Is it time to upgrade to Dynamics 365?

Clock on a green and pink wall

An organisations CRM system is one of the most important pieces of software that staff will use every day. It is important to make sure that your CRM works correctly, effectively and has the tools you need to help your organisation run smoothly. Over time, your CRM system can become neglected, poorly managed and outdated and it may be time to ask: it is time to upgrade? Organisations running Dynamics CRM may especially be considering upgrade due to end of support, the recent new releases and GDPR legislation.

Dynamics 365 tablet

Three reasons to consider upgrading:

1. End of support

Microsoft run a support lifecycle for all products, with 5 years mainstream support and then another 5 years for extended support. For organisations running Dynamics CRM 2011 and 2013, upgrading will be a priority as support is ending.

CRM Version End of mainstream support End of extended support
Dynamics CRM 2011 12/07/2016 13/07/2021
Dynamics CRM 2013 08/01/2019 09/01/2024


What's the difference between mainstream and extended support?

When mainstream support ends this means that Microsoft will no longer be adding any new features or enhancements and they will not be investing in the platform - but you will still receive security patches and fixes. At the end of extended support you will no longer receive any security updates, which can cause vulnerabilities and leave your organisation exposed.

Remaining on older versions of Dynamics means that your organisation will not be able to benefit from new CRM features that are continually being released. With technology shifting away from large and irregular releases (every few years) to now being on a continual 'conveyor belt' of regular updates every few weeks or months, organisations should consider their upgrade strategy. Key to this is the decision to move to the cloud. Upgrading to Dynamics 365 (online) will mean that you never have to worry about upgrading again as you will join this 'conveyor belt' and receive the latest updates as they happen. You will have the option to schedule these updates but cannot avoid an update - but as long as you have a testing plan or a CRM partner, this is a benefit as you will gain new features that could alleviate business challenges regularly.

With the improvements in cloud technology and updates, previous barriers that stopped organisations from moving their CRM to the cloud are reduced. However, some companies will choose to remain on-premise and will have to consider how they upgrade to - planning timescales and approach and setting aside budget for upgrading. You can find out more on this in our article "Change your upgrade approach".

2. Get the latest features

Using outdated CRM versions can deny your organisation of valuable new features that could alleviate business challenges, improve customer satisfaction or improve staff efficiency.

Microsoft Dynamics has greatly changed in the past few years - even the user interface is completely different! New releases have brought more than just a new UI however, there are new features and even new applications as part of Dynamics 365. Some of the best features added in the past few years include:

  • New applications - Field service and Project service
  • Website portals - surface data from Dynamics to a web-based portal (you get one free and can purchase additional portals)
  • Improved mobile and offline working - helping staff work in Dynamics 365 wherever they are
  • Microsoft Flow and PowerApps - allowing users to build automated workflows and apps with no coding knowledge, which are ideal for your 'Power Users'
  • Sales gamification - motivating sales staff to build pipeline through gamification
  • Social Engagement - helping marketers perform social media monitoring and listening
  • Much more!

With Dynamics, you cannot update to the latest version immediately but need to upgrade through CRM versions, which means you could have been using the new features anyway. Not only do you miss out on new functionality, but playing technological catch-up can cause more issues, such as:

  • More time-consuming to go through the different versions
  • Potentially more difficult upgrade
  • Bigger change in user experience and harder user adoption
  • Overall, more expensive upgrade in one lump sum

You can also see what new features will be coming to Dynamics 365 by checking out the Dynamics 365 Roadmap, which shows what is being rolled out and what is on the horizon.

3. GDPR Preparation

With GDPR coming into effect on 25th May 2018, many organisations are currently reviewing their CRM software. As CRM software is integral to holding and managing personal data, companies are auditing and improving their existing CRM systems, which can involve upgrading or are looking to migrate to new CRM software that will better improve GDPR compliance and data management.
Microsoft have confirmed that Dynamics 365 will be a GDPR compliant platform and comes with tools to help companies find, export and delete personal data as required under GDPR. Benefits of Dynamics 365 include:

  • Advanced Find and search to find personal data
  • Office integration giving the ability to export records into Excel
  • New Compliance Manager tool for Microsoft services
  • Robust security with settings such as user permissions and security controls

Plus, any customisations or add-ons that deliver additional functionality, such as ClickDimensions for consent management.

What next?

Upgrading isn't a small task and requires careful planning to get you onto the latest version. However, we believe that upgrading isn't just about going onto the newest version and ticking the box, but it is about leveraging new features and improving your system as you go. Upgrading is a great opportunity to consider data cleansing, functionality reviews, new requirements, process improvement and overall integrations and digital strategy.

If you are considering upgrading and need guidance or have any questions, then please contact us.

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