Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications will be upgraded through a continuous release cycle. This means that you will be receiving any major updates via a continuous release cycle that will provide a consistent and automatic update to your Dynamics 365 environment. Microsoft is providing a clean, modern experience for each user that provides consistency across all devices.
I wanted to provide a little bit of information regarding a couple topics that you may have been hearing about and uncertain how to proceed.
- Microsoft’s Continuous Release Cycle
- Transitioning to the Unified Interface
Microsoft’s Continuous Release Cycle
In case you were not privy, Microsoft announced in 2018 the way in which Dynamics 365 (V9 – online) applications will be upgraded is through a continuous release cycle. This means that you will be receiving any major updates via a continuous release cycle that will provide a consistent and automatic update to your Dynamics 365 environment. In effect, every Dynamics 365 customer will be running the same version, and allowing Microsoft to put more focus into supporting a single version. Please note: this update cycle does not apply to on-premise customers.
The continuous release cycle will deliver two major updates annually; in April (Wave 1) and October (Wave 2), as well as ongoing, regular minor updates for bug fixes and performance improvements in the background. To help online customers prepare for the two major updates each year, Microsoft have announced milestones and early visibility, in which organizations will be available to view and analyze featured enhancements and changes before the general availability of each major release.
Before a major release, you are encouraged to complete the following:
- Download the detailed release plan approximately 2 to 3 months prior to regional release
- Preview and test the new features in a non-production environment approximately 2 months prior to general release
- Microsoft will automatically update your environment to the later version upon the regional release date. But you do have the ability to schedule the date to a time that may best suit your organization, i.e. after regular work hours
NOTE – Some changes will be automatically applied for all users, while others will be on a ‘opt-in’ basis where administrators need to enable the new functionality. This is normally the case for any major disruptive changes. The release documentation will make it clear which features are automatic and when they are being delivered by calling out three ways of enabling features: “End users automatically”, “Admins, makers, or analysts automatically”, or “End users by admins, makers, or analysts”.
New Unified Interface
With the new unified interface, Microsoft is providing a clean, modern experience for each user that provides consistency across all devices. Whether you are using a browser or are on your Dynamics 365 mobile app for phone or tablet, there is a fluid consistent format to view your information. In our experience this has proven to be a more easily consumable and accessible interface that will assist with user adoption across applications and devices.
Now with all net new implementations of Dynamics 365 utilizing the Unified Interface, Microsoft is urging existing Dynamics 365 online customers to start the transition as well. Microsoft will be enforcing the transition to the new Unified Interface as of December 2020 and has already commenced a phased early adoption for some of our customers. It is highly recommended to start the review and preparation to the new Unified Interface as soon as you are able.
A few things to internally consider is how this may affect any of your pre-existing customizations and to start a plan for training your users for this new experience. Technology shock is a thing to consider and we would not want your users to have an adverse experience.
To assist you, please consider the following steps in preparing for the Unified Interface:
- Copy their production environment into a non-production instance (sandbox)
- Review and test all regular, daily business processes via an internal UAT (User Acceptance Testing)
- Identify any anomalies or breakages that may occur in the new UI
- Contact your Account Manager for recommendations &/or to develop a scope of work to correct
- Develop and roll-put a plan for internal training, ensuring user adoption program to new interface
- Schedule date and time of upgrade
While this new approach may be a little daunting, this is an exciting and overall positive move from Microsoft. As most organizations move to a SaaS approach, companies will become more and more familiar with this continual update cycle. You have stepped into a world, continuously receiving enhanced features and seamlessly moving forward with technology and moving away from the days of living in an outdated application contemplating the daunting costs to catch up to new technology.
If you should require any assistance or may be intimidated by the above process, please do not hesitate to reach out. We have been working with a few of our clients and found a 2 hour coaching session with a Solution Consultant has been greatly advantageous.
- This provides guidance to creating and non-production environment (sandbox), copying Production to Sandbox, upgrading Sandbox, and to schedule the upgrade once UAT is complete
- Provide recommendations and best practices for testing
- And provide a deliverable for you to retain and refer back to for the next wave update
Again, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Account Representative or give us a shout and we would be pleased to assist.
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