The regular Dynamics 365 Business Central release cycle brings constant improvements and allows customers to benefit from new features and an always up-to-date, secure and compliant solution. On the flip side, it obliges Dynamics Partners to constantly ensure that the solution is up to date. Even though Dynamics Partners are well used to the upgrades, they are also used to being in control in terms of when to schedule an upgrade and how to approach an upgrade. However, for Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS Extensions, the rules of upgrades are very different.

Dynamics Partners who have Dynamics 365 Business Central Extensions on Microsoft AppSource, and resellers who provide Per Tenant Extensions (PTE) in Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS must align the code with the Microsoft release cycle within set deadlines. An inability to make code compatible and meet the deadlines can cause a serious disruption for the Dynamics Partners and impact end-customer business continuity. Read on to find out more.

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Challenges Faced by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS Extensions

The cumulative updates (CU) for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, released monthly, bring minor hotfixes and regulatory feature updates. Microsoft has a policy not to introduce any Breaking Changes with CU updates. Following this, each month, Extensions in Business Central SaaS should be automatically uplifted to the newest CU update without the risk of malfunction.

However, the bigger changes are introduced with the major versions of Dynamics 365 Business Central, which are released every 6 months. Although the major version brings long-awaited platform and functional enhancements, they also have the side effect of breaking Extensions in Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS. To avoid malfunctions, Dynamics Partners must adjust the solutions in advance, to ensure compatibility with the latest release of Dynamics 365 Business Central. This requires additional effort, such as:

  • Planning additional resources for the Extension Maintenance and ensuring smooth processes. It is important not to overload technical staff with Extension Maintenance tasks and free up time for the continuous delivery of new features.
  • Taking time to constantly monitor and test the Dynamics 365 Business Central solution and make minor or major adjustments to the Extensions.

Previously, to overcome the difficulties with maintaining Extensions in Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS, Dynamics Partners used to postpone the update until it is convenient for them to adjust the Extension. This resulted in some Dynamics Partners not fully reacting to the Microsoft release cycle. Following that, recently, Microsoft introduced the mandatory update policy for Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS Extensions, which includes strict deadlines that must be met.

The Deadlines for Keeping up with Dynamics 365 Business Central Release Cycles

Since Microsoft announced the mandatory update policy, regular Extension maintenance in Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS has become crucial. According to Microsoft’s policy, customers now have a 60-day period to perform upgrades of Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS Extensions, without the ability to postpone. As soon as the new Dynamics 365 Business Central release is available, the clock starts ticking.

The Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS upgrade deadlines, initiated by Microsoft, are as follows:

  • T1 – T30 (Day T): After the latest Dynamics 365 Business Central update, Microsoft alerts administrators, resellers, and ISVs within a time frame of one month until the upgrade is successful.
  • T30 – T60: After one month of failed upgrade attempts, Microsoft alerts the customer. For AppSource Extensions, if no appropriate action has been taken since the release (T - T+30 days), the Extension will be removed from the Microsoft AppSource.
  • T60 – T150: If code incompatibility issues with the new Dynamics 365 Business Central release are not resolved at T+60, Microsoft initiates the customer’s wind-down period.

How Are Upgrades in Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS Different from Upgrades in Dynamics 365 Business Central On-Premises?

The deadline to complete upgrades for Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS Extensions are quite different from what we are used to seeing in Microsoft Dynamics C/AL on-premises upgrades:

  • Smaller but More Frequent Upgrades: Extensions reduce the surface area, where new Dynamics 365 Business Central releases do not have as big an impact on customer solutions as they used to have in Dynamics C/AL On-premises.   
  • Upgrades are Now Time Sensitive: With the need to keep up with the Dynamics 365 Business Central release schedule, we do not have the luxury of postponing the upgrade to a time that is more convenient.
  • The Scope of the Upgrades is Unknown in Advance: Previously, Microsoft introduced the Dynamics NAV/Dynamics Business Central roadmap 3 years in advance, informing everyone of the solution development plans. Now, the Breaking Changes can pop up a couple of months before the preview of the new major Dynamics 365 Business Central version release.

Customer Expectations with Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS

Customization lifecycle in Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS

Picture 1. The customization lifecycle in Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS

Most Dynamics Partners aim to make customers happy to ensure customer retention, increase customer loyalty and reduce negative word of mouth, all while increasing company revenue. With customers on Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS, Dynamics Partners need to ensure that customer solutions function fluently at all times, no matter how many updates are required or how complex these updates are.

Customers understandably want uninterrupted business processes while also having the ability to predict the total cost of ownership for the Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS solution. These expectations can be compared to buying an airplane ticket. Once the ticket is bought, the expectation is to successfully arrive at the destination. No one is expecting to receive any additional fees if the pilot encounters bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances along the way. 

To make it easier for Dynamics Partners to ensure customer satisfaction and to remove the overhead of maintaining Extensions in-house, 1ClickFactory offers a reliable Extension Maintenance service. The service ensures Extension compatibility with the latest version of Dynamics 365 Business Central for a fixed monthly fee. The transparent maintenance costs allow Dynamics Partners to efficiently address their customer’s needs and reduce financial risks. To find out more about Extension Maintenance and how 1ClickFactory can help, visit the 1ClickFactory website or get in touch today.