Bridges; taking you from ‘here’ to ‘there’
We talk to companies looking to upgrade their ageing Dynamics NAV ERP solution 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. If you can move in one go, relatively easy, then that’s a great thing to do. Convert data, consider modification requirements, train and go. 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 is a bridge when talking about upgrading Dynamics NAV? Simply put, ‘A structure that gets you from one place to another’. A bridge or ‘bridging’ will see you run Dynamics 365 Business Central alongside your existing Dynamics NAV solution as part of an upgrade strategy. Why? Well if you have thought about upgrading your NAV for years, but never found a way to feel good about moving your large or highly bespoke, mission critical NAV solution over to Business Central, then maybe a bridge is the idea you’ve been waiting for.
The bridge works by taking a department or function within your business, and moving only that section to Business Central, aiding your transition into the new world by breaking an upgrade up into manageable sections. Let’s see how it works for different functions and departments.
We talk to customers about upgrades on a frequent basis. Many of these customers have moved to us from other resellers because they haven’t been able to see a way to get from where they are to where they want to be. Selco, builders’ merchants with around 70 stores, are a huge NAV user with a large, highly tailored solution on version 3.6 (early 2000s version). Moving such a large solution with many users in various locations, with old modifications, is not easy to plan. Implementing in one go and swapping overnight even less so. It turned out that they saw most benefit in updating head office functionality and finance in particular. The solution was to implement Business Central just for the finance team and stock accounting. This meant that the project involved a smaller set of users and many fewer previously modified processes to deal with. The old NAV solution still creates all the entries from the sales and stock management processes, but the financial transactions are ‘caught’ by the bridge integration code and passed to Business Central where they are posted. All accounting is managed in Business Central and some static data like vendors managed in Business Central and sent back to ‘old’ NAV.
Upgrading one set of users or one set of processes in this way means you can create a much more standard solution for the new world, leaving behind the heavily customised parts for another day. At Selco the next phase will be to move the more standard retail transactions across to Business Central – one store at a time. Bridging helps you upgrade in stages. It breaks the upgrade into smaller, more manageable chunks, phasing costs and cash, lowering risk and minimising business impacts.
Read more about Selco’s journey here.
Many customers require a new e-commerce solution, potentially upgrading Magento or wanting to implement Sana Commerce, but they don’t want to invest further in integration to their old NAV solution. Consider implementing Business Central to integrate to the web solution only (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 website. 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.
We implemented an eCommerce functional bridge into Van Hage Garden Centre's old 2.6 NAV solution, allowing them to use Sana Commerce and capitalise on web sales, reducing man hours spent running the website, giving them a better view of sales and much more. All of these amazing benefits without having to invest in their old NAV solution! Watch the video case study here:
You can also click here to read the full written case study.
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.
Another area perfect for bridging is CRM. 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 steppingstone to get some Business Central in front of a group of users and solve a need at the same time.
Bridging isn’t for everyone. If you have a small user base or you are not too modified and can upgrade in one go, it may be unnecessary. However, for many of our customers it’s a good way to get access to some benefits sooner before they go through the pain of migrating heavily bespoke parts of their current solution. It’s always worth a discussion and there’s little we like more than talking upgrades!
A final important point: this is also the step to getting you, if you desire, to the cloud (be that the Microsoft Public Cloud or a Private Cloud). Azure is where you should be, and a bridge is a way to get there. Whichever way you choose to move your Dynamics NAV solution forward to the wonderful world of Business Central, a Functional Bridge can help you get to the other side.