and Training Plan
Once your leadership has identified how you plan to use Dynamics 365 and your strategy for deployment, you’ll need to socialize that with the people in your organization who will be using it. Document the process for your team. Include milestones and deadlines with anticipated dates on which you’ll need them to take action - whether that involves working with the network technical staff, taking training, or any other related tasks.
Once this plan is complete, share it with your organization. If anything changes, keep them up to date on what to expect.
You should understand the licensing options (and your organization’s licensing needs) before you begin deployment. For Dynamics 365 Server, there’s no licensing limit for individual users. The licensing can support numerous sub-units within your overarching organization. You can also improve performance with role-based service installation, which allows you to install Dynamics 365 Server and all its features on multiple machines.
While every organization-wide Dynamics 365 deployment uses only one product key, each Dynamics 365 Server will require a unique server license. Upgrade your license in Deployment with the following commands in Windows PowerShell: “Get-CrmAccessLicense” and “Set-CrmProductKey”. Deployment Manager is essentially your go-to Microsoft Management Console (MMC) for any adjustments you need to make to your Dynamics 365 servers or licenses.
Make sure you have a solid grasp on the number and types of licenses you need prior to beginning the deployment. This will cut down on the number of adjustments you need to make later in the process.
Review Your Systems to Ensure You Meet All Requirements
Just as you’ll need to review your licensing needs, you’ll also have to do an assessment of your organization’s current systems to ensure you meet all of Dynamics 365’s system and hardware requirements.
Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement requires the following systems to operate:
- Microsoft Windows Server
- A SharePoint server intended for document management
- An internet information services (IIS) website
- A claims-based token security service
- Either a Microsoft Exchange Server or a POP3-compliant email server
- SQL Server with reporting services
- Either a supported device, the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement App, or an updated web browser
- Other Microsoft integration features such as Microsoft Office or Outlook
It’s also important to ensure your machines have the correct specifications. If there are issues with the compatibility of your organization’s computers or software, this is definitely an issue you want to resolve prior to launch. Problems here can delay the deployment significantly, leading to a lag time in adopting Dynamics 365 as your CRM.
For a processor, the minimum requirement is x64 architecture (or compatible dual-core 1.5 GHz processor). Then, for optimal use, Microsoft recommends a Quad-core x64 architecture, 2GHz CPU or higher. For memory requirements, the minimum is 4 GB RAM with recommendations of machines with 8 GB RAM or higher. Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement requires at least 10 GB of hard disk space, though Microsoft recommends having 40 GB of hard disk space or more.
Keep in mind that using hardware that doesn’t meet Microsoft’s recommendations may result in less than optimal performance when using Dynamics 365.
Once you’ve verified you have all the specifications necessary and have communicated the deployment to the team, it’s time to train them on how to use it. Training is important as it provides your users with the ability to familiarize themselves with the new system. They can experiment and troubleshoot before the deployment is complete. It also gives them an opportunity to consult the technical staff and PM with any lingering questions they may have as they work their way through the training.
There are several training options available from Microsoft:
- Microsoft Learn is Microsoft’s eLearning platform featuring hands-on lessons and guidance.
- CommunityDynamics.com offers earlier versions of Dynamics 365 eLearning courses.
- Microsoft also offers three certifications for Dynamics 365:
- MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365
- MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations
- MCSE: Business applications
Disseminating training to the entire team is critical to ensuring mastery of the core concepts needed to succeed in Dynamics 365. You should provide your team with guidance on how to complete the training, the links they’ll need to complete it, and a deadline for completion as well.
Additional Resources from Microsoft
Microsoft offers a number of resources to assist with the planning and maintenance of Dynamics 365. Microsoft has a site dedicated specifically to warehousing all documentation related to the management and use of Dynamics 365. The site has topics that cover IT troubleshooting, customer service assistance, human resources, sales, fraud protection, finance, marketing, and many others. This includes essentially any topic related to the use of Dynamics 365.
Send this link to your entire team following the training portion of the deployment process. Different members of your team will find value in different sections. They may not use all of the resources, but this site will act as a reference guide to fill in any knowledge gaps following the deployment process.
By focusing on preparing your team, making sure all your systems possess the proper specifications, and conducting extensive training and review, you should have a relatively uneventful Dynamics 365 deployment. Communication is the most important key. Be clear on the time frame for the deployment and when your team needs to complete their training. Establish a dialogue between the different members of your team - whether they’re in operations, HR, or IT. They’ll need to work together. If you’ve got an upcoming Dynamics 365 deployment and are looking to get the most out of your CRM, turn to Agile IT for assistance. Agile IT understands how to navigate Dynamics 365 to help you and your team excel while using it. For more on how we can help, contact us today.