Pros and Cons of Upgrading: Dynamics NAV vs. Dynamics 365 Business Central


Business Central ERP Selection & Management

Table of Contents

By Chris Young
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As Microsoft Dynamics NAV transitions to Dynamics 365 Business Central, all current Dynamics NAV customers have a choice to make. Do you continue down the path of maintaining your older on-premise system and infrastructure? Or, do you start investing in the next generation cloud-based SaaS solution, Dynamics 365 Business Central?

Go back to the days of typewriters, VCRs, and the classic Walkman. While they all served their purpose at the time, they eventually became obsolete as new, better ways of typing, watching movies, and listening to music emerged. While you may be resistant to change, consider how quickly new technology took over, and the old ways became obsolete.

Obviously, moving your people and business processes from Dynamics NAV to Business Central is a bit different than replacing your Walkman with an MP3! Upgrading will require more than simply migrating your data from Dynamics NAV and flipping the switch in Business Central. While it’s not as time-consuming and complicated as other Dynamics NAV upgrades you’ve likely experienced in the past, it still requires some strategic planning and preparation before jumping in.

The best way to make the right decision for your business is to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Business Central. Lucky for you, we did some of the heavy lifting. We came up with a list of some of the major pros and cons of upgrading from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Debating the cost, benefit, and impact will help you consider all angles, and hopefully reveal the best path forward for you and your business.

The Cons of Upgrading

Nobody likes to end on bad news, so let’s start with the cons of upgrading Dynamics NAV to Business Central. Most Dynamics NAV on-premise customers have been managing their software and maintaining related hardware for years. Due to the complexity and cost of recoding customizations and report rewrites, software upgrades themselves have likely been out of reach.

While the process of upgrading to Business Central is now drastically different, many Dynamics NAV customers are still a little skeptical of the work that is involved.

The important thing to understand is that Microsoft has re-created modifications in Dynamics 365 with ‘extensions,’ so the upgrade process moving forward doesn’t have to be so laborious, disruptive, or cost-intensive. With automatic, incremental updates in the cloud once you migrate to Business Central, you will always be running on the latest capabilities, features, and security – with full control over permissions and access. But, to get there, you still need to go through your last upgrade and rollout Business Central across your business.

Let’s say you have been running Dynamics NAV on-premise for over 20 years. Here are some of the reasons why you might be resistant to changing your technology, infrastructure, and existing way of business process management:

  • New doesn’t necessarily mean better. Compared to the reputation that Dynamics NAV has built over the last decade and the familiarity you have with the system, Dynamics 365 and cloud-based ERP systems are still a relatively new concept.
  • When you’ve already invested heavily in infrastructure, you want to get the most value out of that technology before moving to a system that requires virtually no hardware maintenance or storage.
  • Customizations need to be rewritten from scratch to fit the Extension architecture in Business Central. For many companies who have paid for customizations built specifically for their industry or business processes, this presents an additional cost and scope in the upgrade, despite it being the last time those migrations need to occur.
  • Depending on the version of Dynamics NAV you are running, you may not be eligible for an upgrade at all. If you have NAV 2013 R2 or older and require extensive changes to base configuration, you may have to consider a technical reimplementation.

The Pros of Upgrading

Now let’s cut to the chase. Business Central is a big change when you have been using the same familiar system for years. But the reality is, Dynamics NAV is the foundation of Business Central. It’s a facelift of your existing system with all of the modern technological advancements you need to stay competitive in the market and improve productivity. It also means your users don’t have any adoption barriers, because it feels and functions just as Dynamics NAV.

Here are the major pros of upgrading from Dynamics NAV to Business Central, and reasons why so many of your fellow NAV peers have made the change:

  1. Access to Data and Reports from Anywhere
    Step into the modern world by changing how your employees access, share, and analyze information. Business Central offers an intuitive, personalized user experience they can access on any device with an internet connection.
  2. Lower Total Cost of Ownership
    Without hardware and infrastructure maintenance or storage, you never have to worry about connectivity issues or downtime again. With Business Central, you pay a monthly subscription for storage, hosting, and continuous access to your data.
  3. Seamless Integration with Other Microsoft Products
    Business Central provides one platform to access all of the modules and tools you need to do your job every day. From Office 365 to Power BI, all of your data is connected and easily accessible from one location.
  4. Ease of Extended Functionality
    AppSource, Microsoft’s extension marketplace, is a hub for business and industry applications to customize and enhance your Business Central system. With a quick installation, you can build onto your system without complex development work and massive consulting fees.
  5. Automatic, Cumulative Updates
    Say goodbye to long, risky, and expensive upgrade projects and additional costs – for good. With a continuous release cycle and incremental updates from Microsoft, you will never fall behind on the latest capabilities and security features. Business Central is the last major upgrade you will ever need.
  6. Industry-Leading Security
    Microsoft Azure is one of the most trusted global cloud providers in the world, with embedded security, privacy, and over 70 compliance offerings to protect data and ensure complete control you’re your business operations.

Outside of these major functional advantages, there are also some cost and time considerations to be aware of when it comes to upgrading. Dynamics NAV customers have a rapidly closing window to upgrade. Business Central version 14 contains the C/SIDE code components that allow Dynamics NAV customers to upgrade to Business Central with their current modifications intact. Unfortunately, Business Central version 14 will be unavailable after April of 2020 and only available on mainstream support for 5 more years. After April, any upgrades to Business Central will require version 15 licensing, which discontinues C/SIDE and requires an entire reimplementation.

At Clients First, we understand that every Dynamics NAV customer is in a different situation. To help educate you on Business Central and prepare you for your future upgrade or reimplementation, we have put together a comprehensive whitepaper with everything you need to know about Business Central.

Step into the Future with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: A Complete Guide

Download Whitepaper

Start Planning Your Business Central Upgrade

Upgrading from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central is a big move, but we believe that the pros significantly outweigh the cons. Business Central is the future and your opportunity to reorganize how to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.

As market leaders in enterprise software and infrastructure, we want to set you up for success. Clients First is offering a fixed-fee upgrade proposal with guaranteed pricing to all existing Dynamics NAV customers. Schedule your Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central planning workshop today!

Book Your Business Central Planning Workshop Now

Chris Young

Chris Young

Partner, Clients First Business Solutions New Jersey

Chris Young is your go-to resource for all things Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central at Clients First. Highly skilled in ERP solution architecture and financial planning, Chris has spent the last 30 years helping clients select and implement the right financial, manufacturing, and distribution software for their needs. When he’s not presenting to captivated crowds or sharing his knowledge through product demos, you can find Chris in the garage working on a car or fixing something around the house.