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Microsoft's Sure Step Project Management Methodology

Introduction
 
Microsoft has published project managment guidance on the appropriate way to manage an implementation of a Microsoft Dynamics software product (GP, NAV, AX, and CRM).   This guidance is called the "Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology" for managing implementations.   Microsoft encourages partners to use the Sure Step Methodology by requiring Microsoft Dynamics partners to pass a certification exam proving that they understand the Sure Step methodology.
 
In addition to providing the methodology and framework, Microsoft has developed software to help you manage a project using Sure Step.    This software walks you through the steps in managing a project and also contains a large number of templates in Word, Excel and Publisher to help you implement the methodology.    You can obtain this software/templates in one of 2 ways:
  • You can download and install a piece of software that let's you manage an implementation by going here (requires a PartnerSource or CustomerSource login):

https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource/downloads/servicepacks/MSDSureStepdownloads.htm 

 
Summary of the Methodology
 
This is a summary of Microsoft's Sure Step methodology.
 
Typically, a Dynamics software implementation includes 6 project phases:
 
  • Diagnostic (before sale is completed)
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Deployment
  • Operations
 
Here is a summary of each phase:
 
Phase 1 - Diagnostic Phase
 
This is the "sales" process, so this phase happens before the sale is complete.   Optionally, you can use one of 7 Decision Accelerator offerings to help the client make decisions.   
 
Key documents:   Budget.   Statement of Work.
 
Phase 2 - Analysis Phase
 
This happens after the sale is complete.   The primary activity is reviewing the customer's business processes to understand requirements.   You also build any sandbox and training environments at this phase.
 
Key documents:  Functional Requirements Document. Project Plan.
 
Phase 3 - Design Phase
 
Key steps:
  • Begin system configuration
  • Design integrations with other systems
  • Design data migrations
  • Begin testing by conducting "feature" tests (typically done by consultant only) - is Dynamics GP configured the way we want it to be configured and can it do what we think it should do to meet client requirements?
  • Identify "fits" and "gaps" (what doesn't the software do that we need it to do?)
  • How do we solve the "gaps"?    What custom code?  
  • Create test data
 
Key documents:   Functional Design Documents - Fits.   Functional Design Documents - Gaps.
                              Each gap would have a Technical Design Document.
 
Phase 4 - Development Phase
 
Key steps:
  • Build training documents
  • Develop data migrations
  • Complete system configuration
  • Develop custom code
  • Define and deploy security roles
  • Conduct "solution" testing:   this is testing done with end users and is more comprehensive testing done in a way that mirrors client business processes.
Key documents:    Training Plan.
 
Phase 5 - Deployment Phase
 
Final prep before go-live:  
  • End user training
  • Final testing ("user acceptance testing") - this is a final round of testing to ensure complete, end-to-end functionality is working.
  • Build/finalize production environment
  • Final data migration
  • Actual go-live
Key documents:  
 
Phase 6 - Operations Phase
 
Go-live support and final completion.    Migrating the client to "support mode".
 
For larger implementations:
  • Conduct disaster recovery test
  • Conduct performance tuning and optimization
Key documents: