Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is a robust ERP solution built entirely in the cloud. It enables businesses to better manage their financials and operations through intelligent applications that are easy to tailor, extend, and integrate. With an intuitive UI, embedded intelligence, and automated processes, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is the ideal solution for fast-growing businesses.
If you’re running on Dynamics AX 2012 R2 or R3, there is an upgrade process that can be taken to transition to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. While you are not required to upgrade, mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2012 and AX 2012 R2 is ending in October 2018, while R3 ends in October 2021. It is therefore recommended to start the planning process for your upgrade.
For other versions of AX, a re-implementation option is available to migrate the data and modifications you require into a clean version of Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.
The upgrade process encompasses three phases:
Upgrading Dynamics AX 2012 Pt. 1: Analyze
The primary objective of the analyze phase is to estimate the effort and resources required for the upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.
The first step is to sign up for a public preview in Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS). This will give you access to the analysis tools that can be used to evaluate your existing AX 2012 environment and custom code. The public preview also lets you deploy your own demo Finance and Operations environments. After signing up for the LCS, make sure to select the upgrade methodology 'upgrade AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations' to guide you through the upgrade process and provide links to all supporting documents.
The next step is to run the upgrade analyzer tool against your AX 2012 environment. This tool will assist you in identifying data that can be cleaned up without losing any functionality. It also reviews your existing SQL configuration and recommends optimization for performance improvement. Deprecated features that you are currently using in AX will be highlighted to help you discover gaps in functionality and alternatives will be offered.
After the data clean-up and upgrade analysis, run the code upgrade estimation tool to convert existing code and customizations into new formats and identify any conflicts with the Finance and Operations code base for later resolution. After receiving reports from the upgrade and code analysis tools, you are ready to deploy a demo Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations environment to evaluate new features and perform a basic fit gap analysis of standard features that may have changed in Finance and Operations.
The final step in the analyze phase is to create a project plan using the information gained from previous steps. A project plan template is provided in the LCS upgrade methodology.
Upgrading Dynamics AX 2012 Pt. 2: Execute
The objective of the execute phase is to gather identified resources and execute the tasks planned during the analyze phase.
The first step after purchasing Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is to switch from the public preview project to a LCS implementation project. This will be the permanent LCS project for your subscription and it contains information about environments hosted in Azure and any applicable updates. The next step is for Microsoft Dynamics AX System/Database Administrators to perform the AX 2012 preparation/pre-upgrade tasks that upgrade the analyzer tools and install any applicable hotfix to your AX 2012 environment.
After performing pre-upgrade tasks, developers must complete the code upgrade tasks that were planned during the analyze phase and resolve any code conflicts. At this point, functional users need to work with the development team to develop new modifications using the information from the fit gap analysis that was performed earlier.
The last step is to perform the data upgrade in your development environment. After the code upgrade tasks are completed, you can upgrade your AX 2012 database to Finance and Operations. You will want to use the development environment to perform this first upgrade so any unexpected issues can be easily debugged and resolved. The following illustration shows the data upgrade process:
Upgrading Dynamics AX 2012 Pt. 3: Validate
Once your environment is ready with upgraded custom code and data, you are ready to kick off the validate phase. The objective of this phase is to perform validation and testing on the upgraded environment to ensure all business processes are working as desired in preparation for go-live.
The first step is to perform cutover testing and create a cutover plan. The goal of cutover testing is to practice the cutover process for go-live.
There are two main workstreams:
- Technical workstream - This workstream is the process of running the data upgrade. There will be a limit on the amount of downtime that is allowed. During this downtime, neither AX 2012 nor Finance and Operations will be available.
- Functional workstream - After the data upgrade, several configuration tasks will be required in the Finance and Operations environment. These tasks must be documented, quantified, and assigned to a resource, as they will need to fit within the business' downtime limit along with the technical tasks.
After cutover testing, you will need to perform a thorough and extensive full functional test pass of all business processes, both old and new. Any code issues found during multiple iterations will be fixed and re-tested to ensure the downstream or upstream process is not affected by any change.
Finally, after successfully completing all business processes in the Sandbox or Acceptance environment, you are ready to finalize a go-live checklist for any configuration changes to be made after full functional testing. Once upgrading your production environment, you are ready to go-live.
Transition Smoothly with Rand Group
Here at Rand Group, we can assist you with your Dynamics AX 2012 upgrade. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we have the experience, skills, and resources to smoothly upgrade your current system with no downtime or impact on operations. Contact our Dynamics AX team for more information about upgrading to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.