Upgrading MS Dynamics CRM 2011 to CRM Online

For organisations still operating Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 a move to the cloud could be appealing, but what is involved in upgrading to CRM Online from CRM 2011?

I have previously blogged on items to consider when contemplating moving from MS Dynamics CRM on premise to CRM Online via Office 365. Once you have had the green light to move however, what exactly is involved in getting there?

The move isn’t as simple as backing up a solution, or migrating a backup of your database, but it can be broken down into a few suggested steps;

  • Assess – Your Current State
  • Prepare – Customisations and Data
  • Upgrade – Your On Premise version
  • Review – The updates
  • Migrate – The Solution and your Data

In the following sections I will attempt to provide a little more information on these steps based on current experience and the CRM upgrade path.

  1. Assess

    It is important you take time to assess the current implementation of CRM to identify any current issues which could affect your ability to upgrade successfully.

    It is also advisable that any custom elements such as; JavaScript, Plug-ins, Reports and Third Party Tools are assessed for suitability prior to upgrading CRM.

    Custom JavaScript will need to be updated and optimised for later versions of MS Dynamics CRM due to code changes and cross browser support*, the size of this task will vary depending on the volume of JavaScript involved in your solution. There is a custom code validation tool that can be utilised in this task which can be downloaded here. You can find more information on checking JavaScript here via msdn.

    Third Party Tools & Integrations will need to be assessed in order to decide if they can be replaced with the latest CRM Online features or indeed if they are supported for CRM Online and if they themselves require an upgrade.

    Integrations could benefit from the new CRM Web API, for information on the API and limitations please see this MSDN article; https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/mt628816.aspx

    Reports may not be compatible with CRM Online, for example there may be reports built in SSRS, which is not available with CRM Online in Office 365. But you may be able to agree a strategy to replace some of these in Power BI.

    Data volumes will be an important part of the assessment; what can be cleansed? What data is required? How much storage will you need to purchase? How will attachments and documents be managed?

    *It is very important to identify which browsers are going to be used/suggested for users when accessing CRM Online as updating the legacy JavaScript to support many different browsers and the subsequent testing could be time consuming and/or costly.

  2. Prepare

    Once you have assessed the size of the task at hand it is time to begin the preparation for the upgrade – the data will be crucial to your end result, so it may be a good idea to start a data cleanse as soon as possible to ensure it is completed on time.

    If possible take a back-up of the current Production or an up to date Test instance
    and use this as an assessment/development instance. This means your current Production instance will continue unaffected until you are ready to move.

    Before the upgrade begins, obtain any product keys required. In later versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM the server and client keys are combined so that only one key is required. It may be a good idea to review the need for a Bing Maps key for CRM too, keys can be generated here; https://www.bingmapsportal.com

  3. Upgrade

    There is no supported direct upgrade path to CRM 2016/Online from CRM 2011, therefor the upgrade will involve multiple steps in order to reach your target version. To upgrade you will need to take the pre-prepared version of CRM 2011 to CRM 2013, then 2015 and finally to CRM 2016.

    migration

    This means you will create a CRM 2013 environment with an instance of SQL Server that is supported, such as SQL Server 2014. This step may take some time depending on the size of the CRM database involved, this is because of the number of significant changes to the database when moving between CRM 2011 and 2013. You may want to review the upgrade at this point to check for any issues and insure the latest CRM 2013 roll-up is installed, if you are happy then you can move on to the upgrade to CRM 2015 (use the latest update version) and then finally 2016.

    For more on the MS Dynamics CRM Upgrade path please see the following article; https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699716.aspx

  4. Review

    After any successful upgrade of the CRM Server application you will then no doubt want to review the form layout, fields and workflow processes, as well as testing and updating any necessary JavaScript. The exact steps to take should be well defined from your assessment phase.

    Form layouts, fields capabilities and navigation of the application in the web UI changed significantly between versions so user acceptance testing and end user involvement in the review and configuration is key to successfully upgrading your solution.

  5. Migrate

    Once you and your user groups are happy with the changes it is time to migrate to CRM Online in the Office 365 cloud. This will likely involve the following;

    – Creating a new CRM Online instance in your Office 365 tenant
    – Exporting and Importing the CRM 2016 Solution from your On Premise version
    – Migration of cleansed CRM data (a third party tool may be required*)
    – Update and Test CRM plug-ins for CRM Online
    – Test your upgraded CRM solution (yes again)

    There may be some additional complication added to this step for any integrations that are affected by the move to CRM Online. Where possible this should be factored in using the CRM Web API.

