Whether we talk about a CRM, an ERP system or just your operating system, upgrade is a big decision. It entails effort, money and many times a lot of unnecessary pain.
When should you upgrade your system? A rule of thumb is that you should not let pass more than 2 product release cycles. This is important because the vendor may change the technology during this time. In this case continuing to improve your system using the old technology just adds to the upgrade effort. Having the right information is very important and a good partner will advise you on when it is the best time to upgrade.
How to prepare for an upgrade? Knowing your system both on the functional level and the technical level is very important. In most cases you don’t have the internal resources to master the product on a technical level hence the importance to have a continuous and solid relationship with your partner.
The preparation for the upgrade starts with the installation of the system. A good implementation takes the upgrade process into consideration from the installation of the product, through the business process, the customizations and the integrations. Following best practices is paramount.
An upgrade entails an effort on your team so avoid busy season.
In very special cases, if your business flows changed completely since the system was installed or the original implementation was subpar you may want to consider a re-implementation instead of an upgrade.
How the upgrade should be done? An upgrade follows the same steps and principles as a regular system implementation. You need a test server on which the system will be installed and upgraded. All integrations with the system need to be reviewed and tested. All business flows need to be tested. In most cases the users need to be trained on the new functionalities or the new user interface. Once all is good, depending on the length of the upgrade process, pick a night or a weekend and upgrade your Production environment.