Thursday, 20 June 2013

My review on the book "Implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 with Sure Step"

An extensive, valuable addition to the Microsoft Sure Step Methodology A valuable asset on AX 2012 sure step methodology defined by Microsoft to ensure successful implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX. The subject piece on ERP contains all the required contents of an ERP with extensive knowledge of Sure step client that shall prove a great help for the implementers / Project Managers of AX 2012.

The great work by the authors is surely going to add value to the Microsoft Partners who are striving for an excellence in implementing AX 2012 by following the sure steps defined by Microsoft in a single place. Implementers / Project Managers will find this book a guide to make an implementation a sure success without keeping tight collaboration among the team.

Upgrading to 2012 is not discussed so the consultants who are seeking information on upgrade guide, this book is not for them. This book have great material for Project Managers, who can understand how to execute a project successfully. If someone is seeking information on becoming a product specialist then this book is not for him, this is for implementers who have to plane and implement with the sequence & guidance given by Microsoft using the templates provided by Microsoft.

Some ISVs are also introduced in the book for reference. Description on available templates for scope of work, architecture assessment, project activities, kick offs is available to fully work with sure step client. 

The book have great information on infrastructure planning e.g. choosing technology, servers. Strategies of test, pre-live and live environment are also discussed. Good examples of real word are also included in the book to visualize real environment. Information on preparation & Requirements for installation of AX are also enlisted precisely.

Disaster recovery is also discussed in detail. A great real world template of Hardware requirement for 250 users is prepared which will give a good understanding to the infrastructure planners as a quick reference.

A comprehensive information on project execution requirement e.g. finalization of project charter, project plane, kick offs, FRD, Fit Gap is also detailed in chapter 5 of the book. Best practice questionnaire is described in the book which helps to map process with best practices. Great material is available on project team training. A great budget template is included for project managers to manage budget, invoices and variances.

Details on Work Breakdown structure and decision accelerator are also detailed well but Accelerated Proof of Concept (POC) with CRM Online – is not detailed in this book so people seeking information on POC with CRM will not find information in this book.

System wide configurations are also discussed well, following points of diagnostics are also discussed:
1.      Requirements and Process Review
2.      Fit Gap and Solutions Blueprint
3.      Architecture Assessment
4.      Scoping Assessment

Following sections are discussed for project implementation success, which is helpful to plane a successful implementation
1. Executive Summary
2. Project Definition and Objectives
3. Key Deliverables
4. Success Criteria
5. Project Approach
6. Project Scope
7. Scope Change Process
8. Risks
9. Constraints
10. Assumptions

A complete chapter on infrastructure planning is included for hardware & infrastructure planning but this book do not focus on infrastructure sizing metrics or specific implementation designs. Instead, it will help you decide who to involve, and what needs to be considered in the planning processes by highlighting the key technological areas to look at when designing an infrastructure to support AX.
In this book reader can find following information about infrastructure planning:

• When and how you should start planning infrastructure
• How to get the most out of your team by choosing people with the correct level of skill and experience for your project
• The key technologies and roles you must consider in order to achieve a successful AX implementation

The chapter Business Requirements Analysis also adds value to reader as the author given a road map of business requirements analysis, which are following:

• Overlap with the Diagnostic phase
• Process or Functional Analysis
• Best practices
• Project team training
• Rebudgeting the program

The preferred process described by the author looks like, it will lead towards less customization list.

In the book user will find material on budgeting and rebudgeting after Fit Gap analysis. A good template is available on packet website which includes budgeted vs actual for current and forecasting for better understanding of budget changes during guess time during diagnosis and analysis phase.

The chapter on AX Setup have given details on the decisions to take before setting up AX for demo and live. System-wide configuration section give good details on use of configuration keys and recommends to enable configuration keys before go live if a key is not yet required but company have future plane to use the functionality. Especially about TAPI, its going to be deprecated in coming days so its recommended to keep it in mind before offering TAPI solution to your clients. 

Dimensions are discussed in detail in this book, which helps planning dimensions as this is also one of the most import part of the system configuration so I would recommend to read this section for sure.

Integration section includes good information on taking decisions for integrations, following points are discussed regarding integration:

• Identifying integration
• Accessing integration
• Technologies
• Planning
• Testing

Material on standard AX features is good, as the author have given details on having to understand the standard AX features before making decisions on developments. The main topics discussed include:

• Workflow
• Advanced filters
• Cues
• Alerts
• Personalization

A chapter on Designing and Developing the Solution is included to get help in taking decisions which helps making design and development a success, following is covered

• Understanding the impact of change
• Planning the development
• Practical advice for the Development phase
• Managing environments

A chapter on Reports, Document Layouts, and Business Intelligence is included which examine:
• The three main topics of system output: Reports, Document layouts, and Business Intelligence
• The differences between them in their development and their use • Where the activities fit within the project processes, and some of the key constraints and prerequisites that are quite often overlooked until they cause a problem
• Reports, Document layouts, and Business Intelligence in the Delivery phase

Deployment Phase is discussed and covered following:
The topics covered in this chapter are:
• Getting ready to deploy
• End user training and user acceptance testing
• Training best practices
• Testing

A good example on task completion is quoted in this section, which is helpful for the manager to see where we are, and weather we are ahead of the tasks or behind the schedule and need acceleration

Project Governance and Quality Assurance chapter details following topics with good material:
 • Project Governance and Delivery Review
• Quality Assurance.
This chapter is worth reading as quality assurance is the main part of project implementation, as customer always want 100% quality on project implementation, so this chapter adds value to the readers project quality assurance information. Cobb's Paradox analysis tool information also adds good value to the reader.

The chapter on Operation Phase

In this chapter operation phase is discussed and information on handing over the project to customer & support and disengaging the consultants is detailed in a precise manner, which adds value to readers information on operation phase success.

The topics covered in this chapter include:

• Project Planning
• Transitioning the Solution to Support
• Future phases


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