Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013
Microsoft Dynamics CRM LogoMicrosoft are releasing the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 product from October 2013. There are some significant improvements in the user interface and some fantastic new features so it is an exciting release for Microsoft CRM users.

However, the change will have significant impact on everyone who upgrades or migrates to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. On-premise customers can take their time and decide their own upgrade timings but Online users will start being upgraded automatically from October. This could perhaps be a daunting prospect for some but we are here to help guide you and provide advice – please contact our team with your questions.

As a select Microsoft partner we have been involved in the Beta programme and have been busy learning about the changes and new features to understand what impact it will have for existing users and customisations. We are also pulling back the covers on the new features to make sure we can maximise the potential benefits for our clients.

What does the upgrade to CRM 2013 mean for you?
There is a lot that is changing so it is imperative that you understand how it will affect your business. We’ll help you understand what is changing and when you need to be ready for the change.
See below for:

When will the changes affect you?
Things you need to consider
What is new or has changed in CRM 2011
How xRM Consultancy can help you

When will it affect you?
Perhaps the most important question so that you can start planning for the change. As we mentioned above this could be as early as October 2013 if your system is using CRM Online. Select your installation type:
Online
On-Premise
Scheduled upgrades for Online organisations will begin in October 2013.

You may have seen an email or a warning message when you sign into CRM notifying you of your scheduled upgrade time. While you are able to delay your upgrade for up to 90 days giving you some more breathing room, we don’t expect this to be able to extended any further and you will have no choice but to move to CRM 2013.

Provided your customisations are done with the guidelines set by Microsoft and you don’t have any legacy CRM 4 code (see the Technical considerations below) your CRM should upgrade without any technical problems, and your focus should be on the changes affecting users (see User considerations below).

If you are concerned about how your CRM 2011 system will upgrade please get in touch and we’ll be able to help. We can even put a copy of your customisations onto a test CRM 2013 server for you to review and help alleviate any concerns.

Things you need to consider
We’ve grouped the things you need to consider into Technical considerations, User considerations and Getting the most out of CRM 2013.

Technical considerations
User considerations
Get the most out of CRM 2013
Legacy features will NOT be supported in CRM 2013:

Dynamics CRM 4.0 plug-in
Dynamics CRM 4.0 client-side scripting
Dynamics CRM 4.0 custom workflow activities
2007 web service endpoint
ISV folder support for custom web applications (for on-premise)
Support is discontinued for:

Windows Server 2003 (for on-premise)
Windows XP
IE 7
The upgrade is ONE WAY, there’s no turning back!

CRM 2011 Solutions will import to CRM 2013:

Solution Files will be converted to new format on Import
Solution Content will be upgraded into CRM 2013 Forms and Data engine updates
Both Managed and Unmanaged solutions will be supported
Forms

Forms stay as-is with all the existing customizations and layout and continue to work
Post-upgrade, you will be able to manually select to upgrade/switch to CRM 2013 forms, basic tooling to help the migration process built in
Plugins

With the new autosave feature your plugins may fire at unintended times causing your business logic to fail, or put unnecessary strain on the system. Plugins will need to be reviewed and modified to ensure they only fire when they need to. You may also consider removing some of your plugins and replacing them with the new synchronous workflow capability in CRM 2013, enabling your power users to control business logic that only developers could support in the past.
Unsupported customisations

‘Unsupported’ customisations are unlikely to work post upgrade so these will need to be identified and addressed as part of the upgrade process

What is new or has changed in CRM 2013?
Further details are emerging all the time however there are several things we know now which we think you should be aware of:

The User Experience

The user interface has been completely overhauled to provide a much ‘flatter’ experience for users. Pop-up windows have all but been eliminated and you are now able to configure forms so that information from multiple related entities can be displayed in a single window. Some of the higlights are:

The ribbon has been removed and replaced with a top level navigation bar
The left hand entity navigation area has been removed
Forms by default auto save every 15 seconds (this can be turned off for all users)
A visual business process bar can be shown on the entity form to help guide users through standard procedures – these processes can span multiple entities (up to 5)
You can now add an image to a record – great for company logos, pictures for people etc
A new ‘Phone’ field type which enables ‘click-to-call’ launching Skype/Lync
New ‘Quick Create’ form type for creating new records – only display important fields to capture at initial creation
New ‘Preview’ form type for displaying record information on a related record, for example Account information on a Contact form
Mobile and Tablet capabilities

CRM 2013 comes with new mobile capabilities for the iPad and Windows 8 tablets, the primary goal being increased productivity for the salesperson on the go.

Mobile optimised dashboard Charts (when online only)
Form design based on ‘re-flowing’ desktop form into mobile design – this means only have to configure forms once.
Tabs and sub-grids shown as columns in the mobile client
Personalization – Tiles can be pinned to Window 8 Start and Dashboard, can resize the dashbaord, change column widths
Limited offline capability – read only, records visited will be cached and visible when disconnected
Business Process capability supported Mulitple entity search – up to 10 entities can be configured for searching when using the mobile client
Outlook Client and server-side synchronisation

The Outlook client has had many performance and stability improvements.
New “Server Side Synchronization” capability which enables server to server sync of email, tasks, appointments, via integration with Exchange Server. This alleviates the need for using the email router (which had to be installed on an always connected Server/PC) or Outlook Client to work with emails in CRM.
Exchange Online is supported or alternatively SMTP/POP3 (Gmail / Hotmail / Yahoo / MSN / Live / Outlook.com).
Other new features and functionality

Real time workflows – a very powerful feature that can minimise the need for plugin development. This type of workflow executes immediately and provides feedback to the user in real-time.
Actions – power uses can create custom actions (e.g. Escalate Case) which can be called in the client via web resources and via the API in custom code.
Data encryption options for data stored in the SQL database
New “Access Teams” security option – useful for assigning a group of people to a specific record (opportunity, case etc.)
Importing Solutions – Enhanced import performance and version specific imports instead of any version imports
Licensing

New licence options (online and on-premise):
Essential: Access to system entities, custom entitles, SDK access, activities and activity feeds.
Basic: Essential + Access to accounts, contacts, cases, leads, reporting personal dashboards and visualizations.
Professional: Basic + Access customizations and all other features.
New storage model for online: Additonal 2.5GB storage included for every 20 users up to a max of 50GB (default baseline storage is 5GB).
Additional instance add-ons for online:
Add production and non-production instances that existing users associated with the same Microsoft Online Service tenant can use.
One non-production instance is included with your subscription if you have 25 or more Professional Users.
Upgrading

Online customers should have been notified about any scheduled upgrades to the CRM software and/or the billing platform.
Support Discontinued for: Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and IE 7 CRM 2011
Solutions will import to CRM 2013, both Managed and Unmanaged solutions will be supported; Solution files will be converted to new a format on import.
All supported CRM 2011 customizations (including custom scripts) will continue to work in CRM 2013. Because of the new auto-saving forms plug-ins may need some re-work to ensure they don’t fire unintentionally.
How xRM Consultancy can help you
The xRM Consultancy team has been immersing itself in all the pre-release information and Beta software versions we have been given access to as a partner. This means we are ready to help our clients understand what they need to do to upgrade or migrate to CRM 2013 and ensure they can leverage all the new features to make them more competitive and/or efficient.
We can help you:

Audit your current customisations and imported solutions for CRM 2013 fit
Provide advice on upgrade considerations
Migrate any legacy code that needs updating to be compatible with 2013
Understand the new features and how your organisation can take advantage of them