Upgrade from AX 2012 to Dynamics 365

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Upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (Formally Operations) 

Intro 

The original Dynamics AX – first being released in 2002, primarily used by midsize-to-large enterprise businesses – has officially been retired. AX is no longer available to new customers—now being named Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain Management (F&SCM). 

You may have seen it a few times and thought about it plenty, and yes, it’s still something you contemplate. Every so often, it pops up again, and you ask yourself:  

Should I just upgrade from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 F&SCM? 

The truth is AX is excellent. It gets the job done, and it may not be a hassle for you… right now.  

The thing is, you know as well as any other AX user that Dynamics 365 is the future, plain and simple. Eventually, AX users will need to upgrade, so let’s break it down and look at some things you should know before making a move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&SCM 

What’s new in F&SCM? 

Is Dynamics 365 for F&SCM just Dynamics AX with a new paint job? Though it continues to offer much of the same functionality as its forebears, the differences between Dynamics 365 for F&SCM and Dynamics AX are much more significant than just a name change. F&SCM is on another level when you dive into it. So, let’s look at a few of the significant back end changes the platform has undergone. 

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Overview Demo - YouTube

Dynamics AX 2012 

Dynamics 365 F&SCM 

Web-based log in 

Deployment and Interface are a couple of significant changes that users are likely to spot immediately. Dynamics 365 apps are browser-based, no need to load up a program on your computer to access it. Head to a web browser, and you’re in. The app can be accessed and ran from almost any device, so long as it has internet access. 

New User Interface 

Since AX 2012, F&SCM has undergone a significant redesign that looks a lot different to its predecessor. The new modern design aims to improve user experience and encourage collaboration with other users. The Interface is also customizable, with each user able to personalize their homepage with custom colors and default start pages. 

More integrations 

Dynamics 365 for F&SCM integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft cloud products such as Microsoft 365PowerBI, and Dynamics CRM apps. 

Business Intelligence with Power BI 

Derive insights from transactional and observational data. Create composites of reports from various other Power BI content together with actuals and budget balances from the general ledger. Get those insights into the hands of every employee to support decision making. 

F&SCM’s global search feature makes it easier to find the information you need, no matter where it is in the system. 

How do these features compare? 

F&SCM features all the finance, retail, procurement, supply chain management, production, and HR functionality of its predecessors. 

Many of these existing features have been updated and improved in the new Dynamics 365 version; please contact us if you’d like to learn about more features you can expect in Dynamics 365. 

AX 2012 to F&SCM Upgrade Process 

This upgrade process is currently only supported from either Dynamics AX 2012 R2 or Dynamics AX 2012 R3.  

Overview 

The overall upgrade process can be visualized as three overarching phases: Analyze, Execute, and Validate. 

The following diagram shows the end-to-end upgrade process and the activities that we consider part of each phase. 

Analyze 

The Analyze phase will help you estimate the effort required to upgrade and prepare a project plan. All of which activities can be done before you buy F&SCM. This can further help you make an informed purchase decision, providing you with a data point about the effort and resources you will require. 

Sign up for a preview subscription 

See Sign up for preview subscriptions to sign up for your subscription. 

Select the upgrade methodology 

In your new Lifecycle Services (LCS) project, set the project methodology to  Upgrade AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 for F&SCM. This methodology is made especially for AX 2012 customers who are upgrading. It will describe all three phases in detail and provide links to all supporting documentation about the process. 

Run the upgrade analyzer 

The upgrade analyzer tool runs against your AX 2012 environment. Identifying tasks that you should do to prepare the AX 2012 environment, helping make the upgrade experience smoother and less expensive: 

·       Data cleanup – This process helps you identify data that you can remove without causing loss of functionality. The tool identifies various data types that you can reduce by running a cleanup process. For each type of data, an explanation is given about the cleanup’s impact.  

·       SQL configuration – This process reviews the SQL configuration and recommends optimizations. Making sure that SQL performs optimally reduces the time required for the upgrade go-live process. 

·       Deprecated features – This process identifies features that you’re currently using, but that isn’t available in F&SCM. Therefore, the process helps you discover gaps in functionality early. It also provides suggestions for alternatives. 

See Upgrade from AX 2012 – Plan by using the Upgrade analyzer tool for more information. 

Run the Code upgrade estimation tools 

This step takes your code from AX 2012, converts it to the new format, and provides feedback about conflicts that a developer must resolve later. This step forms the basis for estimating the cost of your code upgrade. 

See Upgrade from AX 2012 – Estimate effort by using the Code upgrade service

Deploy a demo environment 

Demo environments are default environments that contain demonstration data (not your own data) and standard code (no customizations). We recommend that you deploy a demo environment to evaluate new features and perform a fundamental fit-gap analysis of traditional processes used in AX 2012, but that might have changed in F&SCM. You can either deploy these demo environments in Azure or downloaded them as a virtual machine (VM) that you run on your own hardware.  

See Upgrade from AX 2012 – Deploy a demo environment for analysis

Create a project plan 

A template for a project plan is provided in the upgrade methodology. In this step, the output from the Analyze phase’s previous steps is used to fill the project plan for the upgrade project. The project plan will also contain all testing details: 

  • Data upgrade testing 
  • Cutover testing (mock cutover) 
  • The functional test pass iterations 
  • Components about the various resource assignments for those tasks 

At this stage, the project plan provides a data point that can help you understand the time and cost of an upgrade. 

Execute 

During the Execute phase, you work through the tasks you planned during the Analyze phase. To move to the Execute phase, you must purchase F&SCM apps, and you must have available resources that can work on the upgrade. 

Switch to the LCS implementation project 

The public preview project that you used for the Analyze phase has served its purpose. You can now discard it. You require only the project plan you created in the Analyze phase’s final stage for the remaining steps. 

