As the pace of business accelerates, organizations have to drive efforts to keep up with the times. For businesses using on-premises ERP applications such as Dynamics AX 2009 or 2012, moving to a flexible cloud model has enormous advantages – from both cost and productivity perspectives.
And with Microsoft ending mainstream support for Dynamics AX, time is of the essence. Businesses need to quickly embark on the upgrade journey, and plan their move to a more modern solution like Dynamics 365 for Finance Operations to stay nimble and relevant.
Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (cloud) offers a bevy of new features, that can enable organizations to drive better agility, improve operational performance, and meet customer demands with greater ease.
Why Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations?
Although organizations have been using Dynamics AX for decades, it is primarily an on-premises ERP solution, and lacks innovative Azure cloud capabilities.
In contrast, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations brings the power, speed, and intelligence of cloud computing to organizations to adapt to market demands, drive business growth, and transform digitally. It allows businesses to innovate and drive value across the organization.
By moving to the cloud, organizations can not only avoid upfront investments in infrastructure, network, storage and space, but also only pay for the services they use. Here are some benefits of upgrading to Dynamics 365:
Integrated ERP and CRM Capabilities:
- One of the biggest benefits Dynamics 365 brings to organizations is integrated ERP and CRM capabilities. Integrated front-end and back-end functions offer a bevy of advantages including deeper insights, improved collaboration, and enhanced visibility – that can further boost productivity. By connecting different departments into one single system, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations bridges data silos, and makes the best use of resources while improving customer experience – all along the way. It empowers customers with the information they need, and leads to an increase in revenue and a reduction in costs.
- For employees who are looking to boost productivity, Dynamics 365 delivers personal workspaces that aid them in carrying out their day-to-day tasks easily and quickly. The new and improved user experience allows anytime, anywhere access for improved productivity and user satisfaction. Updated features and functionality, greater productivity features, and the stability and security of Azure enable better intelligence, analytics, and workflows for improved business outcomes – across all customer touchpoints.
- For employees looking to unearth insights to do their job better, Dynamics 365’s built-in smart intelligence combines the power of Cortana Intelligence, Power BI, and Azure Machine Learning into one unified solution. The insights can allow users to delve deeper into business metrics – anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Using Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, you can get all the answers you need through rich visuals and dynamic charts on the device of your choice. Actionable insights allow for better business results, and unlimited scalability can ensure you grow at your own pace.
Simplified Data Management:
- With organizations getting crushed under the velocity, variety, and volume of data, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations simplifies the data management process. Through the Common Data Model, Dynamics 365 allows businesses to use data from multiple systems and applications together, and enable faster analytics. With the unified ERP-CRM data flow, organizations can analyze massive amounts of data to get a unified view of the business, and empower employees to maximize results.
- Working with a variety of applications to carry out daily tasks is rather demotivating for any user. Not with Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 creates an ecosystem of products that are seamlessly integrated with one another: from Office 365 to Power BI, SharePoint to Office. Within this connected ecosystem, you will be able to access the apps of your choice, view, edit, and share data, collaborate with your teammates, and make smarter decisions, faster. Such integration allows for a seamless transition between apps, allowing you to improve your individual productivity, team performance, and organizational results.
- One of the biggest hurdles to successful ERP implementation is the licensing. However, with Dynamics 365’s range of licensing options, you can be sure to select a plan that is best for your business. You can start by understanding the various options, and then go about deciding the number and kind of licenses need: you can either choose user licenses or device licenses or a mix of both. You can, in advance, know how much each license will cost, and leverage the pay-as-you-go and build-as-you-go models to add more users or devices as your business grows.
5 Steps to a Smooth Transition from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365
There are numerous benefits of upgrading to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. But, as with any upgrade, the transition is not without hurdles. Here are some tips for a smooth transition from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365:
Outline Your Scope:
- With Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations offering a multitude of new and improved features, the first step towards a successful upgrade is outlining your scope. Surely, you will be tempted to embrace all that Dynamics 365 has to offer; but it also makes sense to be practical about what you really need for your organization. Start by deciding what features of the new solution you are looking to implement. Move on to considering how much of the existing data you are planning to migrate, and how you plan to move your current modules into the cloud. Strategize your planning from the world go, and make sure you take into account all critical instances, to avoid possible headaches later.
Engage a Technology Partner:
- No matter how big or small your organization is, Dynamics AX upgrade requires you to consider a multitude of factors including what apps you need to let go, what data you need to migrate, what additional bandwidth you need to purchase, and what process you need to follow to overcome challenges and bottlenecks. Considering the complexity of the project, it is advisable to engage an experienced Microsoft partner from the very beginning. A qualified partner can bring in the required experience and expertise need to achieve success with the upgrade. Since partners have carried out similar projects in the past, they know how to leverage the right skills and knowledge of everyone involved in order to achieve project goals faster, at lower cost, and with higher accuracy.
Build a Cross-Functional Team:
- Successful ERP upgrade is never the result of a single person of a single team – but the combined efforts of cross-functional teams who are adept at understanding upgrade concepts. When you have people from different departments, there is more brainstorming; more ideas are brought together, than can lead to better chances of upgrade success. Cross-functional teams can not only ensure communication is timely, they are also great at identifying gaps, and mitigating quality control issues. Build a team of experts from various avenues of your business can ensure every upgrade task is completed on time and within budget. Such a team can not only ensure process improvements along the way, but also offer recommendations to overcome bottlenecks.
Cleanse Your Data:
- For organizations that have been operating for decades, they would have gathered millions of terabytes of data over the years – a lot of which is outdated, unnecessary and redundant: from duplicate customer data, to erroneous price quotes, blank forms to cold product code documentation. Given the fact that having the right quality and quantity of data is critical for business decision-making, it is important you need to cleanse your data first, and only then proceed with the upgrade. For this, you can run the Intelligent Data Management Framework (IDMF) against your Dynamics AX database, and get rid of all unnecessary data. Having just the right amount of data before upgrade can not only shorten the upgrade time but also help you in operating your business more efficiently.
Test Early, Test Often:
- Given how complex ERP upgrade is, testing is an integral aspect of the entire process. Continuously testing the solution can not only ensure application quality, but also identify areas of improvements. Make sure to test the solution over and over again; while testing for functionality is a given, you should also test to see how the different upgrade tasks affect other systems in your tech landscape, and your overall business performance. While manual testing is good, test automation can ensure the upgrade progresses as intended, and makes sure the new application meets business expectations – faster and at lower costs.
In a cloud-first era, it goes without saying that businesses need to continuously embrace new technological innovations to drive agility and value. Yet, the decision to upgrade the Dynamics AX solution comes with its own share of challenges.
For a seamless transition to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, embracing a few best practice tips can help you achieve your goals faster: clearly outline your scope, build a cross-functional team, carry out a data cleansing process, and make sure you test your new solution again and again for the most favorable outcomes.
What’s most important is to get an experienced partner on the board, who can provide essential support throughout the data migration and code upgrade timeline. A partner can not only ensure you stick to your upgrade path, but also perform automated testing to identify pitfalls, pinpoint areas of improvement and ensure you get the best returns moving to the new solution.