Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides businesses with a variety of powerful out-of-the-box functions and features. However, most companies require customizations to Microsoft Dynamics 365 or integrations to ensure the software meets its unique business needs and workflows. We recommend a standard solution first and creating layers of customizations using extensions or the Microsoft Power Platform capabilities.
However, Dynamics customization can be as general or specific as you need. You don’t have to settle for a software solution that you must work around. Instead, you can ensure your teams have access to all the tools and functions required to do their work effectively with customization.
Making changes and integrating ISV solutions into your ecosystem sometimes lead to challenges – especially during update periods. Although Microsoft guarantees the stability of its own systems and also asks its customers to test before taking anything into production, it cannot test whether everything is working correctly for individual organizations on its platform. Instead, it is up to each business to ensure everything is working as intended.
Although some errors are obvious (and to be expected,) they can cause unexpected downtime within your operation. To ensure your technology works as smoothly as possible, consider the following before customizing your Dynamics 365 solution:
Dynamics customization can help your business run more smoothly and efficiently. But, as with any technology, you may encounter some speed bumps. Microsoft provides comprehensive support to Dynamics 365 users, but only for issues arising from its own product code. In other words, if you have a problem with your customization or ISV add-on, you need to handle troubleshooting and bug fixes on your own.
For businesses with extensive customizations and software add-ons, monitoring and correcting problems can be overwhelming for in-house IT teams. To solve this, many companies outsource to third parties.
When outsourcing, there are two options you can choose from:
- Traditional IT Support
- Application Management
An IT support team will offer software maintenance, installation and configuration of IT systems, data center management, and diagnosing and resolving hardware and software issues. Most IT support firms only offer reactive fixes rather than proactive support. In other words, they will help you fix a bug — but only after it has caused an issue.
Conversely, partners that offer application management often provide round-the-clock support and will proactively monitor your Dynamics 365 ecosystem to catch problems before they have a chance to disrupt business. In addition, application management partners can analyze your systems and identify areas for improvement, saving you money and enhancing workflows. We have consultants at Columbus who are responsible for solution optimization and growth. They help enhance and configure systems according to market trends and specific customer needs.
Microsoft releases eight annual updates for Dynamics 365. Although updates are essential for introducing new features and fixing problems, they can also bring underprepared companies to a grinding halt.
For instance, if an update conflicts with a third-party app, you may have to reconfigure your integration to get your application up and running again. For businesses that rely heavily on third-party integrations and customizations, frequent Dynamics 365 updates throw curveballs.
While Microsoft’s teams will conduct extensive tests to ensure updates are compatible with their own systems, they will not check to see if updates play well with third-party integrations and customizations, so it is up to you to understand how an update will affect your systems.
Businesses must have a plan in place to handle unexpected setbacks. This involves working with internal IT departments or a Microsoft partner to actively monitor your systems and perform the research, testing and validation required to minimize downtime and ensure your systems aren’t held hostage by updates. Testing may involve assessing release notes and determining whether new updates are needed and when to implement them. See step-by-step instructions on how to do so here.
Microsoft is renowned for its world-class security measures on and off the cloud. Microsoft’s security experts check for risks and update safety measures regularly. This security guarantee is a huge benefit for companies.
While Dynamics 365 is secure and compliant, Microsoft only guarantees protection for its own systems. If you have customizations or third-party applications that deal with sensitive information, or regularly have a large number of employees who access and share secure data, you will have to build all the processes and practices to protect the information yourself.
Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Having solid access management practices in place will improve your company’s operational security and ensure processes are safe and efficient. By safeguarding the systems that work alongside Dynamics 365, you can rest assured your information is secure.
Uptime and accessibility
Microsoft guarantees 99.7% uptime and accessibility for its infrastructure, but you are responsible for configuring and monitoring your systems and add-ons.
Dynamics 365 is a complex system. When you add customizations and ISV integrations to the mix, it becomes more challenging to identify problems. If an error or faulty configuration slips through the cracks, you may have to deal with unexpected downtimes and productivity losses.
The best way to prevent uptime and accessibility errors is to proactively monitor systems and check whether applications, batch jobs, integrations or databases are working as expected. If you do not have the in-house capacity to do this, consider outsourcing support to a Microsoft partner. The right partner will take the burden off of your IT team by providing administrative, security, updating and 24/7 monitoring services.
Although Dynamics 365 is one of the most reliable ERP systems on the market, no technology is flawless. So whether you have advanced customizations and third-party integrations or are using the out-of-the-box version of Dynamics, teaming up with a certified partner will ensure systems are always operational.
Microsoft also expects its users to know how many and what level of licenses they need. While Microsoft will not audit your systems for you to ensure you are using licenses efficiently, a good partner might help. A partner like Columbus will help you save money by constantly monitoring systems and keeping track of changes in license terms to ensure you’re only paying for what you need.
We see that most companies pay too much for their licenses; some have expensive licenses they don’t use, while others purchase licenses with more comprehensive features than they need. For instance, one Danish company discovered they had a surplus of the most expensive Dynamics 365 licenses and were paying an unnecessary annual cost of more than $20,000 USD.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 customizations and third-party integrations are necessary for many businesses; they fill in the gaps and enable you to complete workflows not native to Dynamics 365. Planning for challenges before they arise will allow you to save money, reduce the risk of unexpected errors and downtime and ensure customizations and integrations are working as they should.
Contact one of our experts to learn more about Dynamics 365 customizations, third-party ISV integrations, and how Columbus can make your experience as smooth and streamlined as possible.