We have spent the last couple of months working on the CRM 40 to 52 upgrade. Even though CRM 2007 is now released, we are still completing this upgrade in process. I would like to walk through what we encountered so far.
We went with CRM 52, because CRM 2007 was not available at the time. Now that CRM 2007 is available we will do another upgrade down the road. The primary driving factor for this upgrade was usability. There was way too many complaints about the PCUI/Icwebclient in our CRM 40 release. An upgrade to CRM 50 would have only provided some technical benefits, but not enough for our user community to justify the effort involved
This upgrade required some significant prework. The first part was we needed to update our Oracle Database to a newer version. Next we conducted a hardware/unicode migration to 64bit and unicode. These steps alone took one month each. Our functional scope for the upgrade was simply to keep our processes as-is and only adapt our data entry procedures to the new UI. In other words we wouldn’t be rolling out any new business functionality with this release. Our team consisted of a dba pool, basis administrator, security administrators(part-time), bw analysts(part-time), training material developer(part-time), tester(part-time) and one CRM analyst for development and configuration.
The first step in the process was building an evaluation sandbox. This was done way before our development upgrade and allowed us to learn the new release. We spent about four to six weeks in this environment, which overlapped with our unicode conversion. My earlier blogs on the upgrade were based on this environment.
Preparation for Dev
Using the sandbox we determined all the work needed to bring the system up to speed. We also made valuable “mistakes” in sandbox that made our work in the development system easier. We prototyped almost 90% of all the work that we did in our development environment in the sandbox.
We upgraded our development system and finally started the upgrade. The development system was where we first tested how our custom middleware objects would be impacted. Luckily for us there was not much impact. We continued finishing/fixing up development. Due to the amount of time spent learning in sandbox, we only need about two weeks to flesh out the initial production prototype in development. The remaining time before the QA upgrade was focused on security and unit testing. We were able to go to QA will our end-user roles ready for use.
For the QA upgrade we treated as a mock production upgrade. We conducted over a weekend using the same window of time as our production environment would be allocated. This revealed some issues with web dispatcher cutover, and SGEN timing of the system. We learned that we needed another SGEN after our transports went into the upgraded QA system. Overall the QA upgrade went smoothly.
We spent another week testing the QA system, before focusing on the training materials. During this time we made refinements to the system and fixed any obvious issues. This once again was very “smooth”. Our focus then was updating the user manuals for the system and preparing for training.
It has been a long project from the start of technical conversions to the actual upgrade phrase. We have been pleasantly suprised that the transition to the new CRM release has been very smooth. The key factors to our success so far are:
– Use of sandbox system to determine the work
– Low customization in our CRM 40 release
– Keeping scope restricted to pure technical upgrade.
This leads us to believe that when we go to CRM 2007 from CRM 52, it will be a very short, but pleasant experience.
Our next milestone is user training and then the production upgrade. Once successfully completed and I have break from those phases, I will give an update.