When you purchase a subscription, you will receive details about signing up for a new LCS project. This project is known as an implementation project and will be the new permanent LCS project for your subscription for as long as you have that subscription.  

Identify the project as an AX 2012 upgrade 

When you first sign in to your LCS implementation project, you’re guided through the Project Onboarding wizard. You can always visit the Project Onboarding wizard later using the navigation menu next to Project Settings in your project. 

While on the Project Onboarding wizard, you can use the Legacy System field to identify the project as an AX 2012 upgrade in the Project Scope section. You must identify the project so that the deployed sandbox infrastructure is compatible with the upgrade process outlined here.  

Perform the AX 2012 preparation tasks 

Complete the tasks that the upgrade analyzer tool discovered and documented in your upgrade project plan. Your Microsoft Dynamics AX system administrator and database administrator (DBA) must complete these tasks. 

For more details, see: Upgrade from AX 2012 – pre-upgrade checklist for data upgrade 

Perform code upgrade 

Complete the tasks that were planned during the code upgrade estimation step of the Analyze phase. Your developers must run these tasks. 

From this point onward, code changes in AX 2012 should be frozen. Only emergency code changes should be allowed in AX 2012. If a change is made, it must be ported manually to the new codebase. 

Develop new code 

Complete the tasks from the fit-gap analysis performed during the “Deploy a demo environment” step of the Analyze phase. These tasks will probably be a mixture of functional tasks that define the configuration and development tasks for customizations related to new features that are being taken up. 

Data upgrade (development environment) 

After your code upgrade tasks are completed, you can upgrade your database for the first time. This first upgrade occurs in a development environment to more easily remediate or debug any issues found at this stage.  

The following illustration shows the process. Just back up the AX 2012 database, upload it to Azure, restore it to the F&SCM environment, and then run the data upgrade. 

Data upgrade in a development environment

For details, see Upgrade from AX 2012 – Data upgrade in development environments

Data upgrade (sandbox environments) 

When data upgrade in a development environment is completed, the same process can be run in a sandbox environment. The sandbox environment is where business users and functional team members can test business processes using the upgraded AX 2012 data and code. 

The following illustration shows the process for running data upgrade in a sandbox environment. The difference here is that the BACPAC tool is used instead of a traditional SQL backup. This tool is required to convert between Microsoft SQL Server and Azure SQL Database. It’s a standard SQL tool and isn’t specific to F&SCM. 

Data upgrade in a sandbox environment

For details, see Upgrade from AX 2012 – Data upgrade in sandbox environments

Validate 

When you enter the validation phase, you will have available environments that include your upgraded custom code and upgraded data. This phase describes the process of validating and testing that the upgraded environment works as desired. It also describes the process of preparing for go-live. 

Perform cutover testing and create a cutover plan 

The term cutover is used here to describe the final process of putting the new system live. This process consists of the tasks that occur after AX 2012 is turned off and before F&SCM are turned on. 

There are two main workstreams: 

·       Technical workstream – This workstream is the process of running the data upgrade. Your business will enforce a limit on the amount of downtime allowed. During this downtime, neither product database will be available. The technical workstream might have to performance-tune its data upgrade procedure to meet the business’s downtime limit. 

·       Functional workstream – After data upgrade, several configuration tasks will be required in the F&SCM environment. All these tasks must be documented and quantified, and a resource must be assigned to them because they must fit together with the technical tasks within the business’s downtime limit. 

For details, see 

·       Upgrade from AX 2012 – Post-upgrade tasks 

·       Upgrade from AX 2012 – Cutover testing (Mock cutover) 

Functional test pass 

Complete a full functional test pass of all business processes. This test pass will be an extensive retest of all business processes involving F&SCM. These business processes include both old processes brought forward from AX 2012 and new processes that involve new features that were taken up for the first time in F&SCM. 

For details, see Upgrade from AX 2012 – Functional test passes

Pre-go-live checklist 

The pre-go-live checklist is a recommended procedure that can help reduce the chance of errors during the final cutover to go-live. One week before go-live is due, stop configuration changes in AX 2012 (that is, under <module>\Setup). This restriction on configuration changes is merely procedural. The Microsoft Dynamics AX system administrators agree to put differences of this type on hold at this point. 

We recommend that you also freeze code changes in the F&SCM code base. No further changes should be allowed unless they have been evaluated and shown not to block go-live. 

After the configuration restriction and code freeze are in place, data upgrades should be run for the last time before cutover. In this way, you can make sure that everything still works as expected. 

For details, see Validate: Prepare for go-live

Go live 

After you have completed upgrade testing in a Standard or Premier Acceptance Test environment (Sandbox Tier 2 or higher), and you have also completed a successful test cutover, the moment has arrived to upgrade your production environment and go live. 

Cutover is the term that we use for the final process of getting a new system live. This cutover process consists of the tasks that occur after Dynamics AX 2012 is turned off but before F&SCM is turned on. 

For details, see Upgrade from AX 2012 – Cutover process (Go live) 

Every Organization is Different 

We have been working with ERPs, integrations, customizations, and everything business software since the 90s; we know every business is unique and has specific needs. Finding out what those needs are and how to address them is how we have managed to keep a 95%+ customer retention rate. We are a certified Microsoft Gold Partner that works to deliver solutions that make your business better. Please get in contact with us if you are considering an upgrade, a new or re-implementation, or if you want a business consultation.  

Calsoft Systems has touted experience with Dynamics AX and upgrades to Dynamics 365 F&SCM. Please feel free to call us at 1-888-838-8422 or email at info@calsoft.com anytime. We can share any information on Dynamics AX upgrades with you on Dynamics AX’s practical steps and tools.