Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail Implementation Solutions
What is Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based platform of software applications for business management. The SaaS platform offers a host of products and solutions for businesses in the retail industry. The platform helps retail enterprises in the better prediction of consumer behaviour and intent with the use of Artificial Intelligence. Omnichannel businesses get better equipped to deliver seamless shopping and purchase experiences with improvements in B2B and B2C eCommerce, retail store management, pricing decisions, promotional efforts and remote selling. It enables retailers to exercise effective control over post-purchase activities like order tracking, customer support, return management, and loyalty and retention. For holistic and transparent merchandising and inventory management, the platform allows real-time access to inventory and product information with the features of categorisation, assortment, allocation and replenishment. The platform also brings under its purview retail store operations management, analytics, finance and payments, prevention of losses and frauds, space optimisation and alerts, and order and warehouse management. It lets businesses enable modern-day retailing features like contactless shopping and cross-channel shopping journey.
SAP IS-Retail is popular amongst mid and large retail enterprises. The bigger businesses benefit from the integrated and advanced features of this software capable of handling tons of data and complex value chains involved in modern-day retailing. However, SAP IS-Retail being a contemporary and sophisticated software platform, many retail enterprises find it difficult to plan and execute a smooth implementation process. These challenges are discussed next.
Challenges in implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail Solutions
Not Treating the Implementation as a Project
Implementing a business management software platform is a huge thing by itself. It is not something a business enterprise does every quarter. The entire implementation needs planning. Resources have to be allocated. Structured teams have to be positioned. The financial means have to be sorted. There is a constraint of time. There are multiple stages of implementation with each stage having its own set of requirements and complexities. Without a project management approach, any such implementation exercise could turn into an inescapable burden on a business enterprise.
Inaccurate Mapping of Business Requirements
Having an incorrect or wrongly-customised software application could be related to having the wrong vehicle for a journey. You must know what the journey entails and what kind of vehicle would be required. The same goes for a business software application. You must know and accurately define the business requirements first to be able to choose the right software. It is only when we use the right vehicle for a given journey, will the vehicle live up to its promises and expectations. You cannot blindly blame the software application for its failure in meeting your business or functional objectives if you did not customise it accordingly. Of course, sometimes there can be problems with a software application but when we are considering leading brands like Microsoft or Oracle, they follow rigorous processes before launching their products in the market. It is the responsibility of retailers to check if the required customisations are possible in the targeted software product. The business requirements should guide the functioning of a software application and it is not the other way round.
Poor Budgeting – Keeping Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Cost Under Control
Any major exercise of digital transformation like the implementation of a new business management software platform in an enterprise is a long term investment. The benefits of having one outweigh the costs of implementation and maintenance also only in the long run. Such a project calls for careful financial and budgetary planning and ROI analysis.
The experienced Microsoft Dynamics 365 consultants know that the risks of budget overruns are always there. Often, the need for new improvisations and customisations is realised by businesses during implementation. Such situations expand the scope of the project and deadlines get extended. More resources get invested.
Accurate and realistic assessments are required involving both project-related and financial insights. Shortcomings in the financial planning could lead to delays in achieving breakeven, achieving lower than originally expected ROI, longer repayment period, etc.
Most importantly, financial and budgetary planning helps businesses keep their expenditures within the planned and manageable limits and prevent their enterprises from facing any unwarranted financial shock.
Over months and years, businesses generate tons of data which lies in their existing legacy systems. And no business would want to give up on this data. But they should bear in mind that not all of this data would be useful in the light of a better and more advanced software platform. Transferring everything from one platform to another may be easier but it would make no sense to store redundant or irrelevant data in the database systems. Besides, data storage comes with a cost. Also, old data may get mixed with information processes of the new applications leading to the generation of duplicate data, unnecessary reports, and inaccurate insights. This adds to the confusion of the new users who are already being introduced to new workflows and interfaces.
Lack of User Training
Businesses do lose some time and experience hampered operations in carrying out an implementation exercise. But there is a need to see the bigger picture of ERP implementation. After spending months on platform implementation, businesses become too eager to see the results and the tendency to ignore detailed user training creeps in. After implementation, businesses tend to emphasise less on providing the necessary user training to their employees. The seeds of this reluctance are laid when user training is not made a part of the implementation planning.
Many businesses also exhibit the tendency of relying too much on the independent technical capabilities of their employees. Or providing training only to the team leaders and managers is never going to be enough. The biggest ignorance is to consider providing user training as an avoidable investment.
To employees, any new software improvement brings with it altered workflows, a new interface, new tabs and links, new reporting formats, new terminologies, etc. It is important to make employees convergent with the software’s functioning and its features. Employees exhibit a faster learning curve when necessary training and support manuals are provided to them.
