Sure Step: Not just another SDLC

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Leonard MacDonald

Here at Thinking Big we use the Microsoft Dynamics® Sure Step methodology to implement Microsoft Dynamics® CRM. Broadly speaking, Sure Step is considered a full lifecycle methodology. It encompasses all phases of implementation, from Diagnostic to Operation and everything in-between. In fact, these phases:

  1. Diagnostic
  2. Analysis
  3. Design
  4. Development
  5. Deployment and
  6. Operation

On the face of it, Sure Step seems like just another name for the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) methodology, with maybe a few new terms thrown in to keep it fresh. But Sure Step is so much more than a rehash of SDLC. Developed through examining data from experienced companies, including best practices from previous projects, and created specifically for Microsoft Dynamics® Solutions, it is systematic, consistent, and repeatable. Can’t argue with that. Especially in an end-to-end, scalable implementation methodology. Wait, how’s that?

What is an end-to-end scalable implementation methodology?

As with SDLC, Sure Step provides detailed guidance through each phase of a project life-cycle, from diagnosing the problem through to managing the solution’s operation. That’s the end-to-end part. And because it was designed to be flexible enough for any size project, from small businesses through to enterprise-level implementations, that makes it scalable. It’ll work wherever Microsoft Dynamics® Solutions work. Looking to implement Microsoft Dynamics® CRM in a medium sized business? Sure Step is the tool for the job. Upgrading another Microsoft Dynamics® product in your Enterprise corporation? Sure Step works there too.

On top of that, Sure Step supports flexible project types: Rapid, Standard, Enterprise, or Agile, however your company is used to working. So, not only is it thorough and methodical, it’s also flexible enough to be familiar. And that’s important. Tools are only useful if they assist (and don’t overwhelm) the most important goal, completing a project successfully.

But what does it really do?

Sure Step is a tool that guides teams through the phases of a full project implementation. To begin, it identifies the activities and tasks for all roles in each phase, on both the consulting and business sides. Different roles, including Project managers, IT manager, Subject Matter Experts, Test Leads and others, are more engaged during some phases, and less engaged in other phases. Sure Step accounts for that. Need to know what the Test Lead should be working on, if anything, during the Diagnosis phase? Sure Step has you covered.

Activities, Tasks and sub-tasks are arranged in a hierarchy under each phase, and include a description of the task, the purpose, and any tools you may need for that task.

Tools? What tools?

A project benefits from more than just activities and tasks. Concrete tools, developed specifically for Microsoft Dynamics® products, compel a project to be systematic and consistent. Sure Step includes specific templates and other resources for each phase (both ready-to-use and samples from fictitious companies) to complete a task, deliverable or milestone. Common deliverable templates include: an architecture assessment, a statement of work, a project plan, functional requirements, and a Go-Live plan/checklist. Example milestones include: Customer accepts the Statement of Work, Formal Project Kick Off Meeting. And because it’s systematic and tested, you’ll have the right tool at the right time.

Sure Step guides the project team through the activities and tasks that are required to create the deliverables, and these deliverables then provide guidance and direction later in the implementation process. So, the output of one activity or phase provides the input into the next activity or phase. There’s that consistency again. Finally, the clearly defined set of processes and deliverables, the built-in project management processes (including risk management tasks) and the systematic approach, will help reduce the risk in the projects. And anything that helps reduce risk contributes to a successful project. We really can’t argue with that.

Why Microsoft Sure Step methodology?

If you’re implementing a product like Microsoft Dynamics® CRM it makes sense to use a project methodology specifically designed and tested to guide a successful implementation. Sure Step is that methodology. It’s systematic, consistent, and repeatable. It provides us with product-specific content, best practices, tools, and templates. All of which points to a successful and timely project, which we know reduces the total cost of ownership. And which is why it’s the methodology we trust.

Thanks for reading! If you would like to know more about Microsoft Dynamics® CRM can help your business or organization, email us or tweet at @thinkingbiginc.

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