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Lipi Sarkar, Vinnie Bansal: Building a Digital Future

Digital Transformation with Microsoft Dynamics 365

There are three core areas of leading a successful transformation: readiness and planning roadmap, change management depending on the maturity of the organization, and the fundamentals of governance principles.

Digital Transformation and the Case of Change

Kasja Hofvendahl: “A digital transformation is not a project or initiative with a clear start or an end. It is about people, bold leadership and how you leverage the data, competence, and the key technology enablers that are unique for the specific company. To secure your success, set a vision and clear objectives, but do not plan for the whole journey.”[1]

Digital transformation is all about customers. 73 % of customers point out that customer experience is important factor in their purchasing decision, but only 49 % say that companies provide a good one.

Speed is the most significant driver in digital transformation. The ability to respond quickly to consumer demands starts with a strong emphasis on customer data. Understanding customer behaviors, their pattern and perception, becomes key to provide an exceptional personalized customer experience.

Digital Transformation into Four Areas of Customer Focus by Forrester:

  • Transform Experiences
  • Transform Operations
  • Transform Tech Ecosystems
  • Innovate & Transform Business Models

AI Systems consist of five key components:

  • Detection
  • Understanding
  • Analysis
  • Orientation
  • Action

71 % of digitally mature companies say they can attract new talent based on their use of data.

The top industries for digital-first business and strategies are services (95%), financial services (93%), and healthcare (92%).

Three maturity model and stages of digital transformation:

  • Stage 1: Digital Assets – Optimize existing IT.
  • Stage 2: Digital Experience – Optimize the current business model.
  • Stage 3: Digital Transformation – Create new business models.

It is time to reassess your organization’s ways of working by reviewing internal capability, resource utilization, cost efficiency, and collaborative platform that can be used to drive the operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and eventually help you to transform your operation.

Software engineers, cloud computing specialists, product managers, data scientists, data architects, UX designers, digital trainers, writers, conversational brand strategists, forensic analysts, ethics compliance managers and digital and workplace technology managers, are just some roles that digital transformation needs.

Honeywell is calling their employees Future Shapers.

Key components of digital transformation business case are:

  • Scope
  • Decision Frameworks
  • Roadmap
  • Milestones
  • Benefits

Capabilities for Transforming Your Business with Dynamics 365

Peter Drucker: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”[2]

Digital transformation was born as a result of the rapid evolution of the global economy, the imperative demand of consumers to receive better-quality services, the large and ever-increasing competition, and the evolution of buyers/consumers into “smart users” across all channels.

Digital transformation is dual: on the one hand, it refers to how you offer your services or products on the market and, on the other hand, how you strengthen the internal processes.

Some of the core barriers that can become fatal to a digital transformation strategy if not resolved before starting any initiative:

  • Consumer engagement
  • Cost efficiencies
  • Resistance to change
  • Old practices in a new environment
  • The right product or the vendor

A successful digital transformation strategy must include the adoption of products and services versus the adaption of them. Any variation or customization of the product needs to be ring-fenced, closely measured with impact assessment, and monitored by solution design and architecture authority.

Within the digital transformation strategy, the data is an illustrious citizen.

There are business processes that do not respond to current reality and others that are more complex than necessary. Part of the digital transformation refers to the improvement of business processes, to improve the value proposition toward the client, improve the experience of client, and also of the users, so that it is transformed into a better service.

Automation is not a choice any more but is a compulsion in today’s digital age.

There are many variables to consider in order to decide on the best suitable option for a particular company:

  • Costs
  • Compliance
  • Scalability
  • Features
  • Update frequency
  • Security
  • Performance
  • Data integration with other systems
  • Resources and skillsets
  • Change capabilities

Some of the arguments for cloud-based online option:

  • Features
  • Update frequency
  • Resources and skillset
  • Infrastructure

The power of the Microsoft Platform

The outcome of your digital transformation needs to be clearly linked to your business vision and strategy, which will help to lay out a strong foundation for a digital roadmap.

You need to have the sponsorship of the leadership team before embarking on the journey of business transformation.

The solution needs to be designed that meets the current business requirements and is future-proof with new evolving technologies and changing business needs.

Power BI possesses three main fundamental components to promote the creation, distribution, and consumption. Power BI desktop for creation, Power BI service for distribution (SaaS – browser based), Power BI apps for consumption (cross-platform Device Applications).

Power BI key concepts for creating content: datasets, workspaces, reports, dataflows, apps, and dashboards.

As the data is ever growing in organizations, it is hard to explicitly code for all situations, which are continually evolving for so many different behavioral patterns. This is where we can make use of machine learning.

