Upgrading from Microsoft Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central in the Cloud
At ArcherPoint, we get it.
We specialize in upgrading Navision, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC). In this article, we want to share some of our experiences – surprises, gotchas, and unexpected events we’ve had upgrading our NAV on-premises clients to BC SaaS. Moving to the cloud can appear daunting. And, no, it’s not always smooth. But in the end, it is well worth the time and investment. If you are considering a move from Dynamics NAV to BC in the cloud, this article should help you gain some perspective and allay those fears by helping you understand what to expect.
What are some of the issues with upgrading NAV to Business Central?
Business Central is the product that is the “new NAV”– it is what NAV has evolved to–a true cloud solution that can also run on premises. Older NAV versions allowed users to customize the business logic directly using a programming language called C/AL. While this offered incredible flexibility, it was a stumbling block when it came time to upgrade the software because each customization had to be migrated to work with the new releases, and this took time.
Current versions of BC have discontinued using C/AL in favor of a new programming language, AL, and a new concept, called Extensions. Using Extensions (apps) does not modify Microsoft or ISV (add-ons) code, so upgrades can happen automatically.
Business Central has also eliminated the Windows Client in favor of the modern Web Client. Since the release of Business Central version 15, the Windows Client is no longer available. The Web Client allows users to connect with Dynamics 365 BC through a standard web browser. And since the Windows Client could only run on premises anyway, it does not help in a cloud environment.
Why are companies hesitant to upgrade from NAV to Business Central SaaS?
In our experience, the most common reason people hesitate to upgrade to BC in the cloud is because they have invested in add-on products from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that are not available for the cloud version of BC. Other reasons include:
- Their version of NAV is so old that they don’t think they can afford to ever catch up.
- They are comfortable with their on-premises version of NAV and don’t want to give up the Windows Client.
Let’s take a moment to walk through these scenarios.
ISV products are not available for BC SaaS. Because many NAV add-on products were written using C/AL, it represents a significant investment for ISVs to re-write the applications for newer versions of BC. NAV users have several options available to them in this case.
You might not even need the add-on product. Newer versions of BC contain many features that used to require ISV solutions. There might also be alternatives that are compatible with BC that can replace your current ISV product. Talk to your Dynamics Business Central partner to see if you still need your current ISV products or if better alternatives are available.
Our version of NAV still works, but is too old. This should never hold you back from upgrading. In the past year, we have upgraded clients using NAV 3.6, NAV 4, and NAV 5.0. Again, we recommend our clients upgrade to take advantage of the advances Microsoft has made in the software, from processing speed to feature enhancements and security updates.
We’re happy with our on-premises version and Windows Client. There are many cost advantages to moving to a cloud deployment for your ERP software, such as reduced IT staffing and fewer headaches upgrading hardware and operating systems. Moreover, when a company has many NAV users, each software upgrade requires the IT department to upgrade each user’s computer with the latest Windows Client version, and it can only run on a Windows machine. In contrast, the Web Client works across the network or the web using any standard browser independent of the operating system, from Windows to MacOS to mobile devices.
Some additional benefits include more detailed error messages to help your partner determine the cause of problems, AI-driven help screens help you find answers to questions faster, integration with a cloud management system, integration with Power BI, and small changes to business logic can be completed by in-house developers using BC’s wizards without having to ask your partner. Talk to your Dynamics partner and compare the cost of maintaining an on-premises version of NAV vs. moving to the cloud. And be prepared to tell your partner what features of the Windows Client you think are most important to you. You might find that these features are in the Web Client as well – and since the new user interface is more customizable, it may even work better than you think!
What are the key takeaways?
One thing that complicates an upgrade even now is if customizations were made to a deprecated feature. In that case, the partner will have to make a significant change in their extension to support the new model. However, if no modifications were made to that part of the application, it becomes a non-issue. Probably the best advice is to upgrade to the latest version, even if you decide to remain on premises. It might be a bumpy ride to get there, but once there, future upgrades will go much faster and with less cost and hassle for both you and your partner.
Connect with the right partner – Get a Free Upgrade Quote from ArcherPoint Today
The first step to getting your upgrade plan together is to know how much you need to budget. Let the upgrade experts at ArcherPoint help you make sense of all the moving parts in your ERP and give you advice on how to best make your move from NAV to BC.