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Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Dynamics CRM 4.0 to 2011 Upgrade – Lessons Learned

With every upgrade, enhancement or other technology project there are always lessons to be gleaned along the way. This blog post will focus on some things that should be considered relative to making Dynamics CRM upgrades run smoother.

Convert Legacy Customizations:
Each new version of CRM and/or Rollup adds features that you may have previously implemented as a customization. An upgrade is a good time to identify legacy customizations that can be converted to native features. Native functionality will be easier to update (Rollups), may have performance benefits and will be more integrated with the overall system.

Stay Supported by Microsoft:
Know what it means to implement an enhancement that is unsupported. Dynamics CRM software technology is intended to be very flexible. Even so, the architecture of Dynamics CRM requires that you follow certain rules when implementing enhancements. No one other than you is going to force your technology team to implement features in a supported fashion. If you go outside of support it can become very painful to get assistance with production issues or to reconstruct unsupported features in a supported way.

Rollout Microsoft Office 2010 or Newer prior to CRM 2011 Outlook Client:
CRM 2011 takes advantage of new features within the navigation of Office 2010 and later Office packages. Having this in place will provide a more consistent user experience for those using the Outlook Client for CRM.

Test, Test, Test the Outlook Client for CRM 2011:
There are three aspects to updating your Outlook Client for CRM – 1) Develop a seamless software delivery package and test it extensively across all of your PC platforms/images; 2) Test the client for all of the functional areas of CRM where you have customizations; 3) Have users test the client to identify any interface/user experience items that should be covered in training or support documents.

Refresh your understanding of roles, business lines and your users:
An upgrade is a great time to make sure you have the user’s perspective and understand your business. Use an upgrade to the next version of CRM as your chance to refresh with your business liaisons and make sure you are in sync with your organization’s needs.

Use an Update Rollup with a Solid History:
 There can be a variety of reasons to NOT update to a recent Update Rollup (UR). These can include the need for additional regression testing, impacts to customizations and no relative history for the stability of a UR. Be sure to know why you are or are not going to include a certain version of UR in your CRM upgrade project.

Have a good Communication Plan:
 Engage your organization’s internal communications group to craft messaging related to your project. Post an article to your intranet, use email communication for key roles and enlist your business liaisons as evangelists related to why the upgrade is happening. Make sure your comms highlight the benefits that come with the new software.

About Tim Thorpe

Tim has worked with business application implementations at large, multinational corporations since 1992. His experience includes using software like Dynamics CRM to implement enterprise business solutions. Learn more about Tim at http://TimThorpe.org


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