We know that regularly upgrading your ERP is important, but is your Microsoft Dynamics GP partner following best practices with your upgrade process, or just going through the motions?
If you have been in the Dynamics GP world for a few years or more, you’ve probably experienced at least one Dynamics GP upgrade. At their best, these projects increase your productivity through new features, bug fixes, training sessions, and process improvement. At their worst, they leave you questioning whether the result was worth the hassle.
Should I Upgrade Dynamics GP?
There are dozens of reasons why folks are upgrading Dynamics GP. From new features like the Web Client, Document Attach, and Workflow to Payroll compliance, you probably already know some reasons why your old version of GP has lost its luster.
A Dynamics GP upgrade is a great opportunity to take advantage of new features or implement a new module. Being on the latest and most stable version will give you a solid foundation to build on, and your consulting team will gain familiarity with your system during the upgrade process that will help them support and enhance your environment going forward.
However, one of the most important factors is that you want to remain in Microsoft’s mainstream support window for Dynamics GP. If you are on GP 2010 or GP 2013, you are already out of mainstream support. However, upgrading to Dynamics GP 2018 puts you back in mainstream support until 2023. That means you’ll continue to have expert support for any issues and optional service packs for your environment for another 5 years.
Is Your Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner a Good Partner, Or a Good Sales Person?
Almost every Microsoft Dynamics GP partner will offer to upgrade your system, some will dangle discounts and incentives, others will promise unbelievably fast turnaround time.
However, it’s important to treat your Dynamics GP upgrade with the same due diligence that you give the other upgrades in your life. Those of us who’ve experienced a home renovation project know that you must be cautious of contractors who underbid and over-promise to get the job.
A software partner that doesn’t strive to deliver a solution that will improve your unique business’ operations, processes and results is a partner that does not have your best interest in mind. Let’s explore what your Microsoft Dynamics GP partner should do before, during, and after your deployment so that you can determine if you need to upgrade your GP solution, your GP partner, or both!
Before Your Upgrade, Your Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner Should:
Accurately Assess Your Environment
You wouldn’t trust a contractor that quoted a renovation without stepping foot inside your door, and upgrade projects are the same way. An accurate assessment beforehand ensures that your project will be neither underbid nor overbid, therefore, your Microsoft Dynamics GP partner should seek to fully understand your GP environment before they even think about presenting you with a quote.
The way we handle this is through a comprehensive upgrade questionnaire. This is a fill-in-the-blank document that can be completed by either you or us and is the single best tool for getting your upgrade consultant up to speed on the status of your GP environment.
Assemble Your Team of Experts
Once the quote is accepted, your Microsoft Dynamics GP partner should assemble a project team to kick things off. Our typical squad consists of:
- A project manager to lead meetings, provide budget and timeline updates, and keep track of deliverables.
- A technical consultant who is an expert in converting your data.
- And a functional consultant to lead your training and address any usability issues with your users.
By utilizing the expertise of specialized resources, you avoid the headache of having one jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none consultant muddle through your project.
During Your Dynamics GP Upgrade, Your Partner Should:
Provide the Information You Need
A constant stream of effective communication is a hallmark of any good relationship, and your Dynamics GP upgrade is no different. Take advantage of the specialized expertise of your project team and reach out early and often with any issue.
- For budget and timeline questions, your project manager should be quick to supplement regular status reports with specific answers to your questions.
- Your technical consultant should provide regular milestone updates on your data conversion as well as one-off answers to any nitty-gritty query about the upgrade process itself.
- Your functional consultant should be clear about your training schedule and needs and provide insight into products and processes that should help your business.
If your project leadership and end users have an issue or just a random question, they should feel confident that your partner’s project team will provide candid and timely responses that help move the project forward. After all, if there’s poor communication, there’s not really a partnership.
Thoroughly Test Your New System
The upgrade then proceeds to the test upgrade phase, where the newest version of GP and its related products are installed on a separate server, along with an upgraded copy of your data. This allows you to keep your production system up and running, while your Microsoft Dynamics GP partner utilizes the safe environment and relevant data to train your team and conduct tests of your new version of GP.
During the testing and training phase, your dedicated functional consulting resources will show you what’s new in GP and help identify gaps that can be filled by GP or 3rd party products. This is a great time to get a “mini system assessment” and build momentum towards your next project.
Once testing and training are successfully completed, your data will be upgraded again, and the environment you’ve been using for testing and training will become your production environment. Users will already be familiar with the new system from previous days and weeks, so go-live should be only mildly exciting, not a full-blown panic.
Your Upgrade Is Done, but Support from Your Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner Shouldn’t Be
At a minimum, your partner should be clear about how to get support for your newly upgraded environment. We like to keep a direct line of support open to the same consulting resources utilized for the upgrade for at least the first week after go-live. Beyond that, your partner should provide you with a clear means to submit issues to a help desk or similar support queue.
However, it’s likely that your Dynamics GP upgrade was not the final destination in your GP journey. Once the dust settles, your partner should check back with you on any opportunities discovered during the test upgrade and start working towards your next phase of improvement, because your GP upgrade should be a bright spark in the relationship between you and your GP partner.
If you have questions about the pros and cons of upgrading, the upgrade process, or any other Dynamics GP question, send our consultants an email — we’d be happy to help.