4×4 Series: Planning your Upgrade

I was asked to participate in the CRMUG 4×4 webinar series. These are quick webinars with multiple speakers sharing tips and answering questions. I also wanted to document my tips here for future reference.
Upgrades are exciting but they can be a lot of work especially in very customized systems. Check out these tips and let me know what other tips you have.
Clean up Before
Determine what you can do before the upgrade to save you time during the upgrade. For example, when going from 2011 to 2016 (as I will do later this year) make sure that you are on the latest rollup so your JavaScript is up to date and work on getting all of your integrations on the 2011 end points. Look at unsupported code early so you can deal with it ahead of time or at least have a plan in place. If you are on 2013/2015 and moving to 2016, look at the JavaScript you have and see if it can be transitioned to business rules so it will upgrade without issue.
What can Wait
Two pieces to this point: waiting to take advantage of new features and implementing a code freeze. When you train new users on the system you want to focus on getting them to do their job in a new system, you do not also want to be training on new processes and features. Focus on migrating not improving/changing right away.
Also maintain the integrity of the upgrade by implementing a code freeze or as much as possible holding off development during the upgrade window. If you are making changes in production, you will need to re-work or at least review all of these changes in your upgraded development. Prepare a plan to hold off on most requests and also be prepared to get working on them once you upgrade
Showing Value
As you work on the upgrade look for the “Big Win” tips. This can be anything that helps users or is just a flashy feature. These are great to show off in training and show upper level management so they can quickly see the value of the upgrade. These can also be used for promotion to build excitement and drive user adoption. Also look for the features that executives will care about – will this help reporting? Performance? Be prepared to promote those items too so you can build sponsorship and buy-in. If the organization can see the value of the upgrade then they will be more likely to be engaged in training, patient during the code freeze, and ready to adopt the changes.
Other Tips
I also stole some tips from our partner Dave Ireland, at Salentica:
  • Ensure you have current software, instructions, and license keys from all 3rd party vendors.  You don’t want to get to upgrade weekend only to find out you’re missing a license key or that you should have removed a managed solution from the old version prior to upgrading.
  • If coming from CRM 2013 or newer, do you have access to your CRM Encryption key?  You may need it so be sure to have it handy.  Don’t forget to ensure the encryption is active post-upgrade or Outlook clients might not be able to connect.
  • If coming from ‘pre-metro’ versions of the UI (CRM2011 or lower) allocate a significant amount of time for UI design work.  There’s a lot more white space on your canvas and there are also some new controls to play with, so take advantage.   Also test the layout of your forms on the mobile app if that’s in scope for your deployment.
  • Have all users ‘gracefully’ remove the outlook client before cutting users off from the ‘old’ CRM version.  You can either get them to disable all of their sync filters or ask them to remove the Org from their configuration.  They key is to allow the Outlook client to remove all the data from its internal database store before the upgrade.
  • Have a plan for handling regularly-scheduled integrations.  If you have integrations that run periodically or on a scheduled basis, determine how they will be impacted if your CRM is down for 24 hours.  Will the integration ‘catch-up’ or will you need to pause the integrations and run them manually once the new CRM is online?
  • Do a dry-run in UAT.  Document every step and the expected duration of each.  On go-live weekend there’s a lot of stress that isn’t present when you’re doing the upgrade in a sandbox.  If you have every step documented (even in bullet points) it will help ensure you don’t miss anything or do something out of sequence.  Tracking the times will help you set expectations with the business owners about when they need be available for testing.
  • Starting in CRM 2015, Contacts have an extra ‘system address’ added.  In previous versions, there are only 2 addresses on Account, Contact, and Lead.  Now there is an address3 on the contact record – if you use More Addresses, take note that the ‘first’ More Address might get dropped from the More Address list because it is now in the address3 slot, and no longer considered a ‘more’ address.  If this is a problem, you might need to manufacture a dummy address3 record, and bump all the other address numbers up by one to get back to where you started.
  • If you are upgrading from 2011 be aware that the File -> Properties area of the form no longer exists. So you may need to consider moving the created on/by and modified on/by onto your forms as read-only fields.
Here are some tips from the other panelists as well:
  • Plan well – inventory customizations (plugins, JavaScript, Workflows) and inventory connectivity to external systems
  • Test in a Sandbox, make use of the Code Validation tool to test your customizations
  • Clean up code – can we replace code with new out of the box features? Evaluate processes and determine if there is a better way to handle it
  • Plan your timeline. You cannot make changes in a Dev 2016 environment and then import into a lower environment. You will need to do these changes multiple times. Factor this into your project plan
  • Plan your training. How will you train? What do you roll out with the upgrade and train on? How will this impact users? Keep users informed and seek feedback. Make use of power users for improvements, engagement and also help with questions.
  • Dealing with new features – wait to implement those until after the upgrade. This gives you more time to test and review and train separately.
  • Scribe – always using web services when you are using the adaptor so everything should be straight forward to migrate.
  • Security Roles – create new base role and go through permissions to identify what is unique for 2015 that wasn’t in 2011. Must compare roles because new permissions were added.
What other tips do you have? What are you doing now to prepare for your next upgrade?

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