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Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 The Need to Upgrade

Author: Xcel Digital
by Xcel Digital
Posted: Jan 30, 2020

OverviewThis article and its subsequent series provide everything you need to know to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations ERP - Cloud (or) On-premise. This includes how to plan, prerequisites, features, tangible benefits, challenges, costs involved and more. Incentives offered by Microsoft make it a compelling reason on why planning your budget for an upgrade should be the top priority as you get closer to the fiscal end.The table below provides the detail on topics that will be covered in each of the series.Your Comfort Zone - The Imperative for ChangeChange is the only constant. We define it in our daily lives as "the process of undergoing a transformation or transition". We see this transformation every day with every new regulation, every new discovery, & every new trend. These ever changing trends are driving all industries – Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Manufacturing, Distribution, you name it. Keeping up with these market trends and more importantly staying ahead is the key to being a successful company.Your organization has needed an ERP upgrade for quite a few years now, and you know it. You’ve been pushing this off year-after-year running a legacy system in maintenance mode, fearful of any risk and disruption an upgrade may cause to business operations. Lack of a proper budget or resources has been your prime consideration as well as lack of information and proper guidance.You’re not alone - one of our customers is currently in this very same situation.They are a high-performance, mid-size pharma manufacturing company. They have been running an older ERP system for over 20 years now. A few weeks ago, their current legacy application failed to recover after a regular maintenance operation. The company’s operations came grinding to a halt forcing them into manual processes across the enterprise, including manual sales orders, confirmations, purchase orders, invoices, BOLs - you name it.Lucky for them, we are just a few weeks away from a planned go-live - the light at the end of the tunnel!"Continuing to use systems that do not provide the stability to business operations and support your growth is an unnecessary risk to the organization."Isn't a stable state what you expect from your ERP system?Most of us in Information Technology (IT) have experienced unstable systems at one time or another and know that these systems are not a simple rip and replace, but require extreme caution and planning as they are expensive to maintain and critical to the operations of the enterprise.The truth is, after years of working in a legacy system, it’s easy for you to end up in a comfort zone - overlooking extremely inefficient systems and processes. You have spent months and years building those complex customizations that are now needing constant updates to keep up with business needs. In some cases, your system does not allow you to stay compliant resulting in unwanted audits, fines and penalties. Despite your effort, your system seems to be always ‘in repair’. The upkeep of these old systems and antiquated processes is draining your IT resources and budget year after year."Upgrading to a new system is not nearly as expensive and time consuming as continuing to support your legacy system year after year.""Companies continue to spend on customizations just to keep lights on and meet today’s needs."With the current rate of change, the cost of doing nothing is even more amplified. Delaying your migration to a newer modern system may have an impact not only on internal systems and processes but also in terms of speed-to-market, customer service, profitability, ability to beat your competition etc. The list goes on...Microsoft Dynamics 365 - The DifferentiatorIf your organization is still using an older version of Microsoft’s "Legacy" ERP, upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 will streamline your operations allowing you to better allocate your IT resources and budget due to the reduced need for "maintenance".Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations is Microsoft’s flagship ERP with investments in billions in the next few years. The application includes industry best-practices and has been designed to fit the needs of most industries out-of-the-box, to name a few:

