Life after Go live - A Last Phase Of Dynamics AX Implementation Projects

For the organization implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX system, go-live is the last phase of implementation projects. A go-live is a step in a successful AX implementation project and is consider as a big achievement for the organization. Once solution is properly configure, tested and employee training is over, it is the time for go live. It represents months of efforts put by the implementation team for putting in place the system for company’s productivity and profitability. However, many organizations Thinks Go-live as an end but in reality actual works start after go-live in the form of post go-live support. When business users actually start working on the new system for their day to day activities, it makes that phase very critical. It has been observed also that many organization focus too much on the go-live that they actually overlook what comes after go live and many a times lack of preparation leads to project failure. One of the major differences between an unsuccessful and successful AX implementation project is how we effectively manage system post go-live?

Life is beautiful if and only if we make ourselves aware of the criticality and importance of post go-live support

There are following actions need to be taken for successful post go-live phase:

1. Setup a Team of experts: It is important to form the team of experts who will provide support after go-live. Team needs to be setup well in advance before the go-live so that team will have enough time to understand what is being implemented. It is required to have balanced team in place, citing the criticality and importance of life after go-live. Typical AX Support team should have Functional experts who looks after processes and functionalities i.e. front end activities, Technical experts who looks after any technical errors or issues in code or in customizations i.e. Back end activities and administrator who looks after performance, connectivity, network related activities. Support team should also involve during go-live so they understands how things have been implemented.

2. Proper knowledge transfer: The proper knowledge transfer is require for the support team from the project implementation team. This will make sure support team members are aware of all the processes and functionalities implemented as a part of implementation. It is advisable to assign a specific area to a specific support team member so that he/she can gain expertise in that particular area as well as by making sure their awareness for other areas as well. This will make sure continuity in the work in the absence of any team member. Also gaining the expertise in one area will make team capable of handling business critical issues.
They should truly be ‘Jack of all trades and master of one’

3. Complete documentation handover: Documentation is very important part of Microsoft dynamics AX development implementation projects. It lays the foundation for quality, traceability, and history for both individual documents and entire project documentations. These documents consists of FDD’s , TDD’s, User manual, training documents, Go-live documents, FRD etc. should be handed over to support team so that they can keep it as reference for fast resolution of any issues. This will also avoid the ambiguity on what is implemented and what is not as this has always been a topic of discussion/ debate between support team members and customers. 

4. Proper transition plan: Transition plan needs to be prepared well in advanced on how responsibilities will be shifted from project team to support team. This plan needs to be detailed in nature and consist of list of people responsible for providing knowledge transfer from the project team and list of people responsible for receiving it from the support team. It also includes number of hours spent during the particular time frame on knowledge transfer. Historical evidence suggest that the post go-live success is largely depends on how well you plan project-support transition. It is a mutual responsivity of project manager and support manager to prepare transition plan and execute it successfully.

5. Communications: Support team members require to deal with different customers on daily basis so it is not only important that team is expert in terms of AX system but also be very good in communication. Team should be very good in terms of both oral and verbal communication so that they can manage any situation arise in the support effectively. When you deal with customers from different countries such as Japan, UK, USA, China etc. each country has their unique way of working and they have unique expectations in terms of their work so it is important  that support team should be able to fulfill their expectations by providing best service and this largely happens through excellent communication.

6. Ticket tracking systems: There are many applications available in the market such as Service-now to manage support workings. There are various operations can be perform through these applications such as raising a ticket for any issues faced by the customer, Tracking the progress of any issue, raising an issue as per severity (Typically Critical, Major, Minor), assigning resources to work on a particular issues, Creating and extracting various reports to monitor team’s and individuals performance, Preparing and storing issue resolution documents etc. These and various other operations can be perform through tool so it is important to spend enough time while selecting a particular system for support.

7. Reviews: As a part of continuous team improvement, it is important to have monthly, quarterly and yearly reviews so that to identity weak sport in team’s working and work upon it for its improvement. Review should be internal as well as by someone external to the team so that to get honest feedback for improvement. Monthly one on one session needs to be held by the manager with team members in order to discuss their performance during the month. In every review, there should be a target setup for the individual and for the team. Those targets should also review on the periodic basis (At least every month or quarter). This will ensure the relevant targets for the individuals as well as to the team to fulfill. If review happen properly will be a very effective way for team improvement.

8. Testing: There are thorough testing performs months before the go-live. If testing perform properly prior to go-live, fewer problem user will encounter post go-live. This is the reason testing considers as the most important phase of any implementation projects. Testing needs to conduct as detail as possible in order to avoid user frustrations due to large number of issues after go-live. 

9. User training: Success or failure of the project largely depend on this phase. User training normally happens before the go-live but it is always important to conduct user training as and when require to ensure success of the project and the organization.
Training should conduct properly so that user will be able to start performing their day to day activity right away. It is important to have training schedule in place and follow strictly to ensure success.

10. Post implementation audit: It is important to conduct post go-live audit to ensure the target levels set are meeting. It is must to define key performance indicators that will drive business benefits. These target levels and key performance indicators should be realistic in nature and should be a basis for audit. Audit needs to be conducted by external representation to ensure transparency in the process.