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Regular updating of Dynamics 365 provides many benefits and avoids larger issues further down the line

For many years, companies were used to long periods between major updates to ERP systems and solutions like Microsoft Dynamics and AX. When new versions became available, it would often result in a significant upgrade project that was time consuming and costly to implement, so many didn’t bother.

“The philosophy was: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! It wasn’t uncommon to work with business solutions that didn’t change significantly throughout their entire service life,” said Emmi Gesler Durig, Senior Release Manager at Columbus.

With the move to Dynamics Evergreen solutions, this is no longer the case.


Mandatory updates provide a more seamless experience

In 2019, with the release of Dynamics 365, Microsoft moved towards an Evergreen solution that releases new updates frequently. Currently, there are eight annual updates to the Dynamics 365 solutions, of which two are mandatory, to ensure businesses don’t lag behind technically. While this could pose challenges for some companies, it will also mean they will always be on the latest versions of the solution via smaller, incremental and easier to manage updates.

“The cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics solutions are constantly changing. Errors are corrected quickly, security is updated and solutions are expanded with new functionality. This is a great advantage for companies,” said Emmi.

If the changes aren’t managed correctly, they can also increase the risk of disruptions to businesses: for example, if an update conflicts with an integration or a third-party solution you opted for.

Testing makes life easier and avoids problems

If an update results in complications, it can create major problems. After all, the ERP system is the central system of a company. Maybe performance deteriorates drastically. Maybe a key feature suddenly doesn’t work. Maybe, as a result of changes in the application, an optional module doesn’t work properly. It is always possible that things can go wrong.

That is why it’s crucial to introduce a structured, tried-and-tested, transparent process for testing, validating and implementing updates: both technically and functionally. This includes planning service windows so that business operations are minimally affected.

“It’s necessary to identify complications beforehand, so you can either find a solution here and now or decide to postpone the update,” said Emmi.


Thorough research reduces risk and increases value

Keeping up to date with Microsoft’s extensive release notes can be a time consuming and admin heavy task. However, for a number of customers we carry out an ongoing Release Notes Assessment providing secure knowledge of what the next update will contain. We answer questions such as –

  • What features are in the pipeline?
  • Are they worth activating for your company?
  • What features should you definitely avoid?

“You also need to know about any new bug fixes that will solve a specific problem your company may be suffering from. Then, if necessary, you can make the implementation of that particular update a priority,” added Emmi.

She emphasised that Microsoft’s Evergreen program (which features continuous updates) helps make Dynamics 365 platforms stronger, more flexible and more secure than their on-premise-based predecessors.

“But there’s no avoiding the fact that frequent, mandatory updating of complex code – cloud-based or not – can lead to inconveniences, and in the worst-case scenario this can hamper an organisation in the short or long term,” she said.

“That’s why it’s essential to have processes in place for testing and identifying problems before implementing the updates in the production system. You also want to ensure that you take maximum advantage of all the ongoing improvements that are made to the business system,” Emmi said.

Want to find out more?

Many companies tend to concentrate on implementing and launching their solution but overlooking post go-live. 

In our Life after go-live eBook we help you mitigate the risk of finding yourself with a poorly anchored solution that doesn't work as intended. Some of the areas we explore are:

  • The importance of testing
  • Monitoring and maintaining your solution
  • How to save money on unnecessary licenses
  • And more!

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