Intelligent Automation can be described as a solution that digitally transforms business processes to organize users, systems, tasks, and robots (RPA) depending on the needs of the business at each moment. Four key technologies are:

  • Business process management. A method used to optimize business processes in an organization.
  • Robotic Process Automation. A technology that objectifies to reduce human intervention in IT applications.
  • Artificial Intelligence.
  • Integrations. It is crucial to integrate systems applications and products into your business processes.

The journey to predictive maintenance starts by connecting things, people, and information. The IoT is a technology that connects everyday objects, devices, and sensors to the Internet and captures huge amounts of telemetry from them.

Three different levels of maintenance.

  • Corrective maintenance, where parts are replaces as and when they fail.
  • Preventative maintenance, where they determine the useful lifespan for a part and maintain or replace it before a failure.
  • Predictive maintenance, where the goal is to optimize the balance between corrective and preventative maintenance, by enabling just in time replacement of components.

Azure IoT delivers capabilities and functionality across many typical and end-to-end scenarios: telemetry ingestion, device management, command control, rule-based alerts, rich visualization.

Microsoft currently provides two technologies to develop chatbots: the Microsoft Bot Framework and the Power Platform’s Power Virtual Agent.

Blueprint for Executing a Successful Dynamics 365 Project

Five Cornerstones of Digital Transformation

The digital revolutions have shortened the distance between the CEO and the customer and future business. You need to be encouraging the entire company to consider the easiest, most efficient, and most repeatable ways your customers will be buying from you. Get the processes clear, automate, and homogenized as much as possible, apply people to the outliers that cost money, and get on with making your customer have such an easy time dealing with you that they cannot stop ordering.

Align your digital transformation with business strategy as your first cornerstone.

Culture shift is next cornerstone.

Start with questions like:

  • What should we stop doing?
  • What should we start doing?
  • What should we keep doing?
  • If there is one thing about our culture you would change, what would it be?

Knowledge-sharing and consulting across the entire lifecycle is the key to change an organization and to really live up to the shared responsibility concept.

People are an organization’s asset and the third cornerstone of a transformation program.

List the skills you think you need – Skills framework for the Information Age (SFIA) for IT. Get people to grade themselves. Correct their gradings. Talent profiles and succession plans. Look for the gaps.

Avoid long-term overload. You can do that by employing more people, or make them more efficient.

A digital transformation, if done properly, is just the beginning of a journey to bring the organization and the customer closer (and closer) together. Organizational change management does not wait for the digital transformation but precedes it, often in small ways.

Without the commitment to change the culture of the organization a digital transformation is just another technology project.

Process shift is the fourth cornerstone.

The following activities need to take place in order to get the processes well documented:

  • Get the people who do the work to write down what they do, step by step. This should involve every person, even if they perform the same task.
  • Get someone from another team to try to repeat this. If they can’t, get them to sit one or two people doing the work and rewrite the process so it can be followed.
  • Wherever there is a hand-off to someone else, write that into the document, and that person then also needs to write down their process.
  • Gradually link all these processes together. Get someone in to map these.
  • The managers and team leaders of the people doing these tasks then need to check that they are accurate.
  • Once everyone in every department has completed this, you have nearly all your processes mapped.

One way to ensure that the third party is delivering is to ensure you give clear requirements. A combination of functional requirements in order of importance and expected outcomes (ideally in the form of test scenarios) will keep the various deliverables on track.

Governance and control are the fifth cornerstone. A review of the business processes, assessing impact, designing the solution and architecture and building a solution, all those are under control of program managers.

The project governance is the responsibility of the management board. Steering meetings are to be set up with the correct representation. We should have clearly defined approval gates. Risks are shared, managed, impact discussed and mitigated. We should have clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities for the project governance.

Changes must be for good strategic reasons, not because there is a new manager wanting to make their mark.

Program Readiness

You should combine the traditional waterfall project methodology and an agile methodology.

The essence of planning is key before your take the leap. You need to know what the capacity for change in your organization is. This should be a business-led transformation and not an IT-led one.

If you don’t know the detail of the core processes in your business you are going to have to find out, or pay the significant extra costs of not knowing.

Identify the critical processes to the running of the business and map them. A good start is BPML – Business Process Master List.

Data is the single, biggest problem for most programs.

Here is an illustration of contingency that you may need to build upon to the project costs based on various risk factors.

  • People. 1 % for every point average below a 90 % net promoter score.
  • Current processes. 2 % for every critical process not documented and understood.
  • Data quality. 10 % if you cannot make quality decision based on current data.

These should be cumulative.

When you will communicate the project on all levels you should cover the following:

  • The vision. Why are we doing this?
  • The goals. What do we want to achieve?
  • The plan including the proposed timeline. How are we doing that?
  • The people. Who is doing it?

Some risk factors connected with the leadership team:

  • Loss
  • Resistance
  • Ambition
  • Decision makers

Where people are key to getting things done, processes tell them how to do things.

Deep Dive: Organizational Change Management for Dynamics 365 and DX

The significance of organization change management (OCM) enable you to plan your digital transformation (DX) journey.

