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Perform Business Analysis to Prepare for your Microsoft Dynamics NAV Project

Looking out over the horizon I see rippling waves of heat shimmering over the sand dunes.   It must be 120 degrees as I stand at the top of a blowing dune, not 30 feet off the black twisting tarmac.   So hot is the air, my kids will not venture out of the car, even as I beckon them out by waving bags of brightly colored candy around my head.   

Perform business analysis to prepare for your microsoft dynamics NAV projectTwo months ago, my friend Bill turned me on to a guy named Lester that works as a part time travel agent; told me that Lester could get me a good deal on a summer vacation.   “All you need to do is give Lester a few requirements for what kind of vacation you are looking for” said Bill.  Bill went on to re-assure me “Lester is very creative, and will come up with something good.  Just give him some ideas and a deposit check”. 

A month later I find that Lester has booked me and the family for a week in Death Valley during the month of August.   “Really Lester” I said.  “What were you thinking; Death Valley in August?”  I originally told Lester that I wanted somewhere warm, where the family could get away from it all, and where there was sand, mounds of toe twisting sand.   In my mind these requirements all add up to a beach in Mexico or someplace in the Bahamas; not Death Valley.    

I have seen the likes of Death Valley before; in the eyes of clients that felt their Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementation did not deliver the business value they had originally envisioned.   Clients that thought their requirements were well understood by sales people and implementers alike.  Somehow the client’s business needs and requirements were never represented by the solution that was delivered.  Somewhere along the long twisting road in the desert, the client’s business needs and requirements fell off the cargo carrier of the car; lost along that hot, black tarmac under the blazing sun.

How do you keep the client’s business needs and requirements in alignment with a Dynamics solution?  The answer is, you perform business analysis; and the best time to start performing business analysis is before the project manager crafts a project charter.  If you wait until the project manager creates a project charter, then you miss the opportunity to effectively balance the project constraints.   You do not want to define the project’s time and budget in a project charter, and then find out later that there were major and important solution scope elements that were not previously identified. 

How much business analysis should you perform prior to a project?  There is no one answer to this question.  The key stakeholders for each engagement need to weigh engagement specific attributes in order to make the determination.    For example, you might want to perform more business analysis if it was determined that a number of stakeholder groups were in conflict regarding key requirements.

In general, the greater amount of business analysis performed prior to the project, the better off the project will be.    The business analysis should yield a solution scope, business needs, stakeholder requirements, solution requirements, assumptions, and constraints; all critical elements that are needed by the project manager and team to effectively plan a project.  

Thinking about starting a project? You might want to spend some time reducing your project’s risks by documenting and validating your client’s needs and requirements; or else you might just end up in Death Valley during the month of August.

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