How to Run D365 F&SCM One Version Updates

James Feuerborn

James Feuerborn

Introduction

While Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations can serve an invaluable function as your enterprise’s ERP, keeping your environment updated can pose a number of technical and functional challenges for organizations unfamiliar with the D365 One Version update process. This guide is meant to provide a high level overview of what a proactive approach to managing OneVersion updates entails.

Taking this approach to the update process can benefit your company greatly by:

• Getting the full business value of the ongoing Microsoft Dynamics 365 feature releases
• Minimizing the risk of production downtime,
• Increasing employee satisfaction by keeping them informed of upcoming changes, and
• Maintaining compliance with the Microsoft approved update schedule

What are One Version Updates and Why Do They Mattter?

“One Version” is Microsoft’s term for their continuous update model for D365 Finance & Operations. These consist of a series of seven updates released throughout the year, each containing both Quality Updates and New Features.
In order to allow organizations to prepare for these updates, Microsoft provides a phased rollout process. The first step is that Microsoft will publish Release Plans for the upcoming Wave Releases, providing information about the capabilities planned for release throughout the wave. Then, as per the release plan, a version update will be made available in what’s called Preview mode, sometimes referred to as early access. This allows your organization to download the update to start exploring new features and testing compatibility, however it should be noted that the Preview version can differ substantially from the final release version. After the preview window has ended, the update is made Generally Available (GA). This is essentially the “final” version of the code, however Microsoft frequently pushes out minor updates and hotfixes in the ~1-2 weeks following the GA release, so you may want to time your update and testing accordingly.
Lastly, after a certain period of time the update will become mandatory, only skippable if your organization has applied a different but sufficiently recent update. More specifically, your organization will only be allowed to be 3 major versions behind before mandatory updates start. It is for this reason that it is critical that a proactive approach to managing these updates is taken.

More Info on One Version

Learn more about the Wave Release process & setting a schedule. for your organization

How to Run D365 F&SCM One Version Update

If a proactive approach to managing these updates is not taken, your organization is taking a substantial risk that the contents of an update may disrupt or disable a key business process. Even small changes like moving a button on the user interface can lead to significant impact to productivity if your organization is caught off guard by it.
To minimize the risk of business disruption, Avantiico recommends the use of four distinct environments (more environments may be required depending on unique customer scenarios):

• PROD: Your live D365 production environment (Microsoft Managed Dynamics 365 environment)
• UAT: User Acceptance Testing environment (Microsoft Managed)
• TEST-ENV: A non-MS Managed environment that will be used to update the code to the latest version of Dynamics 365 and for conducting user testing
• REFERENCE-ENV: A non-MS Managed environment that will be used to refer back to for troubleshooting during or after the update, if needed

Using these environments and following the process below will afford your organization ample time to understand new features, thoroughly test compatibility, address any issues that are uncovered during testing, and apply updates to production with minimal risk of business disruption.

Refresh Environments & Update Test

Visualization of refreshing and testing an environment D365 One Version update
We begin by conducting a refresh of environment data in a cascading fashion, from PROD, to UAT, down to both TEST-ENV and REFERENCE-ENV. This is done for two reasons:

1) To ensure that TEST-ENV mirrors as closely to production as possible before the code update
2) To capture our reference environment snapshot
* Should functionality issues be reported during testing or after the production update, replicating the issue in this environment should provide insight into whether the update is the cause of the issue

Once the environments are refreshed, the update of the TEST-ENV to the new version of code can begin. Please note, if any ISV’s or other third-party integrations are implemented, their updated code will be needed for this point in the process.

Customer Testing Round #1

After the TEST-ENV has been updated to the latest Dynamics 365 code base, the client can begin testing on the new version of code. It is Avantiico’s recommendation that standardized test scripts are drafted and utilized, to ensure that all key business processes are thoroughly tested. This can significantly decrease the risk of a “miss” that allows a defect to be replicated through to the D365 Production environment.
During this time period, regular checkpoints should be held between the customer and implementation teams to ensure that testing is proceeding per the schedule and all parties are aware of any issues that arise during testing.

Update UAT & Other Environments

Visualization of the UAT D365 One Version update process
Once the customer has provided sign-off that testing has been completed and there are no issues in TEST-ENV that need to be addressed, it’s time to begin the code promotion process. There are two paths this needs to occur in:

1) TEST-ENV to other cloud hosted environments

o It is important to ensure this update is not executed until after the client has signed off on the configuration of code to limit the possibility of possible re-work

2) TEST-ENV to UAT

o The updated Dynamics 365 code is then promoted to UAT to allow for additional testing

Customer Testing Round #2

Once the UAT code update has been complete, the customer team may begin testing in this environment. Similar to the previous round, test scripts should be utilized and any defects should be reported immediately.
Typically this round of testing is limited to a few days, for two reasons. Firstly, common issues that arise are likely to manifest fairly immediately, such as lack of access, ISV not functioning, etc. Secondly, while UAT is being utilized for testing, it can not be used for the promotion of emergency code fixes into prod (at least not easily). Thus keeping this window as short as reasonably possible to execute testing is preferred.

Update Production

Visualization of a PROD D365 One Version update
Once the customer team has signed off that the UAT testing is complete and no issues are present, the Dynamics 365 code can then pushed into production.
Note: As this update will require taking down the production environment for a limited amount of time, it is imperative that the update be executed off hours, preferably on a weekend service window. This will provide time for troubleshooting should any issues arise after the update. For Dynamics 365 clients with near 24/7/365 global operations Avantiico Support offers techniques for designing and managing One Version updates for large scale Dynamics 365 environments.
After the weekend update in the example above, one final checkpoint should occur between the project team and client to ensure no access or other issues have been reported and the customer is satisfied the Dynamics 365 update is complete.

Next Steps

While this Microsoft D365 One Version management guide can be a helpful reference for the high level-process, there are many technical and functional nuances to managing a high-performance Dynamics 365 environment. A number of unique processes specific to your Dynamics 365 instance and Microsoft Tenant may have to be accounted for. Additionally, taking the time to create an annual Dynamics 365 One Version update calendar and target which updates your organization will apply vs which they will skip is a task that should be on every Dynamics Administrator’s radar.

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