Why a Design Authority is crucial to the success of your Dynamics 365 project

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Why a Design Authority is crucial to the success of your Dynamics 365 project

Let’s be honest, investing in business software can be very expensive when it comes to time and money. Therefore, I was surprised to realise that around a third of software projects fail due to lack of involvement from senior decision makers, almost half fail as a result of inadequate project ownership, and at least 40% of CIOs suggest that failure is down to being overly optimistic and have unclear objectives.

A lack of planning, communication and leadership/ownership are high contributing factors as to why projects fail. To give your project half a chance of success and for your time and money to be worth spending it needs direction, structure and momentum which comes with having a Design Authority.

In part one of this two-part blog series, written by Anthony Stillman, we provide understanding as to what a Design Authority is and how to use on a Dynamics 365 project.

Implementing a new suite of business applications is a complex challenge, no matter the size or scale of your organisation.  Many organisations take the opportunity to revisit their Enterprise Architecture at the same time as implementing Dynamics 365 to provide a platform that supports business growth as well as future requirements.  Others look to integrate their new applications into their existing architecture simply replacing new for old.

Whatever your strategy, replacing legacy on premise or private cloud solutions with modern cloud applications such as Dynamics 365 requires thought and good architecting.  Poorly architected IT solutions can add significant cost and delay to your project, may not deliver the benefits your organisation requires, and can accumulate significant levels of technical debt.

This is why a Design Authority should play a central role in your Dynamics 365 project.   Get it right and your project will deliver the benefits your organisation needs to innovate and stay ahead of your competition.

What is a Design Authority?

A Design Authority is a body of people from inside and outside an organisation who have skills and experience in specific technologies, who will consider, investigate and advise on best practice and the design of a well-engineered solution to address technical challenges.  On a Dynamics 365 project, within your Design Authority, you typically need representation of the following skills as a minimum:

  • Dynamics 365 Functionality and Architecture
  • Integration Architecture
  • Data and Reporting Architecture
  • Performance Management
  • Security and Azure Architecture
  • IT Governance

Your implementation partner should be a key member of your Design Authority, providing the very latest best practice guidance and providing the skills that your organisation is missing.  Your implementation partner should work closely with the rest of your Design Authority, guiding and advising the other workstreams on Dynamics 365 best practice.

At DXC, we typically find that a Design Authority that meets on a regular weekly or bi-weekly cadence delivers the best results.  Any less frequent and the Design Authority starts to become a blocker to progress and any more frequent and agendas start to diminish.  A clear structure, an overall chairperson, agreed terms of reference, and published procedures increase the effectiveness of this important group.

Using the Design Authority on your project

Early in the project the Design Authority will be focused on the overall IT architecture of the organisation and how Dynamics 365 will fit in to it.  This is a critical time for the Design Authority, where the entire architecture is considered, and best practice is designed into the total solution.

Design Principles and guiding principles will be agreed that set the guidance for the rest of the project. This ensures the overall architecture of the organisation is well considered, reducing the likelihood of significant challenges later in the project.

As the project progresses, the designs move to the build phase and the agreed architecture starts to be realised.  During this phase the Design Authority meet to discuss items such as Dynamics 365 functional gaps, performance of integrations and security considerations.  The Design Authority will also closely monitor environment plans, test plans, data migration plans and reporting architecture.

As the project moves closer to go live the Design Authority will be more interested in overall system testing, integration testing and performance testing to confirm the architecture that has been developed is going to perform in a production environment.

In the next article, Benefits of a Design Authority, we discuss the benefits of a Design Authority to achieving new software project success.

How DXC can help

If you are in the process of planning your next software move and would like some further guidance on how to successfully create a design authority within your business, then get in touch with us today. Send us an email to busappsuki@dxc.com and one of the team will get back in touch to discuss further.

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