Nearly 2,600 IT professionals visited Amsterdam during the last week of March 2019 to learn about the last ERP upgrade they’ll ever need to implement - Microsoft Dynamics 365. Those currently running Dynamics 365 will all be running the same version by the end of 2019. After that date, Microsoft will roll out continuous improvements via periodic updates, thus adding more value to this already impressive ERP platform. This message was communicated during the Microsoft keynote presented by:
- Cecilia Flombaum, Worldwide Lead Business Application Partners
- Kees Hertogh, Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Business Applications Group
- Muhammad Alam, General Manager, Business Applications Group
The concept of a “final Dynamics 365 upgrade” has numerous benefits and at the same time some challenges. A balanced message was delivered during numerous breakout sessions led by subject matter experts from Microsoft, Microsoft partners, and Dynamics users. Attendees also gained knowledge about technology and solution partners that can solve a wide array of business challenges spread at the exhibition area, sponsored in part by Data Masons.
Every company using Dynamics can benefit by upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365. In general, some of the key benefits include:
- Eliminate large periodic upgrade projects. Historically, companies faced Dynamics ERP upgrades every few years because products no longer met their business needs, or to take advantage of new technology that could improve the business. In some cases, ERP upgrades are disruptive, and the costs of recreating or upgrading customizations in a new platform are high. Avoiding heavy lifting could eliminate downtime and costs. In addition, a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform like Dynamics 365 provides businesses with many benefits including improved application management, high availability, lower cost of overall ownership, application mobility, and a modern user experience and improved development environment.
- New capabilities with every update. Microsoft is developing software at a rapid pace to add new features and functionality, with the goal of systematically meeting business requirements with standard software. Microsoft’s release schedule is April and October, along with monthly cumulative updates. The April 2019 release touts 350 new capabilities and 6 new applications to complement ERP, CRM, and Power Apps.
- Embraces partners. Value Added Resellers (VARs) play a major role helping customers upgrade and keeping them updated. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) such as Data Masons can now more readily deliver innovative software capabilities that customers can implement much more quickly than in the past. At the same time, Microsoft is enhancing the partner program to help VARs improve their delivery skills. ISVs now have better integration options to meet customers’ business needs.
Many companies have already elected to upgrade to Dynamics 365 from earlier versions of Dynamics. These early adopters of Dynamics 365 provided valuable firsthand experience of best practices for upgrades and that information was shared by a variety of speakers. Some of the messages included the following points:
- General readiness. It’s been over a year since Dynamics 365 has been released to production, and there is plenty of feedback for Microsoft to work through. For example, some companies are reluctant to “give control” to the Microsoft cloud. Instead, they deploy on premise, which unfortunately keeps some “heavy lifting” tasks inhouse. Others had high expectations for standard software to cover the business needs but had to make more customizations than anticipated. Partners and ISVs also encounter bottlenecks in deploying software to the cloud, or degraded ISV/ERP performance in specific business process scenarios.
- Business process migrations. Companies have unique processes, and previous Dynamics ERP versions were customized to support the business. Understanding what was previously done, and determining if the customization must be redone, is a typical consulting effort a VAR can perform for a company. The challenge comes in the number of customizations and rewriting the customization in the new Dynamics 365 framework that restricts access to core code but enables the extension thereof. For example, core code extensions need to be submitted to Microsoft to work them into a release. One can conclude that the more customizations historically made, the more time and effort will be required to complete the upgrade.
- Speed of change. Partners will need to stay on top of the new software capabilities, quickly determine how customers can benefit from it, and establish a commercial model with customers to support the ongoing changes. It is unlikely that the current slow approach of agreeing changes will lend itself to speed required to deliver benefits to customers. Concurrently, customers will need to become more agile to adopt the changes, and creative on compensating partners that help them.
The upgrade to update the paradigm shift has benefits and challenges for companies. Microsoft is increasingly demonstrating that it will not stand still in innovating products and removing obstacles for future adopters.
As a certified Microsoft partner, Data Masons has an established approach that can help customers make this shift faster, starting right now.
Our approach is simple.
- Eliminate all ERP customizations historically required to support EDI or non-EDI integration.
- Up to 25% (estimate) of historical customizations can be removed from the upgrade process.
- Updates can be made without impacting EDI or non-EDI integration.
- Changes required to maintain integration compliance is covered in the subscription fees.
- Continuously develop capabilities that simplify EDI for the business and its users.
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