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Upgrading Dynamics CRM, Part 3

This is adapted from the InfoStrat White Paper "Upgrading Dynamics CRM." Download the full whitepaper here: http://www.infostrat.com/#!upgrading-dynamics-crm/c15ht

Microsoft provides a number of Migration Tools to assist you with the move to CRM 2015.

These include both documentation and tooling available within the application. The documentation can be found in the SDK and on the web and covers the process you need to go through to upgrade forms and the design considerations related to how your forms will appear on the mobile and outlook clients.  The in-app tools are in the form designer.  The first thing you need to understand is how to identify the CRM 2011 form and the CRM 2013 form.  Many CRM 2011 forms are all labeled “Information” since this was the name used for the default form prior to CRM 2013.  In CRM 2103 a new set of V6 forms was created which were labeled using the Entity name by default (e.g. “Contact”). You also now have the ability to activate and deactivate forms.

If your goal is to continue to use the CRM 2011 “Information” form style, you have multiple options to get to that format in a CRM 2013 form.  You can either create an entirely new form with the same components or you can merge the CRM 2011 form contents into a new 2013 form.  To use the merge method, you would create a new CRM 2013 form, open  the CRM  form editor and find the button at the top of the screen called “Merge Form”.  When you click that button, you are presented with a Lookup dialog that allows you to select the 2011 form.  When you choose a CRM 2011 form and import it, your customizations from CRM 2011 will be added to the bottom of the 2013 form.  Note that issues have been reported where the merge creates downstream problems due to duplicate Ids.  The issues do not appear until you have to export a CRM Solution and import it into another environment.  If you intend to use the merge you should test this scenario carefully before putting too much effort into upgrading forms this way.

Our recommendation overall is to consider the option of redesigning your forms from scratch and compare the level effort for this option vs. the merge after doing some initial trials.  There is no one right answer to this question and the option you choose will depend on the complexity and design history of your current forms.  There are also significant advantages to some of the new components which are included in the new default V6 forms which are worth considering.

For more details see:

1.        http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=45022
2.       http://survivingcrm.com/2014/10/dont-merge-forms-in-crm-2013/

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Upgrade Policy[1]


If you are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, your system will be automatically upgraded within set intervals.   You do have some flexibility on scheduling these updates and choosing which updates to apply but there are rigid rules in place to help keep your Online instance in synch with the latest versions of the software.

Microsoft delivers new features and improvements to the CRM Online service twice a year through service updates.  Microsoft advises customers to run the latest version of the service. In early 2015 Microsoft offered customers the ability to provide consent prior to updating their CRM organization. Customers today have a wide choice of days to choose from to best suit their business, and we will continue to provide that flexibility for service updates. In spring of 2015, customers will have the choice to take the two updates as they become available, or take only one update per year. If a customer chooses to take only one update per year, this update becomes mandatory and the customer will be required to take the update during the available dates for that particular release.

In other words, at any given point a customer must be on the current version (n) or a version prior (n-1). For example, if you are on CRM Online Spring ‘14 (n-2) and chose not to take the available CRM Online 2015 Update (n-1), then you would need to take CRM Online 2015 Update 1 (n) as a mandatory update.

Recent versions of CRM Online


Version
Availability
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Spring ‘14 (6.1.0) June 2014
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update (7.0.0) December 2014
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 (7.1.0) Second Quarter 2015

Checklist for the CRM Online update


Most of the update process is handled by Microsoft. However, there are a few things that you must do to prepare.
  1. Know when your update is scheduled.

    You will be informed of a pending update in multiple ways. See
    How will I know my organization is ready to update? in this topic.
  2. Involve your Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner.

    If you have a Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner of record, we strongly recommend that you contact them for guidance and assistance. If you do not have a partner, you may consult the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace to identify a partner. Please note that there may be charges from partners for their services.
  3. Watch for communications from Microsoft.

    Microsoft will send you several communications about this subject to keep you informed about the update. They also display a notice to the users of your system in the CRM message bar. In addition, they send email communications to users that have the System Administrator role in CRM. Please make sure the email accounts associated with those user accounts are valid and being monitored. Communications will come from crmoln@microsoft.com, or for partners, you will also receive communications from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner Team: crmteam@microsoft.com.
  4. Verify your customizations are compatible.

    You should take the time before your update to verify that customizations are compatible using the
    CRM Custom Code Validation Tool. You should do this early enough that you have time to fix any identified issues. Additionally, Microsoft will run a number of automated tests and if any of those tests fail in your instance, we will email the administrator a list of potential issues we have identified.
  5. Create a non-production (Sandbox) instance in which you can test your customizations.

    Ideally, you should test your customizations prior to update. This will also give you the opportunity to verify compatibility of any third-party customizations. If you identify any potential issues, please work with the solution provider to correct any issues that arise. More information:
    Manage CRM Online Sandbox instances
  6. Notify your users prior to the update of CRM.

    It is a best practice to notify your users that the system will be unavailable during the update. To get more resources to prepare users for the update, please visit
    Microsoft Dynamics CRM Help & Training.
  7. Watch for Update Completion or Reschedule emails from Microsoft.

Once your organization is updated, you’ll receive a notification from CRM Online indicating that your organization is ready to use. 


When
Recipient
In-product alert
Email
Admin Center
Update scheduled All Admins Yes Yes Yes
90 days before update All Admins No Yes Yes
30 days before update All Admins No Yes Yes
15 days before update All Admins No Yes Yes
7 days before update All Admins Yes Yes Yes
7 days before update if Admin approved Users No No Yes
Schedule confirmed by Admin All Admins No Yes Yes
Update in progress All Admins and Users No No Yes
Update successful All Admins and Users No Yes Yes
Fallback to secondary update All Admins No Yes Yes
Update rescheduled All Admins No Yes Yes

 
  Note
“All Admins” includes CRM system administrators and Office 365 Global administrators

Conclusion


Because Microsoft provides major upgrades to Dynamics CRM every two years and minor upgrades every six months or more often, customers need to proactively manage their CRM systems and be aware of what is coming out and when and learn how it will affect their current systems.  They must have policies and procedures in place to schedule, test, and deploy new versions on a regularly scheduled basis so they can benefit not only from the improved features and functionality but also to be fully supported by Microsoft.

This is particularly important in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online world where customers are required to be running the current version of the product or the version immediately prior. 

 




[1] Much of the below information is taken from https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn308237.aspx
 

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