ERP is the company’s central nervous system and crucial for the efficiency of processes and your options for developing your business. But these are also complex solutions, and many companies have been apprehensive about tinkering with them too often. Mainly because adjusting the ERP solution was so time consuming and expensive that six, seven or eight years often passed between major updates.
The result was that they inevitably lagged behind in terms of technology and function. But the cloud and Microsoft’s ‘Evergreen’ strategy for Dynamics 365 with its annual updates have changed all that.
Countless benefits – and a few new challenges
Today, Dynamics 365 customers have constant access to the latest technology and functionality, errors are corrected much faster and the solution is constantly in line with the latest legislation. Together with a more modular platform structure, this provides significant improvements in a wide range of fields.
But there is no such thing as a free lunch.. New challenges have arisen and need to be addressed. For example, it is necessary to:
- Test updates in advance and ensure that they are fully compatible with the company’s solution, data and any add-ons
- Familiarise yourself very thoroughly with how upcoming updates will precisely affect the company’s solution and processes
These are concerns we hear from many companies, and they are fully justified. That is why Columbus Care has assembled a team of specialists to help companies deal with these and other challenges: all with the aim of maximising the value of the ERP investment and minimising 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 into operation. 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, and this varies from company to company. In any case, we can contribute knowledge from a large number of other organisations in exactly the same situation, thereby pinpointing more easily the places where problems most often arise.
What is in the pipeline? What is on the way out? And what does that mean for us?
Another cause of irritation 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. Admittedly, twice a year Microsoft releases so-called ‘Wave Release Notes’ with information about upcoming changes in Dynamics 365. However, although these documents - each 700-800 pages long - are pretty comprehensive, they do not 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 calls for special competence.
In this context, we offer an overview in the form of a so-called ‘Release Note Assessment’, which provides information about what each individual update contains, and about 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 has changed, what new features and fixes have been introduced, and the options they provide.
Get equipped to establish an update strategy
This discussion also helps to provide a really good basis for establishing an actual update strategy. Some companies may find it a good idea to implement all updates as they come out, while 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 twice, or three or four times a year, as more frequent updates put the organisation under too much pressure.
In short, there are almost as many approaches as there are companies.
We can help by supporting at the technical level, keeping you updated with knowledge of upcoming changes, providing input for establishing an actual update strategy, and helping ensure that your solution runs smoothly.
Would you like to find out more? We have compiled lots of good tips about Microsoft’s ongoing updates of Dynamics 365 in an e-book.