Adapting Sure Step for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Edition: An ERP veteran’s advice

September 11 2017

Aleksandar Totovic

Although implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Edition is pretty fast, it is still a project, says Dynamics NAV veteran Aleksandar Totovic. And although there are no standard customizations, the basics of a project, such as selecting apps, still require care and management that can slow down implementation as well as add additional costs to a project.

Totovic has years of experience delivering Microsoft Dynamics solutions. He has used and adapted the Microsoft Sure Step methodology for 10+ years. He was a four-year Microsoft Dynamics NAV MVP before joining Microsoft in October 2016 as a partner technology strategist, based in Belgrade, Serbia.

In his Directions North America 2017 session, Project Methodology in Dynamics 365 Business, on Monday, September 18th, Totovic will show partners how to adjust Microsoft's Sure Step methodology using some waterfall and some agile principles. The goal of his session is to help project managers, consultants, and other decision makers sell and implement Dynamics 365 Business Edition as efficiently and as inexpensively as possible.

The classic waterfall project management method works for most projects, says Totovic. "For example, we need to use a project management plan - that's very important. And we also need to prepare a data migration plan," both of which are generally included in the waterfall methodology.

But waterfall has its weaknesses, he says. Its linear phases (analyze, design, develop, test, deploy) do not allow returning to an earlier phase. And its built-in formalities and sign-offs slow the project down.

Agile methodologies, however, are iterative and incremental, focusing on delivering a functional whole through smaller chunks over a series of relatively short development cycles. When adapting the Microsoft Sure Step methodology to an implementation, "I wanted to make it much faster, because one of the advantages for clients will be speed," says Totovic.

Therefore, he advises partners to use a hybrid methodology. "First, we can use some of the standard documents for waterfall from Sure Step, but they will not be part of the standard waterfall phase," he says. "We will not have a specific analyze phase, design, development, deployment, , phase. We will mix all these deliverables, and create some agile parts of projects."

Totovic says it's important to split the hybrid project methodology into two parts: a diagnostic phase before the contract is signed, then working on concrete project tasks.

However, because clients typically demand both speed and economy in a project, sales and diagnostic activities must also be fast - so the partner proves its agile acumen well before the contract is signed.


Totovic says that Microsoft's Sure Step methodology is an excellent base for all Dynamics implementations. He used it for over 10 years as a consultant, and with excellent results.

The Sure Step model recognizes five project types, and provides templates and resources for each, which typically include both waterfall and agile tools. The types are:

  • Enterprise
  • Standard
  • Rapid
  • Upgrade
  • Agile

Totovic believes the Rapid model (an acronym for Ready-to-use and Proven Implementation Deliverables) can provide the basics for a Dynamics 365 implementation. Still, whenever he used the Rapid model, he adapted it as needed (e.g., reordering the steps).

When selecting a Sure Step project type, "The most important question to answer is: ‘Do we have customizations or not?'" says Totovic.

For fast, "vanilla" projects with little or no customization, he advises against adapting the Sure Step model. But where there is more customization, Totovic advises using an adaptation of the Standard model, one which he calls "water-agile-fall." "I like to use waterfall with the clients but inside my organization I would choose agile for the design and development phases."

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About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. Rosencrance has over 25 years experience as an reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years.

She has covered a variety of IT subjects, including Microsoft Dynamics, mobile security issues such as data loss prevention, network management, secure mobile app development, privacy, cloud computing, BI, big data, analytics, HR, CRM, ERP, and enterprise IT.

Rosencrance is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.

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JTsuperrunner's picture

Hi, I'm looking at Agile for implementation, where can I find resource specifically for Dynamics CRM implementation? Thanks in advance

bensonf's picture

Hi JTsuperrunner, I have a blog, podcast and training course all aimed at helping Dynamics CRM & 365 customer and partners use agile methods in their Dynamics projects. Start at