By Elaiza Benitez, UX & Functional Consultant
Elaiza started her CRM journey back in 2009 with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 and is the lead consultant for many clients. She is a committee member of the Melbourne Microsoft Dynamics365 User Group and actively shares her knowledge in her blog.
Are you considering upgrading your old version of Dynamics CRM to CRM Online?
Perhaps you're in sales and marketing and have learnt about the great native mobile apps available for your team mates.
Maybe you are in operations and have learnt about the new field service capabilities and their ability to fundamentally improve your bottom line alongside the experience you deliver to your customers.
Or perhaps you are in IT and have been asked by your business stakeholders to look into upgrading your old CRM 2011 to CRM 2016.
Upgrading Dynamics CRM isn't a difficult task however does require careful planning, and can take some time to ensure to receive the outcomes you expect. If you're curious about what is involved in upgrading Microsoft Dynamics CRM then this article is for you.
Why you should upgrade
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Online is where the party is at. There's a lot of cool features that previously did not exist in legacy versions. To name just a few:
- Generate a Word Template from an Opportunity record where information is pulled through to the document
- Changing the look and feel of fields on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM mobile app through controls.
- Displaying information about an Organisation and its employees in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM record to generate more knowledge (Insight feature).
- Requesting a customer to complete a feedback survey after a Case has been closed.
How frequent are Microsoft Dynamics CRM upgrades now?
The release cycle of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is more frequent than it was 5 years ago. Historically there was a 2-3 gap of providing new releases. These days the gap is much shorter where there are 2 major releases in a year.
The further away you are from the most recent version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the more effort it is to upgrade. As an example, the current upgrade path for customers on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is to upgrade to CRM 2013, then CRM 2015, followed by CRM 2016 (and the roll-ups in between each major version).
Customers who are on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will receive the new release after scheduling a deployment - so even though the upgrade cadence "in the cloud" is frequent, customers still remain in control of when the upgrades come through.
It is for this reason that we recommend our clients upgrade to CRM Online versus upgrading to CRM 2016 on-premises: once you are in the cloud, it is far easier to remain current.
What to review before upgrading
The following can be used a starting guide of what to check for in your current CRM, to determine how much effort the process may be.
Do you have any unsupported code?
To confirm whether you have unsupported code you can use the Custom Code Validation Tool. Unsupported code means that what was previously developed will not work in the recent version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Do you have integrations to other applications using the organization data service?
Please also be aware that the organization data service, also known as the REST endpoint or the OData endpoint is deprecated. The recommended approach is to use the Web API where one of the greatest advantages is removing the dependency on the CRM SDK. The other advantage is modern applications expose their APIs which make it easier for integration. Exposure of Web APIs is now the industry standard.
Do you have any Third Party tools?
Check the providers' website to confirm whether they have a version that is compatible with the most recent version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Also recommend reviewing the new features available with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Online as the Third Party tool may no longer be required as the process/feature could now be readily available out-of-the-box.
OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Do you still need the same number of Users accessing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online?
Perform an audit of whether there are any users in CRM that no longer need access. This will cut down your user licences for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
Do you meet the required software requirements?
Certain browser versions work and don't work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM so you need to ensure your browser version will behave as intended.
Generally speaking, if you're on the latest version of Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer or Edge you should be fine, but organisations who may require older browsers to support their legacy applications might need to double-check compatibility and potentially provide a second browser to their users.
Additionally check your Office version as well. The recommended Office versions are either Office 365 or Office 2016.
Read Microsoft's guide for more details.
Do you currently use CRM in Outlook?
There's a great add-in that integrates Microsoft Dynamics CRM into the Outlook web client for Office365 users, however many people still like to use Outlook on their desktop.
If you use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client you'll need to ensure this is upgraded too.
Best practice is to uninstall the current version from your PC and install the latest version of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client. Organisations can do this either individually or perform an enterprise deployment of updating Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client through Group Policy.
Do you have emails that are automatically sent from CRM?
Chances are you are using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Email Router. You can continue to use the Email Router but a better alternative is to use server-side synchronisation where emails, tasks and appointments are now in-tune with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online through your Microsoft Exchange platform. The added bonus is that users who use Outlook Web, tablet or device can continue to view their up to date activities.
What you'll need to keep in mind is that the "sender" of your emails will need to be configured to have a Mailbox profile to continue to send emails generated by workflows.
What do your users not like about CRM currently?
Send out a survey to your users to collect some feedback on what they're happy and not happy with currently when using Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Approach negative feedback as a way to understand what can be improved. You can work with a Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner to workshop processes that could be implemented after the upgrade.
There are plenty of "quick wins" that you can do in order to win over users, particularly with features such as the native mobile clients and letting them bulk-edit CRM data via excel online, per the screenshot below. Even just freshening up user dashboards and improving layouts of key pages can have a big impact.
There's lots of great features available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Online, and both Gartner and Forrester are recognising Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a clear leader in the market. Microsoft's Dynamics CRM story is only going to get better with the roadmap of features on the horizon.
With the commitment of Microsoft in performing major releases each year, it is strongly recommended that customers are on the latest Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to be able to gain maximum benefit for their organisations.
Upgrading may require a fair amount of effort to do properly, and will vary significantly based on the complexity of your needs, and what version of CRM you are currently on. But we promise it is worth the effort.
If you'd like to discuss your CRM upgrade project with us, please fill out this form and we'll be glad to discuss your needs further.