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Evergreen is the process of getting everyone who’s using Dynamics 365 (D365) on the same version of the software. This means rolling out smaller, incremental updates throughout the year so you’re continuously improving rather than needing to endure long, complicated implementations that happen periodically.

This also ensures that people no longer have to come to terms with the prospect of go upgrading their legacy ERP solution, improving business resiliency and adaptability towards change. You can find out why effective change management matters here.

In this episode of ColumbusCast, Managed Services Specialist Glen Bignall discusses the importance of evergreen to your business.

 

Why is the evergreen process more effective than periodic updates?

Upgrading from an older solution to a newer version can be a mammoth task for your business, due to how consuming the project often is, from the time it takes to the resources required. The way that we apply evergreen for our customers is to make sure we take smaller steps.

Therefore, managing the process can be as simple and straight forward as possible. We also encourage our customers to stay as close to standard as they can with their solution. With this being the case, every update that Microsoft releases should be easy to take on board.

Do you need to take all of the new updates from Microsoft?

Microsoft rolls out eight releases a year. Though, you may not need to take on all of these updates, according to Glen, your business will need to take on an absolute minimum of three updates per year, so you can stay compliant and up to date.

This way, it guarantees your solution will always be supported by Microsoft. Here are two questions you’ll need to answer when deciding on which updates to take:

  • Do I take on board the major release so I can stay ahead of the curve?
  • Do I take the smaller releases (incremental steps) so I can learn the best practices from other businesses experience?

Evergreen

However, to due to the scope of these questions, this can become a time-consuming process if you were to answer them yourself. This is why working with a partner who specialises in these areas is key. This gives you the support needed to simplify these processes, and access to expert advice on which updates will be the most beneficial towards your operations.

Why is testing so important?

You want to make sure that following go-live, whether this is after a small or large update, you run into minimal problems. The ideal scenario would be:

  • Your update comes in
  • You go-live
  • The users notice no difference

In reality, this scenario is different due to the complexity of integrating new software within your operations. You can try to minimise the impact of the new updates, however, through the required amount of testing, ensuring the process is as simple, stable, and as straightforward as possible. It’s important to remember that as testing is a pivotal part of your implementation succeeding, you need to ensure that it’s reliable.

There are two ways that you can carry out testing: manual or automated. Automated testing tends to be the preferred approach, as it allows you to build regression tests to see how your standard processes differ to the new ones. This can allow you to make better informed decision on whether the update is going to benefit you internally or delaying it for an update further down the line.

evergreen

What are the consequences of not being evergreen?

  • Lack of compliance
  • Losing the ability to stay up to date with the latest features
  • You’ll be introducing risk with the lack of security and potential security issues
  • Once you fall so far behind the Microsoft updates, your software becomes unsupported

You can put evergreen on the backfoot, however, after a period of time, you’ll be losing out on the security, performance enhancements and more that will drive your business forward. The longer you push back updates, the bigger the project it’s going to become.

You shouldn’t forget that this requires resources too, including time and the expertise needed behind the project. Do you have the resources spare? If not, can your employees be seconded onto the project? What will this mean for your business-as-usual tasks?

This is where a partner comes in. They will:

  • Have the right resources and expertise readily available
  • Be willing to thoroughly get to know your business processes
  • Work with you to ensure your apps are kept evergreen, and make sure any integrations remain compliant

All of which help you remove the ‘headaches’ associated with taking on a new project.

How do you become evergreen?

Every company can achieve this in different ways. For instance, you can take on all the tasks that are required in-house if you have a dedicated IT team, or you can choose hybrid approach by bringing in a partner for your project. There are three key services Columbus provides that will help you simplify this update:

  • Secure Update – Your partner should be analysing the release notes from Microsoft to ensure the software is compatible with the solution in your environment, highlighting the features this release will give you. The security processes will tailor them towards your business needs and identify any risks for you as the end user
  • Release Management – this is the bridge between your new solution and your old solution, making all key tasks are done and the release isn’t going to clash with any other business initiatives
  • Automated Testing – if you’ve got the ability to automate your tests, you can make it more repeatable and predictable to minimise risk. Columbus identifies the correct toolset for you to use regardless of your current integrations, helping you build a series of tests so you can understand what your results should be based on your pass/fail criteria

These routes are what we advise you alongside all of our customers to take to become evergreen. It will give you the security and comfort, minimise the risks associated and decrease downtime to give you everything you need. So, make sure you’re on the versions you want to be on, make sure your solutions are compliant and let’s move forward to get more out of your ERP system.

Listen to our podcast

Want to learn more about evergreen? Listen to our episode by scrolling to the top of the blog or searching ‘ColumbusCast’ in your podcast app, and you can learn more about:

  • The benefits of having a partner to remove ‘headaches’ that otherwise may occur
  • Why the three key services to for your software are essential to become evergreen
  • The questions you need to ask for which Microsoft releases to take on board

Finished our podcast episode? Find out how you can effectively manage your evergreen process by downloading our guide below.

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