The five phases of successfully implementing 365 Business Central

Posted by Ute Gillet on Mar 15, 2022 11:45:00 AM

In the latest episode of his podcast, Martin talked to Bart Vanbelle from Belgium who is Business Consultant with the Belgian partner ESC. Bart’s background is different from all the guests in the podcast so far. He started his career with international experiences as a cocktail bartender. After shortly running two catering businesses for a few years, he first came into contact with Navision, version 2009. He was a key user in a Navision implementation. Surprisingly enough, being part of an ERP implementation enthused him more than mixing drinks. 

Hence, he decided a U-turn move for his career at the age of 30. He started studying supply chain management full-time, had his bachelor after 3 years and joined ESC. At ESC, he is mainly responsible for manufacturing implementations and just recently got promoted to being the team lead of ESCs center of manufacturing excellence. 

In the conversation, Bart surprised Martin with the ADKAR model and mixed a delicious "knowledge cocktail" of how to successfully implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Business Central Manufacturing Show - Bart Vanbelle

Bart's background as a cocktail bartender led Martin to his first question about what happened that Navision became more compelling than mixing drinks and why Bart decided to focus on manufacturing. Bart told that as a key user he increasingly got fascinated by the complexity of an ERP system and the manifold ways it offered to help companies on their way to digitization. This resulted in his wish to become the "glue between what is happening operationally and what is actually put in by the administration."

At some point during the course of his work, Bart realized that it was strange how the implementation of an ERP system in some companies went very smooth, whereas in others the process proved to be very difficult.

This insight was affirmed by the findings of a colleague who learned about a foundational model of change management: the ADKAR model, that Bart went on sharing in the course of the episode. Of course, this happened in the form of a conversation but for the sake of clarity, I present the five phases to you in form of a list.

According to the model, the implementation of an ERP is all about change management. And change management should follow 5 phases:


Phase 1 - A like Awareness

As Bart pointed out, every company that wants to implement an ERP, should be crystal-clear about the purpose for this step. Depending on the kind of company the answers to this will, of course, differ. Some companies want to gain some extra revenue, for example, others again aim at saving time. Just saying "we want it", would not be the right motivation at all.


Phase 2 - D like Desire

Once the purpose for the implementation is clear, the questions will get more specific. In the desire phase, the key users should learn the reasons why they are going to make the change and what will be in it for them, and, of course, how it will help the company in general.

As Bart related, he has often met key users that either didn't know the answers to these questions or just said, "because we have to". And again, this would not be the right motivation.

At this point, the implementation team not only needs to provide the technology and analyze and optimize the processes but also make clear to the users how they will benefit from the change.


Phase 3 - K like Knowledge

In the K phase, the key users will acquire knowledge about the new system. There will be trainings and workshops in which they will learn how the system works and see what is the best fit for their department and their end users. Depending on how the key users have adapted to phase A and D, the K phase will be more or less successful.

Or, as Bart puts it, the learning curve will be higher or lower, depending on the reaction to phase 1 and 2. When somebody isn't interested in learning a certain topic, why should he?

What makes Bart as a consultant the happiest is when he gets to a point where users are so interested in the solution that they start learning and doing research on their own initiative.


Phase 4 - A like Ability

According to Bart, a lot of knowledge is needed to work with Business Central and looking at it for the first time can be really overwhelming. But once users have acquired the knowledge, they can start to use the system independently and even try to challenge it.

And when users start challenging the system, Bart is sure he has done a good job. If users know more than him he is sure that they will benefit from the new system.

Ability, as Bart puts it, should be a consequence. If you have the desire to work with a system, the ability will follow automatically.


Phase 5 - R like Reinforcement

Once the project is live, the implementation team's work is still not finished. Every couple of months or weeks they will go back to the company and evaluate the project together with the people on site. As Bart explains, there are always things that need checking or can be improved. 


Martin and Bart agreed that with this model in mind, you make sure that both executives and key users and the company are ready to take the product and embrace the change coming with the ERP implementation.

Talking about implementation development also brought them to a brief discourse about the pros and cons of applying the MVP (minimum viable product) approach to an ERP implementation. The answer to this question, depends, as so much, on the type and size of the customer as well as the type of the product. Bart stated that, in his opinion, especially in case of bigger companies with more complex production planning it could be better to go a little bit deeper than MVP from the start.

In the context of complex production planning, Bart and Martin mused about what level of automation the process of setting up such a  planning with routings and BOMs etc. can tolerate. And again, the answer was, "it depends". As Bart pointed out, an engineering-to-order company needs a high degree of human intelligence whereas companies with a lot of repetitive steps, like a metal shop, can implement a high degree of automation 

Noticing that the time had flown by, the two agreed that they should meet again and talk about all the topics they had not managed to cover.

You can tune in below 👇 or anywhere you get your podcasts.



📢 What to listen for 

[05:41] The Awareness phase

[06:59] The Desire phase

[09:00] The Knowledge phase

[11:43] The Ability phase

[14:12] Pros and cons of the MVP approach in ERP implementations

[16:55] How much automation does production planning allow?

[21:54] Automation in companies with lots of repetitive steps

[23:45] The Reinforcement phase


Links to love ❤️

Topics: Business Central Production Scheduling, Dynamics NAV Visual Scheduling Add-in, Business Central Visual Scheduling Extensions