Microsoft are continuously developing new capabilities for Dynamics 365, and last month set up a new Roadmap website so that customers and partners can see what is coming and when. This is all part of the plan to smooth and automate the update deployment process.
Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement app (Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, and Marketing) customers on the latest version (v9) received the October ’18 update seamlessly without requiring any action from administrators or users. For Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, customers on the October ’18 release are on monthly updates going forward without the need to ever upgrade. This is how production updates will be deployed going forward—automatically and seamlessly, without disruption.
As of December 2018, Microsoft confirmed that over 94% of Customer Engagement app instances and 85% of Finance & Operations instances were running on the latest version. This means more customers using products that are more performant, resilient and secure, as well as having the ability to utilise the latest features and capabilities.
April 2019 Release
As a Gold Partner who specialises in transformation through our expertise in CRM and ERP, Tisski would like to highlight some of the key dates for the next Dynamics release, which is due in April 2019.
This release signifies a key milestone for Dynamics 365. It is the first major update where all customers across Dynamics 365 will be on the latest version and on a consistent update schedule. It’s also a template of how major updates will be done going forward in April and October every year.
Starting with the top-level information, there will be two major updates for Dynamics 365 each year. These will be in April and October, although there will be minor updates throughout the year that provide security, reliability and performance improvements.
The priority areas for Dynamics are:
Omni-channel customer engagement. Providing the ability for customers to engage with us through any channel and any device.
Agent experience. Creating personalised interactions with customers.
Knowledge management. By using data and knowledge of what we have done previously to inform future actions.
Streamlining Operations through Intelligence. Using insight to streamline our operations and make us more efficient. Bring agility and efficiency to the supply chain.
Integration and extension. Further integration with the Microsoft Cloud, connecting applications and extending the use of APIs.
Key dates for the diary
21 Jan 2019: Dynamics 365 April release notes available. These will include a summary of all the new features and improvements, as well as information on when they will be available. This will cover Dynamics 365 applications, power platform capabilities, integration with data and other Microsoft products, and a whole lot more.
1 Feb 2019: Preview available. Microsoft will enable a preview of the April 2019 update features for customers to validate in a sandbox/ non-production environment before those features are deployed in production. These will be based on the release notes published 11 days earlier.
21 Feb 2019: Release notes updated. These will be revised based upon feedback from users.
5 April 2019: General availability. You are now free to start utilising the new features of Dynamics 365. And you have until the end of April to do this.
Release notes can be a little daunting
At 422 pages, the October 2018 release notes aren’t the easiest thing to digest. But they are certainly thorough. They will include all Dynamics 365 component, from Business Central to Talent; Sales to Social Engagement; via Microsoft Flow, PowerApps and Business Intelligence. But, few customers will utilise all modules, which means the number of relevant pages becomes a bit more manageable.
Start with the Change History and delve more deeply from there. And if there are some aspects that require clarification then raise them with your digital partner of record.
What about on-premise instances, or earlier versions?
For Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and Dynamics 365 for Retail, the April 2019 release is applicable to on-premise instances as well. And you can opt in to preview the new functionality as with the online version.
However, for Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement applications, the update does not apply to on-premise instances.
As this update cadence applies to Dynamics 365, and not earlier versions. All the more reason to consider upgrading to Dynamics 365!
Are you on v9 yet?
Last summer Microsoft wrote to all customers to inform them of the need to upgrade to version 9 by the end of January 2019. But, quite a few have left it late to achieve this.
This has concertinaed time for testing and readying users for changes. We are now at the point where this cannot be put off any longer, meaning that it will happen at the end of this month.
So, when does it happen?
Over the course of April, all environments will be ‘turned on’ to receive the April 2019 features. You’ll be able to proactively “enable” the switch yourself, at any time, during the month of April (for example, on April 9 at 6 AM local time), before the switch is applied automatically on your environment. However, by the end of April, all production instances will have had the switch turned on.
So, it will happen to you in April, irrespective of when you want it to. Given the Easter Break is in April, this is a good time where any potential disruption could be minimised.
This gradual rollout is a last safety measure to catch any potential issues as we apply the changes to all instances. It is the same approach we do for our regular patches and updates. In the coming months, we will publish the specific date of when the features will be enabled for each customer.
Well, you can obviously contact us for help by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, our LinkedIn or Facebook pages. But there are other forums that can help you. Microsoft run a Dynamics community forum, and there is also one for the Power Platform. These contain tips on how to get started and how to ask questions and offer a great way to get a quick response to any issues you may be having.