Upgrading Dynamics NAV

Should I do it? How long will it take? How do I get started? All your upgrading questions answered in one place!

Thinking girl on 'Should I upgrade?' slice

Should I upgrade?

The first question most people have (out of usually a very long list) when it comes to upgrading is quite simply 'Should I upgrade my Dynamics NAV system or not?'

Our answer? If your Dynamics NAV implementation is working well you should only consider upgrading if the new version offers sufficient benefit over the stability offered by your existing solution.

So instinctively our advice is yes, you should upgrade but only in your own time! It’s always important to start planning for an upgrade. The benefits of the latest version of Dynamics NAV (now known as Dynamics 365 Business Central), and the extended functionality provided by The NAV People, means that upgrading has never before delivered so many benefits. Most importantly, no new versions of the Classic Client will be released, meaning that at some point the Classic Client will no longer be supported on future versions of Windows.  Planning to do something will always be preferable than having to react. 

So, have a plan.  Even if it's two years away, don't be forced into upgrading without a plan. Think about what benefits could be gained and try to attach a value or time saving (especially improved visibility, workflow, document handling and sharing).  Remember - it's only software, not landing on the moon. You won't be the first or the last, your issues will have answers and your concerns will be understood!

Image of calendar on 'When should I upgrade' slice

When should I upgrade?

The ‘when’ question is an interesting one. When you see that the benefits are worth the investment in time and money, that’s your starting point.  With the latest version of Dynamics NAV, 365 Business Central, and complementary product enhancements, it’s easy to see improvements in efficiencies, user-friendliness and management of information.  By simply looking at them in the context of your organisation, it’s easier to justify to the business and easy to see how things could be improved. But! You could take some of those add-ons like Jet Reports (if you don’t have them already) along with the nHanced 365 Suite and other modules, and bolt them on to your existing solution.  Many people have implemented nHanced Workflow and Document Management on to (very) old versions of Dynamics NAV solutions and gained immediate benefits for limited cost.

You can certainly do small projects and solve point issues to get a leap forward with minimum cost, but think about that timescale talked about earlier.  If you have planned to upgrade in two years, then implementing workflow on your existing system makes sense, as you will be investing in something with a reasonable payback period.  If, however, you had eight months as your plan but you need workflow now, wouldn’t it be better to invest all your efforts (and money) in the new solution?

How do I upgrade my NAV system?

There are 3 different ways you can tackle upgrading and the route that you choose really depends on what you are trying to achieve by doing the upgrade. 

So, let's take a look at what the options are...

Upgrading - Technical Upgrades

1. The Technical Upgrade

Get the most out of your current system

The technical upgrade is the easiest approach to upgrading and pretty much means that you take your existing NAV system with all its data, modifications, business logic etc and installing the latest version of NAV. The outcome very much depends or your starting point but in essence a technical upgrade can give you benefits such as access to the latest clients or the ability to use ISV add-ons which you may have not been able to on your old NAV version.

More on Technical Upgrades
Upgrading - Full Upgrades

2. The Full Upgrade

Give me my old NAV, as it is, but in a new version

The Full Upgrade essentially runs your NAV objects, with all of their modifications through a ‘process’ to merge them into the latest version of NAV - i.e. Business Central. This approach is ideal if you have a number of bespoke modifications in your current system which you still use, you want to keep all your data and you aren’t looking to reconsider any of your business processes.

More on Full Upgrades
Upgrading - Clean Start Upgrades

3. Clean Start Upgrade

Out with the old, in with the new

If you want to get rid of unwanted data, rethink your business’ processes and restructure your basic information then the Clean Start option is for you. At the end of a clean start upgrade you have nice, clean data for reporting, faster performance and coherent processes, plus all the new functionality that the latest version affords. 

More on Clean Start Upgrades

To Sum Up!

Even if it’s two, three of four years away, you must have a plan around upgrading but whatever happens - don’t be forced into it!  Think about what benefits could be gained and try to attach a value or time saving (especially improved visibility, workflow, improved document handling and sharing).  Remember, it’s only software not landing on the moon. You won’t be the first or the last. Your issues will have answers; your concerns will be understood and just like having a baby - after the pain will be joy at what you have produced! 

If you think now's the time to upgrade your system or you'd like to someone who can give you more advice and an idea of upgrading Dynamics NAV costs do get in touch!

Help me with my upgrade!

Upgrading Terminology Explained!

  • NAV / Navision: Microsoft Dynamics NAV up to version 2018
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central: New NAV.  (If the marketing team at Microsoft hadn’t got a hold of it, it would have just been called Dynamics NAV 2019!)
  • Dynamics 365 Sales and Operations: This is not NAV! It is what was previously known as Dynamics AX.
  • C/AL: The name for the programming language used in NAV 2018 and previous versions. C/AL can be used in Dynamics 365 Business Central but by the end of 2019 it won’t be used any more so it’s not a coding route that we would recommend.
  • AL: The name for the new programming language which will be used in Business Central going forward.  This new language does not change any source code which means that it allows you to take software updates and easily do upgrades whilst still keeping your modifications.  It’s super clever stuff and it’s the approach that we recommend you use where possible.
  • Extensions: These are pieces of code written in AL that connect to your system via Events.
  • Events: Standard hooks in the system code that look to see if an Extension exists.
  • The Public Cloud: Microsoft’s out-of-the-box shared cloud offering.
  • The Private Cloud: Your own Cloud on Azure, AWS or the likes.
  • On-Premises: Your own ‘tin’ in the server room.
  • The Data Bridge: A way of passing all data from your current NAV system to Business Central solutions to take advantage of Mobile Clients (Web, Tablet, Phone & Outlook) and the Intelligent Edge.  With the Data Bridge no functionality will be passed to Business Central. Data can be processed to help build you clean start system Business Central database.
  • The Functional Bridge: A way of interfacing 2 or more NAV Solutions with Business Central.  It requires scoping because it is essentially a project.  You will also need to consider licences. Ideal for large business that doesn’t want a big bang approach to upgrading to Business Central.