Is Agility a good thing? Implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

My team members and I have just initiated two new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 projects and have selected to follow an Agile Project Methodology to implement them.

 

As both projects are in early stages, I thought it would be interesting to follow their progress in this blog.  I'll start off today with a discussion of why we think that the Agile approach will be an effective way to implement Microsoft CRM for these clients.

Agile project methodologies are characterized by "Sprints" which are short design & development cycles, and by constant engagement and feedback from the client.  There is no concept of a Design Document that's signed off on by the client prior to initiating development.

Detractors of Agile project methodologies say that this represents too much risk and is useful only if you have no idea where you are going. Proponents of Agile project methodologies believe that heavy design documents are impossible for clients to sign off and aren't worth the paper they are written on.

There are many other arguments for and against using an Agile implementation methodology to implement a system like Microsoft Dynamics CRM.   So what are some of the characteristics of our two CRM client projects that we feel make them suitable candidates for it?

  1.  In both cases the client and BDO have a very clear idea of what the end system should look like. We have a comprehensive set of requirements that we have documented in a Solution backlog. We spent a LOT of time thinking about how to divide up the development into different Sprints – which is documented in our Release Plan.
  2. The textbook Agile approach is to deliver completed chunks of functionality to the client to test.  This can be hard to do in a CRM project because CRM is not inherently modular and there are a typically lot of interdependencies.  In these two projects we have been able to carve out components that can be delivered and tested without building the entire foundation first.
  3. All experienced project managers know the wisdom of tackling the least understood and most difficult parts of the project early as possible. In these two CRM projects it has been possible and logical to schedule the design and development of some of the most critical and challenging functionality in early project Sprints.
  4. To be successful, an Agile project must have a strong and engaged client project team. In both of these two CRM projects BDO is fortunate to be working with engaged and enthusiastic project team members who (so far) have been able to meet their commitments such as providing input documents, test data and creating test scripts.

So we are off to a good start! Stay tuned for future blogs to follow our progress.

Cathy Brown is a Senior Manager with BDO Solutions' Microsoft Dynamics CRM practice. She is also a certified Microsoft SureStep instructor and has sold and implemented at least one hundred CRM systems – mostly using a Standard waterfall implementation methodology.   These are her third & fourth Agile projects.

BDO Solutions is a national firm with local practices throughout Canada, including Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Reseller of the Year in Canada for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

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