Considering a Dynamics AX Upgrade? Ask These 7 Questions

You may be considering the need for an Dynamics AX upgrade for your company. But what are the most important factors you have to take into account?

This a common, but complex situation: You have been using AX for years, you are familiar with the software, and it works for your company. But you may be starting to run into some new challenges — your support requests with Microsoft are being denied, hotfixes for your system version are not available anymore, and your partner is starting to talk to you about the necessity of upgrading to Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations (D365FO).

It is time to face the music — your system version is now outside of the support range from Microsoft, or the time is quickly approaching when it will be. (Find your AX Mainstream Support timeline.)

So now you need to make a decision about an upgrade. But where do you start? What do you need to know? What is the best path forward? How do you know the scope of work that is involved? How do you budget for it? How do you set a timeline?

Before you commit to an upgrade project, you need to collect as much relevant information as possible to help you with the decision. Our team of experts have put together the 7 most important questions to ask when you are evaluating your readiness for an upgrade.

1. How old is your infrastructure (SQL and Windows Servers)?

  • A significant driver of the need to upgrade your ERP may be the need to upgrade your infrastructure. You generally can’t upgrade your SQL and Windows Servers beyond a certain point with Dynamics AX 2009 or 2012.
  • Without these updates, your old SQL and Windows Servers are “ticking time bombs” that will cause your performance to stagnate or go downhill.
  • Without these updates, your SQL and Windows Servers are vulnerable to ransomware and other cyberattacks.
  • So upgrading AX is a critical part of a larger need to secure your underlying systems.

 

2. Do you have a large number of customizations?

  • If you have a minimal amount of customizations and they are not complicated ones, you might face only limited problems when trying to upgrade this code.
  • If you have either a large number or very complex customizations, that’s a sign that a partner would need to devote significant time to them in an upgrade.

However, even if you have a small number of customizations, each customization is … well, custom. So you need your partner to perform a full assessment to determine

  • How complex your customizations are.
  • Whether they impact core system functionality in AX or D365FO. (There can be some surprises around details like decimal points and batch numbers, for instance. Some code changes may seem harmless to the untrained eye, but they could have more implications than expected.)
  • Whether you can save time and difficulty in an upgrade by replacing any of your customizations with new out-of-the-box functionality (like consignment inventory in D365FO), or by implementing an ISV solution.

 

3. How well is your current Dynamics AX system holding up?

  • Being without Microsoft Mainstream Support essentially means that whenever you have a bug, performance problem, breakage, or any kind of issue with the core product, your partner will need to do custom dev work to fix it. A good partner will be able to keep your ERP running this way, but the costs will add up over time.

 

4. What integrations do you have?

  • Some of your integrations may connect smoothly to a new D365FO environment, while others might be more difficult.

A full assessment can help you

  • Determine whether any of your integrations can be replaced by new Dynamics functionality or ISV solutions.
  • Develop a plan for getting your remaining integrations connected to D365FO.

You don’t want to get halfway into an upgrade before discovering that one of your key integrations could have been replaced with out-of-the-box functionality.
 

5. What do you wish you could change in your ERP?

  • You and your company have learned a lot since you first implemented AX. If there are things you wish you’d set up differently, this upgrade may be the perfect time.
  • Furthermore, your business processes may have changed a lot. It can be difficult to change those within your current AX environment, but your partner can set them up inside your new D365FO environment.

 

6. How are you hosting your AX environment?

  • Changing your hosting is another major driver of the need to upgrade AX.
  • Hosting on-premise often takes up a large portion of an IT manager’s time and budget, which could be spent on more strategic priorities.
  • Also, many IT managers who host their AX environment in a data center (private cloud) find that the customer service leaves something to be desired. Most data centers have experts, but they are not redundant. If you are dependent on emailing the data center for any change you want made, you could be left out in the cold in the case of a vacation or medical leave.

 

7. With your current hosting, what is your redundancy/guaranteed uptime/risk mitigation?

  • If your on-prem or data-center production environment goes down, you may be up all night addressing it.
  • If your production environment goes down in Azure, you know that Microsoft’s specialists will be devoting their resources to resolve the issue promptly.

 

Explore Your Dynamics AX Upgrade Needs with an Expert

Answering these questions will give you an idea of where to start. However, oftentimes the answers need to be analyzed by an expert, who understands in detail what your answers mean in light of a potential upgrade.

If you would like to explore the possibility of upgrading your system, Encore Business Solution offers a free Dynamics AX upgrade consultation. Our experts help you navigate the answers to the above questions and many more, to give you a clear understanding of what the best path forward would be for your company.

Contact us for your free consultation.

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