DX’S wingman to change is OCM. Projects with improved change management had an increased likelihood of meeting objectives and finishing on time and on budget.

If organization is not ready for a project, this affects:

Scope (as requirements are not aligned).

Schedule (too many must have requirements).

Benefits to be realized (why are we doing things).

Without alignment, the project quickly becomes technology driven.

We should check five tracts: executive readiness, operational readiness, people readiness, technical readiness and project readiness.

A practical way to build your own DX roadmap is to map out the transition between your current state and the next state on the IDC Digital Maturity Map, a five-stage maturity model similar to CMMI.

DX Enablement Roadmap can take us from Digital Explorer to Digital Player.

DX Ecosystem is the environment in which DX Teams operate. Team membership is temporary and purpose-built by initiative. Three permanent roles manage the environment. Transformation officer, network operators and transformation lead.

Merging all metadata into a centrally accessible reporting platform, or Business Operations Platform (BOP).

  • Connecting workflow outputs of siloed It tools adds up-to-date business context to IT outputs.
  • Connecting siloed people data adds technology context.
  • Connecting project data creates team context.
  • Connecting business value alignment data adds priority context.

The following four steps guide you to developing your very own BOP:

  • Develop Your Business Architecture.
  • Business Architecture Refinement: Data Patterns and ID.
  • Assign Business Scenarios to Their Mission Alignment.
  • Create the BOP in a Data Analytics Tool of Choice.

The challenge under DX is to develop an innovation culture, one that embraces change and experimentation and has leadership with high tolerance for uncertainty.

Metrics and Data-Driven Culture:

  • Best practices are not KPI’s.
  • Measure the Process, not the people. When people feel they are being measured, they react with a fight-or-flight response.
  • Create a data culture methodology.
  • Create a KPI constellation. Benefit realization KPIs are the North Star to accomplish the new normal.
  • All KPIs must have an expected completion data.

Companies today are measuring backwards. That is “how the customer is performing for us”. To become truly CX centric, companies must also measure “how the company is performing for its customers”.

A new CX measure category is called CPI for customer performance indicator. A CPI aligns with outcomes relevant to the customer, such as payment flexibility or a quick turnaround time of service. CPIs measures in increments of value to the customer, such as time, convenience, savings, and recognition.

Fundamentals of Executing a Successful Dynamics 365 Project

Your communication should regularly indicate the following:

  • The reason for the project (your business case for change).
  • The roadmap.
  • Highlights any known and identified risks.
  • Do not hesitate to communicate about the unknown risks that you may come across during the journey.

Design Thinking is regarded as a system of three overlapping themes.

  • Viability. The business perspective.
  • Desirability. The user’s perspective.
  • Feasibility. The technological perspective.

Design thinking is how we explore and solve problems. Lean is our framework for testing our beliefs and learning our way to the right outcomes, and Agile is how we adapt to changing conditions with software development lifecycles.

If you want to successfully manage project time-scale in an Agile environment, the key is to create an agile team culture that takes ownership and accountability for all the decisions that may have an impact on time and budget.

The Nielsen Norman Group user experience specialists created a map split into four lanes: user customer action, front stage actions, back stage actions and support processes.

Don’t split features across teams. The feature provides a joint goal and enforces team spirit. You will need one architect supporting each feature team. Every feature team needs the business product owner’s support.

When working across teams that are spread across the globe, documentation and planning are crucial to making sure the hand-offs are clear and timely.

The core tenet at the heart of Agile project management is the idea of “inspect and adapt”.

Five tips for agile decision making:

  • Gather iterative feedback,
  • Balance alignment and autonomy.
  • Get comfortable with good enough.
  • Place time limits on decisions.
  • Don’t get sloppy.

What are the weaknesses with the Traditional Strategic Planning model?

  • It’s linear.
  • It is often complex, laborious, and time-consuming.
  • It is static and lacks agility.
  • It does not leverage failure.
  • It is more often than not implemented top-down.

The three daily standup questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What will you do today?
  • Anything blocking your progress?

Driving Innovation and Improvements with Dynamics 365

Do you understand how to measure user engagement and customer experience?

Makers and Shakers of Dynamics 365 Transformation

The project charter is the statement of scope, objectives, and people who are participating in a project.

You should detail the responsible role rather than the person.

Some other responsibilities you can assign:

  • Who determined and directs the reasons for undertaking the project?
  • Who has set the objectives and constraints of the project and what they are?
  • Who sets the directions regarding any constraints listed above=
  • Who are the main stakeholders?
  • What are the in-scope and out-of-scope items and who has decided these?
  • What are potential risks in the project and who owns them?
  • Who will determine whether the project benefits have been achieved?
  • Who will have spending authority and at what thresholds?

