Post Implementation Review (PIR)
We will cover different aspects of Post Implementation Review (PIR) in this blog through following sections:
Why Post Implementation Review (PIR)?
Preparing for successful PIR
Key deliverables from PIR - Business Transformation Plan
Post Implementation Review (PIR)
You've just gone through an intense implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX. Most likely, you are ready to move on to other initiatives and are expecting your new, significant investment to start paying dividends. At this point, it may seem superfluous, redundant, or just plain wearisome to spend time reviewing your implementation results. However, there are some tangible benefits to doing so:
Identify unused potential of your Dynamics AX investments
Discover training opportunities for users across your organization
Identify solutions for lingering business pain points (Implementation issues, product gaps, business process inefficiencies)
Redefine your roadmap - short and long term
Analyze opportunities to boost future project effectiveness
Get business team re-engaged in continuous improvement culture
When is the right time for a post-implementation review (PIR)?
Ideally, organizations should plan a review six to eight weeks after the conclusion of the initial implementation. By then, the dust has hopefully settled down and the system is being used in the intended fashion. If that does not happen or you are already well past that point, your team can still benefit from a review during the upgrade planning process.
What are the key deliverables you can expect from a well-run post implementation review?
Recommendations on how to use standard platform functionality to reduce or eliminate use of customizations. Highlighting opportunities to fix structural issues in your architecture
Discovery of relevant features in your existing platform that are not implemented and can be helpful
Roadmap of effective business intelligence and reporting strategies for the enterprise
Business process improvements & platform customizations tuning to address business challenges
Explanation of new features you will be able to take advantage of when you are ready for your next Dynamics AX platform upgrade Not everyone involved in your initial Dynamics AX implementation project may be enthused about the idea of a new project to review the outcome. Politics, personnel issues, organizational conflicts, and performance concerns could all lead to resistance. To gain traction in planning a PIR, focus on the positive aspects of the effort. If executive sponsors allow it, you can even explicitly rule out certain sensitive discussions that would hinder forward progress.
Findings from a PIR can also help you make key decisions for an upgrade project (re-implement vs. upgrade, what to do with existing customizations, etc.). New features need to be assessed for their ability to replace customizations, complement existing business processes, or prompt architectural changes that will drive better use of Dynamics AX platform.
The ultimate goal of a PIR is to continue to find ways to improve both the implementation of AX and your organization's performance. In the next article in this series, we will examine the roles involved in a post implementation review and how to prepare for it.
We recently helped one of the large customer in splitting their Dynamics AX and enterprise systems. At high level it may sound like easy project as creating legal entity in Dynamics AX does not take much time. There is definitely lot more to it due to business process impact, business decisions to be made for operational impacts and changes to the overall ecosystem of your enterprise architecture. Here are some of the high level areas to consider while approaching such projects.
So the dust has settled on your Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation, and everyone has been able to step back and take a quick breather. Things may seem calm at the surface, but you begin to develop concerns about the number of workarounds people are still employing in critical parts of the business. The loss of productivity from those activities is troubling and it detracts from the intended benefits of the system.
Such issues are common, and that early window of time is an ideal opportunity to leverage the freshness of your team's familiarity with the architecture and accompanying documentation to really kick your new ERP platform into high gear. It is also a great time for IT to re-engage the business and build on the partnership that developed during the initial implementation.
ERP implementations usually unfold in two phases - an initial phase gets the new platform in place, and a subsequent phase tunes the platform so it can take the business to next level. This second phase is where you can see a substantial return on your investment.
A post-implementation review (PIR) can be an invaluable activity for this all-important second phase, allowing the team to highlight the focal areas, prioritize them, and begin taking action to address them.
Preparing for the PIR
It will be important to gather and organize key project documentation from the initial implementation, including:
Business process flows
Functional and Technical Architecture of all enterprise systems
Customizations list and specifications
Requirements & gap fit document
Along with existing project documentation, you will want to engage all business groups, in conjunction with IT, and develop "top 10" lists of current pain points. It is helpful to have well defined templates and an organized collection process to insure timely and relevant results.
Once you have a good picture of the current architecture and a prioritized set of issues to address, it is time to set up your test environments with recent production data and tools for tracing, performance analysis, etc. Finally, it is time to schedule the kick off meeting(s) to define and clarify goals for the PIR project.
The diagram below highlights the technology recommendations that are likely to result from the PIR:
Post Implementation Review (AX 2012 Customer)
As the diagram above eludes to, business pain points are the result of failing to use potential Dynamics AX features due to training or implementation issues, unnecessary ISV Add ons, or bad customizations that could have been more well-designed or avoided altogether. Ultimately, business suffers in such situations. The following are examples of symptoms you will see.
