As I revised for the MB2-715 exam (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Online Deployment) I am creating blog posts detailing all aspects of my revision. I hope these posts will aid anyone who is also revising for this exam. In this posts I will review deployment planning.
The skills measured statement simply says “create a deployment plan to meet organizational considerations”, quite a vague statement! I think we can interpret this to mean that you need to be aware of all of the key things to consider whilst creating a plan to implement Dynamics 365. Actually these will touch on a number of topics that you will need to acquire a deeper know on. For example, license considerations, data import options and security considerations.
Planning a deployment should be considered a significant undertaking and could be quite an involved task in larger implementations. In planning a deployment you may need to consider many things including;
- Migration steps
- Identify Storage Requirements
- Plan Security and Single Sign-on
- Instances and Licenses
This is not an exhaustive list! There could be many other considerations, many of them not technical. Including important topics like user training or the handover from the project team to support functions.
It will be common that you’ll be migrating from an existing 3rd party system. Or possibly moving from an on premise version of Dynamics 365 to online. One key consideration will be how you move the business critical data from the old system into Dynamics 365 online. Importing data is mentioned in detail in another skills measured statement. I will therefore expand on this topic in a future post. To wet your appetite, the skills measured statement connected with data import is shown below;
Considering data migration will also mean you need to review data quality and age. Do you really want to clutter the new system with data that is many years old or has poor quality? And if not how will you cleanse / purge that data prior to import.
And don’t forget that the data will consume space! So that will lead you on to considering storage requirements.
Dynamics 365 ships with a massive amount of out of the box functionality. You will need to review your business requirements to decide how to best leverage that functionality.
Even though the product has loads of standard features a large part of most implementations involves customization. This will either be work completed inhouse, by a Microsoft Partner or possibly by the import of one (or more) ISV solutions. (Or possibly combinations of all of these things.)
The MB2-716 exam has a focus on customizing Dynamics 365. When I prepared for that exam I created many blog posts regarding the customization of Dynamics 365. You can find those posts here.
Your customizations might include the addition of custom entities, forms, dashboards, reports and so on. The full scope of the customization capabilities is well beyond the MB2-715 exam. But I suggest you become familiar with the main assets that can be customized.
Another import concept will be to decide how you will deploy changes from development instances into user acceptance testing and production. Within Dynamics 365 we use solution to move our changes from one organization to another. Solutions can be managed or unmanaged. One common approach is to use unmanaged solutions in development environments. But import them as managed solutions in your production areas. One advantage of this is that managed solutions can be removed. However dependencies between solutions can introduce other challenges. It is therefore important to consider how solutions will be organized and deployed.
Identity the Storage Requirements
How much storage will be needed initially and overtime? (Not forgetting to allow for production and non-production instances. Test / development sandboxes consume space!)
Keep in mind that for each subscription will provide 10Gb of storage. And that an additional 5Gb will be granted for each 20 full licenses purchased. (In addition to this standard allocation of storage space additional capacity can be purchased on a per Gb basis for a monthly fee.)
You can view your storage limits and current usage via the CRM Admin center in Office 365. With the administration center you use the service health option.
Plan Security & Single Sign-on
The CRM security model is comprehensive / flexible. (And therefore potentially complex.)
You will need to consider what groups of people will need access to what entities. With each group of people potentially being aligned to business units. And for each entity if their access should allow updates or just be read-only etc. Plus you may need to consider if teams are required.
When I prepared for the MB2-716 exam I created an overview of the security model. You can review those notes here.
If you already use Active Directory you may wish to consider single sign-on, to avoid users having two accounts. Therefore you might need to configure integration between Office 365 and active directory. This is done in the services and add-ins option in the settings area of Office 365.
Instances and Licenses
You will need to consider the number of instances required. Not just for production but also sandboxes to support development, testing and training maybe required. By default you will receive one production and one non production (sandbox) instances. But you may wish to always consider at least three instances! One sandbox for development, another sandbox for user acceptance testing / training and then a production environment.
Beyond the two standard instances you can buy additional production and non-production instances as required.
When considering licenses don’t assume all users will be allocated the same license. Licensing in Dynamics 365 is very flexible and you can mix and match licenses. Therefore you may be able to make significant savings by allocating team member licenses to people who don’t require a full license. Or by a full license user being licensed for a single application rather than a larger plan license. (Or even by using the Business edition of Dynamics rather than Enterprise.)
I describe the license model for Dynamics 365 in this post.
You can see your Microsoft Dynamics licenses within the licenses option under billing in Office 365 admin. (Along with any other Office 365 licenses.)
Other deployment topics to consider
Who is responsible for what? Who owns the implementation project and what individuals will be required to fulfill what roles? (Including project manager, business analyst, technical architect, developer, tester, trainer etc etc.) Plus, who are the business stakeholders that will define how the business should use Dynamics. Some (or all) of the technical roles may be delivered by independent software vendors (ISVs), independent consultants or Microsoft Partners.
You may also need to consider how your users will access Dynamics 365. Will your users be office based using desktop computers? Or field worker needing mobile access and maybe even offline access? And will they need integration with other products, such as SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Outlook etc.
If you are working with Microsoft partners they may use the Microsoft Dynamics SureStep methodology to deliver the project. SureStep is a complete methodology covering the full project delivery lifecycle. Its intention is to promote best practice and therefore reduce risk. You can find out about SureStep here.
For organizations not using SureStep they will still need to consider what project methodology to use. Various options exist including Waterfall and Agile based methods. Keep in mind that a one size fits all approach will not work. I favor an Agile approach to Dynamics 365 projects but there are circumstances when only Waterfall will work! (There are many wrong ways to run a project but no correct way!!!)
As you prepare for the MB2-715 exam you’ll need to consider all of the areas I’ve mentioned. Plus delve deeper into some of the topics!