    In order to allow users to authenticate with CRM Online using their organisational Active Directory credentials your administrators can enable Active Directory Sync’, single sign on can also be implemented using ADFS.

    *The size of the task involved in migrating the data to CRM Online will vary depending on the volume of records and if activities and other more troublesome items such as attachments are required – the recommendation is not to bloat the CRM Online database  with attachments, it may be a good idea to consider SharePoint online for documents storage.

Hopefully this post allows you to get started on your own upgrade plan, check out MSDN for lots more useful information and speak to your Microsoft Partner who can help you through the process.

Happy CRM’ing.

 

 

 

 

 

Dynamics CRM Activity Timeline via xRM Consultancy

Since the upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 administrators have been able to use the conversations tab to allow users to view related activities, notes and posts against their associated records, essentially replacing the activity and history tabs from previous versions. The conversations tab displays a chronological list of the activities that are either open or completed using the current CRM look and feel, however scrolling through this list for records such as accounts with a high volume of activities to those that are yet to be completed is not very user friendly.

One solution is to use the Timeline for Microsoft Dynamics CRM from xRM Consultancy to provide a visual representation of the future and historical interactions related to the entity in your CRM instance. Recently I have found this a useful addition to clients’ CRM deployments.

The solution can be applied to CRM Online and On Premise deployments and is compatible with CRM 2015 as well as 2013 and 2011, the solution is free if you are looking to apply it to the following entities:

  • Account
  • Contact
  • Opportunity

The timeline is pre-configured to use the following default entities to display:

  • Appointment
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Letter
  • Case
  • Phone Call
  • Task
  • Service Task
  • Opportunity
  • Campaign Response

As part of the free version you can manage which of these entities are displayed too, I will cover that later on.

For the walkthrough we will use the free version, you can purchase the full version to enable against custom entities from their website, (pricing at the time of writing is “Less than 50 active users” = 995.00 GBP/ $1935.65 NZ or “More than 50 active users” = 1995.00 GBP/ $3881.03 NZ).

Step 1 – Download & Import the Solution

You can download the managed solution from the xRM Consultancy website, or by using the following link: http://www.xrmconsultancy.com/what-we-do/microsoft-dynamics-crm-timeline/

xrm_download

You will be required to enter your name and email address and select the version of CRM you want the solution to be compatible with (in this examples CRM 203/2015) and then click “Send”. You will then see an alert asking you to click on the newly presented link. Click the link and the download will begin.

Once the download has completed navigate to your CRM instance and import the solution via; Settings > Solutions > Import. And follow the usual steps to complete.

Please Note: As this is a managed solution once you have imported into CRM removing the solution will remove all installed components, however you will still want to use a non-production instance first to assess the suitability of the customisations for your deployment.

Step 2 – Timeline Configuration

Once you have imported the solution you’ll need to open it in CRM and accept the terms& conditions of use as per below. You will then see a link to “Open Timeline Configuration”, click the link to launch the pop-up window.

xrm_config1

In the Timeline Configuration window you will see the “Timeline Entities” displayed in a sub-grid, here you can remove entities that you do not want to display in the timeline, (if you have entities in this list that are not in use or viewable to users you may encounter errors so it is best to check). Additionally you can open one of the associated entities to view/amend the settings and the query used (amendments are via the paid version only).

xrm_entity

Step 3 – Entity Configuration

Next you will need to add the timeline to your entity, for this you can use a new or existing unmanaged solution. Open the entities form (in this example I am using Account) and insert a new tab or section.

Then in the form editor go to; Insert > Web Resource > search for and select “xrmc_Timeline.html” > Add a Name > Add a Label > Ok, this will add the HTML component from the managed solution. You can then alter the amount of space you require for the timeline using the formatting options.

xrm_webres

If you have added the timeline to a new tab, you may want to collapse the tab as default depending on the amount of processing required for your form OnLoad. Then save and publish your changes.

Step 4 – Assign Custom Security Roles

In order for users to view or work with the timeline you will need to assign them one of the custom roles imported as part of the managed solution. “Timeline Writer” allows users to add the timelines to forms and change the configuration (version permitting), the other role “Timeline Reader” will enable them to view the HTML component we have just added to the Account record.

xrm_roles

Navigate to the “Administration” or “Security” area of CRM, depending on your version and assign the security role to your users and/or teams as required.

Once you have completed your set up navigate to see your changes. You can click on activities in the timeline to view the details or scroll up and down the timeline with your mouse/finger.

xrm_account

This can be a great addition to your configuration and add to the overall user experience in CRM. Enjoy!