Here is how you carry out the cumulative updates in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Januar 2020 // 8 MIN

Always carry out a thorough test before you release Microsoft's latest update in your business system. Ask our Development Manager's advice on the best way to handle the cumulative updates in  Dynamics 365.

Since Microsoft launched One Version in 2019, and made it mandatory for all Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management-users to update their system regularly, carrying out these updates without having an impact on the system's functionality is something that is new for many people. Michael Cronqvist, the Development Manager and a partner in Bredana Axcite gives us his recommendations on how to tackle the cumulative updates.

In the One Version concept, Microsoft rolls out eight minor cumulative system updates a year. The company must accept a minimum of two updates a year.

Naturally, Microsoft tests that the platform and the standard functions work as they should before they release the updates. But it is up to the company itself to test it on its own business system and any customized solutions including third-party integrations they have had done.

With so many updates, you need to have a test strategy in place, where you regularly and systematically ensure that your business system works as it should before a new update is installed. 

This may sound like a lot of work, but there are a number of tools available that make it easy to structure and manage in practice.

Automate your tests and save time

Generally, manual testing is time-consuming and requires a lot of resources. To test optimally you need to know the system well and have insight into the company's most critical administrative procedures.

”The hardest thing for most companies to get used to is testing the system before each update is rolled out. Here, it is essential to have a structured approach to testing, so you optimize your time and resources, and do not lose track of what is going on during the process. An important tool that can help with this process is RSAT”, says Michael Cronqvist, Development Manager and a partner at Bredana Axcite.

Microsoft has developed their own Regression Suite Automation Tool (RSAT), that can automatically carry out regression testing on the system and customized solutions all on its own. The aim of regression testing is to ensure that the code changes that apply to a system do not cause new errors. Each time changes are introduced in a system, you should therefore carry out regression testing. 

Generally, regression testing can be highly complicated, and it is easy to make mistakes if you do not test the correct and most critical scenarios. Therefore, it is important to invest time and resources in having the right test cases carried out.

"With automated regression testing, it is easier to test that everything is working as it should before the new update is released in the production environment. Once these test cases have been described and set up, then it is simply a case of pressing a button to set the automated tests in motion. Regression tests make up perhaps 80-90% of the testing work that is done by Microsoft's updates, so it is an important discipline to master”, says Cronqvist.

Task Recorder makes it easy to carry out test cases

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management includes a Task Recorder – a feature that is simple to use and allows you to record a given test scenario in the system. All you need to do is activate the Task Recorder feature and carry out a given action, which should be used as a test case in RSAT.

Using the Task Recorder feature, you can carry out most test case scenarios in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. It is a little more difficult, however, with third-party integrations, where the tool does not perform as well.

The simple, intuitive process makes it easy for specialists in various disciplines to record and carry out test scenarios themselves.

”It is a good idea to keep your recordings short and precise. Instead of making long test cases, it is better to break them down into shorter clips, and link the respective test case scenarios together as a series”, Michael Cronqvist recommends.

You can find our guide to using Microsoft's Task Recorder here her

We carry out the testing for our clients

At Bredana Axcite, we help our clients to develop test scenarios for automated test flows and regularly test that all customizations and third-party integrations are working as they should before each Microsoft update is carried out. 

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Focus on the business-critical tests

Tests are a good thing. The more tests we carry out, the higher the quality, as we say in the software development business. But it also goes without saying that there is no point in testing for testing's sake – if it does not add any value.

”You should always prioritize the test cases that are most critical to the business first. In other words, test the part of the system that is vital to the business and has to work no matter what, such as the invoicing process or critical “pick and pack” processes in the warehouse. The same applies to customized solutions that are not part of the standard system”, says Michael Cronqvist.

Maintain your test cases

Maintaining test cases is an important discipline to master, and perhaps one of the areas that is easy to forget and lose sight of in a busy week.

”If a given user-scenario changes, then it's important to update the corresponding test cases, so that you ensure that the test cases you test are always relevant and up-to-date.  This will reduce the risk of errors occurring”, Michael Cronqvist points out.

Feature Management gives you the complete picture

Feature Management in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management (which was launched together with update 10.0.3), provides an overview of the new features in the coming updates. Here, you can see the feature's name, when it will be released, or whether the feature is currently activated and why. You can also see which module will be affected by the new feature. 

By default, all new critical updates/features are mandatory, while all other features need to be actively enabled. This is a good opportunity to review documentation and decide whether it is a feature that should be activated or not. Third-party integrations are not yet supported by this feature.

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