Microsoft’s current update strategy is an attempt to get all customers on the latest version of Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. Learn exactly what this means if you’re using D365FO and about Microsoft’s free automated testing tool, RSAT.
Published by Sycor
One Version: What is it and what does it mean for D365FO customers?
One Version, Microsoft’s current update strategy, is an attempt to get all customers on the latest version of Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. While this is beneficial to you as a D365FO customer and to Microsoft, it is important to understand what this means if you’re using D365FO.
Option to join “First release” stage for updates
With its new One Version strategy, Microsoft has implemented a multifaceted deployment and testing process, consisting of five stages, or rings, of deployment and testing. The foremost improvement comes from the engagement of optional programs that D365FO customers can join. These programs allow for Microsoft to work with select groups of customers prior to releasing updates to ALL customers, ensuring higher quality updates during the Standard release stage (Ring 4). An overview of this new process is shown in the image below.
Eight updates per year
Another important aspect of One Version, from a customer’s perspective, is the new update schedule. Microsoft has changed the number of updates to eight per year, with major updates being released in April and October. As Microsoft increases its investment in D365FO and more new functions are added in a shorter period, customers benefit from quicker access to the latest features, in addition to more implemented fixes. These benefits are only accelerated the more updates you run per year, which can be very advantageous in today’s fast moving and developing cloud world. The image below shows the new update schedule. Note that updates will be released in the same months year over year.
Ability to pause updates
The most important aspect to understand as a customer is the ability to pause updates. With One Version, you can only pause a MAXIMUM of three consecutive updates. Considering there are eight updates per year, this means you must take a MINIMUM of two updates per year. These updates are now cumulative, however, allowing for a smoother customer experience, especially when taking the minimum number of updates each year.
The ability to pause updates can be advantageous for customers and many will likely opt to apply the minimum number of updates each year. With the new update schedule, customers can apply these two updates in the same months, year over year. For example, if you just wanted to take the two major updates in April and October, the schedule allows you to do so by pausing three consecutive updates after each respective month. This example is outlined in the schedule below.
Increased need for testing
The challenge of One Version from the customer’s perspective is the obvious, increased need for testing resulting from frequent updates. This is where automated regression testing can be used to your advantage. Microsoft’s automated testing tool, RSAT, is included in the price of D365FO and can save companies money, reduce testing effort, and limit human error.
RSAT: What is it?
RSAT, or the Regression Suite Automation Tool, is a free, automated testing tool available to all D365FO customers. The only cost associated with RSAT is the Azure DevOps Test Plans license, which is required to work with test plans in Azure DevOps. With RSAT, users can take their task recordings, convert them into test cases in LCS, and then ultimately upload the test cases into RSAT to be used for automatic testing. The following will give a more in-depth overview of this process and how it works.
RSAT: How does it work?
The process starts with the creation of a task recording. Once the task recording is complete, a user can upload the recording file directly to LCS, effectively adding it to the BPM library along with the rest of the task recordings they have uploaded. The image below shows an example of a BPM library in LCS.
Each task recording is uploaded to its associated process in the BPM library. After this is done, a test case is automatically generated in LCS. Then, the test case can be uploaded to Azure DevOps. The image below shows a sequence of tasks making up the process of a rental order. A test case was uploaded to DevOps for each individual task in the process.
Notice that it is possible to assign an order to the process. Therefore, when this process is uploaded into RSAT for automatic testing, it will run the test in the order specified in DevOps. This is useful for processes such as the creation, shipping, and invoicing of a sales order, where you may want to pass variables (i.e. site, warehouse, customer, etc.) onto the next test case so that the entire string uses the same parameters.
After uploading the test cases to DevOps, the next step is to upload them into the RSAT tool. Just as you can change the order in DevOps, you can change the order in which the test cases run in the RSAT tool as well. The image below shows the same processes in the image above after uploading them to the RSAT tool.
Next, a user would run the test cases with a simple click of the ‘Run’ button in RSAT. Realistically, the test run would be done overnight considering the amount of processes that require testing. Finally, the user could then check the results in DevOps the following morning to see what processes passed, failed, or didn’t execute. An image of this is shown below.
For test cases that fail, DevOps provides detailed information about when and why the test case failed. A user can see the exact step in the task recording where a test case failed, as well as the error message the system generated during this step. This is a very useful feature that stems from RSAT’s constant connection to Azure DevOps.
RSAT Wrap-up: How can it benefit you as a D365FO customer?
Given the frequency of updates with One Version, customers will need to test more often, resulting in extra effort and manpower. After uploading a test plan into RSAT, a user can simply click ‘Run’ and all tests will run automatically overnight, rather than having to manually test each process. The results of all test cases will be available on DevOps as soon as the test run is complete. The user can then go back and review all test results the next day to see where, when, and why the errors are occurring. RSAT can also be used in the User Acceptance Testing stage to help further reduce manual effort.
Although RSAT requires significant initial effort to create task recordings, test cases, etc., it can save companies a remarkable amount of time and money in the long-term, as manual effort is reduced substantially after processes have been set up.
If you’re interested in RSAT and would like help setting it up, count on a Microsoft partner like Sycor. We’re here to help or answer any questions you have.
Sycor is a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner with over twenty years of experience supporting companies with IT services and solutions. With 18 locations worldwide, Sycor works with customers across the globe. In North America, its focus is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, as well as its ISV solution for recurring revenue and equipment rental management, Sycor.Rental. Sycor’s comprehensive Microsoft Dynamics 365 portfolio is complemented by services for Microsoft Azure, Power BI, Power Automate, SharePoint, and Office 365. For companies interested in Microsoft’s Regression Suite Automation Tool (RSAT), Sycor offers installation, set-up, and training services.
*Images provided by video “Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations: One Version Update Experience - BRK2032:" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL4FUsY7jmk