Prior to joining Seer 365, Dan Heath, our Projects and Product Management superstar, worked as a Senior Project Manager for a Dynamics 365 partner, managing various project implementations. In this blog article, find out about the main challenges he faced and the solution he wishes he had back then that will enable today’s project managers to run better, faster projects.
As a Senior Project Manager in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 space, the handover of information from Sales to Project Management at the start of a project could sometimes be extremely frustrating. In the best cases, I would receive everything I needed to begin implementing a project. However, at least half the time, I would be struggling to interpret all the information that had been given to me and spend unnecessary time chasing for information that was missing.
Below, I’ve outlined my three key challenges as a Project Manager, which I know are common amongst other project managers, and the type of solution I wish I had in place when doing the project management role that would have made it far simpler.
Hopefully, these will help make your role a little easier.
Time taken to interpret handover information
Time spent collating and reformatting inconsistent handover documentation from the sales team is one of the most frustrating parts of being a Project Manager.
You either have a sales representative who understands exactly what the Project Manager needs and provides all the key information in a well-formatted document or, often, you receive documentation with little formatting and missing information. This can be down to a lack of training for the salesperson, a lack of processes in place to ensure consistent handovers, or (dare I say it!) occasionally, laziness. As the Project Manager, it then falls on you to spend extra hours, if not days, reviewing and attempting to interpret what you have been provided. Time is spent putting chasers out for the missing information and collating everything into a format that allows you to fully understand the scope and resources needed to successfully complete the project. Without doing this, you can struggle to understand:
- What is missing
- What the objectives are
- What is and isn’t in scope
- What the gaps in the customer’s requirements are vs what standard Dynamics 365 can provide
As the old saying goes “time is money”, so, as a Project Manager, the longer it takes you to understand these questions, the more it’s costing the customer (or your own employer if they have to absorb the extra project management cost).
Variable quality of the information provided
Salespeople would sometimes send across third-hand information without checking it beforehand. Basic customer information would quite often be inaccurate or missing, leaving it down to me as the Project Manager to chase and collect the right information. More time wasted on unnecessary, menial tasks!
Let me be clear though, it’s not always the salesperson’s fault. The significant amount of information they need to collect and provide as part of the handover to project management makes it easy to miss something, especially if there isn’t a consistent process in place. However, poor quality or missing information can lead to misunderstandings, which can affect the final scope of a project.
When you have a customer who says that they have provided you with certain requirements, yet these have not been documented by the Sales team as part of the handover, it can sometimes mean giving away elements of a project free of charge if these are not picked up early enough. This can reduce the overall profitability of a project.
But there is a better way to improve the quality of the handover information, which I will cover towards the end of this article, so please keep reading.
Missing information on current systems
In a typical sales handover document, you will have a lot of information on the solution the customer is looking for but often very little information on their current systems landscape; such as integrations, other third-party solutions in use, and how that is supporting (or not supporting) their current business.
Are they expecting Dynamics 365 to meet all their requirements? Will it need to integrate with third-party solutions that they already have in place? Will it be a blend of the two, where Dynamics 365 replaces some third-party solutions and integrates with others? Without detailed information on their current systems landscape, it can be difficult to answer these questions with any level of confidence and to plan out how Dynamics 365 will fit into their business.
The need to liaise directly with the customer to get hold of this missing, yet important information is just another example of ineffective use of a Project Manager’s valuable time.
My tip to overcome these challenges: Build a great relationship with your sales team. If you are both aligned and they really understand what you need and why you need it, they are more likely to provide it, which will improve the productivity of the project management organisation, and ultimately lead to more successful projects.
So, if you could have a solution that solves these issues, what would it look like?
Picture this…a solution that:
- Gathers first-hand, high-quality information directly from a customer and stores it centrally, allowing you and the customer to access that same information throughout the project planning stages, and beyond.
- Holds everything together in one unified, consistent, professional-looking document, which can be shared with the project management team and drive project meetings.
- Provides a detailed fit-gap analysis of a customer’s requirements vs Dynamics 365, enabling you and your customer to understand which requirements can be met by the out-of-the-box solution and which custom development or third-party (Microsoft ISV partner) solutions may be needed.
- Avoids having to give elements of a project away free of charge because the information was missed or poorly documented.
By now, you’ve probably guessed that I have a particular solution in mind.
I may be slightly biased as I now work for the company that develops and sells GYDE365, the solution that can address these challenges, but trust me when I say as a Project Manager for Dynamics 365 if my company had been using this technology, it would have been ‘game changing’. Less time spent on the project administration, less need for difficult-to-organise and expensive-to-run pre-sales and scoping meetings, and more time spent on working on the areas that add the most value to the customer.
Don’t believe me? Meet award-winning Microsoft Partner, Mercurius IT, a happy client, who has enhanced their Dynamics 365 project approach with our GYDE365 platform. Find out more here: Award-winning Microsoft partner, Mercurius IT, selects GYDE365 to enhance their Dynamics 365 project approach – Seer 365
Find out more about our GYDE365 platform: Book a short demo
Written by Dan Heath
Dan Heath is our Projects and Product Manager and has worked at Seer 365 since shortly after it was founded. Dan has a wealth of experience in project management within the app development industry and Microsoft Dynamics 365.