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January 12, 2024


Why Should I Upgrade to Business Central?


By Georgia Deery

When it comes to upgrading your Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution to Dynamics 365 Business Central, there is no ‘one size fits all approach’.  No one business is the same and there are many factors you need to take into consideration before embarking on an upgrade journey for your ERP solution. 

Why Should you Upgrade to Business Central from Microsoft Dynamics NAV? 

Firstly, let’s look at some of the reasons why you might be or should be considering upgrading from Dynamics NAV to Business Central: 

  • Reducing Costs – Business Central is available in the cloud (as well as on-premises) meaning you can significantly reduce your infrastructure costs now and into the future without the need to maintain expensive servers.

  • Support and ongoing development – If you are running an old version of Dynamics NAV, it is no longer supported by Microsoft (even if your partner is still supporting you), which means on-going development has ceased and no additional patches or fixes will be released.

  • Access New functionality – Microsoft are continuously investing into the product with underlying cutting-edge technology as well as new features and functionality.  Take advantage of a wealth of new functionality in Business Central including AI and cashflow management.  Enhance your overall operational efficiency by automating and streamlining manual tasks and producing workflows.

  • Mobile Access – Provide access to essential business functions for your sales, service or warehouse teams with smartphone and tablet access.
       
  • Facilitate Remote Working – With robust cloud accessibility, enable remote workers to connect and collaborate seamlessly fostering a more flexible work environment with full access to data.  

  • Stay current and up to date – It’s no secret that it’s not been easy to upgrade to the latest version of Dynamics NAV.  One of Dynamics NAV most popular attributes is also one of its most prohibitive when it comes up upgrading – customisation!  

In the past customisations have posed a challenge when upgrading, but with Business Central customisations are now built as extensions making them easier to maintain and upgrade. You can stay current with upgrades from Microsoft twice a year including bug fixes, new functionality, and security updates, saying goodbye to those major costly upgrade projects. 

  • Improved Performance – As with any system, you will come across performance issues.  It’s now easier for Microsoft to monitor and use data from within the system to improve performance and of course an upgrade project is a great opportunity to clear out some old, no longer needed data. 

    • Top Tip – use an experienced partner to advise on clearing down data, they will have the right tools to identify what data needs to be kept and what can be deleted.

  • Business Changes – Changes to your business may mean your current version is no longer working for you and you need access to new features or functionality to support your growth journey. 

What is the Process for Upgrading Dynamics NAV to Business Central? 

The transition to Business Central from Dynamics NAV is determined by your current NAV version. If your organisation is on the latest Dynamics NAV version, a direct upgrade path is available. However, for organisations running an older NAV version, upgrading to a more recent version is necessary before making the shift. 

Other factors that determine your upgrade path include the complexity of your solution, integrations, and the level of customisation within your current system.  Sometimes customisations are no longer relevant or are not working as required, so these will need to be reviewed with your partner. 

You will also need to determine what type of upgrade you wish to take; start from scratch with a brand-new Business Central solution only taking data that is required for your day-to-day tasks or take across your modifications as well as your data.   

Each partner will have their own project methodology for upgrading, however you can expect the similar steps to those below: 

  • Assessing customisations - Identify and assess the existing customisations in the Dynamics NAV system; some of these customisations may not even be needed anymore or come as standard in Business Central.  Assumptions are often made that every customisation you currently have is needed, this is often not the case and could be an ideal opportunity to clean up the system and review processes. 
  • Investigate AppSource - Many customisations can now be delivered by apps from Microsoft AppSource, so it’s important that your partner investigates what is available in AppSource. 
  • Decide on upgrade path - Start from scratch or take modifications across?  Again, this is something that should be discussed with your partner. 
  • Scope Platform – Scope the approach for the right Business Central platform to migrate to; BC SaaS, BC On-Premise, BC Azure etc. 
  • Licences – Decide on the upgrade plan for your licences. 
  • Project Scope – A detailed scoping review of your organisation and business processes should be undertaken.  New functionality could mean new processes and more efficient ways of carrying out certain tasks. 
  • Project Timeline – Determine the project timeline with your partner and ascertain the resources required from the end-user perspective and ensure all stakeholders are engaged and understand their project responsibilities. 
  • Version – Identify if you need to take a direct upgrade path or if you need to upgrade to a more recent version of NAV first. 
  • Prepping data - Clean and organise your data in NAV including removing duplicates, verifying accuracy, updating out of date data.  Your partner will work with you to ascertain what data to take across and should take a backup in case of any issues. 
  • Mapping data – Data needs to be mapped from Dynamics NAV to Business Central and imported into the new system.  Tools are available for data migration. 
  • Testing - After upgrading data, testing and validating the new system is vital to ensure it’s working as expected. Create test scenarios to validate the system’s functionality and test all integrations and customisations.  Ensure end-users are involved in the testing. 
  • Training – Make sure your partner provides training on the new features, functionality, and layout of the system to your end-users and IT people to ensure you really get the most of out of it and benefit from those all-important efficiency improvements. 
  • Go-Live – When you’re ready to deploy and start connecting all your financials, sales, service and operations in your cloud-based system, your partner should be on hand to ensure a seamless transition.   

