At KTL Solutions we have worked with a lot of upgrade projects involving Microsoft business products, including Dynamics GP, CRM, SharePoint, Exchange, etc. In today’s post we will discuss the preparation you can do as a system administrator to prepare for an upgrade of Dynamics CRM. An upgrade project starts early on when we first investigate/review the existing state of the CRM environment. In most cases, we perform an upgrade by migrating to a new instance of SQL server. In case of multiple version upgrades, we do a migration, and then do an in-place upgrade.
The most important practice to follow for any upgrade is to plan in advance and perform a test upgrade to prepare and gauge the effort. This advice applies to any system, not just Dynamics CRM. Below are the different areas to focus on and consider during an upgrade for Dynamics CRM:-
– Plug-in Customizations
– Security Role Updates
– ISV Solutions
Microsoft provided “Legacy Feature Check Tool” which helps to identify plug-ins and web service endpoints that are not supported in CRM 2013. It will check for the following customizations which are no longer supported in CRM 2013:-
– The 2007 service endpoint – Extensions that use the 2007 endpoint will not be supported and may not work in CRM 2013
– ISV folder support for custom web applications
– Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 plug-ins
– Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 custom workflow activities
With CRM 2013 onwards, you may want to evaluate whether a plug-in could be replaced by synchronous workflow, or testing the existing plug-in in CRM 2015, CRM 2016 to see if it needs any code updates. With CRM 2016, MS has started working on a new and improved API, but I think at this point, it’s too early to consider it as it is still in preview.
There are a lot of integration tools available for Dynamics CRM integration, and in most cases, an upgrade of your Dynamics CRM also involves an upgrade to the integration tool. Dynamics Connector from MS, Scribe Insight, KingswaySoft, etc., would all need to be upgraded with your on-premises or CRM Online upgrade. An upgrade would also be a good opportunity to evaluate whether you may now want to use a cloud-based integration service like Scribe Online, Jitterbit, Azuqua, etc.
With CRM on-premises, you can create custom SQL based reports. But if you were using queries to direct SQL tables like the extension table (applies to CRM 4, CRM 2011), then these would need updating, as the extension tables are merged into the base table from CRM 2013 onwards. If you follow the guidelines provided by MS for SQL based reports for on-premises CRM, then most upgrades for reports are hassle-free. You can find more information on SQL based reports for CRM at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn531161.aspx
Security Role Updates
In most CRM deployments there is some use of custom security roles. So as part of your upgrade you will have to make sure that your custom security roles give access to the new entities used by CRM, like the ‘Process’, ‘Process Configuration’ entities. A best practice on creating custom security roles is to make a copy of an OOB security role and then make your changes. After an upgrade, you can then compare the OOB security role and your custom role to identify if new permissions need to be given to your custom security role. You can always use community tools like XrmToolbox to help you with this process.
There are always some custom solutions in any CRM environment. As part of the upgrade planning, you need to work with the vendors (ISVs) to identify the steps to successfully upgrade their solutions as well. In some cases, it’s a simple import of their updated solution. In other cases, CRM would not even upgrade if you don’t uninstall their solution; but if we uninstall their solution then you may lose some of the information contained in their custom entities. In any case, the vendors who develop their solution for CRM can best provide the necessary steps for an upgrade.
Be it an upgrade for Dynamics GP, Exchange, SharePoint, or CRM, your best practice would be to test, test and then test some more, and start early.
|DAVE VORA |Senior Business Software Consultant and CRM Lead
Dave is responsible for leading KTL’s CRM consultants, assuring that our solution scoping, architecting and delivery meet and exceed customer expectations. Dave has built lasting relationships with clients by understanding their business needs and providing value by leveraging their existing resources. Along with his consulting team, he has delivered effective solutions beyond traditional CRM constraints. Dave has more than eight years of experience in implementing business software for a variety of industries including service, government, distribution, not-for-profit and manufacturing. He graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Science and also a specialization in Management from University of California at Irvine. His experience includes helping companies embrace technology to fulfill their organizational needs and creating innovative solutions using CRM, GP, Scribe and other Microsoft products.