What appears to be a clear question on the surface quickly clouds in the face of reality.  Your data is not only important, it’s vital to the life of your business.  There are several reasons that I will cover below.

Database upgrades complete with no errors.

This is the first reason clients think of when testing upgrades, and this is the one we are concerned least about.  If this were a data migration from one system to another, then yes, the figures must be checked closely.  Barring damaged data, database upgrades simply add columns and procedures to accommodate new processes and features in Dynamics GP.  Your data actually remains relatively untouched during this process.  While you may think initially that all you need to be concerned about is your ‘bottom line’, that’s actually the one thing you don’t need to worry about.  Check, yes.  Concern, no.  What is more likely to have changed is the way to access that data and how it gets reported.  Bottom line on your bottom line, I cannot recall one upgrade in thousands where the figures did not tie out.

Vital business processes are not hampered.

This brings us to the second and most crucial step, yet one passed over by most clients – testing processes.  Data doesn’t do us much good if we can’t act or report on it.  Each new version of Dynamics GP brings new features, and those ‘features’ occasionally change location of an action button or drop-down from the bottom of a window to the top, or even to another window.  You need to know where changes have been made so you aren’t trying to learn while the UPS driver is waiting for a check.

Speaking of checks, the formatting, along with that of many other reports (yes, a check is a ‘report’ to the software) is also modified during upgrade processes to accommodate the changes to the tables noted above.  Some of the more frequently customer-modified reports include GL Trial Balances, SOP Invoices, Check layouts, and Purchase Orders.  With the upgrading of the formats, sometimes sort orders are changed, or other changes which may affect the looks of your invoices, checks, etc.

It is imperative that you devote time during a test upgrade to run through:

  • Daily Processes in Finance, Payables, Receivables, Payroll, Inventory
  • Weekly Procedures
  • Monthly Procedures
  • Quarterly and Year-end Procedures

That includes printing checks – to blank paper, then hold up the printed check to blank computer check stock to verify alignment.  Don’t forget to shred the printed check forms, particularly if GP is printing the signature.

Third-party and integration tasks should be checked as well.  Stand-alone programs and web interfaces should be checked for proper operation, functionality, and security.

Little or no testing can jeopardize your upgrade and result in not only lost productivity for you, but additional costs for an emergency situation that would have been uncovered and corrected in test.  Will we do an upgrade without a test?  Certainly, if you can afford the down time and loss of productivity.  The no-test scenario is usually reserved for 1-2 user systems running Payables and GL only.

Frequently an upgrade also means a new server.  This gives you a perfect chance to test the capacity and capability of the new server by loading the server as you would on a daily basis to make sure the application is as responsive as you need it to be before you’re in production and it’s too late to fix a problem without lost production time.  So don’t just have one person test the system – plan a time when everyone can test together.  If there are problems, we can diagnose and correct them before it becomes a critical issue.

CAL’s ‘What’s New’ training can be beneficial if done during in the test upgrade phase.  This will eliminate many of the navigation questions that may arise when first encountering the upgraded interface.  This training can be reinforced with additional assistance when the live upgrade is performed.

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