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You’ve decided to upgrade your on-premise CRM to the cloud. But what does this entail? In this post, we walk you through getting started, our unique approach to installation at Columbus and some things you should consider.

Click here to watch this blog in video form.

Getting started

There are three main challenges in getting started when it comes to system upgrades. These are:

  1. Being unsure of the approach you’ll take – it’s tricky not knowing what is coming and large-scale can be perplexing.
  2. Your system is too complex – some old CRM systems can be heavily customised which can make the upgrading process trickier. Plus, the general feeling throughout your business may be that it’s too time-consuming and expensive to upgrade (though the benefits of the upgrade far outweigh the costs).
  3. You have incorrect hardware – you might not have the right facilities to support the upgrade or the license to do so. However, this is quite a common situation so don’t stress.

On-premise CRM to the cloud

This upgrade is a huge undertaking, but once it’s done, you’ll have all of the benefits of Dynamics 365. Your CRM is about to become much easier to use and we guarantee this will be a huge benefit to your business.


Below is a list of things you should consider before deciding to install your new CRM system. This will help you to mitigate potential risks and ensure the whole process is smoother and more time-effective.

  • Understand your business processes and systems as best you can before you begin the upgrade. For example, how your current system works and whether there are any modifications to it so it’s easier to estimate how long the upgrade process might be
  • Understand how you, as a business, operate that system and how it delivers benefits for you
  • Think about user adoption and how easy it will be for your team to work with the new CRM

Thinking about these things will help you to communicate what you want to get out of your new system. It will also help your installer stay on track and cater to your specific needs.

Stuck on which CRM system to choose? Click here to found out more.

Benefits of the cloud

Columbus’ installation process

Now that you’ve thought about the above considerations, you’re ready to begin the installation process.

Outlined below is our step-by-step installation process.

  1. We start with an initial analysis phase and health check of your current system to see how it operates and where your main issues lie. This helps us to gauge the breadth and depth of your system before the upgrade and prepare for any risks we might encounter.
  2. Next, we run a system familiarisation that aims to understand not only how your system hangs together, but also how you operate that system as a business. We want to understand how it interacts with your customers and exactly how it currently benefits you.
  3. It's time to replicate your system within the Columbus infrastructure. With our multiple versions of the platform, we begin a systematic upgrade process from each of the different versions and conduct all the compatibility checks required. This ensures that your system is as stable as possible. During these checks, we look for any unsupported modifications and move anything that has been done internally or through other solution providers. This means they're moved from on-premise to cloud securely.
  4. After this, we look at the existing system and prepare the upgrade plan. It’s typically a lengthy process because we go through a validation exercise for the physical upgrade to the database, and then complete regression and unit testing to ensure that upgraded components have survived. This is why the analysis stage is so important because it decreases the chance of failing regression tests.
  5. Finally, once we have the Dynamics 365 on-premise environment, we can begin the final shift into the cloud. The next stages involve UAT assistance, key user training, any assistance in adopting the new user interfaces and the final parts of regression testing. By going through this direct process, you get your target system on the latest and greatest platform. You'll then be ready to build on with the latest technology.

Why you should move to the cloud

Case study: Carter Jonas

Carter Jonas is a multi-disciplinary property partnership, intent on helping clients realise their goals and aspirations by providing better advice.

They asked us to work with them to install a new CRM system. Their key challenges were:

  • Highly customisable v2011 system
  • Multiple integrations
  • High data volumes

These three things made the integration process very tricky as we had to protect the data they already had at the same time as upgrading their outdated system.

Our approach to solving these issues included removing any non-critical developments, executing the upgrade strategy and re-designing their integration. We took them from their 2011 CRM to the new Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement suite.

Helping Carter Jonas benefit from the cloud


You probably understand from this blog that CRM implementations are pretty complex. There’s a lot to think about, such as the risks to mitigate and pitfalls to avoid, as well as multiple misconceptions. Unless you’ve already got a team of implementation experts, it’s easy for the project to go on longer than it should.

This is why it’s a great idea to outsource your implementation project first; work with an implementation partner whose experts have years of experience working on projects a similar scale to yours. They can handle everything for you.

But how do you find the right partner? We have a guide to help you…

How do you ensure a successful CRM implementation?


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