Dynamics 365 wave 1 2021: Top Features & Preparation Tips

2021 wave 1 release calendar

The next major update (wave 1 2021) will be coming soon to organisations using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online. Find out what to expect and how to prepare for the update.

How does the update cycle work?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 follows a continuous release cycle, which means that updates are automatically applied to Dynamics 365 Online environments. This update cycle does not apply to on-premise customers. While there are regular minor updates for bug fixes and performance improvements that happen in the background, there are two major releases every year: one in April (wave 1) and one in October (wave 2). These major updates deliver new features and functionality to Dynamics 365 and due to their nature can be disruptive changes that require environment reviews, system changes and testing before being applied. Some of these changes may be automatically applied, while others are an ‘opt-in’ basis to allow administrators to control the new functionality. The type of change is clearly stated in the release plans against each feature so that organisations can suitably prepare.

What is coming to wave 1 2021?

The next major release is wave 1 2021, which will be releasing to environments features between 1st April and September 2021. You can now download the full wave 1 2021 release notes here to review all the functionality and features coming in the next release. This covers all areas of Dynamics 365 including: Marketing, Sales, Service, Finance & Operations, HR, Commerce, Fraud Protection, Business Central, Customer Insights, Customer Voice, as well as the Power Platform and Microsoft Dataverse.

At nearly 350 pages and covering the extensive Dynamics 365 application portfolio there is a lot of to read and depending on which solutions you use, only certain elements will be of interest. We recommend reviewing the release plan for the applications that you use in detail - and not forgetting to view the Power Platform updates, as these are adding great value to Dynamics 365 customers. We’ve highlighted a few of our favourites that are coming:

Dynamics 365 Sales: New pipeline manager workspace - This is a new personalised area for sellers to be able to quickly view and interact with their sales pipeline bringing a more intuitive and streamlined way of working. There are a lot of great features coming to this area such as interactive visual charts, customised side panel forms, data slicers and filtering – all focused on making it easy for sales to view and manipulate the information that matters to them. You can read more on this here: Dynamics 365 Sales - Pipeline manager workspace 

Dynamics 365 Sales: New Sales mobile app – Microsoft are releasing a new mobile Sales app for iOS and Android which is specifically designed for sales scenarios rather than the full model-driven Dynamics 365 mobile app. This will allow sellers to only view the information that matters to them and quickly update information within one focused app. You can find out more here: Overview of the Dynamics 365 Sales mobile app

Dynamics 365 Customer Service: Omnichannel voice - Last September, Microsoft announced that they were expanding the Dynamics 365 Customer Service omnichannel experience to include a new voice channel and much of this functionality is coming in this release. You can read more on this here: Dynamics 365 Customer Service - Omnichannel voice

PowerApps enhancements - The Power Platform is a strong focus for Microsoft and there are lots of great additions coming. A few highlights include: in-app notifications that allows users to be alerted of record changes (no longer requiring workflows), exporting canvas app documents to PDF and duplicate detection Unified Interface experience. The dedicated Power Platform release plan can be viewed here: Power Platform wave 1 2021 release plan

Power Automate - As well as PowerApps there are some great enhancements to Power Automate with Microsoft focusing on deeper integration, better administration capabilities and new features. Users will soon be able to trigger flows when a Microsoft Dataverse action is performed and also search in Microsoft Dataverse using relevance search. The dedicated Power Platform release plan can be viewed here: Power Platform wave 1 2021 release plan

How do I prepare for the release?

Before each major release, organisations can:

  • Download the release plans, which are now available for wave 1 2021 to review what functionality is coming
  • Enable the preview in a non-production environment to test new features.
  • Once tested and confident, schedule a date and time for upgrade or wait for the automatically scheduled date
  • General availability is from 1st April 2021

There are some best practices and guidance that we recommend following before a major update is applied, such as checking you have the right environments, giving sufficient test time and reviewing customisations and third-party solutions. You can read our full Dynamics 365 release best practice guidance here.

Release update support

Staying on top of the continuous release cycle can be difficult and time-consuming depending on your available resources and technical expertise. If you do need support with the major updates, we offer Dynamics 365 Update support or have an Upgrade Impact Assessment offering available on Microsoft AppSource. 

If you have any questions about Dynamics 365 or the next release, please feel free to contact us

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