Are you passionate about Information and Technology or a Microsoft professional who can see the bigger picture and is attracted to the prospect of leadership? Are you a project manager looking to diversify your technical expertise? Then consider becoming a Dynamics 365 Project Manager.
A Dynamics 365 Project Manager can be a rich and rewarding career within the larger field of project management. You would have the opportunity to work on and interact with a vast array of Microsoft services and applications within the Microsoft Dynamics software ecosystem.
With an increase in businesses shifting to the cloud, project management is needed now more than ever. A Dynamics 365 Project Manager is engaged in exciting and challenging work that allows you to work on large and complex Dynamics 365 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) projects.
Due to the complexity and scope of these projects it is important for a project manager to have a strong and diverse set of skills and experience. This translates into successful team leadership and efficient and effective project management which leads to a successful project outcome.
Soft skills are important for any professional with a modern business career, especially for those in a position that requires extensive collaboration and leadership. Project managers also require extensive hard skills for project management methodology and tooling, as well as domain area expertise. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an extensive set of services and solutions that you must know to lead implementation projects and assist with software solutions.
This article will identify the nine critical skills necessary to be a Dynamics 365 Project Manager and explain why these skills are important.
A Dynamics 365 Project Manager is responsible for internally leading a team of people and working with client management teams to complete CRM and ERP projects. Therefore, it is important to have functional business and application knowledge of Dynamics 365 alongside any industry-recognized professional project management certifications. Soft skills are also important for project managers to work effectively with teams and creatively solve problems throughout a project to ensure it is successfully completed.
Critical thinking skills are important for project managers because they allow them to analyze and synthesize information, identify potential problems and solutions, and make sound decisions. Critical thinking skills also help project managers to effectively communicate with team members and stakeholders and manage expectations.
Characteristics of critical thinking include, but are not limited to:
By utilizing these aspects of critical thinking, project managers are better able to:
The ability to communicate effectively is important for all project managers. Having excellent communication skills helps project managers keep team members informed and aligned, build consensus, and resolve conflicts. Additionally, effective communication skills can help project managers more effectively manage stakeholders, deliver presentations, and write reports.
There are several types of communication that are important for project managers:
These communication skills are vital to project managers in the industry today as projects are increasingly more online and off-premises. As a Dynamics 365 Project Manager, you will be required to manage both on-site and online with increasingly more geographically dispersed teams and stakeholders.
Organizational skills are important for project managers because they allow them to plan, organize, and monitor their projects efficiently and effectively. Good organizational skills allow a project manager to stay on track and meet deadlines while ensuring that all project tasks are completed correctly and on time. Strong organizational skills can also help a project manager anticipate potential problems and troubleshoot them before they become a bigger issue.
Organizational skills for a project manager include, but are not limited to:
Leadership skills are important for project managers because good leadership is essential for success in any organization. Project managers need to be able to motivate team members, resolve conflicts, and make tough decisions. They also need to be able to effectively communicate with stakeholders, manage budgets and resources, and ensure that projects are on track and meet deadlines. Being able to demonstrate these skills and meet these requirements frequently enables you to build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders and your own team members to deliver successful projects.
As a Dynamics 365 Project Manager, it is critical to have experience using Microsoft Dynamics 365 because your role is to lead teams and stakeholders through the full lifecycle of a D365 implementation project. This means that you will need to know both project management and implementation methodology, plus the hard skills associated with this process and tooling.
To begin with, Dynamics 365 is a business software as a service (SaaS) offering from Microsoft. This software is a comprehensive, cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that can be tailored to fit any size of business. It offers a range of capabilities, including financial management, sales and marketing, project management, and service management. Dynamics 365 provides a common platform and user interface across a range of different business applications, including ERP, customer relationship management (CRM), retail, field service, and talent management.
Depending on the types of D365 jobs you are considering, project managers for this role need experience in either these domain areas or both:
Unified Operations (ERP) :
Customer Engagement (CRM):
This is a discipline and career ecosystem with a need for cross-functional expertise with the merging of subject matter experience with project management methodology within the role itself.
a. ERP & CRM Implementation Experience
A critical pre-requisite to being a Dynamics 365 project manager is to have some ERP implementation experience. As outlined above, this is because Dynamics 365 is an ERP solution. ERP experience is also important because these systems are often large and complex and can involve many different departments and stakeholders. Project managers who have experience implementing or managing ERP systems are better equipped to handle the complexities and politics involved in such projects. They also have a better understanding of the functionality and capabilities of the systems, which is critical to designing and planning projects as a D365 Project Manager.
It is also useful to have some Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software experience. This experience is important for project managers because it provides them with a tool to manage customer interactions and track customer data. This information can be used to improve customer service and better understand customer needs. Additionally, CRM experience can help project managers better assess the impact of their projects on customers and identify potential areas for improvement.
This experience is also important because CRM software is used in the acquisition and development stage of a software implementation project. Having some experience in this area will enable you to be able to better understand other department needs for the overall project, as well as be able to understand the business requirements of a client for a project.
b. Dynamics 365 Project Operations
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for project operations is an integrated project management solution that helps project managers and teams to plan, track, and manage projects while collaborating with teammates and stakeholders. It provides a centralized location for all project-related information, including tasks, documents, and conversations. This product is designed to connect departments within a company such as sales, finance, resourcing, and project management through this one application.
With Dynamics 365 for project operations, you can:
Microsoft Dynamics 365 project operations is a useful tool because it allows you to track and manage resources, tasks, and budgets in one place. It also provides a centralized location for communication and collaboration between team members.
c. Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite that helps organizations manage their finances and operations. It offers a variety of features and modules, including financial management, procurement, project management, and human resources management, that can be customized to meet the specific needs of a business. The main benefits of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations are its ability to streamline financial and operational processes, improve decision-making, and increase visibility into business performance.
