Microsoft Dynamics NAV: To upgrade or to re-implement?

08 February, 2018
Microsoft Dynamics NAV: To upgrade or to re-implement?

Microsoft Dynamics NAV has never been better. It’s no wonder that so many existing NAV users are keen to upgrade to the latest version!

The BIG change

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018 provides excellent functionality along with the real draw, fantastic user experiences.

Dynamics NAV now integrates seamlessly with the Microsoft ‘stack’ as well as with third party solutions; has more ISV add-in solutions and is easy to use. Dynamics NAV is positioned firmly within the Microsoft strategy to deliver digital transformation, which includes taking advantage of data, insights and machine learning.

The question often is, should I upgrade or re-implement?

The answer depends… It depends on how bespoke you are, how bespoke you want to be in future, how much time you have and the list goes on. This means that not everyone will approach a Dynamics NAV upgrade in the same way. The good news is that version transitioning has never been easier so if you are on NAV 2013 and onwards, the move will be relatively simple; if you are on older versions it will be more involved but you will be on a platform that is easy to maintain and upgrade in future.

Why upgrade at all?

Older versions of NAV have most likely been retired from Microsoft support (check your version here).

While legacy versions can be supported by partners to an extent, this is risky as there will be limits on what can be done for unsupported versions. It should not be a long-term strategy and steps should be taken to protect the legacy NAV (ring-fence on a separate server and turn off automatic upgrades as an example), if it does break, no one can guarantee it will be fixable.

Upgrade or re-implementation?

This is the - what to upgrade - question.

With versions prior to NAV 2013 there were two types of upgrade, full or executables only. Moving from older versions to latest, there is no halfway house, it’s a full upgrade. Consequently, many customers choose to take the reimplementation route with the aim to make best use of standard NAV 2018.

Let’s replace ‘upgrade or re-implementation’ with transition plan and look at the options…

The ‘as is’ transition

This is a great option for customers who are happy with the configuration of the legacy version and have little time for workshops to explore the new standard functions and features. The ‘as is’ transition upgrades the lot. Typically, this means objects and data although for some this is an opportunity for a ‘spring clean’.

It is a good idea to look at your customised reports. Due to the radical differences in the Report Writing engine, it can take 2-3 days to upgrade a single report. Reducing your list to include just the reports still in use, saves money on the upgrade and your time on testing. (Also consider using alternatives such as PowerBI and the in-built Excel templates in NAV 2018.)

The ‘clean start’ transition

This is essentially re-implementation and is approached as a brand new project.

The aim of the ‘clean start’ transition is to make best use of the latest standard functionality, minimising customisation. Many older NAV sites have extensive customisation, partly because earlier versions had less functionality but also because at the time, the strategy was often to keep as much as possible within the single, fully integrated ERP.

Today, it is all about the most efficient way to work.

The ‘clean start’ begins with working through the desired processes against the standard software, minimising the amount of customisation to bring forward. This transition is best suited to those motivated by new clients and workflow tools etc. as opposed to gains in standard functionality.

‘Hybrid’ transition

This transition is very similar to the ‘clean start transition’ but with some of your required customisations retained. The choice here is to upgrade only those objects or to rewrite them, depending on how well written and the comparative work (remember the objects around the customisations will likely have changed so rework as well as upgrade is likely to be required).

Data transition

So what about the data? For the ‘as is’ transition the data upgrade can be part of the scope. For the ‘clean start’ and re-implementation options, the data transition can be more problematic.

Often, we get attached to our historic data without really considering the value of it. Unless you need, the transactional data for day-to-day operations (for example, those in the service industry where history and warranty are essential) we would advise the following:

  • Clean up standing data (customers, suppliers and inventory)
  • Month end balances (ensuring all is in order as well as supporting snapshot performance comparison)
  • Open items (minimise as much as possible)
  • Archive historical data (you can report across historical and live data using tools such as PowerBI and Jet Reports)

‘Lift and shift’ transition

Whichever option you chose to get up to latest version of NAV, this is also the perfect opportunity to rethink where it is deployed… The chances are your old version was on old kit and so you need to decide whether to reinvest with on premise servers or move NAV to a data centre, this could be a private data centre or Microsoft Azure, talk to us today about your options.

Finding the right approach

The best way to do this is through the right partnership.

We know how to make your investment in Dynamics work for you, today and tomorrow, whichever version you choose. Get in touch with us here to arrange a discussion about our future partnership.

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