10 ways to accelerate Dynamics 365 cloud migration

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Our guest contributor for this blog, Toby Bowers, is General Manager for Business Applications Product Marketing globally. He oversees go-to-market, partner strategy and customer success programs across the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform product portfolio, driving breakthrough customer and partner experiences. 

One of the most impactful takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic is that no business is immune to uncertainty. While no business plan is completely future-proof, organizations in the cloud have access to cutting-edge technology that enables them to be more agile, optimize resources and serve their customers better. This new reality is driving thousands of on-premises companies worldwide to accelerate their cloud journey. It’s no longer a matter of if but when on-premises customers will migrate to the cloud. During this unique moment in time, our on-premises customers are looking to partners like you to help them navigate their digital transformation. 

Leverage Microsoft partner investments to get started today 

We’re committed to our mutual profitability and growth, which is why we continue to invest in programs, resources, and guidance to ensure you’re set up for success. It’s important for you to be aware of the many resources available to you as our partner so you can ensure you’re effectively meeting the ever-changing needs of your customers.  

When it comes to overseeing your customer’s migration to the cloud, two resources may be particularly helpful: 

Dynamics 365 Migration Program: Since March 2020, this program has helped hundreds of Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM customers and their partners accelerate their journey to the cloud. This program invites qualified Business Applications gold and silver competency partners to deliver advanced migration assessments with a customized scope-of-work based on customer’s unique requirements. Learn more about this offer on the Microsoft partner website.  

Business Applications partner pre-sales offers: These offers are designed to align to the six sales plays to help customers adapt to the changing business environment. Corresponding activities include envisioning workshops, business value assessments, pilots, and in-a-day workshops. For more information, please see the Business Applications FY21 partner offers. 

Every migration project is unique, and your customers could be at various stages of their cloud migration journey, so it’s important to lead with empathy, validate their needs, and offer customized services that demonstrate value. Here are 10 ways you can lead the migration conversation: 

1.Business Value Assessment (BVA) 

Business Value Assessment workshops provide on-premises customers with quantifiable economic benefits. This is a great way for business decision makers to understand what the total cost of ownership will be in the cloud in comparison to current on-premises solutions. This is the first step to help you align a customer’s strategic objectives to the project proposal. Depending on the scope, you may work with your customer to offer a deeper return on investment (ROI) analysis that produces detailed reports using specific inputs. Learn more about BVA for Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM. 

2. Standard Migration Assessment (SMA) 

SMA is a technical assessment to help customers understand the value of cloud migration, as well as the effort needed to transition successfully. The assessment provides an understanding of how the customer’s business objectives can tie to the functionality of Dynamics 365. Customers receive a full analysis of their current on-premises solution including data, code, customizations, ISV integrations and high-level estimations of effort needed to migrate and guidance on the methodology. Learn about SMA for Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM. 

3. Envisioning workshops 

Envisioning workshops can help customers visualize their future in the cloud. Envisioning utilizes design thinking, a collaborative method that sparks creative ideas and accelerates business outcomes. It also allows all stakeholders to align on a shared vision, roadmap, and timelines to drive desired outcomes. This is a great tool to fundamentally reimagine solutions to improve your customer experience, employee empowerment, operations, products, and services. Learn more about Envisioning here. 

4. Functional assessments  

Business processes that were created several years back might not be relevant today. A functional assessment can help customers identify process gaps and inefficiencies to generate the best options for an online deployment. This analysis drills into your functional requirements and re-evaluates their current processes against industry best practices to offer recommendations on how their business can gain faster time to value through process improvements. 

5. Deprecation plan analysis 

There could be several items in a customer’s current on-premises applications that are no longer available or needed when moving to Dynamics 365. Deprecation planning evaluates the key elements that are affected by going to the cloud and provides recommendations, best practices, and alternative solutions for consideration. 

6. Industry accelerator analysis 

Whether customers are in manufacturing, healthcare, retail, or any other industry, there are specific ISVs or vertical solutions that can address most common functionality gaps for various use-case scenarios. Industry accelerators can provide a view into connected experiences designed to support common business needs for industries while providing new insights for building personalized customer engagements. This helps simplify efforts to create customized functionality while saving customers time and resources they would have spent creating and integrating their own proprietary solutions. 

7. Proof of concept 

Proof of concept prototyping is a rapid way to show what the solution could look like when customers’ on-premises solutions move to Dynamics 365. Concepts are developed directly from customers’ challenges—for example, a customer may want to use new functionality in the cloud to meet evolving end-user needs. Often this results in gathering rich user feedback and an enhanced user experience. Through multiple demos, customers can get hands-on experience with the solution, demonstrate value to key stakeholders and gather insights for building out the desired outcomes that reduces risk and save time, effort, and money. 

8. Reporting analysis 

This analysis makes recommendations for reporting in Dynamics 365. Examples include detailed reporting and evaluation of business intelligence broken down by reporting of operations, financial reporting, reporting of business documents and analytical reporting. Recommendations could also include reporting options with the latest technology, including Power BI, Power Automate & Azure Data Lake service integrations. Modernizing reporting will help you visualize your data and discover new actionable insights to make informed decisions. 

9. Integration options 

Existing on-premises integrations may no longer function as intended—or even be needed—once the migration to the cloud is complete. Dynamics 365 always offers latest functionality based on evolving industry requirements. The goal of this analysis is to assess the depth and breadth of a customer’s existing integrations for cloud compatibility, security, technical feasibility, and performance to provide recommendations that are optimized to meet your desired outcomes. 

10. Migration plan 

The migration plan aims to understand what a customer’s future Dynamics 365 deployment might look like and produce a blueprint with a corresponding budget and milestones. This can include items such as conceptual solution architecture, high-level gap-fit by business processes, integration strategy, data migration strategy and/or deployment strategy. 

To keep up with the intense pace of digital transformation, our customers are increasingly turning to the cloud to enable greater flexibility, agility, and efficiency for their organizations. Our partner ecosystem has an incredible opportunity to assist our customers with their transition from on-premises solutions to the cloud, accelerating their own digital evolution. As you follow the tips outlined in this post, I’m confident you’ll be better positioned to stand out in the marketplace and, ultimately, meet the unique needs of your customers.