Sitecore upgrades don’t have to be a complicated process.

Sitecore upgrades don’t have to be a complicated process, but they’re often fraught with challenges and unforeseen errors that can have dire consequences for your business. However, with a good upgrade strategy in place and a little planning, you can upgrade to the latest version of Sitecore with little to no disruption. In this article, we’ll take a look at some best practices to bear in mind when upgrading your version of Sitecore.

Develop a comprehensive transition plan

Before you can start on anything else, you’ll need to develop and document a comprehensive plan for transitioning from one version of Sitecore to another. The upgrade process itself is relatively straightforward and there are several guides on the Sitecore Knowledge Base to point you in the right direction, but depending on the version and number of extensions you’re using, you might need to follow some extra steps to avoid unforeseen errors.

Identify current and target versions and prepare everything up front

First, identify the version of Sitecore you’re currently using. If you don’t know which it is, simply go to the Sitecore Desktop, open the Start menu, and select All Applications > System > About Sitecore. Your current version will be displayed in the top left-hand corner of the window. Once your target version is determined, you’ll need to assess the level of customisation in your current implementation. This can be achieved by comparing your current site’s config files with the original version, which will highlight changes that could potentially result in conflicts or incompatibilities.

Document all modules

Next, carefully go through all modules you’re currently using and document them. Then, compare the list to the modules available in your target version. Make a note on any that aren’t available for your target version so that you understand where conflicts may arise. For an easy reference on which modules are compatible with which versions, consult this compatibility table on the Sitecore Knowledge Base.

Maintain historic analysis data

Maintaining your organisation’s historic data can take up a lot of time, depending on the amount you’re working with. MongoDB has been used as the main data repository for Sitecore’s analytics since version 7.5, which could be a challenge for companies who have no experience working with NoSQL databases. If you’re unsure how to handle this, consider seeking help from a Sitecore partner.

Give your team adequate training on the Sitecore platform

No matter how good your upgrade plan or your digital platform strategy as a whole, it’s worth little if your team doesn’t know how to use Sitecore to its full potential. To achieve total end-to-end delivery of your strategy, organise regular training and refresher courses for your team members. Consider training a ‘substitute’ team member for each Sitecore role in order to avoid shortfalls in skills or knowledge should a key member be unavailable or leave the team.

Choose a partner with in-house Sitecore expertise

Selecting a digital platform partner that has in-house Sitecore experts is a great way to maximise the value you get from your platform. For example, RXP has in-house Sitecore experts that understand the platform thoroughly and can manage end-to-end delivery and support. This helps translate your objectives into an actionable plan and create a better experience for the end user, and, ultimately, better customer insights for you.

To find out more about how RXP can help you get the most out of your Sitecore implementation and guarantee a smooth upgrade process, download our free guide to Digital Platform Trends in 2017 or get in touch with us directly.

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