Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step project methodology mandates that at the start of every project you do a Functional Requirements Document (FRD) – this details what you want the project to deliver and defines the scope of what’s to be implemented.
Once this is signed off a Technical Design Document (TDD) is produced. This is a document for the Dynamics developers and consultants, plus maybe your process manager or chief information officer, to review to make sure the mechanics of how the requirements are going to be satisfied are sensible, feasible, practical etc.
Neither of the above are documents that are suitable for end users, and while critical to successful projects, very few actually survive the project. What do I mean by that? Well post ‘go live’ of the system you will tune the system as you learn more and understand it more fully. You will understand both the possibilities that it brings and identify where it’s not so good for you and make adjustments to get the best out of your new system.
But, and here’s the rub, when those changes are made it’s unusual to update the original FRD or the TDD. Often there are new mini projects identified which will have their own FRDs and TDDs. The trouble is (very quickly) you have to read through the original documents and then all the subsequent ones to understand what’s being changed and that can be confusing. It means the project documentation starts gathering dust in most instances and is the last thing most companies refer to ‘because it’s out of date’.
What most companies rely on is someone who knows the system and can explain it. But what happens when that person is ill, on vacation or runs out of bandwidth? Where do you go then? Do you need a team?
Often the partner fills the gap but that means delays while you call the support desk or wait for the consultant who knows your system to become available.
Is there a better way? In a word, yes and as the title above suggested it’s videos. Every significant process that you do should have a short (5 minutes max) video made of someone going through that exact process. These should be stored where people can search through (ideally on SharePoint) and find the one that matches what they are trying to do.
I use some software called Camtasia which costs £197.04 plus VAT. You turn it on when you start the process and press stop when you’ve finished and it records everything that has happened on your screen. Then you can play it back and record a commentary for what you were doing, and why, whilst it plays through. You can pause the screen if you need more time to explain. When you’ve finished, it will save it as a video file that people can play back.
Lots of short videos, of say five minutes maximum, work best. For new starters you can point to them and say work your way through those; it’s a great induction to the new system and how you want them to use it. If your process needs to change, or you improve any areas, it’s a great way of distributing the knowledge for users to consume at a time when it’s convenient for them.
And one day I’ll get SharePoint to tell me who watched what and for how long – that way I’ll be able to audit peoples Dynamics CPD (Continuing Professional Development) internally too.