The Technical Upgrade

The upgrading route for keeping modifications and functionality the same but within the beautiful Business Central clients

What is a technical upgrade?

We would describe the technical upgrade approach as an ‘easier’ route to achieving some level of Business Central within your business. With some slight nuances depending on version, the technical upgrade basically means using the same functionality you have in your existing version, keeping the same Fields, validation, business logic, data and modifications, but with the latest technical installation (often referred to as ‘Executables’). In essence, this means we install a newer version of Dynamics NAV (previously Navision), open up your old database and, with some slight amendments if needed, you have access to your system.

You’ll use the latest the Windows client and get to try the web, mobile and Outlook clients too, however some pages may not work in the new clients without additional effort. Where the Start from Standard and Start from Modified upgrading options mean you begin the process from a ‘standard’ Business Central solution, a technical upgrade only upgrades the technology components of your Dynamics NAV solution. While there are benefits to this approach, it is only suitable for companies using Dynamics NAV 2013 or later.

What benefits will a technical upgrade bring?

This upgrade route could bring major benefits with a small cost. Your business could make some early gains using this approach, prior to investing further in a more complete upgrade down the line. If you’re happy with your modifications, data and functionality but want to make use of the latest technologies, then a technical upgrade will bring the benefits you seek.

The modern clients

The modern Business Central world has meant the end of the Windows client (as of Business Central version 15) and this has meant further development of the modern clients, giving users flexibility in where they work and how their solution looks. These clients would give users a boost in multiple areas of their everyday working, so let’s see what each of the modern clients can provide.

The web client gives you:

  • A simple, clean experience, making accessing information easier than ever
  • Excellent space saving features to maximise the sections you need to see
  • Personalisation options to configure the solution as you’d like e.g. hiding fields on cards, moving sections on pages and much more
  • Headlines to highlight information such as your top customer or best-selling item

The tablet client gives you:

  • A portable and handheld client, working online and in real time
  • Succinct design using burger menus to save space
  • ‘Thumb friendly’ features with auto-sizing for portrait and landscape modes

The phone client gives you:

  • A native phone application for iOS, Android and Windows
  • Access to all functions and information from the system
  • 3rd party applications, such as MobileNAV, Tasklet Factory and Anveo, for offline working

The Outlook client gives you:

  • Your full system accessible from within your email – no swapping back and forth between applications
  • The ability to drill through to your system from Outlook if you want to know more
  • Access to update and even create documents like sales orders, quotes, invoices etc.

Dynamics NAV, powered by a technical upgrade, is now accessible in more ways than ever before. You’ll get smarter, more powerful experiences for your users whilst retaining your data and modifications.

Partner extensions

Once on the latest version of the technology, you gain access to the latest features like OData, the latest web service technology and, as a result, you will get access to a large selection of 3rd party add-ons created to run on the Business Central solution. As you are not fully on Business Central, some additional work may be required of course.

Examples of partner extensions are:

  • Anveo – Mobile Service app for service technicians allows the digitisation of service processes. This includes service tasks online, documentation via camera, checking availability of spare parts, GPS tracking and reports created as PDFs.
  • Tasklet Factory – Mobile WMS solution that runs handheld devices connected to your Dynamics NAV system. It allows warehouse employees to process orders online and offline, scan barcodes, find locations of stock and adjust figures without accessing a desktop.
  • MobileNAV – For sales, service and warehouse, MobileNAV works fully on and offline, synchronising pages when you are back online. Out of the box, there are tonnes of preconfigured pages covering various modules, making accessing your system on a mobile much easier and smarter.

Of course, there are many more that cannot all be listed here. If you’d like to find out more, click here for information on add-ons that we recommend.

How does it work?

A technical upgrade is very easy to do on a test system, meaning you can get a feel for what it would bring you. It works by taking your old Dynamics NAV solution, complete with data, modifications and bespoke modules. Your current service tier is replaced by the latest version of Business Central, some furkling and adjustments later and – hey presto – you’re technically upgraded! Then all of those fantastic clients we looked at earlier become available for use, meaning you can move users over to the new clients and eventually drop the Windows client altogether if your configuration allows. You’ll need to plan to then do the same on the Live system, making sure you ready your users for any changes, for example the Windows client may be different than the existing one you are starting from i.e. 2015 or older. You’re then ready to make the full jump to Business Central at a point in the future if you choose. For now, you get to take advantage of the latest technology in the modern clients, all the while accessing your old Dynamics NAV solution in the background.

It’s an easier approach, whereby you would save time and money in the process. At the end of the day, you make Business Central accessible for your users and we believe that to be the most important thing.

The full upgrade

BUT, and it’s a big but, what about the upgrade of everything from your very old Dynamics NAV solution to Dynamics 365 Business Central, I hear you asking! Well of course the same applies about your starting point. If you’re on a relatively recent version (say just a couple of versions old), with a small amount of modifications, you’ll probably not have too many business process change requirements or problems with data to sort as it’s a recently installed solution. If this is the case, you have only a couple of things to consider. The process will be to upgrade your existing modifications into the latest objects, run some data conversion processes and do the requisite testing. This is therefore, in the main, a technical IT led project. Once you have a new version in test, you might want to explore the new features, but on the whole, I’d recommend getting live on a Start from Modified Upgrade basis (also known as 'like-for-like') and then start looking at new functionality possibilities afterwards. You might want to consider, however, whether to move your object modifications to the new ‘Extension’ type of modification. This will make future upgrades very easy and is certainly worth the effort if you want to keep upgrading your Dynamics NAV solution, and especially if you will one day consider moving your hosting to the Public Cloud Hosted Dynamics 365 Business Central.

If you would like speak to someone at The NAV | 365 People to discuss whether a technical upgrade is the best option for your business and get an understanding of costs just drop us a line on +44 (0) 208 328 9814 or [email protected].