Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM | Who “owns” the Business Applications within the Organization?

By - July 18, 2019


Every organization has this discussion at some point in their journey and has to determine its own answer to the question.

The question was recently posted on the Dynamics CRM User Group community forum and wanted to share my answer to help others that might be going through something similar.

The company has 210+ users with only two Dynamics 365 System Administrators which shows how efficient that team had become. They were actively engaging their partner for assistance but still confused about who “owned” the system.

The below questions are very common and often are the unstated questions within an organization. Here are my best to answer the questions based on current understanding.

Who “owns” the system?

This is the age-old question of who works for whom and who owns what. This is often tricky as the reason you have a business application system is to support the various departments in the organization. Without the Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, or Operations department, there would be no need for a business application. So the owner of the system needs is the business departments.

With that said, the departments should not own their own systems as allowing the departments to control their systems leads to security concerns and conflicts when departments attempt to work together. So the IT department steps in to manage the business applications as well as the other “systems”.

So who “owns” the system, the business owns the system. Management has approved the use of technology systems in the organization in order to help facilitate and manage growth. It’s management’s role to guide the business strategy and for the departments to interpret the strategy to tactical items which are then translated by IT to develop a system to support the business strategy articulated by management and carried out and define by the departments.

Who manages the changes?

As you know, change management takes on many forms, both from organizational change management and system change management. For organizational change management, the recommendation is to have the business manage the impact to the business users. For system change management, this should be managed by the IT department based on resources available.

As Microsoft releases new features, it’s IT role to understand the impact on existing functionality and work with the business leaders to address and mitigate risk. For new feature requests, these should be communicated by the business as requests to IT and then prioritized by management.

Configuration vs. Development

How do you define each with regards to Dynamics? 

Configuration – leveraging out of the box functionality that you are able to accomplish without writing code

Development – utilizing a computer language to extend the system

Does this determine who makes the changes?

All configuration and development should be handled as a part of an application life cycle management process utilizing source control. This is especially true for items of development which have backup versions only stored on local devices (aka the individual’s laptop).

What type of structure do you recommend?

With regards to working with a partner, partners should be viewed as an extension of the team and utilized accordingly based on skill, availability, and timeline. Partners can truly partner with an organization when they understand the business strategy from management, along with timing, skillset needs, and clear tactical requirements from the business.

What have you tried?

What worked well
  • When working with the business or an external partner, clearly set expectations on timeline
  • Help the business understand a realistic timeline for accomplishing requests based on other competing priorities from other departments.
  • Utilize a steering committee of department business leaders to determine priority
  • Document decisions
  • Document assumptions of design
What didn’t work so well

Most times when things run off the rails is when both parties did not clearly understand or made assumptions. This sets up for missed expectations which leads to conflict. This can be between a business department and IT or the organization and a partner.

Any other advice you have for me?

Keep it up! You are asking the right questions and you are not alone. Leverage the community you have here for both technical as well as emotional support. Know you are working to improve other’s lives and that though some days are rougher than others, know you have made a difference.

If you have other advice that you would like to share, be sure to head over to the forum of the original post on Dynamics CRM User Group.


As one of RSM’s Consumer Products industry senior analysts, Seth's job is to understand, forecast and communicate economic, business and technology trends shaping the businesses we serve. Seth has more than 10 years of experience serving clients across the country by providing industry- specific insights and thought leadership focused on digital transformation. Seth works with a variety of clients in the consumer products industry helping them focus on acquiring and retaining customers through data driven insight. Seth's primary focus is on architecting and delivering technology that is intuitive using relevant, real-time information so that individuals can make informed and data driven decisions. Seth consistently works with clients to deliver processes and technology improvements that assist in their technology journey. Seth also helps companies with user adoption through organizational change management and through hands-on training.

Receive Posts by Email

Subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.