A few years ago, when Microsoft launched its ‘Evergreen’ approach, they were really taking on board the version lag that has plagued companies for many years. It allowed Dynamics 365 to update monthly, so the solutions, including all new functionalities, are automatically kept up to date.
The move was ambitious and in many ways a really good idea. However, the flip side of the coin was the fact that the monthly updates could cause all or part of a company’s ERP solution to crash, if the update conflicts with elements of the core system, customizations, or integrations.
Evergreen strategy: Fewer updates and greater freedom of choice
The risk is real. For example, in the first period after the monthly updates were introduced, for various reasons the monthly updates caused a critical module in one of our customers’ Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations to crash, and we hear similar stories from other companies in both Denmark and abroad. Fortunately, we identified the challenges in the testing phase and were able to deal with them before the situation became critical. I will come back to that point.
However, there are indications that Microsoft is aware that everything does not always go smoothly with the monthly updates, because, in the meantime, the Evergreen plans have changed. Now only eight annual updates are released, of which only the largest (in April and October) are mandatory to implement.
Testing updates before implementation is crucial
At Columbus, we advise our customers to implement at least four annual updates so as not to fall into a variety of traditional lag traps.
However, it is still crucial to thoroughly test each update in advance, so that you know everything works as it should before the code is released into the production environment. Otherwise, critical processes, and maybe even the entire company, may be paralysed in whole or in part. This can be expensive, both bottom line- and credibility-wise.
Tests should be conducted across both:
- Core Solution (Dynamics 365)
- Customizations and modules
It is a comprehensive and complex task that can be executed by an IT department with intensive testing expertise. But manual testing is manpower-intensive and subject to a significant risk of error, because the work is both extensive and incredibly monotonous.
Be sure and save time with automated testing
Automated testing is a much better solution - especially if you target and define test cases based on the company’s critical core processes. However, even if Microsoft provides a tool (RSAT) that can automate regression testing of the core solution and adjustments, it is not actually possible to handle it without in-depth testing skills. And testing integrations is even more complex.
That is why Columbus have developed a testing service. Together with the company, we first assess which processes are essential to test, and investigate where they run. Some processes may run simultaneously in multiple locations in your organization, and all contexts must be tested each time.
We then construct test cases, which are run through Microsoft RSAT (for testing the D365 core and customizations), while regression testing of processes that run across integrations can be automated by Columbus test specialists. Over time, we also make sure we develop and customize test cases so that they remain relevant.
Strengthen uptime and stability across your organization
On one hand, the service provides the company with a foundation for optimizing uptime and stability. Not only locally (for example, in a single national department), but also across numerous subsidiaries with a large geographical range. On the other hand, you get the best possible conditions for benefiting from the innovation that Evergreen really is.
Even though a product is allegedly 100% standard and trust is good, verification is just better. Because, when the company’s core processes are at stake, it is important to know in advance that everything will work as it should. Just in case.
Would you like to find out more? We have compiled lots of good tips about automated testing in an e-book.