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ERP is a company’s central nervous system and crucial for process efficiency and business development opportunities. Due to their complexity, many companies are apprehensive about tinkering with them too often. After all, adjusting the ERP solution can be time consuming and expensive that it’s easy for six, seven or even eight years to pass between major updates.

The result? You may end up lagging behind in terms of technology and function. But the cloud and Microsoft’s ‘Evergreen’ strategy for Dynamics 365 (D365) with its annual updates have changed all that.

Countless benefits – and a few new challenges

Today, D365 customers have constant access to the latest technology and functionality, errors are corrected much faster and the solution is kept in line with the latest legislation. Together with a more modular platform structure, this provides significant improvements in a wide range of fields.

New challenges have arisen and need to be addressed. For example, it’s necessary to:

  • Test updates in advance and ensure they’re fully compatible with the company’s solution, data and any add-ons
  • Familiarise yourself with how any upcoming updates will precisely affect the company’s solution and processes

These are concerns we hear from many companies and they’re fully justified. That’s why Columbus has assembled a team of managed services specialists to help companies deal with these and other challenges.

Our key aim is to maximise the value of your ERP investment and minimise the risk of problems with stability and functionality.

Test, test and test again

One of the major challenges is limiting the risk associated with putting new code in a business-critical system. This calls for a comprehensive, automated test setup and very few companies can handle this – at least not entirely alone.

In this context, we help as much as is needed. We bring knowledge from a large number of other organisations in exactly the same situation as you, making it easier to pinpoint the areas where problems most often arise.

Want to know more about automated testing? We’ve created an eBook we believe will help you.

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What’s in the pipeline? What’s on the way out? And what does that mean for us?

Another challenge is keeping abreast of what each update contains. Which functions will be added and which will be phased out? Are there any changes that might present challenges?

That’s easier said than done.

Twice a year Microsoft publishes ‘Wave Release Notes’ with information about upcoming changes in D365. While these documents - each 700-800 pages long - are pretty comprehensive, they don’t specify when particular changes will be made.

You have to keep your eye on a flood of PDFs, emails and other messages to gain and retain an overview. It is – dare I say! – relatively demanding to keep up with, while decoding the documentation requires specialist knowledge.

At Columbus, we can provide you with a ‘Release Note Assessment’. This provides information about what each individual update contains and which parts of the update a particular organisation needs to be aware of.

Each customer is assigned a permanent release manager who knows the company and discusses with them:

  • What’s changed
  • What new features and fixes have been introduced
  • The options the above provide

Ready to establish an update strategy?

This discussion also helps create a solid base for establishing an actual update strategy. Some companies may think it’s a good idea to implement all updates as they come out. Others may choose to postpone each update for a month or two – for example, to make extra time for testing.

Others prefer to stockpile and only update two, three or four times a year. After all, more frequent updates can put organisations under significant pressure.

In short, there are almost as many approaches as there are companies.

We can help by supporting you at the technical level. Our aims are to:

  • Keep you updated with knowledge of upcoming changes
  • Provide input for establishing an actual update strategy
  • Help ensure that your solution runs smoothly

Would you like to find out more? We’ve compiled lots of good tips about Microsoft’s ongoing updates of D365. Grab your copy of the guide below.

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