As Practice Manager, I'm often asked, “How do you run a successful practice, especially a big one?” So to answer the question, I came up with this series which will focus on how to run a Dynamics 365 delivery practice: what are the moving parts and the components that make up a successful practice.
I intend to share what my experience has been working with Dynamics since 2003, being involved in various projects over the years—originally starting off as a customer before moving into the world of running a Dynamics CRM practice that I founded in New Zealand, and then relocating to Australia to work for a publicly-listed company and grow the largest Dynamics (now) 365 practice in the country. Also, my intention is to seek feedback from you in the comments below and get your input as to what does and does not work in your experience.
In my opinion, running a successful practice starts with marketing. I will go into detail of what a modern practice needs to do in regards to marketing, including the following:
- Marketing and why it's essential for long-term success
- Why Sales and Marketing should be tightly linked together with hand off between teams
- Why you need dedicated team members to operate in these roles
This is an area that is probably one of my strongest skill sets. I will cover how I run presales including:
- Bids and tender responses
- The role of a presales consultant
- Customer facing demos
In my experience, the Project Manager either makes or breaks any project once it's sold. I'll be looking at the various methodologies and roles in running a Dynamics 365 Implementation Project.
- SureStep (a more traditional waterfall type delivery methods that came out of Microsoft Consulting Services some years ago)
- Agile delivery
- Human-centred Design
As well as covering specific methodologies. I will also look at the following drivers to repeatable success:
- How you validate and run governance around your methodology
- The timing of the delivery and having a close eye on quality
- How to form teams that can consistently create outstanding project success for customers or the organization you're working for
We'll look at how the customer plays into the practice or project:
- What is the role of the customer?
- Key relationships in driving Customer success
- The role of the Project Manager in Customer engagement
How do you grow a Dynamics team? What are the factors that you need to consider? To answer these, I’ll go into areas like:
- Cost Control
- Velocity of Growth
It's important that you have the right tools in place to create repeatable delivery models. When I talk about tools, I will focus on the tools to run and manage projects. (Dynamics CRM or Dynamics 365 is a tool to create business success in its own right.)
- Project Reporting
- Dev, Test, UAT, Production environments
- Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)
What are the income models that should drive a successful business? Being in organizations where the only income model that is seen is a trade of time for money, it comes down to a single metric of utilisation. But I believe it should come down to profitability. There are several considerations when it comes to creating multiple income streams.
- Templating specific industry sectors
- IP development
- Product development
- Application Managed Services (AMS)
And then finally—the most critical part of any successful practice comes down to…
It’s critically important that people are valued. As someone that’s run a practice, my staff are the most important thing to me. I'm going to cover things like:
- The importance of User Groups and involvement of staff
- Ensuring training is liberally applied inside your organization and its benefits
- The importance of exams and measurements of skills our industry uses
- Recognition programs and validation of people's abilities
- Collaboration and creating a sense of team
- Staff visibility at three levels:
- With customers
- In the organization you work for
- In the community
- Mentoring programs
- Graduate program
- How to develop leaders of people as well as leaders in technology
- Having a Microsoft Most Valuable Person (MVP) in your team and the importance that they play
That summarizes the series I'm going to run within the coming months. I aim to do one post a month on this topic for the next 12 months as I dissect:
I’m also keen to hear your feedback. Feel free to disagree with me and provide your opinion in the comments below or suggest other related topics you would like me to discuss.
As I say, I have been working in this space since 2003. I've seen some stuff that works and some stuff that doesn't. I've made lots of mistakes and I’ve tried to learn from those. So please engage and please comment and let's go on this journey together!