When Should I Upgrade Navision?


Business Central Cloud Solutions Microsoft 365

Table of Contents

By Chris Young
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Long before the days of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, or even Dynamics NAV, Microsoft ‘Navision’ was the original ERP system. Founded in 1983, Navision was a Danish accounting solution that Microsoft eventually acquired in 2002.  

Nowadays, the terms Navision and NAV (or Dynamics NAV) are often used interchangeably. If you are currently running Navision or NAV, it’s a great opportunity to take a step back and look at the progress this accounting package has made. From Navision to Dynamics NAV to the most recent evolution, Dynamics 365 Business Central. Twenty years of improvements have been made to this software—making it one of the most widely used tier 2 ERP solutions in the world, especially among small-to-medium sized businesses.  

Navision (Dynamics NAV) is popular because of its flexibility to meet specific business and functional requirements. Over the years, Microsoft and its developers have continued adding new features, making improvements, and even built-in the cloud. But if you are still running a version of Navision or NAV, you have never truly been able to reap all those newer benefits.  

Unfortunately, after spending two decades managing and maintaining the same on-premise software and hardware, the latest features are a bit out of reach. You might also be so familiar with Navision and NAV that you are resistant to these changes. The truth is that upgrading from Navision or Dynamics NAV to Business Central is going to be a transformation. There will be new features to learn and new processes to follow.  

The good news is that all the new iterations of Navision and Dynamics NAV through to Business Central have kept the original conceptual framework that makes it a preferred ERP for small-to-medium sized businesses that need flexibility, superior financial tracking, and optimized operational management. This includes the use of Dimensions and ease of tailoring and customizations.  

The extent of your migration efforts and learning curve with Business Central will vary broadly and depend on the version of Navision or Dynamics NAV you are currently running. However, this shouldn’t discourage an upgrade. In fact, the chances are that the more your business must undergo in an upgrade, the more negative impact your business is enduring by running a legacy Navision or NAV system.  

To help ease you into the idea of upgrading, we have outlined 7 situations where you should upgrade Navision or NAV to Business Central.  

  1. When Growth is on the Horizon  
    The business systems and infrastructure you use to manage your business should grow with you as your needs evolve and expand. Navision was a reliable solution back in the 2000s, but now, it has been surpassed by its “bigger and badder” siblings. It now forms the backbone for a modern cloud ERP solution that can be readily adapted to fit your current goals and functional requirements.  
  1. When Your ERP System and Maintenance Costs are Adding Up 
    After years of investing in on-premise software, hardware, customizations, IT staff, and maintenance, there comes a point where you need to reassess your IT spend. Are the rising costs worth the payoff? If you’re paying more every year and you are still stuck with a slow-performing ERP system that doesn’t meet your current needs, there are more cost-effective solutions out there.  
  1. When Employee Productivity Has Severely Declined  
    If your employees don’t have instant access to the data and business applications they need every day, you’re going to see dips in productivity. It can also pose a huge learning curve for new employees. The longer it takes them to find the files and information they need, the longer it will take to see results. Older versions of Navision don’t have the modern user interface, remote connectivity, or productivity enhancements included in Business Central; as a result, your people don’t have the right tools at their disposal.  
  1. When Task Workarounds are Slowing Performance  
    Workarounds are from having a system that doesn’t have the ability to do what you need it to do. From reports to workflows, you end up having to create time-consuming, manual workarounds to get from point A to point B. Most outdated legacy systems like Navision and NAV are full of workarounds that only the original employees know and understand. The funny part is, it’s likely avoidable with an updated version of the software that has the capabilities you are looking for.  
  1. When Your Customizations are a Tangled Web of Code    
    Navision is a highly customizable ERP system, and companies who use it have invested heavily in customizations built specifically for their unique business processes and industry. Some versions of Navision are so out of date that you are now probably paying an exorbitant fee for code maintenance, or your customization doesn’t really work.  If you decide to upgrade, you will definitely need to reassess these customizations and consider a re-implementation. It will not only avoid the cost and complexity of future upgrades but will also help your business perform more efficiently in the long run.  

    Keep in mind, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. The way Business Central, the new version of Navision, handles customizations is through something called “extensions,” which allows the base code to automatically and seamlessly upgrade without interfering with customizations or needing to migrate them. In short, this means no more expensive, disruptive upgrades ever again, and the investment you make now will last your business infinitely into the future.  
  1. When You’re Afraid of Costly Upgrades 
    The thought of upgrading your long-standing Navision or NAV system can be overwhelming, to say the least. It’s a big undertaking that will require planning, configuration, migration, training, and support. But it can be done strategically with minimal business disruption, and the outcome will open the door to new functionality and drastically improve the way you do business. You just need to find a partner with the right experience to help you through it.  

    Also, keep in mind that Business Central is built to be the last upgrade of Navision/NAV you’ll need, so you’re going to save a lot of money in the long run.  

Read: The Pros and Cons of Upgrading Dynamics NAV to Business Central 

  1. When Your Navision Partner is Avoiding You  
    This is a clear sign that your current partner is not up to the task of upgrading your out-of-date Navision system. Whether they are worried about the complexity and room for error, you want to put your trust in an experienced partner who has been through this Navision upgrade experience before.  

If any of these situations are familiar, it’s time to reconsider your ERP system. Depending on what version you are running, you may have to consider a technical re-implementation. But you have a lot of options.  

At Clients First, we know Navision, Dynamics NAV, and Dynamics 365 Business Central like the back of our hand. Our experts understand the architecture and have been working with companies like you for over 20 years. Since Dynamics NAV became Business Central, we have seen huge successes from organizations that have made the move to the cloud. From modern features to cost savings, we highly recommend considering Business Central when it’s time to upgrade.  

An Introduction to Dynamics 365 Business Central  

When you have been using the same familiar ERP system for years, Business Central may seem like an enormous change. But Navision and Dynamics NAV is the foundation of Business Central—so it will be more recognizable than you realize. The biggest difference is the cloud. Going from on-premise Navision to a cloud-based SaaS solution is new. To get a better understanding of what cloud ERP can bring to your business, read this blog post.  

For Navision and NAV customers, Business Central is a modern version of the flexible ERP system that you know and love. Think of it as a facelift of your existing software. The features it includes will allow you to accelerate performance, improve productivity, and stay competitive:   

  • Modern user interface  
  • Better operational visibility and productivity  
  • Uninterrupted access to data and reports from anywhere 
  • Built-in business intelligence and analytics  
  • Seamless integration with other Microsoft products (Microsoft 365, Power BI, etc.)  
  • Simplified customizations and extended functionality   
  • Automated cumulative updates 
  • Industry-leading security and data protection  
  • Reduced overhead and IT bottleneck 
  • Lower total cost of ownership 

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of Business Central, we have put together a comprehensive guide on licensing, pricing, and functionality in Business Central. The Business Central Breakdown will give you a better understanding of the cloud ERP system itself and answer any initial questions you may have about costs and setup.   

Start Planning Your Navision Upgrade to Business Central  

Your Navision upgrade will depend on a number of different factors, and we’re here to help. Your best interest is our purpose (that’s our motto) and our team has the chops to help you find the right solution for your business. If you’re interested in learning more about the upgrade to Business Central and seeing how a cloud ERP system can work for your business, we can walk you through a personalized demo and answer any questions you have. If we start to go down that road and discover a better solution to fit your needs, we will go from there.  

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.