Dynamics CRM 2011 –Out with the Old, In with the New: Upgrade Considerations

Jaime Smith, 23 June 2012

CRM 4.0……..
   Upgrade Considerations 

TO CRM 2011…..   Upgrade Considerations                                                      

There comes a time when companies need to consider bringing their current software up to speed with the latest technologies.  Within the CRM world this means upgrading to a new release of CRM i.e. CRM 4.0 to CRM 2011 in order to take advantage of new out of the box functionality (OOTB).  This can also mean updating code trickery or what was unsupported to a supported way of creating system functionality to meet business requirements.  If you are thinking it’s about time to catch up there are a few considerations: 

1. Test Upgrade

In our experience it is important to allocate resources to run a test upgrade in order to identify areas of criticality for the upgrade.  This will identify code that will break (risk and complexity), functionality that will be naturally replaced by OOTB capabilities within the new CRM update and areas that can be fine-tuned or executed in a more expedient manner (enhancements).  This is you doing your due diligence, sometime we have to spend money to make money or save it in the long run.  Without taking the time to do this first step, your upgrade could take immeasurably longer and fail to have a clearly defined scope.  Sure Step has designed a number of Decision Accelerators to assist companies in initiating the first step as it can help you understand features and capabilities of the new solution you are considering.  Furthermore, here at Magnetism we have developed a tool called the CAT4 which runs an audit on your CRM 4.0 solution and identifies many of the areas that will break in an upgrade.

This complete process will create the scope of the upgrade and can be divided into two distinct areas: Technical and Functional, which leads us to the next consideration.  

2. Enhancements

It is inevitable that you will take this opportunity to modify features within the solution or what to take advantage of functionality within the new solution, perhaps needing to extend/customise to meet your business need.  It can be tempting to do this as part of the upgrade process, however I warn you strongly to not make this mistake.  This is where our two distinct lists come into play….undertake your Technical Upgrade first.  Bring all the code into line and make it supported, updating application components to bring your current solution up to the latest CRM release.  This will enable you to have a stable and working upgraded solution first before any new additions are customised

Once you have reached this point, you can look at your Functional list and begin Phase Two of your project, the Functional Upgrade or Enhancements.  This stage of the project will need to follow a more traditional project approach going through the motions of Analysis, Design, and Development etc. Within SureStep there is a specific Project Type for an Upgrade that defines the appropriate activities are performed to ensure a successful upgrade. 

3. Data Migration

Upgrading from a legacy system will no doubt involve moving your existing data into the new solution. This can be a big job! It will require the vendor to take the time to review the current data sources, identify how much cleansing will be required to ensure it will map correctly into the new release.  The vendor will also need to consider how the existing data will be accessed and take into account confidentiality, data retention and strategies for data warehousing.  Furthermore, it may not be possible to automate the entire migration, meaning someone has to take responsibility for any manual execution.

4. User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

We are just completing a project that has followed the upgrade process I have been discussing and the client made a choice to run regression tests on the Technical Upgrade and only carry out UAT on the completion of the Enhancements Phase.  The choice lies with you about whether you carry it out at both phases or not. If you are simply carrying out a Technical Upgrade, you will want to ensure you complete UAT to not only test and validate the system works as expected but also highlight and train Super Users on new OOTB functionality.  Whatever or whenever you choose to carry out UAT it is a vital activity that should not be skipped; therefore as a business you MUST allocate time and resource to complete this end of the project.

It is an important time to start considering upgrading your CRM, particularly if you are still on CRM 4.0 as Microsoft is moving forward and bringing many new market driven capabilities to CRM that you and your business may want to take advantage of, a key one being the move to cross-browser support and significant improvements in mobility.

If you want to discuss an upgrade please contact us and we would love to assist.

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