Absence of Executive Sponsorship
Whenever any major organisational-level change is in the offing, the involvement and direction of a senior executive are extremely useful. When a senior executive is involved, it is easier for the project manager and the implementation team to get things done within and outside the organisation concerning the platform implementation. Other departments and external entities are more likely to be responsive when any senior executive makes the decisions or places requests. It also passes the message of the criticality of the project for the business.
How YRC can help
We provide planning, implementation and support services to retail and eCommerce businesses in incorporating Microsoft 365 retail solutions in their enterprises. The service design and delivery are carried out by a team of professional retail ERP consultants following planned and improvised process solutions. We follow a policy of zero tolerance for deviations with due adherence to the implementation timelines. Our service areas in Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation for retail enterprises are highlighted next.
Need Validation and Feasibility Analysis
In need validation and feasibility analysis, we seek to define the client’s business case for implementing Microsoft 365 retail solutions in their organisations. Here, we recommend as well as answer a few fundamental questions that help clients set the vision and mission of having Microsoft 365 as a platform for retail management in their businesses.
– What results are aimed at after successful implementation?
– Will the business model be affected? If yes, how?
– Which retail functions/processes are targeted?
– What are the available products/solutions?
– What internal resources, support systems, and organisation changes are required?
– What budgetary and financial planning is required?
– What are the training requirements?
Answering these basic questions provide the much-needed vision and sense of direction in the overall Dynamics 365 implementation exercise.
Support in Mapping Business Requirements and Customisation of Software Applications
Our expert team shall map the unique business and functional requirements of your enterprise in a planned, systematic, and detailed manner keeping into consideration the best-fit software application and working in close coordination with your business representatives. From assessment to communication, we follow SOP-driven processes. We operate like your extended IT department in the entire ERP implementation exercise. Our team shall deal with the vendor or channel partner throughout the product selection and customisation so that your business gets the best solution.
Support in Vendor Search and Selection
Just because a big brand is associated with a vendor or channel partner does not take away the responsibility of a business enterprise in exercising due diligence in the vendor search and selection process. It is also a good business practice to be process-oriented. Having a sound vendor selection process is a progressive step toward ensuring that your business does not end up in a working relationship with incompatible vendors. Even if it is a monopolistic situation, the process and standards must not be violated. We design and develop this vendor search and selection process for ERP implementation projects. The procedures are defined using SOPs. The benchmarks for each activity are established including the grounds against which potential vendors are to be evaluated. It is our principle and part of our operating policy to be neutral and transparent with our services while putting clients’ business requirements to the fore.
Testing and Implementation
Testing remains an integral and ongoing part of the entire implementation exercise till the platform goes live successfully. We prepare and follow planned and systematic processes to execute various forms of testing at different stages of incorporation and integration.
Before going on to planning, we cover selecting a suitable implementation strategy. In implementation planning, we adopt the six standard phases – discovery and planning, design, development, testing, deployment, and support. For every phase, detailed processes are developed using SOPs. The roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders for each activity in each process of each phase are defined and documented. With the same approach, the standards of input and output are established and made known to all concerned task owners along with the timelines to be adhered to. Any deviation or inconsistency detected at any stage during implementation is reported to the partner/vendor team for follow up action. Throughout the implementation project, we keep our clients informed of the progress and developments.
User SOP Training and User Blueprint Manuals
The significance of user training for the successful implementation of a business management software application could not be stressed more. It is important to address the comfort level and convergence of users with any new software platform. Two application platforms can be drastically different from one another even if they deliver slightly different outputs. Users must have a cordial understanding of the software as a tool that they would be using every day. The functionalities of an application they are used to may work in a different way in the interface of a new application. The goal is to make users comfortable with the new application both technically and in terms of an overall understanding.
Here, our role is to provide the necessary user training and develop the user blueprint manuals for successful and sustainable ERP implementation. We work towards ensuring that your employees experience user-friendliness with the new application platform. In terms of imparting technical usage skills, we endeavour to optimise the learning curve of employees so that adaptation takes place in the shortest possible time. Your employees can refer to the training and user manuals if they get stuck anywhere using the platform. You could always let us know if any additional assistance is required.
We are retail and eCommerce business consultants. As a brand, we have over ten years of experience in delivering expert business solutions and services in more than twenty verticals. We thank our 500+ clients for giving us the opportunity to be a part of their business journey. Today, as an emerging global brand, we continue to work with the same enthusiasm and relentless attitude to improve every day. The development & delivery of SOPs and process solutions for retail ERP implementation is one of our hallmark services.