What are the Benefits of Upgrading to Business Central? 

In the ever-evolving landscape of Dynamics, the decision to upgrade to Business Central marks a transformative journey for organisations looking to elevate their efficiency, agility and competitiveness.  The upgrade isn’t merely a software transition; it’s a strategic move towards unlocking a realm of scalability, security, and advanced analytics with benefits such as: 

  • Seamless Integration – Business Central seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft Products and services including Office 365 and Power BI enhancing productivity and providing a more cohesive experience across business processes. 
  • Greater scalability – Flexibly adapt to evolving needs and growth.  Business Central scales with ease to adapt or expand your usage to meet changing business requirements. 
  • Improves efficiency – Business Central leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate processes and eliminate recurring manual tasks. 
  • Gain Deeper Insights – Gain deeper insights into your business data enabling smarter decision making with Power BI for advanced reporting and analytics. 
  • Cloud accessibility – Designed with cloud-first in mind Business Central allows users to access the system anywhere facilitating remote working while ensuring access to real-time information. 
  • Cost Savings – Infrastructure costs can be reduced with the reduction of hardware maintenance.  Monthly subscription fees enable you to manage budgets and reduce those expensive major upgrades. 
  • Increased productivity – The improved user-friendly user interface makes it easy to navigate enabling increased productivity.  The integration with other Microsoft products reduces silos and enables quick communication and collaboration. 
  • Simpler Customisations – It’s so much simpler to manage customisations within Business Central because they are built as extensions, which simplifies maintenance and provides a seamless transfer for your next upgrade.  
  • Improved Customer Experience – A 360-degree view of the entire business on a single screen offering centralised data facilitates collaboration between teams.  The centralised platform ensures everyone can contribute to a unified customer experience. 
  • Enhanced Security – As the security landscape evolves, Microsoft continues to enhance its security capabilities across Business Central with built-in security and compliance features, providing protection against data breaches and cyber threats. 

What are the key differences between Dynamics NAV and Business Central? 

Dynamics NAV 

Business Central 

On-premises 

Cloud Based 

Licenced per-server, concurrent user licences 

Licensed per-user, named user licence 

C/AL language is used 

AL Language used (helps with customisation, upgrades and extensions 

Requires more complex coding to integrate to other Microsoft tools 

Includes office 365 and CRM, doesn’t require complex coding for workflow and integrations 

Pay for the server regardless of how many users are accessing the system 

More scalable – can add/remove capacity at the click of a button 

Upgrades do not happen automatically and are a significant project particularly when it comes to customisations 

Upgrades happen automatically every 6 months (although if there is a business reason you can delay for 90 days) 

Customisations were done by accessing the base code of NAV making upgrades harder to manage 

Extension-based customisations which are separate from the core application 

Does not have in-built Artificial Intellgience (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities 

Business Central leverages AI and Machine Learning to provide insights, predictions, and automation of repetitive tasks (Microsoft Copilot)  

Limited automation and more manual workflows 

In-built automation and more advanced data management features 

Reporting is more limited 

Power BI is integrated into Business Central allowing users to build custom applications, automate workflows, create dashboards and reports. 

 

Next Steps and when to Upgrade from NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central 

Dynamics 365 Business Central is essentially the newest version of Dynamics NAV built on the same framework, expanding on functionality and leveraging cloud technology.  But with Microsoft relinquishing mainstream support for Dynamics NAV, now should be the time to start planning your migration to avoid compatibility problems, security concerns and missed opportunities! 

Contact us today to discuss any queries or concerns you have about your upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central.  

 

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