Best Practices for Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations Upgrades

The purpose of this article is to educate users on what to expect before, during and after an upgrade from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations.

This blog is geared towards company decision makers and Dynamics AX subject matter experts, and not meant as a technical resource. If you are interested in more technical information, please see the technical resources listed at the end.

I started with AX over 20 years ago, and have done many implementations, so I’m coming from the practical side.

Table of Contents

Note: Even though most customers, commentators, and consultants still call it Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations or D365FO, Microsoft now technically licenses it as Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management.

Overview of a Dynamics AX to Finance & Operations Upgrade Process

The upgrade process takes place in three main phases: analysis, execution (solution modeling), and validation (deployment). Below is an overview of the important components of each phase.

Overview of the AX Upgrade and Migration Process

Many Dynamics AX users wonder how long this upgrade to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations takes. A good rule to help figure this out is however long your original Dynamics AX implementation took, estimate about 50% of that time for the upgrade.

Below is a sample showing a possible project timeline with more detail, including what type of workshops your partner might run. The exact timeframe would be up for discussion with your Dynamics partner. Click to see full-size image.

Sample timeline of phases and iterations.

When considering which team members are crucial for a Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations upgrade, a dedicated project manager is critical for success. The tasks and due dates can be managed well in Azure DevOps.

Approximately 60% of this upgrade effort is technical in nature, so you must make sure you have the best technical resources ready to support your organization, in addition to your own in-house system administrator.

It’s important to decide what technical tasks to outsource and what can be kept in-house. We can do as much or as little as you want us to do. We have technical and functional expertise, and we can guide you through the process.

Note that even though your old servers will become obsolete, new in-house technical expertise will be needed for Microsoft Azure, Power BI, electronic reporting, Power Platform, and SharePoint Online as well as environment, feature, and version management.

Your functional subject matter experts (SME) should be involved and hands-on with the Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations project and workshops early on in the process. Your SMEs should expect to dedicate about 25% of their time to the Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations upgrade.

What Process Should You Use for a Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations Upgrade?

Working through and documenting potential business process changes and additional configuration decisions early on will be essential to the success of the project.

Using a train-the-trainer approach makes sure your users are trained prior to going live on Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. Your users can create short video recordings, task recordings, guides and documents to help educate the other users at your organization.

A reporting strategy for Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations and a strategy for your historical data will be an integral part of the upgrade process. There are still over 800 SSRS standard reports available in the system, but there can also be custom reports, electronic reports, and Power BI, so strategy is important.

Make sure to plan time during the process for reconfiguring security, workflows, batch processes and document management.

You will likely need a minimum of 2 to 3 mock cutovers (iterations) with full data validation before you’re ready to go live on your Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations production environment.

As part of the cutover, minimize implementing major new features and modules like landed cost or asset management. After the cutover, later you can do a release 2 or release 1.5 to add the new modules.

While testing and validating, have your SMEs create test scripts and have a test plan in DevOps. Read more detail about user acceptance testing (UAT).

Video Walkthrough of Best Practices for Dynamics AX to D365 F&O Upgrades

Next Steps to Prepare

An upgrade or migration from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations comes in various sizes: Small, medium, large, and supersized. In order for Encore to provide high-level guidance about the size of your specific upgrade or migration project, we would need additional information about your existing Dynamics AX environment.

We invite you to answer some questions about your current Dynamics AX environment in our Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations Questionnaire. An Encore team member will be in touch with you after you complete the questionnaire to discuss how we can assist you with your Dynamics AX journey from on-prem to the cloud.

To learn about the differences between a migration and an upgrade, and which is right for your organization, please read this Upgrade vs Migration article.

See more resources about AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations upgrades.

If you have any questions about upgrading from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations, please reach out to us, we’re happy to help!

Technical Resources

Upgrade from AX 2012 – Data upgrade FAQ

Upgrade from AX 2012 – Pre-upgrade checklist for data upgrade

AX2012 Data Upgrade in Self Service Environment

AX2012 to Finance & Operations Apps Upgrade

Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations Upgrade

Take the least disruptive, most efficient path from AX to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. Learn about the basic steps, timeline, options, and benefits of moving from AX to D365.

Learn About Upgrades

Learn More About AX to D365 Upgrades

Learn More