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Event Preview: Defining a successful Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 user journey

by Eamon McCarthy Earls
Assistant Editor,

Microsoft Dynamics AX customers face many questions as they consider a future that includes a Dynamics 365 cloud ERP solution. Does it make sense to re-implement or is a migration possible? How should their organization approach testing and change management? How can they prepare the rest of their users and teams for a cloud future? A panel of Microsoft FastTrack professionals and Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management partner experts will be sharing advice on these topics and more in a new webcast on March 2, sponsored by Microsoft.

[caption caption="Rachel Profitt" align="right"]

MSDW spoke with panelists Rachel Profitt, Microsoft Senior Program Manager. and Jennifer Mazza, Microsoft Customer Success Manager, and event host and Microsoft MVP Rick McCutcheon about some of the themes that panelists are sure to discuss at the event.

Attitudes about migrations have changed over the last several years as cloud computing has become more trusted, Profitt has observed, but some of the underlying implications remain unsettled in many organizations. “I think a lot of the fear of data being in the cloud and not being secure there has changed," she said. "There used to be a lot of hesitancy about lack of control, and not being able to see databases or export things, particularly from IT teams. We have definitely started to turn a corner in that area in the sense that you don’t need to worry about these aspects and so your IT team can focus on things that bring more value."

[caption caption="Jennifer Mazza" align="right"]

A move from AX to D365 in the cloud typically requires an organization to prepare for a faster pace of change, Mazza explained. "How far behind can a customer be on D365 and still be current? In an on-premises world, customers plan probably six to twelve months in advance and now, in the cloud, that moves at a more rapid pace. You need to understand what features and functions are available [and what is coming next].”

The most successful customers don’t believe that they can simply lift and shift workloads to the cloud, Mazza added. Rather, successful users go through an evaluative process, working with Microsoft and a trusted partner to focus on business outcomes rather than technical milestones. As part of that process, Dynamics 365 customers should also understand the impact of change management on employees.

Every AX to D365 project includes decisions around moving data, third party apps, and customizations from AX to the cloud. Profitt noted that one point of discussion for the panel event will be the impact of cloud ERP on related systems. "An upgrade to ERP or CRM also impacts ancillary systems," she said. "As part of a move to Dynamics 365 F&O, you need an understanding of what is now out of the box and what is no longer needed from third party apps or customizations."

Customers will want to consider their options around historical data, archiving some, possibly even discarding other portions while a migration project move ahead. One important way to approach these challenges is to understand what's possible in Azure, says Mazza. "I advise customers to get out of AX mindset to see what's possible, what is easier to integrate, and what aspects of Azure that can add value to an overall solution like Synapse, Azure Data Lake."

The panel event will also share perspective from both Microsoft and channel panelists on the FastTrack implementation methodology for a Dynamics 365 implementation project, which incorporates both technical and business process priorities.

“The idea that we preach in FastTrack is you have to start with good clear goals and objectives," said Proffit. "Spend time up front to really identify what goals and objectives you think are really important. Customers that do this really well can talk about the value they get out of moving to the cloud. Are you taking the opportunity to improve specific business processes so that they are more automated with reduced total cost of ownership, perhaps eliminating extra ISV [products]? Start with really good goals, so you can make your case beyond a technical upgrade. Customers that go through mere ‘technical upgrades’ don’t have as much success."

“Incremental change is always easier than big change,” McCutcheon added. "The more you can chip away at it piece by piece [the more you will succeed]. Once you get to the cloud, one part of the process is over, but it will become more continuous and ongoing and, hopefully, less disruptive."

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About Eamon McCarthy Earls

As the assistant editor at, Eamon helps to oversee editorial content on the site and supports site management and strategy. He can be reached at

Before joining, Eamon was editor for at TechTarget, where he covered networking technology, IoT, and cybersecurity. He is also the author of multiple books and previously contributed to publications such as the Boston Globe, Milford Daily News, and DefenceWeb.