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Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013? Here's What You Should Consider

If your organization is running Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 (or heaven forbid CRM 4.0!), you’re probably starting to think about an upgrade to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 release. Of course you will need to upgrade eventually, but it’s a fair question to ask when is the best time to upgrade? Should you jump in right in, or take your time to get things going? Some of the big factors that we think will impact your Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 upgrade decision include:

  • Lower case or upper case Upgrade
  • New user interface
  • New mobile and marketing capabilities
  • More changes coming

Lower case or upper case Upgrade?

When you’re planning for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 upgrade, please keep in mind that not all upgrades are created equal. We make a distinction between “lower case” and “upper case” upgrades. Lower case upgrades mean that you want to update the system to the newest release by going through the upgrade process as quickly as possible. These upgrades can go pretty quickly if your deployment contains supported customizations.

However we also see customers that want to go through upper case upgrades. We refer to an upper case upgrade when customers take a step back to re-evaluate their CRM system capabilities, system successes/failures, business rules, etc. and consider making big changes at this time. Just as important, they factor into new system capabilities into their upgrade workplan. One obvious example in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 would be removing old javascript customizations and replacing them with the new Business Rules framework where possible. Of course this step isn’t required, but doing so during the upgrade might provide better administration capabilities for the coming years.

Obviously, going through an upper case upgrade takes a lot more time and planning because of the additional work involved. However, we think that customers with relatively complex or highly customized deployments should plan for upper case upgrades. Making the changes now will typically pay off with less work and re-work down the road.


New User Interface

If you’ve seen a demo of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, you know that Microsoft made some drastic changes to the user interface. These changes include:

  • Using the “Modern UI” look and feel to more closely match Windows 8 styling
  • Improved usability for touch screen interfaces (bigger buttons for fat fingers!)
  • Added the process bar
  • Ability to integrate Yammer feeds directly into the user interface

You need to factor these user interface changes into your upgrade decision timeline because Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 users will need some time to learn and adjust to these changes. If you have a highly successful CRM 2011 deployment with lots of happy users, please make sure you have a good change management plan in place! Change freaks people out, so you will need to make sure that the prior users know how to get stuff done in the new UI.  Planning on additional training and adjustment time makes a lot of sense to us. You might even want to conduct some end user focus groups with the new UI to get feedback because it does behave quite differently.

We also think that the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 user interface means that more customers should plan on upper case upgrades. You will want to carefully plan and think through how your users will interact with the new screens, you definitely should not run this update without careful planning.

New Mobile and Marketing Capabilities

We know that a lot of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 customers want to upgrade to CRM 2013 to take advantage of the new mobile capabilities. These new features include:

In addition to the new mobile capabilities, Microsoft also showed off a bunch of new features at the recent Microsoft Convergence conference. Some of the highlights include:

The sooner you upgrade your system to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, the sooner your users can take advantage of these new mobile capabilities. We think that strong mobile capabilities are key to making sure your system is highly adopted, so obviously getting mobile into your users’ hands faster makes a lot of sense to us!

More Changes Coming

A few years ago, Microsoft would release updates to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM software once every few years. Therefore waiting a few months to update your system didn’t really cause any problems or issues. However now Microsoft has drastically decreased the amount of time between updates so you will see more updates more frequently. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online customers will see multiple updates per year, while on-premise customers will see updates about once every year.

From an upgrade timing standpoint, we think this faster release cycle encourages customers to not wait too long before updates. Falling two or three updates behind the current release might create a lot of unnecessary heartburn. We talk with customers now that are running Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 and for them to get to the latest release they need to go through TWO upgrades at once:

  • Upgrade Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
  • Upgrade Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

If your organization is considering a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 upgrade, please let us help you decide the best way to approach the project. 



Topics: CRM Upgrade Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013