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Dynamics 365 Project (CONNECT2)- The Smith Family

Client: The Smith Family


Dates: 18 Dec 2020 - 30 June 2021

Project Type: Digital Transformation


In a not-for-profit organisation where its business orbits around its donors, people and the lives it changes, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform is undoubtedly the digital backbone. This is even more of the case when the NFP in question is The Smith Family- one of Australia’s most notable charities committed to empowering young Australian lives through access to educational resources for over one hundred and twenty thousand of Australia’s children in need, supporting their families through hardship and linking up with a network of volunteer mentors.

In 2020, The Smith Family was using a CRM that was almost a decade old- and whilst it continued to provide the functionality the organisation needed, Microsoft had limited its support. In addition, the growth of The Smith Family in the last few years necessitated a system that could support its new base, and be able to withstand inevitable increases in the future of supporters (donors), families and volunteers enrolled in its programs.

Aligning with a digital strategy that aimed to strengthen The Smith Family’s in-house technology capabilities with a vision of providing more efficient help to more Australians, The Smith Family chose to build a new system using Microsoft Dynamics 365. They partnered with Barhead Solutions to build, test and deploy the new system, which became known internally as ‘CONNECT2’.

The project had been in progress for 6 months before PMLogic were engaged in December 2020 to direct the project and provide project management support.

James came into a fairly chaotic and unstable project. He moved quickly to providing clarity and enabling information to inform decision making. - Steering Committee member


Following PMLogic’s proven and award-winning framework, DELIVER, We refreshed the project governance and delivery framework leveraging our PMO Management platform, SIP® (Strategy Implementation Platform), embedding into The Smith Family DevOps, Miro and Teams platforms to improve the delivery velocity, enhance the one-team culture, improve the streams of communication and manage project controls.

We also knew that for this project to succeed, we needed to restructure and formalise roles and responsibilities within the project. Stakeholder groups were mapped and regular meeting times established, so that information was readily communicated across the organisation on the project’s progress, any key concerns and dependencies and expected impacts upon Business as Usual activities. These groups included:

  • Steering Committee Members

  • Project Team, including the introduction of a Business Change Manager

  • Business Owners

  • Test Leads

  • Technical Leads

Phase 1: Discover-Examine-Learn Using DevOps and through workshops with stakeholders, we refined and gained agreement on the following:

  • User Stories were developed or adjusted against the Epics that had previously been set up

  • Test Plans (with their Test Cases linked to User Stories) formed the revised scope

  • Test Cases were agreed prior to commencing each round of testing.

Phase 2: Implement- Validate-Evaluate Once testing had commenced, we created:

  • An Information Radiator- using Miro (an online whiteboard tool), to be the hub for all items project related. It displayed the approach the project took and linked to the multiple repositories where communications were transmitted and stored. The project schedule was displayed with key milestones, tasks and dependencies highlighted and regularly updated to report progress

  • Project Controls- using DevOps, we configured a dashboard that would capture and display the project’s key Risks, Actions, Issues and Decisions. As this was a new approach to the 100 plus project team members, we started with RAID (Risks, Actions, Issues, Decisions), and expanded it to PMLogic’s full B-RADICAL (adding Change, Communications, Benefits, Assumptions and Lessons Learned)

  • Given the revised approach to control scope, Change Requests were managed through DevOps including a workflow process to communicate status and gain approvals.

A large part of this psroject was business readiness and the Go-Live of the new system. In preparation for the Go-Live of the new system, we increased collaboration and communication to ensure the business readines off the entire organisation. In particular, we emphasised the following:

  • Runsheet and deployment checklist- containing all the steps with a time stamp, showing the dependencies and ensuring all activities run to schedule;

  • Check in Zoom meetings and SMS- to ensure progress and any challenges faced were communicated ASAP;

  • Go/no-go decision criteria- to ensure the Steering Committee had good visibility over the stability of the new system;

  • Training and change champions- trained up to increase capability within The Smith Family;

  • Resourcing- the right people with the right knowledge assigned to the right jobs.

Phase 3: Reinforce

  • Post go-live the project entered a 4-week hypercare period where a close watch on critical processes and new transactions was performed in parallel with on-going testing and ‘playing’ in the training environment to validate that new ways of working resulted in the expected outcomes

  • Formal knowledge transfer workshops were run to enable The Smith Family to develop an internal capability to support and continue to develop functions and features on the platform.


PMLogic’s 6 month engagement delivered a new way of working that will significantly enhance the way The Smith Family supports its students and families and engages with its supporters. The executive steering committee saw not only the benefit of the new platform but also the learnings those on the project team had gained in collaborating, communicating, undertaking various project roles and learning how to use DevOps in an optimised setting.

Some of the feedback received includes:

James' project management essentially saved this project, it was stuck and had no clear end in sight, James came in and had immediate impact by giving us direction and goals, and setting up a complete structure internally to actually achieve our milestones. - Business Change Manager

From day 1, James was open to hearing about what my needs were as a Business Lead and what needed to change from my perspective to meet the requirements of my business area and brought more overall structure to the project. I found that James was fair and reasonable when it came to managing competing priorities and fostered a collaborative environment for all stakeholders to openly share concerns and try to address them. - Business Lead

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