Bridges; taking you from ‘here’ to ‘there’
We talk to companies looking to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central every day. Large companies, small companies, companies with complex needs, companies on 10 or even 20-year-old versions of Dynamics NAV (then Navision) or on more recent versions from Dynamics 2013 (the Role Tailored Client or RTC generation). In every conversation we can show the wonders of Dynamics 365 Business Central, but the question is how do I get from ‘here’ to ‘there’?
We are constantly refining tools to make this journey easier and easier, but some things are just hard. Some systems are so large that the task can appear daunting, and sometimes the opportunity to make gains sooner should out-way the larger task of moving things that maybe still work ‘OK’.
If you can move in one go, relatively easy, then great that’s a nice thing to do. Convert data, consider modification requirements, train and go (I know I made that sound too simple!) If you can’t upgrade all in one go, maybe due to size, complexity or just because you want to solve specific issues sooner rather than later, that’s OK too, either way making a bridge to your future is something to consider.
What are ‘Bridges’? I thought you’d ask that. ‘A structure that gets you from one place to another’ is a nice definition that works for our purpose here. We have three types of Bridges that we can deploy to help with the move to Dynamics 365 Business Central so let’s explore them.
This is a mechanism that automatically takes your static data, open balances for finance ledgers and stock, open documents for sales and purchase orders, and creates a Dynamics 365 Business Central standard system. This is used to help you see the standard solution with your data and allow you to test your processes with the latest functionality. You could also see how your go-live cut-over could look too and assess what modifications you will need from your old system to solve similar shortfalls in the new system i.e. if you have some bespoke industry need. Finally, it is a great way to review add-ons like nHanced 365, Continia Invoice Scanning, MobileNAV, Anveo and Jet Reports in the new world.
The Upgrade Bridge process typically takes a day or two to produce a standard Dynamics 365 Business Central system with your data and is produced for a fixed fee (get in touch with your Account Manager for pricing).
This mechanism is similar to the Upgrade Bridge however it takes all of your data from your old Dynamics NAV solution and ‘dumps’ it into Dynamics 365 Business Central for read-only access. Why would you want this? Well, if you have an old Dynamics NAV solution (maybe Classic Dynamics NAV) and you want to use some of the lovely user interface features of Dynamics 365 Business Central, like the Phone Client, the Web Client or the Tablet Client, maybe even the Outlook Client, this is a quick way to get access to live data in the new world. Because it does not contain your modifications, and because the data has been ‘injected’ into the Dynamics 365 Business Central solution without validation, the solution cannot be used to process data. What you get though is access via role centres and the beautiful user interfaces listed earlier to your current Dynamics NAV data. This is a great way to get richer access to old data.
A Functional Bridge is a term used when we deploy Dynamics 365 Business Central for only part of what you use today in Dynamics NAV. We will look at a number of common uses of a Functional Bridge but think of your own world and how you may deploy this strategy.
We are implementing some large upgrades for companies who could simply not consider moving the whole application at once, so bite off finance as a first department to move. In this scenario, we are operationally using the old Dynamics NAV solution, catching the integration points to finance, and moving the transaction details to a new Dynamics 365 Business Central solution where the details are posted. As an example, a P.O. is created in old Dynamics NAV, receipt is posted, the receipt is moved to Dynamics 365 Business Central to match with the invoice. Once received from the supplier, the invoice and all accounts payable activity are processed in Dynamics 365 Business Central. Posting of sales that are shipped from the old Dynamics NAV system are also passed to Dynamics 365 Business Central so that cash receipts and bank reconciliation, as well as finance reporting can all be maintained in Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Many customers need to implement a new eCommerce solution, maybe upgrading Magento or wanting to implement the Sana Commerce Business Central integrated eCommerce platform, but they don’t want to invest further in integration to their old Dynamics NAV solution. Consider implementing Dynamics 365 Business Central only to integrate to the web solution (maybe using nHanced eComm for example), process the inbound sales orders and pass them on to the old Dynamics NAV solution as well as pass stock summary data to the web site. This idea has helped Van Hage Garden Centre implement the latest version of Sana Commerce even though they have a 2.6 (yes 1998 ish!) version of Dynamics NAV (Navision then). The old Dynamics NAV solution carries on as before, but the investment in integration and to Sana was all with the latest versions of software, and importantly exposes the organisation to some Dynamics 365 Business Central before looking to upgrade everything else.
Often companies intend to exploit Dynamics NAV’s CRM capability, but have yet to do so. They know when they upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central, they need to implement its CRM capability. So why not add a Bridge? Implement Dynamics 365 Business Central ONLY for CRM, bridge the necessary data from the old Dynamics NAV solution (e.g. Customers) but manage contacts, opportunities, pipeline and maybe even customer service cases (with nHanced Cases) all in Dynamics 365 Business Central. Often this is a great stepping stone to get some Dynamics 365 Business Central in front of a group of users and solve a need at the same time.
The Functional Bridge has the potential to work wonders in all areas of your business. Take Warehousing as an example: you want to connect a third party solution (like MobileNAV or Tasklet Factory) to give your warehouse operatives the ability to use handheld terminals when picking. By implementing a Functional Bridge, you provide your warehouse operatives with the functionality available in Dynamics 365 Business Central and with added online and off-line capabilities. They can then retrieve information such as picks, putaways and movements from Dynamics 365 Business Central, then passing back the picks and putaways they have completed. With the new handheld technology your warehouse operatives possess, all of this suddenly becomes mobile and live - Business Central begins transferring shipped notifications, orders received and adjustments back to your old NAV solution. The rest of your users continue working in the system they are familiar with, picking up the information transferred into their old NAV via the Functional Bridge.
If you are utilising the Service Management functionality in your old NAV system, you can utilise modern technology to improve the way your engineers track their own progress on particular jobs. By applying a Functional Bridge to your business and utilising the third party add-ons available (such as Anveo or MobileNAV), your engineers can receive items in need of service and orders that have come in from your users in old NAV. They then pass back information concerning the items they’ve fixed and all of the detail, including pictures, comments and detailed item information using Anveo functionality.
Bridges are ways to get some Dynamics 365 Business Central in your life and solve a particular need without solving everything. Create a standard system to play with Dynamics 365 Business Central, put your data in a Data Bridge to access live data with the latest clients, or start the process of moving to Dynamics 365 Business Central in a gradual way with a Functional Bridge or two! A final important point, this is also the step to getting you, if you desire, to the cloud be that Public Cloud or a Private Cloud. Azure is where you should be, and a Bridge is the way to get there. Whichever way you choose to move your Dynamics NAV solution forward to the wonderful world of Dynamics 365 Business Central, Bridges help get you to the other side.