Friday, April 28, 2017

The Marathon of Implementation

I wrote this article for the AXUG magazine (link to original article here) and felt that it was appropriate to share it again on the eve of yet another half marathon. As many companies are actively considering moving to Dynamics 365, it still maintains its relevance. Here it is, slightly edited to maintain applicability.

The Marathon of Implementation

After being live in AX for over three years now, I can look back on my company’s implementation process and laugh about some of the craziness that occurred during that time. Of course, I now have some space from that process and I have gained a bit of perspective. At the time though, I would not have laughed, and I can empathize with the pain that those of you are feeling that are in the process of implementing AX, Dynamics 365, or any ERP for that matter.

So, in thinking about this, I have realized that the AX implementation process is a lot like running a half marathon. I am signed up to complete yet another one tomorrow, so hear me out and consider the parallels between that and implementing a new ERP system. 

When you finally decide to take the plunge and go for it, you are excited! You tell your mom, your friends, and your coworkers. They look at you like you’re crazy. They ask you if you’re sure this is something you’re ready to do. You tell them that you have a plan. Because you have this plan, everything will go smoothly. They smile and nod politely. They have the best hopes for you, but everyone has their doubts. 

Sarcastic winking man
Cool story, bro... Yeah, you know EXACTLY what you're getting into. 

You begin the tedious process of gathering information and preparing. Getting everything ready for this process is difficult! You really have to push yourself to new limits as you have plenty of other things to do in addition to everything that is now on your to-do list. However, you keep pushing through. 

All of a sudden, after several months of prep work, you are starting to see something take shape. It’s a bit rough, but you now have hope! You start to think, “This is something I can do!” and you keep pushing through. Then… something happens. It always does. 

Yes, something unexpected happens. You have a wrench thrown into your perfect plan and you take a hard turn down an unexpected path. You will recover, but this has now put you behind. You may have several wrenches thrown into your plans. Sometimes you want to throw in the towel, but at this point in time, you have so much time, energy, and resources invested into this, that you continue to trudge through.

Then, after the months, or maybe years, of prep work, it’s "go" time. At the beginning, you go into it completely fresh. You are ready. This is what you’ve been preparing for. It seems a little too easy. Everyone is figuring out their pace and it’s pretty quiet. Then, it starts to get hard. Little pains start popping up and you begin to have doubts about everything you've done. You are nervous, but you’re committed to this now. There’s no turning back. 

Next, comes complete exhaustion. Everyone told you it would be hard. You start to calculate the loss you’d take if you’d just turn around and go back. You’re frustrated and tired. You are ready for this to be done. This is actually very normal!

Finally, the end is in sight. You may be battered and beaten, but you made it and you will recover. You have completed an amazing feat and in just a short period of time you will begin to consider the next big thing on your list. 

For those of you still implementing, it will be over soon. There are many people in the Dynamics community who have been through what you're going through and they are very good at sharing their experiences and helping others through this marathon of a process. Who knows? Maybe you'll be in this position in a couple of years and ready to share your experiences and help others who are going through the same craziness that you endured. 

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