Microsoft has begun switching over many of our Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers to CRM 2013.
Here’s some things you should know about the overall process:
1. Ensure you have another environment (test/dev) that matches your CRM production setup.
This is a best practice by far. Not having a test environment, makes troubleshooting and changes in your production environment almost impossible to manage. This is no different for which deployment model you have choose: Online, On-Premise or Partner Hosted.
Ensure this environment has a copy of the latest customizations, solutions, ISV’s etc. Data can also be replicated from production, using tools like the CRM 2011 Instance Adapter or tool like Scribe.
If you do not have a CRM 2011 instance for test/dev. already, its now too late to create a new one as only CRM 2013 instances are available as of Nov 4th. You will have no choice but to create a test CRM 2013 trial and import your 2011 solution which if fully supported. This will provide you with what your system will look like after the upgrade.
You should also push out your production CRM Online date as far as possible. Today, the last date available to upgrade is 2/14/2014. For other implementations, you still have some time :).
2. Understanding your Environment
Ensuring that your understand all the components that have been deployed with your CRM system is critical to the success of your upgrade. You will need to review all your Solutions, Web Resources and Custom Code to ensure that your and your ISV’s are prepared for the upgrade.
Microsoft has provided a tool to help pin point this issues.
The information provided by the tool will be a roadmap for your upgrade. Check with ISV’s website’s for their plans in regards to CRM 2013.
3. Fixes Issues
It’s very important to record and fix your issues and test them fully before User Acceptance Training (UAT). Errors with the application can quickly kill your user adoption. If you’re not ready, wait! Once the issues have been resolved your ready for testing!
4. Testing your Upgrade
Once you have all the customizations, solutions and errors fixed in your development/test server, you can now perform your User Acceptance Training (UAT) and overall product training. Please note that even with no errors, your users will need training for CRM 2013’s completely redesigned interface.
Make sure you have a strong test plan, allowing users to fully test all of their daily functions. This should also include processes they don’t often run. This should include the Outlook and Web Clients as well as desktop versions Win7/Win8 as well as Office versions (2007/2010/2013) or the combination that is being deployed by your organization.
Once you have signoff, you will want to take the solutions and ISV’s files and you will need to deployment them in the production environment the night of Production Go-Live.
5. Planning your Upgrade
Once you have completed your testing, you can now select to move in your production upgrade date from the CRM Online System. This will allow you to choose the next available date. Once the upgrade starts, you will not be able to access the system for a few hours, and as long as 24 hours.