Why Dynamics 365 Functional Consultants are important to enterprise size projects

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With the continued investment from Microsoft into Dynamics 365, flexible licensing options and exciting advanced functionality, more enterprise size companies are choosing it as their preferred solution.

Projects are increasing in size and complexity, and usually including business transformation. Large, complex and transformational projects carry risk which means the role of a Dynamics 365 Functional Consultant is more important than ever. So what are the benefits of having them on your projects?

Definition of a Functional Consultant

A Functional Consultant excels in two core areas; consulting and product specific expertise. This enables them to bridge the gap between business and IT, by speaking a common language to deliver a product that meets requirements, supports a future vision and provides true value.

The responsibilities of a Functional Consultant on a project could typically be:

  • Gathering customer requirements and defining a product backlog.
  • Exciting customers about the “art of the possible” through demonstrations to show how the breadth of Dynamics 365 can add value to their business.
  • Influencing the solution design with a configuration first approach to minimise implementation and maintenance costs.
  • Providing strategic & operational support to enable a whole business transformation with best practices in mind.
  • Acting as Scrum Master and/or Scrum BA.
  • Providing the team with support and guidance throughout the build and implementation phase.
  • Configuring the solution in line with requirements.
  • Assisting in planning and delivering training.

The Benefits

Eliciting Requirements

These core skills enable consultants to help businesses meet their key objectives and requirements. They create best practice processes and procedures, whilst keeping requirements in line with the functionality offered by Dynamics 365. A Functional Consultant runs workshops to elicit requirements from key stakeholders, while guiding them through how they can be met by Dynamics 365 or other applications in the ever-growing Microsoft software stack.

The true value is realised when detailed requirements can be written in line with the available functionality at the start of a project. Rather than working with generic, agnostic requirements, product backlogs can be developed that ensures requirements can be met through configuration, reducing the level of customisation required as much as possible. Providing reduced maintenance efforts and costs and a smoother upgrade path and in the long run.

Risk of delays in delivery is reduced, as the need to discuss requirements after they have been formalised becomes less likely. The ability to guide clients through the capabilities of the tool aligns user expectations on how they will interact with the system and how key processes will be achieved, aiding in the development of training materials and user adoption.

Connecting Business & IT

The ability to analyse and translate requirements in a way that both business users and delivery teams understand, means they can seamlessly support the business establish quality requirements and assist a delivery team implementing them.

They become a proxy Subject Matter Expert and an extension of a Product Owner, by understanding the industry and market a business operates in, along with the key processes. A challenge on large projects is time constraints of Product Owners. They are expected to fulfill their day to day tasks and support a transformation programme. Queries from the team can be answered quickly and delivery can progress, with only key decisions requiring time from Product Owners.

Functional Consultants have become an integral part of Dynamics 365 projects and we look forward to expanding on and discussing how people in the role work to improve implementations and the experiences gathered along the way. With thanks to Luke Phillips for co-authoring.