Lowering your Anxiety over Microsoft Dynamics 365 Upgrades

In the first blog from our Platform Optimization series – Optimizing Your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation & Maintenance Environment –  we discussed challenges associated with Microsoft Dynamics 365, and how Celsior can help you optimize Dynamics 365 implementation, support, and test/automation processes. The second blog of the series discusses common issues associated with Dynamics 365 updates and the best approach to mitigate them.

Updates to your Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment are obviously important.  As is well understood, Microsoft mandates that its customers deploy at least two of the seven annual Dynamics 365 updates.  But even if this were not the case, the updates are key to maintaining security, correcting errors, and improving functionality.  Yet, despite their importance, updates can sometimes result in significant pain for both IT and users of the environment.

Common issues with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Update:

So, what are the risks of Dynamics 365 updates and how you can mitigate them?

Here are some common issues that organizations may encounter during Dynamics 365 updates:

Compatibility Issues: After an update, existing customizations, plugins, or integrations may no longer be compatible with the updated version. This can lead to functionality disruptions or system errors.

Data Migration Problems: The update process may lead to data migration issues that can result in data loss, data corruption, or inaccurate data. Furthermore, mapping and transformation errors, as well as complex data structures, can also contribute to these issues.

Performance Degradation: Upgrades may inadvertently affect system performance and lead to slower response time or increased resource consumption. This can be due to changes in underlying architecture, new features, or increased data volumes.

User Interface Changes: Significant updates may change the user interface, which can confuse or frustrate users accustomed to the previous version. Inadequate user training and support during the transition can exacerbate user adoption challenges.

Third-Party Solution Compatibility: Organizations using third-party solutions integrated with Dynamics 365 may experience compatibility issues following an update. These solutions may require updates or patches to align with the new version.

Regression of Functionality: In rare cases, an update may inadvertently introduce new bugs or regressions, causing previously functioning features to stop working or behave differently. This can disrupt critical business processes and require immediate attention.

Licensing and Pricing Changes: Updates can also change licensing models or pricing structures, impacting an organization’s costs or licensing compliance. It is important to stay informed about any changes and assess their impact on the organization.

Documentation and Support Gaps: Some updates may lack comprehensive or up-to-date documentation, making it challenging for administrators and developers to understand new features or troubleshoot issues. Inadequate support resources can further complicate problem resolution.

Our Approach:

To mitigate these issues, Celsior thoroughly tests updates in a non-production environment, ensures compatibility of customizations and integrations, backs up data before the update, tests automation, and establishes a clear communication and support mechanism for users and stakeholders. (On the subject of automated testing, please look for my upcoming blog post on “Why should you automate Dynamic 365 testing”

Successful Dynamics 365 upgrades require careful planning and execution to ensure a smooth transition and minimize disruption to the business.

Here is a strategy that can help you achieve a successful D365 upgrade:

  • Define Upgrade Objectives: Clearly articulate the objectives of the upgrade, such as improving system performance, leveraging new features, enhancing user experience, or addressing specific business requirements. It helps guide the entire upgrade process.
  • Conduct a System Assessment: Evaluate the current D365 environment to identify any customization, integrations, or dependencies that could be affected by the upgrade. Assess the readiness of hardware, software, and infrastructure to support the new version.
  • Create a Detailed Project Plan: Develop a comprehensive project plan that outlines the upgrade timeline, tasks, roles and responsibilities, resource allocation, and dependencies. Consider factors like data migration, testing, training, and user acceptance.
  • Perform Sandbox Testing: Set up a sandbox environment that replicates your production system and conduct thorough testing of the upgrade process. Validate critical business processes, test customizations, and integrations to ensure they function as expected in the upgraded version.
  • Plan for Data Migration: Determine the approach for data migration from your current Dynamics 365 version to the new one. Identify any data cleansing or transformation tasks required before migration. Test the data migration process thoroughly to avoid any data integrity issues.
  • Develop a Training Program: Prepare a training program to educate end-users and administrators on the changes introduced in the upgraded version. Provide training materials, conduct workshops, and offer support to ensure a smooth transition for users.
  • Execute the Upgrade: Follow the established project plan and execute the upgrade in a controlled manner. Back up your existing system and perform the upgrade on a non-production environment first. Monitor the upgrade process closely, address any issues promptly, and validate the system’s stability after the upgrade.
  • Perform Post-Upgrade Testing: Conduct comprehensive testing in the upgraded environment to ensure all functionalities are working as expected. Develop and maintain automation scripts to test critical business processes, integrations, reports, and customizations. Make sure to address all issues/bugs identified during testing.
  • Communicate and Train Users: Keep stakeholders and end-users informed about the upgrade progress, timelines, and potential impacts. Provide clear communication channels to address their concerns and gather feedback. Deliver training sessions to ensure users are familiar with the changes and can effectively use the upgraded system.
  • Monitor and Optimize: Continuously monitor the system’s performance and user feedback after the upgrade. Address any post-upgrade issues promptly and optimize the system configuration if required. Stay up to date with the latest updates and patches released by Microsoft to keep the system secure and efficient.

Mainly, successful Dynamics 365 upgrades require strong collaboration between IT teams, functional stakeholders, and end-users. We involve key stakeholders throughout the process to ensure their requirements are met and that the upgraded system aligns with the organization’s overall goals and objectives.

Celsior’s Platform Optimization expertise helps you identify and mitigate upgrade risks through a well-thought-out management plan, an in-depth integration analysis, strong upgrade validation, and a dedicated support team for upgrades and normal operations.

Please look for my next blog in this series, “Why should you automate Dynamic 365 testing?”

About the Author

Jyotsna Vanapalli


Read other blogs of the series:

Why do you want to test Microsoft Dynamics 365 Updates?

Optimizing Your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation & Maintenance Environment

Why is test automation critical to successful Dynamics 365 upgrades?

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