Tips for Dynamics CRM 2016 to Dynamics 365 On-Premise Upgrades

Colin Maitland, 03 February 2017

You can now upgrade your on-premises deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015/2016 to Microsoft Dynamics 365.


This is accomplished by downloading and installing the December 2016 Update for Dynamics 365. If your current version is Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 you need to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 first.

If you have any Language Packs installed, you will need to download and install the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Language Packs.

The following TechNet articles provide detailed technical information: Install or upgrade Microsoft Dynamics 365 Server, Plan your upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Server (this applies to Dynamics 365 (on-premises) as well, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Server InstallationConfigure IFD for Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Troubleshooting installation and upgrade

You can upgrade using one of the following methods:

Migrate by using anew instance of Microsoft SQL Server

This is the safest and recommended approach. This approach requires a different computer for the new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server and a different instance of SQL Server.

Migrate by using the same instance of SQL Server

This method requires a different computer for the new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server but upgrades the existing configuration and default organisation database on your existing SQL Server.

In-place upgrade

This is the riskiest approach. This approach upgrades your existing CRM Server and existing configuration and default organisation database on your existing SQL Server.

The following are some tips for completing a successful upgrade:


There is single edition of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Server (On-Premises). The Client Access Licences, i.e. Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, include the rights to use the Server. You need to obtain the product key prior to upgrading. This is available as a benefit of Software Assurance or can be purchased. FYI: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365 On-Premises Licensing Guide.

Upgrade Plan

Who will perform your upgrade? Who will test your upgrade? When will these be done?

What other systems need to be upgraded or tested in conjunction with your Microsoft Dynamics 365 upgrade?

Identify all high-level steps that need to be completed to perform a successful upgrade. Who performs each step and how long does each step require?

Plan the steps required to upgrade your client software as well as your server software.

How will you continue business as normal using your existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015/2016 deployment if the upgrade fails?

An upgrade plan should include a pre-production upgrade test plan, post-production upgrade test plan and an upgrade failure recovery plan.

What training needs to be provided to your users as a part of the upgrade and how will this be delivered, by whom and when?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Partner

Consult with your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Partner. They should have an excellent knowledge of your existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment and will be able to advise you on the safest and most appropriate method for completing a successful upgrade.

They will also be able to provide you with planning, technical, training and support for performing your upgrade and for clarifying the licencing requirements.

Have them identify any potential issues that may need to be addressed, that if not addressed, could cause the upgrade to fail, such as the presence of unsupported customisations or incompatible third-party solutions?

Have them confirm that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365 is compatible with your current software and hardware.

Have them assist you with any licensing questions.

Test Plan

You should identify areas of functionality that need to be tested to prove that you can continue business as normal as a result of upgrading.

This includes identifying custom solutions developed by yourself, your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Partner or other parties. This includes custom solutions you may have downloaded and installed from the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace.

This also includes integrations with other systems such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, your Company Web Site and other systems such as third-party applications and websites.

Develop a test plan that ensures all identified areas, processes and integrations will be tested.

Plan to test as each of your organisation’s User Roles. Avoid testing as the System Administrator User. Test using specific User Roles such as Sales Person and Sales Manager etc.

Test your core end-to-end processes from start to finish. Any given end to end business process may include testing the User Interface, Workflow Processes, Reports and any custom functionality.

Third Party Solutions

If you are using third-party solutions, you may need to obtain updated versions of those solutions that are compatible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365 or consult with the third party solution provides to confirm whether or not the current versions of those solutions are compatible.

Upgrade Opportunities

Consider whether or not there are any opportunities to upgrade your system in such a way that:

- existing functionality that is no longer used is retired
- existing functionality that can be enhanced is enhanced
- whether or not any new functionality available in Microsoft Dynamics 365 is that if used will improve your business efficiency, operations and effectiveness are evaluated and included where suitable
- whether or not any new custom functionality that does not currently exist could be developed and deployed as a part of the upgrade

Test Environment

Create and configure your test environment to be a replica of your production environment.
If the production environment integrates with other systems, such as Microsoft Exchange Server or your Web Site then you must ensure that the test environment is reconfigured to integrate with test versions of those systems rather than with the live versions of those systems.

You should consider the need to update or remove all the email addresses for Leads, Customers and Users in your test environment in such a way that any functionality being tested, such as Workflow Processes that may send email communications do not send any communications generated as a result of testing to your production environment Leads, Customers and Users. Consider also whether or not you need to do this with phone numbers as well if using any processes that send SMS messages.

You should then use the test environment to perform technical and user testing prior to upgrading your production environment.

Technical Testing

You should plan to test and signoff the upgrade at a technical level. This confirms that the upgrade process works without issue and results in a successfully upgraded system that technically works and can be logged into by System Administrators and Users.

If there are any technical issues identified as a result of testing, you can then work to identify the cause and resolve them You should then update your upgrade plan accordingly if required. Technical issues can be caused by incorrect software and hardware, incorrect/missed configurations, incorrect/missed upgrade steps and incompatible third-party solutions.

User Testing

Your test users should follow the test plan you have developed to prove that there are no functional issues as a result of your upgrade.


Before upgrading your production environments, you should ensure you have backups that are suitable for restoring your production environment to its previous state in the event that the upgrade fails.

You should also have backups of your test environment so that if your test upgrade fails you can restore your test environment without needing to reinstall it.


It is recommended that you train your users as a part of the upgrade process especially with regard to areas of the User interface that may have changed. This is also a good opportunity to provide general refresher training and update training on best practices for using Microsoft Dynamics CRM.