With the recent release of Microsoft Dynamics GP 2015 R2, many businesses are considering whether or not they should upgrade. One of the biggest issues of any upgrade, and certainly an upgrade involving an application used for day-to-day operations, is updating the underlying database. Financial records, time tracking data, customer records and more can be jeopardized by an improper system update.
When evaluating whether or not to upgrade, here are the factors you should first consider.
Changes in Dynamics' Development Cycle
One of the biggest changes affecting the upgrade process is the faster development cycle Microsoft has moved to. By releasing updates every six months, it has helped cut down the intensity of each upgrade, and the required changes to the underlying database.
"Moving into the future, upgrading Dynamics GP to a new version will be a less intense but more regular activity, as opposed to being treated as a 'once in an era' project," writes Mahmoud M. AlSaadi, Senior Support Engineer, Dynamics Innovations. "Today's upgrades have a lighter impact on the technical environment as a whole, are easier for end users to adopt, and, most importantly, are more efficient in terms of stoppage-time."
One instance where this does not hold true is when Microsoft makes significant changes to the database engine. For example, despite being well within the new, semi-annual release schedule, GP 2015 dropped support for SQL Server 2008.
Aside from such a drastic change as this one, however, the faster release schedule should thankfully make updates--including database upgrades--faster and less troublesome.
While not exhaustive, the following are the basic steps you should take when upgrading your GP database.
Test, test, test and test some more. One of the biggest mistakes many companies make is rushing into an upgrade and attempting it on live, mission-critical data and systems. Instead, set up a test installation using an existing backup and run through the upgrade process. This will help you identify potential errors and issues, as well as the best way to troubleshoot them.
Backup all existing data. If something unforeseen does go wrong, you'll need a complete backup of your most current data.
Download all updates, patches and third-party resources necessary. While Microsoft releases two major versions of GP every year, there may be incremental security and bug-fix patches available. The same is true for any third-party applications, plugins or services you are using in conjunction with GP. Make sure you have the most recent version to reduce the likelihood of a conflict.
Be sure to install at least the same set of features you are currently using in your previous version of GP. If you anticipate using additional features in the future, be sure to install those as well. But make sure to install at least what you are currently using to eliminate the possibility of orphaned data.
Once you have installed the latest version, run the Dynamics GP Utilities It will automatically detect any databases that need to be upgraded and prompt you to do so.
Some customers wonder whether they should upgrade all company databases, or simply upgrade one at a time. Writing for the Microsoft Dynamics GP Community blog, Derek Albaugh recommends upgrading everything at once:
"Upgrading all company databases at the same time is recommended but doesn't make much difference as far as Utilities is concerned, as it will upgrade each database in the same manner regardless. If you choose to upgrade all company databases at the same time, which is default, Utilities will run through all company databases' upgrade process, one after the other, and won't stop until either all company databases have been upgraded successfully, or an error occurs on one of the databases, that requires troubleshooting to move forward."
While any software update—especially one involving an application that is integral to a company's operations—can be a stressful process, Microsoft has done quite a lot to make current upgrades of GP and the underlying database far easier than in years past.
Following the steps outlined above will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth, trouble-free upgrade.
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