The month end close process is the true litmus test of all the activities that have happened during the month. If close activities are taking longer with the new ERP, there may be several problem areas to address in upstream processes. Perhaps a high number of journal entries need to be posted for re-classing transactions that were posted incorrectly throughout the month due to missing Financial Dimensions, incorrect cost values, wrong accounts, or clearing accounts entries not reversed correctly. Another root cause of a lengthy close might be a "needle in the haystack" style reconciliation that has to be performed between the GL and a sub ledger when they do not balance.
When the process you use to determine inventory valuation does not tie to your financial statements, it can create a host of reporting and operational issues. You need your general ledger to be a true reflection of your inventory situation so that you can accurately explain changes in margin with inventory close and have congruent FIFO/weighted average cost values regardless of whether you are viewing them inside or outside of AX. Not having point-in-time (as of date) inventory reporting can make this reconciliation process even more difficult.
Here's a list of some other common customer pain points that can be addressed during the PIR:
Returns process is too cumbersome
In general, enterprise reporting and business intelligence is limited and not serving all levels of the organization
Consolidation and elimination process is not yet automated
Sales Orders: Too hard to unwind after a certain stage
Can't understand results of master planning
Planning takes a long time to run
Batch processes take too long to run
Broken integrations resulting in continual support tickets to fix data issues
Performance of Sales order screen is poor
Too many clicks in the collection module, need to see all info in one view
Developers often break the production system
A PIR is not always an easy sell for an organization that is newly live on Dynamics AX, but we hear consistently that this type of review is a reliable way to face the organizational and process related issues that can quickly become pain points. Customer stakeholders running PIRs for their organization frequently note the ability to gain clarity on bottlenecks and other weaknesses in a constructive way. "We now have a maturing system and an accompanying plan in place to keep up with the growth agenda for the organization for many years to come," one company told us.
Pulling back the covers to take a hard look at the remaining pain points from the initial implementation can be an uncomfortable and revealing process for some stakeholders and a welcome spotlight for others. Being sensitive to the perspectives throughout the organization, while maintaining honesty in the process, will go a long way to making this phase of the PIR successful. In the third and final article in this series, we will discuss the types of recommendations that are likely to result from the PIR and how you can get the most out of them.
A post-implementation review (PIR) of your Microsoft Dynamics AX business solution can be a cost-effective way to guide your decisions on future investments in ERP and related capabilities. While the PIR itself is a valuable exercise, recommendations must be acted upon to bring about real results. Immediately after a PIR, stakeholders should begin to define a strategic roadmap and project plan to start developing improvements to the solution that are both high value and achievable.
An iterative approach to business transformation that targets the highest value, lowest effort issues offers your organization the best chance of measurable improvements. It allows the team to identify shared challenges, investigate the out of the box capabilities that may be able to address them, and provide a mechanism for adding new pain points to the backlog as they are identified and prioritized.
Business Transformation Plan
Key Business Challenges: Here is a sample matrix for common challenges, their business impact, and best practice solutions for mitigating them. As you can see from the timing indicator, some can be implemented immediately, while others (for example, structural issues) may have to wait until the next upgrade. Of course, the focus of your PIR will be tailored to the unique needs of your environment.
Current State: Key Challenges
Unused Potential of Dynamics AX: Dynamics AX offers rich functionality and Microsoft continues to add new features with every release. It is very common to find customers not utilizing the product to the fullest capacity because the implementation team did not know about these features or users were not trained on them. Usually these are low effort training opportunities or features that can be implemented to avoid manual processes or address business pain points. A list of various capabilities of AX 2012 is printed below. Items in red represent examples of features that are left unused but often solve pain points for customers.
Dynamics AX Unused Potential
Process Improvement Opportunities: Below are some specific opportunities to improve processes that are problematic today due to the initial implementation and/or the way business processes are set up.
Dynamics AX 2012 Improvement Opportunities (Process & System)
Understanding new features in the latest release: By the time you have gone live and are ready for the post implementation review assessment, the next major release (e.g. 2012 R2, 2012 R3, AX7) may be available. Even if an immediate upgrade is not planned, it is beneficial to know what relevant features can be utilized with a newer version. This exercise will align your organization's implementation roadmap with the product roadmap to ensure you don't build (or buy) something that Microsoft has added to a newer release. And in some cases, Microsoft releases backward portability options that can be deployed to benefit your organization now without a full upgrade.
AX 2012 R3 New Features
Gaining real ROI from your Dynamics AX investments usually coincides with focused improvement activities spurred on by a PIR after the initial implementation