At Beringer Technology Group, we have a deeply-experienced Dynamics team who strives to provide the best possible customer experience while building or updating customer systems. Many of our customers request changes to their Dynamics system on a frequent basis. Some of these changes include modifications to forms, added automation (such as business processes or workflows), installation of new 3rd party solutions, and utilization of the latest technologies (such as migrating from using the Email Router to Server Side Sync). We also add or adjust integrations with other data systems.
Why Use a Sandbox Org?
When there are major changes pending to a system, such as the upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics version 8 to version 9, or when adding a new integration process, there are always concerns from our customers about how these changes will impact the function and access to the system.
As part of our best practices for Dynamics 365 system upgrades, we advise our customers to implement a sandbox organization, to be configured with the same custom elements as in the production organization.
How is a Sandbox org built?
Before you begin testing, the sandbox organization will be setup in the same version of the production site. The default solution will be applied from production to sandbox, and then the “update” or “upgrade” will be applied. Some record data will be added to the sandbox to use for testing specific business processes or automation.
How do we use a Sandbox org?
As the name implies, the sandbox org is a place to “play” with configuration changes to the system without any impact on the production environment. Since sandbox orgs can be upgraded on a different schedule than the production org, our team utilizes this capability to build a “test” system in the sandbox and then applies the update to it. This will allow our customers to take a look at the system first, understand the changes and then thoroughly test the business processes used by employees. If there are any issues with access, form display, workflows, or business processes, we can work through these and resolve them without any disruption of the normal business data flow through the production system. Only when we all agree that the Sandbox is working as expected, will we schedule the upgrade of the production org.
The organization will then be tested by one or more users to look for any issues with forms, workflows, business processes etc. We want to be sure that the normal business processes and flows still work as expected after the changes have been applied. This also allows us to address any issues if users come across errors or changes in a function that need to be corrected.
Is there anything else I can do with a Sandbox org?
Another useful feature of a Dynamics sandbox is that since you build, design, and test it first, it can be used as a “demo” system to show your users the look of the changes that are coming soon to the production system.
If you have an extensive upgrade/change project going on, employing multiple teams to make changes, you should consider purchasing additional sandbox organizations beyond the first one, to allow the teams to develop independently, but start with the same configuration. This will prevent stepping on each other’s work during the project.
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