Why it’s good to upgrade to Dynamics CRM 2013/2015 despite the interface changes

AKA: The (Recent) Evolution of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

I’ve been noticing a lot of customers have elected not to upgrade Dynamics CRM beyond the 2011 version.  Most of them have seen the new interface and have concerns on the impact on their users, similar to the concerns of many organizations when the new Microsoft Office ribbon came out.  In this blog, I will show why it is worth the effort and cost of moving to the most current Microsoft Dynamics CRM release within about 6-12 months of it’s release.

I started working with Dynamics CRM 3.0 in 2005. At the time, was a significant improvement over CRM 1.2, which some of my associates remember all too well. Dynamics CRM 2013 and 2015 are also significant improvements over previous versions and provide better usability/flexibility to techies and users alike.

Recently, I began updating my teaching slide decks for both applications courses and the technical courses from Dynamics CRM 2011 to CRM 2015.  I had expectations that I might have to do a complete rewrite of the decks due to all the changes. Once I got started, however, I realized that this was not the case.  I had to update all of the screen shots, but most the functions of CRM remained consistent. Sure, I had to add new sections where new features had been added and deal with the navigation changes, but the basic functions of Dynamics CRM still work the same way they always have except for the improvements. Yay!  The job took much less time than anticipated, always a plus!

So why is that important to you if you haven’t upgraded to CRM 2013 from CRM 2011?

The benefits

  • The 2013/2015 versions more productive & feature rich allowing faster and easier enhancement as well as more productive for users.
  • Much more powerful forms now let you include fields from parent entities on a form and much more
  • Can use new features such as calculated fields and rollup fields to reduce and eliminate custom code
  • More focus and support for current versions, especially if interfaced to other software

The drawbacks

  • Must retrain users on the new interface, but the new interface looks more intimidating than it actually is
  • Unsupported code won’t work without changes or in some cases rewrites. This also means testing all the changes before going live

I have to admit, I was intimidated by the new interface when CRM 2013 came out, but even without training, I was able to get up to speed pretty quickly.  That said, about 2 hours worth of user training and a day or two of use gets most end users up to speed on 2013/2015. As far as the techies are concerned, review the list of changes, watch some videos and you’ll be fine. I took all of the recorded partner training for CRM 2013 and 2015 in about 16 hours and did fine.

The improvements are worth the effort. The new navigation and interface are an improvement, easier to use, out of the way, and work on touch. Many new features provide a more robust customization environment, reducing the need for code and testing.

If you have been waiting, it’s a good time to take another look.

Stephen V. Noe

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About stephenvnoe

CRM & XRM solution architect and project lead. I provide CRM design, services, mentoring & support to all manner of front office solutions and CRM projects.
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