Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 was officially released in November of 2015. It was heralded as “the most comprehensive upgrade ever for Dynamics CRM”, with Microsoft claiming the update “includes advancements in intelligence, mobility and service, with significant productivity enhancements”. This is proving to be true, as Microsoft has won several awards for Dynamics CRM 2016.

Exciting, right? We think so! But to those who have fallen behind in their CRM updates, this news may also bring a little anxiety.

Upgrading any software can be a frightening thought and something you’d rather just put on the back burner. However, procrastinating has some negative impacts as well. The obvious is, of course, you miss out on the latest and greatest features. But consider that delaying the current pain of an upgrade may create a snowball effect of more pain down the road if you’re not on top of the latest software. For instance, upgrading from 2011 to 2016 is much easier than 3.0 to 2016.  In other words, your current self can rest easy, but the pain you’re causing your future self is growing by the day.

How configured are you?

A good consideration to take when you do decide to upgrade is, how much of a beast has your CRM system become.  Over time, you may have had multiple vendors, multiple deployments, multiple internal project sponsors with different priorities of a CRM system, and years of band-aiding a system you don’t even want to think about upgrading.

In this scenario, it may be best to take a step back.  Look at the Dynamics CRM upgrade as an opportunity to clean up all the noise that has accumulated in your deployment and re-validate the work that has been done over the years. There’s good stuff in there, so you certainly want to identify it in order to ensure you retain it.

Use this as your motivation to ask some tough questions in order to deploy the latest version in a “clean slate” and interview the key business groups as if they don’t have a CRM system at all.  Just because something was built and functionality was added to your deployment, doesn’t mean it’s needed. Ask the question “why?” and if nobody can provide an answer, seriously consider leaving it behind.

Going through this process means you’ll most likely need to write a plan to migrate data from your current version to your target one.  If your system has gotten out of control, you don’t want to go through the upgrade process as it would automatically take all your current customizations and migrate them to 2015.  Instead, you’ll want to start with a fresh install and reconfigure your environment based on the requirements you obtained during the “re-validation discovery” process.  E.g., there may be fields that drop from your schema going forward.

On the other hand, if your system is small, relatively new, and hasn’t had many deployments since go-live, you may want to have the upgrade process perform most of the heavy lifting for you.  This means you won’t have to write a migration process – the upgrade process will automatically perform any data conversion needed for 2016.

If your current system hasn’t been too configured, chances are the changes you’ve made have been supported.  Therefore, they should automatically upgrade through the upgrade process with not much falling out for you to manually clean up.

Budget is a big driver of this conversation as well.  If you have a massive implementation, it may be quicker for you to start fresh and implement just those features you want to carry forward versus trying to upgrade an old archaic system with a lot of deprecated code.  However, if your implementation isn’t complex, and all your code was supported via the API and nothing is deprecated, an actual upgrade may be quicker versus redeveloping.

Pre 2011 vs. Post 2011 Special Consideration

There are a lot of clients out there that aren’t on Dynamics CRM 2011 or greater. If this is you, you’ll want to definitely consider adding more time to your upgrade process as 2011 introduced some pretty groundbreaking changes to the deployment model.

With 2011, all customizations and configurations are packaged up in a Solution. This includes any custom web pages, JavaScript files, etc.  With versions prior to 2011, these files were manually deployed to the server which means that they would have to be converted to 2011 format prior to upgrading to 2015.  If you’re on 2011 or later, then that work has already been done for you.  If you’re on a pre-2011 version, then you’ll need to factor that time into your upgrade decision.

Need Assistance?

If the thought of tackling your CRM upgrade all by yourself is daunting, stop procrastinating and enlist help. LBMC Technology Solutions has the expertise and experience to know where to start, what best practices to follow, and the questions to ask in order to help you determine what to keep and what to discard. Then, we can perform your upgrade and get you on your way to using the most up to date and robust functionality for the way you do business. Contact us to get started.