Knowledge of D365 Finance & Operations is not only critical to your execution of projects, but it is important to understand how this operates so that you can lead Dynamics 365 implementation projects that better meet the client’s business needs.
Risk management is a key to all project scoping, implementation, and post-live services. Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks to achieve an organization’s goals. All Dynamics 365 ERP implementation projects will incorporate and dedicate time to this process.
Risk management experience is also important for project managers because it enables them to anticipate potential problems and take steps to prevent them from occurring. Additionally, risk management experience helps project managers to develop contingency plans in case of unexpected issues. This experience is critical for ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.
Experience in risk management can be developed further through reading project cases client testimonies and receiving project management mentoring. This skill can be reinforced through other learning mediums, not just on-the-job experience.
Change management is the process of planning, implementing, and monitoring changes to a business process or organization. It is a critical step in all ERP implementation projects. The goal of change management is to ensure that changes are made in a controlled and safe manner and that the benefits of the change are realized. Change management includes activities such as creating a change management plan, identifying, and documenting the risks of the change, communicating the change to affected parties and monitoring the change to ensure that it is carried out successfully.
It is important to have this experience as a D365 Project manager as it enables you to anticipate and plan for changes in the project scope, timeline, and budget. Change management experience also helps you to identify and manage potential risks and issues that may arise from any changes.
a. Microsoft Dynamics Conference Room Pilots (CRP)
A Microsoft Dynamics Conference Room Pilot is a beta testing program that allows a limited number of users to test new features and functionality in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition. This is useful to the implementation of ERP software as it allows you to demonstrate Dynamics 365 to clients.
b. Life Cycle Services (LCS)
As a Dynamics 365 Project Manager, you will use Microsoft Life Cycle Services (LCS). In general, life cycle services are the sequence of activities that are necessary to deliver a product or service to a customer. This includes concept development, design, manufacturing, marketing, and finally, customer service.
Microsoft LCS is a Microsoft Azure cloud service that provides guidance and tools to help manage the life cycle of your applications. It offers features such as Application Insights, which helps you to monitor the performance and usage of your applications, and Service Fabric, which helps you to deploy and manage your applications.
Microsoft Service Fabric is a distributed systems platform that makes it easy to build and operate microservices. Service Fabric provides a runtime for deploying and managing microservices, and it includes capabilities for clustering, networking, orchestration, security, and scalability.
Having experience using this methodology and tool is vital to the execution of a Dynamics 365 project.
c. Azure Dev Ops
Microsoft Azure DevOps (ADO) is a suite of tools that enable collaboration between developers and operations staff to automate the software development process. It includes tools for source control, release management, and automation of tasks such as builds and deployments. ADO provides an all-inclusive experience for project managers to streamline management, track tasks, outcomes, and project variables. As a D365 project manager, you will be using this frequently throughout your projects.
d. Microsoft Implementation Methodology (Sure Step or Success by Design)
Microsoft has established frameworks and software for implementation projects. These are Sure Step, and more recently Success by Design.
Sure Step is a software development methodology that is used to manage, plan, and execute software projects. It is a Microsoft-specific methodology that is based on the popular agile methodology. This is an important knowledge area for project managers because it provides a framework and methodology for managing projects using Microsoft technologies. It helps to ensure that projects are planned, executed, and monitored in a consistent and standardized way.
Success by Design is a more recently developed prescriptive guidance framework to account for more recent changes to Dynamics 365 software and thus changes in implementation guidelines.
In the Success by Design guide, Microsoft outlines the four stages in an implementation project:
Each step in this process requires a series of hard skills and experience that includes but is not limited to:
Project management is a wide and robust career field. There are specific certifications that project managers can acquire to solidify their credentials. This is particularly useful to consider if you have Microsoft experience but do not have a solid foundation in project management. Certifications such as the two outlined below are perfect ways to diversify your technical skillset through a comprehensive project management qualification.
a. Project Management Professional (PMP)
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a globally recognized project management credential that proves an individual has a high level of experience and knowledge in the field of project management. The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification is also useful because it is a prerequisite for the PMP certification and proves that the individual has a basic understanding of project management concepts.
b. ASCM Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
Associate for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) is a globalized educational organization that offers the widely recognized Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification. This certification is offered in several different tracks, including operations management, supply chain management, and logistics. While this is not vital to becoming a Dynamics 365 Project Manager, this certification is helpful to an ERP implementation project manager that services clients’ enterprise business needs in this field.
As outlined above, there are many Microsoft Dynamics 365 functions and features that you must be aware of and utilize as a D365 Project Manager. Microsoft has a comprehensive certification program that enables Microsoft professionals to demonstrate their functional and technical expertise. One such exam that demonstrates the fundamental Dynamics 365 core components and requires is the MB-300: Microsoft Dynamics 365: Core Finance and Operations exam.
The MB-300 is designed to allow individuals to demonstrate the following:
Due to the wide scope of project management, particularly within the Microsoft ecosystem, you can also diversify your knowledge through Microsoft Learn. This resource enables you to curate learning pathways with short courses that extensively cover products, applications, and processes.
Being or becoming a Dynamics 365 Project Manager requires a diverse range of skills. Project management is a cross-functional career that requires interpersonal management skills combined with technical Information and Technology experience. Demonstrating and consistently using core skills will enable you to further your success as a project manager within the Microsoft Dynamics 365 career ecosystem.
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