Managing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 online service updates

I like to go full bore into something. If you have a backup plan, then you’ve already admitted defeat. Henry Cavill

If you don’t manage backups they will manage you into a whole bunch of trouble

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online delivers two service updates a year, you can delay but you have to update your Microsoft Dynamics CRM online once a year.  One service update is mandatory.  You can delay a CRM online service update but you cannot hide from it.

When Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online was first released I wondered what Microsoft Dynamics CRM online subscribers did before sandbox instances, how did they test the service updates for their Microsoft Dynamics CRM online.  If you consider the on premise version of CRM is often 6 months behind you need a Microsoft Dynamics CRM online to test the new functionality.

There are two key questions you need to ask

  1. How do I test my Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online?
  2. How do I develop for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online?


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online update facts

  • There are 2 service updates a year.
  • You will receive an email with the schedule update date.
  • You can reschedule the update to a date and time to suit you.
  • Your Microsoft Dynamics CRM online instance will not be updated unless you approve it.
  • You can choose to not apply an update.  The next update becomes mandatory, meaning you have to apply the minimum of one update per year.
  • Best practice (says Microsoft) is to run the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
  • Best practice (says Hosk) is to delay updating your version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM online for 1 or 2 months, to allow any nasty bugs to be fixed by Microsoft.  I discuss something similar in this blog – Should you keep up with Microsoft Dynamics CRM release cycle?

Best approach to updating CRM online

Make sure Microsoft Dynamics CRM online updates don’t break none of your customizations by testing the whole system.

Microsoft has made this process easier by introducing sandbox instances, which allows you to create an environment copy of production on a non production (sandbox) instance.

Microsoft added sandbox instances, you get one free if you 25 enterprise users or they cost £90ish plus data costs a month.

Learn about Microsoft Dynamics Sandbox instances here with a good technet article

You can apply the Microsoft Dynamics CRM online service update to the sandbox instance and test your customisations, if it works without problems you can schedule the service update to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM online production instance.

Microsoft created a great technet article – Manage Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online instances

It has two scenarios on updating Microsoft Dynamics CRM online.

Be Prepared

Be Prepared… the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise. Robert Baden-Powell

I wrote Why you should write code and customizations like a boy scout and you must be prepared to manage your service updates.

You must be prepared in advance when the service update is available, what’s in the service update and how you will test your CRM instance.

The customer needs to be ready to test the customisations and sign off the update has not effected your customisations.

You can delay one service update but this will put more pressure on the next one, you must ensure there are resources and time to test the update.

Don’t let a service update sneak up on you and don’t underestimate the effort needed to test all the customisations

The customer will need to have some resources ready and be in a position to sign off so you can schedule the service update to your product CRM Online environment….Time is ticking.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online service update waits for no one.  The customer needs to be made aware of the process, cost and time constraints.

  • Time – One service update is mandatory per year.
  • Cost – Cost of a sandbox environment.
  • Effort – You will need a CRM admin to create the sandbox instance.  Resources will be needed to test the customisation, you will need a test plan.
  • Sign off – Someone needs to sign off the sandbox environment
  • Schedule – Schedule the production service update


The practical usually turns out to be different from the theory.  Make sure you are comfortable with creating and configuring sandbox instances.

Know where to look for service updates and how to schedule them.

Production deployments are not difficult but it’s important they are done right