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Trust is good, but testing is better...This old adage is no less apt with Microsoft’s ‘Evergreen’ initiative, which now releases updates eight times a year for Dynamics 365. Viewed as a whole, Evergreen is a positive innovation that ensures companies constant access to new, updated functionality, reduces the need for special developments and prevents a company from falling far behind in a year-long update cycle.

But the frequent addition of new updates also makes it necessary to implement a strategy for continous and systematic testing of your application.

Microsoft tests the Dynamics code – but not all of your integrations

After all, when it comes to new updates, things do not automatically go smoothly. For example, Dynamics 365 updates may mean that suddenly you cannot control the purchase of raw materials, that some employees cannot log in, and that others run the risk of working with old data. But situations like these are not due to Microsoft or the company’s IT department having nodded off.

Of course, Microsoft tests all updates and tackles most bugs before the code is released. But they can only test on the platform itself – not in each company’s business system, which, as we all know, integrates with many other solution elements both inside and outside the company’s control.

So, Microsoft cannot test (or guarantee) whether a company’s Dynamics 365 is acting flawlessly in any configuration. This is especially true when 3rd-party software is involved.

Let test cases evolve with your solution

Therefore, each company needs to test all the updates before putting them in the production system. Not just because errors in a business-critical solution can be extremely costly to fix, but also because the errors itself can be very costly for the company and their customers - for the bottom-line as well as reputation wise. 

Of course the need for testing is nothing new. But the frequent Dynamics 365 updates increase the need to handle all steps more systematically and – above all – automatically than before. That is why Columbus test all updates in three steps, before placing the code in the customer’s production system:

  • Unit tests, where we test each method or function in isolation – i.e. without allowing it to touch file systems or databases. The aim of this step is to verify that the code basically behaves as it should.
  • Functional tests, where we test functions together to see whether they have unwanted effects on each other.
  • Regression testing, where we systematically test critical processes, including integrations with other systems, modules and subsystems. Transfer

Step three is both the most complex and the most critical, because it is most often here that errors occur. Nor is it covered by the test tools that you basically have access to as a Dynamics 365 customer.

Testing should be automatic and company-specific – every time!

That is why we developed a testing tool that makes it more affordable to build test cases, automate their execution, and update test cases as the company’s business solution evolves.

This not only allows us to test efficiently, automatically and 100% company-specifically every time Microsoft releases an update; we can also test all of the company’s core processes on a daily basis, thereby increasing the likelihood of detecting errors that occur in very specific situations.

Finally, we also discuss technicalities with Microsoft, when changes to the Dynamics 365 code itself may be called for. This may be necessary from time to time.

No real alternative to Evergreen

Now, you might think that Evergreen’s constant updates sound unnecessarily cumbersome. But, in my opinion, that is a fallacy. Because the numerous new features provide such massive business benefits that it would be a shame to miss out on them. If you also make sure you keep your Dynamics 365 up to date, you automatically get all the bug fixes and adjustments that result from messages that Microsoft receives from an ecosystem consisting of tens and thousands of partners and customers.

If that is the carrot, there is, however, a stick too. Because, if you still routinely decide to skip updates, not only will you miss out on all the ongoing improvements; you will also be left relatively quickly with a solution that is no longer supported by Microsoft.

So, once you have decided to invest in Dynamics 365, there is really no alternative but to keep up with it. But it is not insurmountable. You merely need to be in control of your testing strategy.

Would you like to find out more? We have compiled lots of good tips about automated testing in an e-book.

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