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For some time, there has been talk that cloud-based business systems are the way forward. COVID-19 seriously put the claim to the test when society went into lockdown.

On one hand, it was more critical than ever to secure an overview and structure in a world where market and regulatory requirements changed radically from day to day. On the other hand, you could hardly order or expect employees to come to work and maybe infect each other.

However, for many organisations with an antiquated business system, there was no real alternative, given that all core functions were centrally managed. In that case, even in the midst of a national lockdown, it was still necessary to go to the office to serve vital functions of the business system and ensure that the company was on track. Actually, maybe it was more important than ever.

The cloud provided flexibility and overview during lockdown

Conversely, in companies with a cloud-based solution, it was no problem for employees and managers to do their work from a dining table or holiday home. They also found it easier to adapt to a situation, in which demand, trade patterns and priorities changed dramatically.

For example, if you did not have efficient, flexible e-commerce up and running in March 2020 when to pandemic hit, you certainly had to get your skates on and set it up. Likewise, many people urgently needed to adapt their existing web shop to cope with a situation in which customers were sitting at home for months, not going to work, not going out and not going on holiday.

Learn how flexible IT and Columbus support increased agility and resilience for Eton amid the corona crisis

Constant patches improve the application – and present new challenges

At Columbus, we could clearly see how much easier and less complicated it was for our Dynamics 365  customers to act flexibly and agilely on all parameters than for organisations with an antiquated AX system, for example.

Because, while the existing solution may work very well, it simply becomes an impediment when your market and business foundation alter – and not merely in extreme situations like the COVID-19 crisis. There are actually more qualities to Dynamics 365 than ‘merely’ the fact that it is run in a cloud infrastructure and can be accessed from any device.

First of all, the application is constantly evolving. Eight times a year, Microsoft deploys update rollups, which fix bugs, strengthen security, and expand core functionality, so that your company is always in the best position to evolve.

There is also a very large and increasing number of features in Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 and modules from 3rd party developers to click on or off.

This simplifies operation, administration and the customisation of the application to an almost revolutionary degree – but also places demands on testing and governance. There are two main reasons for this:

  • The underlying code for Dynamics 365 is rather complex. That means that errors or performance issues can occur, if an update conflicts with the company’s database structure or with a module you have clicked on. It does not happen often, but it happens – and can present significant challenges for the company affected.
  • It is very easy to click on functionalities in the Feature Management panel of the basic application – but not always possible to turn them off again. It can also cause problems.

Dynamics 365 Secure Update safeguards process, overview and transparency

This is one of the main reasons why, over the past year, we have established, and gradually expanded our Secure Update service for Dynamics 365, providing a combination of framework tools and expertise. Thereby, our customers can benefit from:

  • A structured, proven and transparent process for testing, validating and implementing updates – both technically and functionally. This includes planning of service windows so that business operations are minimally affected.
  • Release Notes Assessment including full, targeted reporting for each customer. Well in advance, you will be able to find an evaluation of which specific bug fixes may be relevant to the company and suggestions for which future or changed functionalities it may be relevant to activate (or avoid).

It also enables our customers to benefit from the knowledge we constantly glean about the challenges or possibilities that each of Microsoft’s eight annual updates offers. Some companies may find that the application does not perform optimally in certain circumstances. It gives us very specific, broad-based knowledge of how Dynamics 365 performs across a wide range of customers. In specific terms, this benefits each individual customer and provides them with optimal opportunities to take their precautions and optimise the operation and use of their solutions.

It can be extremely helpful. By nature Dynamics 365 is a far more powerful, flexible and secure platform than its on-premise-based predecessors in the AX family. But is hard to get around the fact that frequent and mandatory updating of complex code – cloud-based or otherwise – can lead to inconveniences which, in the worst case, can hamper an organisation for some time. SecureUpdates helps minimise the risk, also ensuring that the company gains the maximum benefit from all the ongoing improvements that are made to Dynamics 365.

Are you unsure on how to handle the continous updates? We have gathered our best tips and tricks in an ebook.

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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.
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.
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.
Not everything was better in the old days. This is particularly true of software. Today’s solutions are generally of far higher quality than their predecessors, and a combination of improved methodologies and better development tools definitely plays a role.
Often, when it comes to updating our software platforms, we procrastinate. You probably know what you are paying for, and your employees feel more secure with an older version. However, when the support expires, your business is vulnerable.
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