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Mainstream support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 will end on April 9th 2013 (source). That’s not too far away! If you have a large and complex XRM solution it’s about time to really get geared up and promote and plan the upgrade.
In this article I’ll outline a few of the many tasks involved when upgrading a complex XRM-application from CRM 4 to CRM 2011.
There is a comprehensive description of the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy here, but the short version is:
Any customer putting their Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 solution to serious use as a business critical application (which most XRM-applications typically are), should very much consider an upgrade. Not only because of new features, but because of the lack of support from Microsoft.
Apart from the above, there is a load of new functionality – and it’s growing all the time. The scope of this article is not to describe what’s new in Dynamics CRM 2011 or the road ahead, there’s plenty of articles about that around. Generally speaking it’s on CRM 2011 where all the Dynamics CRM development efforts are being focused, and on such major areas such as:
It’s also important to keep in mind that consultants and the community have been moving to CRM 2011 for the last 18 months. Competence and innovation based on CRM 4 is hard to find today.
But really, what it comes done to is: Can you afford to stay on an old platform for a mission/business critical application?
For a large, complex, XRM-application you would not normally suffice with the basic “next-next-next” upgrade-wizard approach. What I typically would suggest is:
1. Perform a detailed analysis of your existing CRM4-application
2. Plan your development and deployment
3. Additional functionality, information and training
4. Perform a test upgrade
In my experience it is very useful to perform a test “in-place” upgrade. Make sure to back up your CRM 4 solution and then set up a new CRM 2011 system where you perform the upgrade. The upgrade will give you a picture of how well your CRM 4 application will work “out-of-the-box” in CRM 2011 and the scope of manual work to be performed in your upgrade.
There are a few essential tools available to help.
My bottom line is; don’t underestimate the complexity or the benefits of performing a real upgrade project. Don’t just rush through the upgrade wizard to “make it work”. Ensure that you make use of the new functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and remember that the pace of development and innovation is very high at the moment, with new UI’s, Windows 8, cross-browser etc. Make sure you upgrade is ready to handle all that’s coming next!
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