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Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015? Here's What You Should Consider

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Are you currently working with a version of Dynamics CRM pre-2015?  Have you not yet experienced the new flattened “single window” UI?  Do you not know what a CRM Solution is?  Or even worse, do you still use call-outs and deploy custom web resources to the physical CRM Servers (yikes!)?  If so, it may be time to start thinking of an upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.

Upgrading any software can be a frightening thought and something you’d rather just put on the back burner.  However, delaying the upgrade has some negative impacts as well:  you obviously miss out on the latest and greatest features, and delaying the current pain of an upgrade may mean more pain down the road if you’re not on top of the latest software. Upgrading from 2011 to 2015 is much easier than 3.0 to 2015.  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?  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 revalidate the work that has been done over the years.  Use this as your opportunity to deploy 2015 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 process to migrate data from your current version, to 2015.  You don’t want to go through the upgrade process which 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 “revalidation 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 to it 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 2015.

If your current system hasn’t been too configured, chances are that 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

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 been done already for you.  If you’re on a pre-2011 version, then you’ll need to factor that time into your upgrade decision.

Continued Investments into Mobile

Microsoft officially entered the mobile space with Dynamics CRM 2013, and they continue to improve upon that story.  With the release of 2015 they made enhancements to the Tablet Client by introducing an offline story, and making the dashboards more configurable.

Now with 2015 Online Update 1, they have introduced a refreshed phone app that has the same rich functionality that the tablet app has.  There’s still a lot of room for improvement in these apps, and during our time at Convergence 2015, the mobile roadmap looked feature rich.  If mobility is something you’re looking to get into, upgrading to the latest version of CRM could go a long way as you’d get a free mobile app in the process.

Features, features, features

Of course, the main driver for upgrading usually is the features that the new product comes with, and Dynamics CRM 2015 doesn’t fall short in this category.  With 2015, and 2015 Online Update 1 (Carina), Microsoft has continued to add to its already feature-heavy product.  Key notable features rolled out in these latest versions are:

  • Multi Entity Search
  • Business Rules
  • Business Processes
  • Continued Mobile Improvements
  • Hierarchical Security
  • Hierarchy Visualizations
  • Outlook Sync Improvements
  • Folder Level Tracking – Outlook Email Sync
  • Refreshed UI with cleaner Site Map
  • Theming
  • Date Only Fields
  • Office Groups Integration
  • OneNote Integration
  • Immersive Excel
  • Export to Excel Improvements

If any of these features are something you’ve been waiting for in the product, an upgrade now may be a no-brainer.

If your organization is considering a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 upgrade, please let us help you decide the best way to approach the project.

Topics: CRM Upgrade Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015