User engagement differs from user experience. User engagement is the ongoing, value-driven, emotional relationship between the user (internal and external) and the business.

How does a company measure the user experience to identify gaps:

  • Get feedback.
  • Understand churn.
  • Solicit ideas and comments on ways of working and features.
  • Analyze support ticket trends.

The best people to explain customer value in any given product are the customers.

Value elements are anything that affect the costs (including time and opportunity costs). These elements may be technical, service, or social in nature and will vary in their tangibility.

Essential Elements of Great User Documentation:

  • Plain language.
  • Simplicity.
  • Visuals.
  • A focus on problem solving.
  • Accessible content.
  • Good design.

Three stages where the CSM (customer success manager) helps achieve value for customers:

  • Envisioning.
  • Onboarding.
  • Driving value.

To ultimately realize value, you must first define what it is. Could be in forms like goals, objectives, vision statements, and strategies.

What Does Post Go-Live Look Like?

Good Dynamics 365 operations management supports system monitoring, security management, integration management, batch management, device management, performance management.

Your application support team should made up of people who have a business understanding as well as technical one.

Cloud-based systems require just as much management as their on-premise counterparts. But here you should be monitoring resource usage to remove as much cost as possible. The focus is on cost reduction and efficiency rather than making sure that systems are operational.

Here are some practices suggested for the operations of Dynamics 365 post go-live:

  • Report only on exception.
  • Alert before failure.
  • Data compliance reports.

Post Go-live is about ensuring an efficient, scalable, and auditable mechanism for business-as-usual activities, as well as supporting continuous innovation and improvement, where new thinking is required for your Software as a Service (SaaS) Evergreen ERP or CRM system.

With the new customization model, there is no more code merging and, as a result, you no longer need to sequentially apply each ISV solution. You can simply take the product update with your ISV extensions and your own extensions directly.

What you can expect from Azure is the continuation of cloud innovation and the expansion of AI capabilities and technology along with the IoT will advance this further. By uniting the massive computing power of the cloud with increasingly connected and perceptive edge technologies, these technology companies are creating possibilities we could only have dreamed of just a few years ago.

Microsoft sees the Power Platform as an enabler for the rise of citizen developers.

Each customer environment is unique, the following are core considerations Dynamics 365 FO customers are responsible for:

  • Impact assessment
  • Risk assessment
  • Velocity of change
  • Customization/extensions
  • Evaluation of internal controls
  • Evaluation of end-to-end impact (regression)

Incident management is based on 3W – what, where, who.

We have two backlogs: a backlog of desire and a backlog of commitment. Innovative organizations need to pay attention to both.

Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Dynamics 365 Support and Continuous Improvement

The business drives IT. But the business teams have to work together to ensure the strategic priorities are always followed.

You should create a support process to support continuous improvement, based on both business/strategy and improving system use/efficiencies.

Key business roles are Business Solution Lead and Process and System Lead.

The symbiosis between solution specialist and the process and systems (or business solution) leads will create a center of excellence within your organization.

The project go-live is the beginning of a journey of continuous improvement, idea implementation, and keeping ahead of the competition.

Initially the application support team will be focusing most of its time on investigating issues that have arisen post go-live. As these processes settle down into business as usual, then the priority will become change initiatives, with the customer at the forefront of the reasons for these.

Best practice for Dynamics 365 is to have at least four environments: development, test, UAT and production.

The changes required in Dynamics 365 that come from process, systems, data, or ways of working shifts.

List out the improvements (tangible and intangible) plus the financial benefits (where possible) in the following categories:

  • Processes understood and improved
  • Quality in all departments
  • Productivity
  • Cost avoidance
  • Cost reduction
  • Cost efficiency
  • Customer service levels
  • Staff engagement
  • Staff satisfaction levels
  • Departmental error rates
  • Manufacturing or software development rework rates
  • Revenue generation
  • Customer retention rates
  • Customer growth rates

A healthy digital culture is a type of high-performance culture. The three critical attributes of a high-performance culture:

  • Employees and teams are engaged to achieve results.
  • Individuals and teams work in ways that will advance the organization’s strategy.
  • The organizational environment is set up to foster engagement and encourage behaviors that will advance the organization’s strategy.

A digital culture usually has five defining elements:

  • It promotes an external, rather than internal, orientation.
  • It prizes delegation over control.
  • It encourages boldness over caution.
  • It emphasizes more action and less planning.
  • It values collaboration more than individual effort.

Success by Design

There are three core principles in Success by Design:

  • Early detection
  • Proactive guidance
  • Predictable success

Success by Design Phases:

  • Initiate. All activities required to start the implementation.
  • Implement. Most of the implementation activities.
  • Prepare. Activities following the conclusion of the primary system testing.
  • Operate. End of the Fast Track engagement, following the stabilization of the go-live.

[1] In the book on page 5

[2] In the book on page 21

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