  • Manufacturing (Discrete, Process & Mixed Mode)
  • Distribution
  • Retail (Operations & POS)
  • Oil & Gas
  • Food & Beverage
  • Finance etc.
What sets Dynamics 365 apart from its competitors are the out-of-the-box features and functions provided for the process manufacturing industry. Dynamics 365 offers best-in-class functionality for process industries like Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Life Sciences and Biotechnology. These industries will benefit the most in upgrading to the latest version of Dynamics 365.ERP solutions have gone through a major evolution over the years and continue to evolve in their adaptation to changing regulations and industry requirements. Microsoft Dynamics 365 continues this trend with major updates scheduled twice a year keeping your company in compliance as regulations change.Let’s face it, it’s almost 2019 – if your organization still isn’t streamlined, you should really consider Why? Or why not?Considerations for the Upgrade - Real-Life Stories & Data PointsIs upgrading to Dynamics 365 the right choice for your organization?There are many other ERP solutions out there - will Microsoft Dynamics 365 really work for your business?Having dealt with a similar dilemma of choosing the right ERP, many organizations have successfully upgraded to Dynamics 365 and achieved their intended project objectives.Here are a few success stories:
  • A specialty food company needed a platform to efficiently manage their inventory and orders between warehouse and distribution center as their sales volume increases during the 2-month holiday season. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, inventory data can be tracked in real-time through mobile devices which is exactly what the company wanted. By upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 and making use of its included functionality – real time data tracking and sending- they were able to take advantage of multiple benefits enabling employees to make better informed decisions, serve their customers faster and more efficiently, and more.
  • An Italian Aircraft manufacturer wanted to upgrade its ERP system to the cloud without disrupting its facilities like the customizations that were required for its AX deployment. The organization chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, which ensured that its five global facilities remained up to date. This helped the company in reducing IT costs and streamlining the data flow amongst its five global facilities.
  • A Shipping giant was facing data accessibility challenges as well as severe security risks. By upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365, it was rewarded not only with improved data accessibility and security but has also reduced overall operational costs with enabled automatic prediction of maintenance needs - allowing the administration to concentrate on developing new products and services.
  • A global weather company handles almost 17 billion data requests from 1.5 billion people every day, it also serves as an ideal environment for advertisements. They were struggling to balance the transitory weather events on one hand and advertisers trying to reach affected markets on the other hand. After switching to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, They are now able to track data in real-time, enabling informed decisions on allotting inventory for advertiser expectation.
  • A not-for-profit healthcare network has transformed their patient engagement with the support of Microsoft Dynamics 365 – One Microsoft Ecosystem single platform (Office 365 and Azure). The business application developed by one of the doctors using PowerApp gave physicians and nurses visibility into each other’s teams and helped teams collaborate more effectively.
ERP upgrades need to be planned well with a good understanding of your current day business needs and aligning them with product capabilities. Unfortunately, some companies learn it the hard way that their decisions during the upgrade were not in their best interest, resulting in a drain of time and resources.Upgrades require a significant investment and failures can be heartbreaking. ERP failure stories can teach us valuable lessons on avoiding such failures in the future.Let's have a look at a few real-life cases of upgrade failures:
  • In 2013, a famous cosmetic company invested approximately $125 million, and almost 4 years of work in an SAP - ERP project, this later turned out to be a disaster, costing them a huge amount of money. They rolled out the ERP system for testing in Canada and soon after realized the software's failure to perform required processes adequately, and the burden of additional work placed on its critical sales reps. Ultimately, they called off its association with SAP - ERP and discontinued the rollout across other countries.
  • In 2000, a renowned major sporting goods manufacturer invested approximately $400 million in a software named i2 in order to upgrade their ERP system and manage their supply chain and demand forecast efficiently. This ERP upgrade miserably failed with a $100 million loss in sales and a 20% decrease in stock prices due to a transient error within the system resulting in a total system failure.
  • In 2004, a PC manufacturer planned to upgrade their ERP system with the goal of cost savings, shorter delivery times and an improved global distribution network. Unfortunately, their ERP upgrade failed resulting in a $160 million loss and 20% of all orders were trapped in the older ERP system.
For an ERP upgrade to suffer a failure due to missing functionality is painful, these organizations were sold on the wrong product for their needs and paid dearly for their mistakes – no one should have to go down this path.Still, failures like these are more common than you think, and the monetary losses mentioned in these examples do not fully represent the dangers of a poorly planned upgrade – which could easily end up 3-4x more expensive.Obviously, upgrading your ERP should not be a point of failure. To ensure this you need to clearly understand the size and scope of your upgrade plan, estimate your investment budget and timeline, determine your organization’s needs, weigh all available options, set achievable targets and goals, and choose the "right" ERP solution.Picking an ERP solution that can handle anything you can throw at it - like Dynamics 365 - is the right choice.Your Benefits from the UpgradeWhat are some of the benefits your organization gains from upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations? Turns out, there are quite a few – for example, with Dynamics 365 you can:
  • Eliminate disparate software with one simple, powerful platform
  • Eliminate the risks and challenges associated with outdated systems
  • Enhance the productivity of your organization with streamlined processes and workflows
  • Allows your organization to grow with a scalable solution
  • Reduce integration and maintenance costs by having everything under one familiar roof, and more
Upgrading to the right technology at the right time is imperative.Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not just an application, it’s a comprehensive platform with seamless and easy connectivity to other Microsoft products like Outlook, Word and other 3rd-party applications. This is a result of the recent transformation from Microsoft - One-Microsoft ecosystem.Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics: Your Top Priority in 2019Weighing up all the benefits and new features available, upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 in 2019 should be at the top of your to-do list.For one, starting February 1, 2019, Microsoft will only offer support for the latest versions, which means that maintaining older systems will increasingly become more expensive and a simple change in regulations could be crippling.It may feel like 2019 is far away, but 2018 is quickly ending and upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 is enough of a process that users should begin to budget and make necessary plans in preparation for an upgrade.With mainstream support ending soon, it’s high time for legacy users out there to upgrade. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 - Enjoy a more secure, convenient, and up-to-date system, reduce integration costs, securely connect to all your apps, and increase productivity.When you begin your upgrade path, there’s no doubt that you will come across pitfalls and may face difficulties migrating to the right ERP. Fully understanding the requirements and reasons in upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the best way to minimize problems and maximize your upgrade budget.A few key reasons why you should consider upgrading to Dynamics 365 -
  1. Your system does not have the comprehensive functionality to meet your current business needs. Your growing business requires an agile system to support, and you are having to invest a lot of time and money in customizing this old system to meet your current needs.
  2. Your most-used applications are being unsupported or decommissioned.
  3. The lack of technical resources to support your legacy system has been a major problem.
  4. There are potentially valuable incentives you can take advantage of.
  5. Your infrastructure needs a major overhaul and the cloud may be your answer to avoid an unnecessarily large investment.
  6. Lack of mobile access may be impacting productivity on the field.
  7. You are finding it increasingly difficult to integrate with other portals or systems.
  8. Your current system is no longer in compliance.
If you are experiencing any of the above, you know it's time!Takeaways
  • Continuing to use an older ERP solution that does not provide the necessary stability to business operations is an unnecessary risk to the organization.
  • An upgrade, however, should be considered after evaluating the system’s ability to handle your businesses’ day-to-day operations, the value for the money spent, and determining the ROI from the upgrade.
  • Define and determine KPIs such as
  1. Return on Investment (ROI),
  2. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO),
  3. Productivity drivers etc.
  • Upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 has a huge economic and transformative value to your business.
  • If your enterprise is still running on an older version of Microsoft’s ERP such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics Nav, Microsoft Dynamics GP or SL, or any other legacy system - it is time to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
I hope this blog helped you understand the need and considerations in upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics. In upcoming articles, we will provide all the information you need in evaluating the business case for the upgrade.

About the Author

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology.

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Author: Xcel Digital

Xcel Digital

Member since: Jan 22, 2020
Published articles: 16

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