A technical Dynamics NAV upgrade is the easiest option when upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central - giving you many of the benefits of the latest version such as access to new clients.
The technical upgrade is the easiest upgrade option and, with some slight nuances depending on version, 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 (we’ll come back to this in a bit), open up your old database and with some slight fettling if needed, you have access to your system.
What you get depends on what you already have. The most common upgrade (and hopefully you will have done this already) is to upgrade any pre-2009 R2 Classic Dynamics NAV versions to the 2009 R2 Classic version, as this is the last of the versions supporting the Classic Dynamics NAV two tier architecture and Client. Why might you do this? When XP turned to Windows 7, the Classic Client didn’t run on Windows 7. Some people moved to terminal services (RDP) or Citrix to overcome this issue, some were mis-sold (in our view) a complete upgrade to 2009 R2 or later as ‘the only solution’ but hopefully most were advised that a small technical upgrade was all that was required. But just getting to run on Windows 7 and beyond is far from the only reason to do this; a big benefit is that your old Classic NAV solution is suddenly web service enabled, it’s a techy thing but this is a standard interface API into Dynamics NAV and reveals the world in which you are able to add ISV add-on solutions to your old Dynamics NAV system, solutions like MobileNAV, nHanced for Classic Dynamics NAV, Anveo, Sana and many more. It’s the foundation to enable putting the lipstick on the pig.
The final point on upgrading your Classic solution to the latest of the Classic executables is, if you’re not running on SQL as your database, this is probably the time to move from that wonderful Navision database to the more standard world of Microsoft SQL.
The technical upgrade, however, is not just for Classic Dynamics NAV. In many ways it carries even more benefits if you are on version 2013 or onwards. Here you benefit from the huge strides Microsoft have made with the product since the first genuinely ‘RTC’ version (sorry if you are a 2009 RTC version, you live neither in the Classic world or the new RTC world but instead inhabit a nether world. In effect you’re really part of the Classic world for the purposes of upgrade planning).
Let’s assume you’re on version 2013 or later. You can still do a technical upgrade but, lucky you, you get to jump like a snakes and ladders game, right up the ladder to a Dynamics 365 Business Central on prem/private cloud version. This is certainly very well worth the journey and the benefits obviously depend how far back you are moving from.
The main things you could gain (the maximum being if you are now on 2013) are:
To be honest, just access to the latest Clients is a huge win. The Web Client is so good that it’ll probably encourage you to move off your terminal services and Windows Client and give your users an easier to manage, beautiful and easy to use Dynamics 365 Business Central experience.
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]