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How to keep the newest Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management system updated without any hassle

Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Reading time: 8 minutes

Every Microsoft Dynamics AX customer who has migrated to the newest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management must perform 8 Microsoft updates per year to gain access to the latest enhancements and security features. But how can you ensure that after implementing the required updates, the system works properly, remains secure, and does not cause any financial risks?

We at Companial are taking the same approach as Microsoft – every update should be tested. Why? In this blog post we are going to answer all questions and dispel any doubts that your customer might have about the Microsoft updates and their need to be tested:

The hidden risks of Microsoft updates: What is being changed?

As you may already know, each customer that is live on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management needs to continuously update their system and install the required updates released by Microsoft. Even though this might be an easy task, as the actual installation doesn’t require any technical effort, it is very important to test each update. Why?

With each new update Microsoft is changing the underlying standard code by adding new features, fixes and enhancements. These changes are always tested by Microsoft to not affect the standard functionalities and other features. However, Microsoft does not know about custom built modifications that exist in all D365 F&SCM solutions. Therefore, the new functionality is not tested with a particular customer instance. Any modifications that were built on top of the new changes may not work after the update is installed. More importantly the update notes only contain the broad list of features and not the exact code changes, so testing becomes a mandatory step in order to avoid unexpected issues.

Manual testing vs automated testing

Each update that you install has an effect on the system, and each update will have some changes. That’s why it is important to test all of the modifications, integrations, ISVs that you have, as well as all the main business processes your customer is running, to be sure that they work the same way. This will also allow the customer to feel confident about installing this update into their production environment without any functionalities being changed.

Manual testing Automated testing
  • Dedicated team required for testing.
  • Not always accurate and prone to human error.
  • Testing should be done after each update, no matter if issues arise or not.
  • Consumes a lot of time to go through all test cases.
  • Recommended approach by Microsoft.
  • Various testing options are available.
  • Benefits:
    • Is less resource-heavy and more reliable.
    • Less time spent on testing after each system update.
    • Lower recurring costs.

There are two main options when it comes to testing. You can simply do basic manual testing by involving the key users to test out the potential update in the sandbox environment. Although manual testing might solve the issue, it is not that efficient due to the continuous nature of the updates. That means that users need to perform testing for each of those updates regularly. Manual testing is also less reliable, as it is performed by humans, who are prone to errors. Luckily there is another option: automated testing which is also Microsoft’s recommended approach. By performing each testing iteration automatically, you can avoid human errors, distracting and repetitive tasks, and you can benefit from lower recurring costs in the long term. Once the testing library is fully built out, you will have a very reliable test solution that you can just re-run and maintain, which is also less resource-heavy as you will only need some IT team involvement.

Issues with automated testing

Automated testing is more efficient and reliable than manual testing, but it also requires some effort and knowledge. Microsoft has a tool for automated tests called the Regression Suite Automation Tool (RSAT). The only issue is that you need to invest time into investigating how this tool works, setting it up, and getting it ready for testing. It does require initial investment from the beginning, but would result in lower recurring costs.

Another issue is that for the automated tests you need to be very specific (what data should be used, what form needs to opened or what logic to run, etc.). Therefore, the testing scenarios need to be well-documented so that they can be added into the Microsoft RSAT tool and then maintained. Additional work may be inevitable, as there is still a risk of having errors that will need some fixing. That is why these testing scenarios need to be documented, as they need to accurately represent the scenario that takes place in the actual system.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that if something does not work properly after testing the update, there will have to be an investigation to solve the issue. Therefore, you will need to have technical resources who can investigate the changes if the test fails. The developer will need to provide the possible solution to the customer so they would not notice any difference between the systems. The customer, in that case, doesn’t need to do anything – they only need to be notified that there was a change.

Automated testing by Companial

To solve the issues listed above, Companial offers the Solution Maintenance Service. This service aims to reduce all the potential risks and solve any errors that may arise. The service that we offer to Microsoft Dynamics Partners is essentially designed to help their customers through testing their solutions.

We aim to reduce costs and provide quality assurance for Microsoft updates by assuring customers that these updates will not break their current modifications, will not change their business processes, and will not make any crucial mistakes once installed on the production environment. Moreover, we take full responsibility for the customer’s solution quality as we can provide tests, perform the testing, and provide any solution for the possible errors if needed.

Solution Maintenance Service: Stay updated without any hassle

Companial delivers the Solution Maintenance Service in three main phases:

Each customer or each ISV solution is different – they run different processes, they have different modifications, integrations, data, forms, etc. Testing is also unique for each solution, as you can have the main business processes test in place – the posting of journals, posting of invoices, or other areas – but you will still need to have custom-tailored tests as well. In this step, we come in together with the Microsoft Dynamics Partner or ISV and try to figure out whether they have a testing strategy or have all the documents in place (or not) to understand the overall environment.

During the readiness assessment, we look at all the modifications, interfaces, and ISV solutions in place to understand how these are used. We scope out what initial tests would be needed to ensure that the processes work the same way for all these key components. We identify how many tests for each of these areas are needed, what the initial cost would be, and we also provide quotes for onboarding onto the testing service.

This phase includes the development of all the business processes and modifications that need to be tested. If, for example, the customer does not have any documents or testing strategy, this is the step where we will define the testing strategy, build out the actual testing scenarios that the test will follow, and build the automated testing library for this initial phase by using RSAT tool.

When the update comes in, Companial together with the Microsoft Dynamics Partner install that update. We take the workload from the customer side and perform all the key tests, run all the tests that were built in the second phase, investigate any potential issues, and solve any problems that have occurred. This step is the actual test delivery that required the preparation, proper onboarding, and all those tests being already in place.

We run all the tests that we have agreed upon previously, and we provide all the results so that the customer can see which tests failed and which ones passed. If something has failed, Companial has a full team that performs the investigation, finds all the issues, fixes them, and provides the most suitable solution. If needed, we can also provide other services, such as updating the actual environment, updating the production environment, providing input of new features that are being released, and ensuring that the code is not going to break alongside those new features.

The whole process is ongoing solution maintenance, where we can provide proper support for the Microsoft Dynamics Partner’s customers, and they can stay safe and secure with the newest updates that come in constantly.

How can we help you with your customer’s journey toward the cloud?

Being Catalyst certified, Companial can assess the business value and give you an understanding of the business relationship. If you need to move to the next phase of your digital journey, we’re here to help. 

Companial’s BestPath Assessment helps with the design stage as the initial step of the pre-sale, helping to investigate where the customer is at today. In addition, we have a number of trainings and experts that can help you in the process.

While the world is rapidly changing, the ERP market is changing as well and there is not much you can do about that. Therefore, it’s best for you to continue to learn and enjoy the process. Contact your local Companial representative and we’ll make these changes together.

Ignas Stockus

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