4 essential tips for a successful ERP upgrade: From AX 2012 to Microsoft Dynamics ERP

The consequences of an unsuccessful ERP upgrade can be incredibly damaging to any business, but with the extended support period for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 ending on October 12, 2021, the need to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics ERP is becoming more pressing. 

Despite this time-sensitivity, an unsuccessful ERP upgrade can easily lead to ineffective processes, disengaged employees, struggles with moving data and maxing out budgets, leaving a business with low user adoption and a system that fails to deliver what was promised. For businesses looking to upgrade from AX 2012 to Microsoft Dynamics ERP, these risks are understandably concerning - particularly in the current economic climate.  

If you’re considering an ERP upgrade, hare are Inciper’s 5 essential tips for a successful upgrade from AX ERP to Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations:

1.Review your existing business processes

2. Organise your data before moving to Microsoft Dynamics ERP

3. Engage all people involved with the ERP upgrade project

4. Better project governance


1. Review your existing business processes

One of the most common reasons an ERP upgrade is unsuccessful is because companies fail to adapt their processes to the new solution - opting instead to customise it to match the older version. This can lead to a cascade of problems further down the line. While it’s common (and somewhat understandable) to take existing business processes and automate them in your new ERP, an upgrade should be viewed as an opportunity to identify and improve business processes by adopting new capabilities. After all, automating bad processes doesn’t make them any better.  

Therefore, in order to ensure a successful upgrade from AX 2012 to Microsoft Dynamics ERP, you must review your businesses processes and align them with standard Dynamics 365 functionality as much as you possibly can.

You need to think about removing modifications to achieve a successful ERP upgrade, as too much customisation can lead to problems in the new solution, and will incur ongoing management costs. Customisation is by design more restricted in the new Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution than in AX 2012, and often businesses find that their processes have been enhanced in Dynamics 365 since the customisation was put in place. 

Where possible, you should remove these modifications and replace them with standard functionality in order to simplify the solution, align with best practices and remove risk and complexity. This will also greatly reduce the overhead involved in keeping the solution current. This includes automating as many processes as you can to improve people and process efficiency; for example, the automation of invoicing. These slight changes will not only make the upgrade run smoother; they will also make your current processes much more efficient - facilitating better management of your business as a whole in the future. 


Want to know more about how to better prepare for your upgrade from Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365? Check out our pre-upgrade checklist below. 

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2. Organise your data before moving to Microsoft Dynamics ERP

Many companies undertaking an ERP upgrade run into challenges when it comes to importing data from legacy systems into their new ERP solution, which is why it’s absolutely essential that you have complete clarity over all of your data when moving it from Dynamics AX 2012 to Microsoft Dynamics ERP. 

Firstly, you need to review and cleanse your AX ERP data - deciding what data needs to be migrated, and what can be left in the legacy solution. While some upgrade partners will opt for moving all data across to their new Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution (and it may seem like the easier option) this approach can lead to further compliance challenges in the long term. For example, your audit company will need access to unmanipulated source data in order to perform an audit. Since you will have to manipulate data to move it onto your new Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution, this may not be acceptable. It’s essential that you are still able to access, review and interact with legacy data in order to provide evidence for transaction history and adhere to your audit requirements. 

To achieve this, it’s best to work with a Microsoft Dynamics ERP upgrade partner who can build a solution that allows you to report on data from both Microsoft AX ERP and Dynamics 365 whilst retaining your unmanipulated legacy solution for audit purposes. 


3. Engage all people involved with the ERP upgrade project 

A key problem that many businesses face during an ERP upgrade project is getting users to actually adopt the solution, both throughout the project and after go live. Many organisations focus their efforts on gaining approval from just leadership executives, instead of involving the employees who will actually be using the system on a regular basis.  

It’s crucial to involve people across your organisation - from finance and operations to manufacturing. By engaging key stakeholders across the business in every aspect of the project, you will increase the likelihood of adoption because everyone will be invested in the process, making the Microsoft Dynamics ERP upgrade run as smoothly as possible. 

There are several approaches you can take when upgrading your current solution to Microsoft Dynamics ERP, but one way to ensure that everyone in the organisation is engaged is to work with an upgrade partner that actively encourages collaboration and participation. Many ERP upgrade partners risk taking over completely - building the solution and presenting it as a shiny new product, without the input of those who will actually use it. The most effective partners look to collaborate with key stakeholders and users in your business throughout the upgrade to configure a solution that meets their needs - including user acceptance testing, go-live rehearsals, and training of the user community followed by a transition to the new solution. We find that interaction and engagement at each stage ensures a more successful upgrade.

Find out why it’s time for an ERP upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 in your business.


4.Better project governance


“Every success, every mishap, every opportunity seized or missed is the result of a decision that someone made or failed to make” - Harvard Business Review 


Good project governance and efficient decision making are the cornerstone of every successful ERP implementation, and is vital in delivering a solution that aligns with the projected time, quality and cost outlined in your business case. Without this drive for efficient decision making, ERP upgrade projects can easily go over budget and time, resulting in low user adoption - all of which manifests as a largely unsuccessful upgrade.  

In order to ensure your Microsoft Dynamics ERP upgrade project is worth it, you need to work with an upgrade partner that understands your business needs, challenges and goals well enough to help facilitate better decision making and track business benefits. By choosing the right ERP upgrade partner, you’ll remain in control of any risks or issues that arise throughout the project in an open and transparent way, allowing problems to get solved much more quickly and efficiently.  

When upgrading Dynamics AX 2012 to Microsoft Dynamics ERP, there are some issues that you could run into if you aren’t fully aware of how to handle them. Upgrading to Dynamics 365 requires careful considerations, and steps need to be taken to ensure its success. 

Download our ERP upgrade checklist below to learn the key steps for ensuring your upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics ERP will be as smooth and seamless as possible:

[This blog was updated on the 24th of February 2021]

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