Upgrading earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics NAV has always been a challenge for developers. It’s repetitive, time-consuming and it gets in the way of important development tasks. With the launch of Dynamics NAV 2017, upgrading has become easier – unless your client is running an older, pre-2013, version.
We understand the problem from the first-hand experience. For many years Simplanova’s main business has been Dynamics NAV upgrade projects, ranging from standard to complicated cases where Dynamics NAV had to be upgraded from older versions with a huge number of unique reports and customizations.
We understood the problem and recognized the opportunity to automate repetitive developer’s tasks by using automated Dynamics NAV upgrade tools. These tools have been developed over a number of years by our team and can save significant amounts of time.
Until now, these tools were used by our team for our own projects, but recently we have improved them further and can now offer the tools to our partners as a separate Dynamics NAV upgrade tool pack for automated conversions: Simplanova’s Report, Dataport and Matrix Form Converters.
Combining Dynamics NAV upgrade automation tools with the upgrade tools released by Microsoft in NAV 2017 gives developers the opportunity to save time, deliver faster upgrades and keep the development team motivated and focused on their real job.
In this blog post, we will go deeper into Dynamics NAV upgrading challenges and the opportunities that automated Dynamics NAV upgrade tools offer.
Why are Dynamics NAV upgrades challenging?
Time is the biggest challenge. It takes a long time to complete an upgrade. If your customers can’t afford to wait, they may decide to stay with an older version or postpone the upgrade project.
Upgrades are repetitive and that doesn’t help to keep developers motivated. And, if developers are working on upgrading reports, which are even more time-consuming, they will be unable to focus on developing the features your customers really want.
There are also specific challenges in upgrading from earlier versions to NAV 2017. For example, NAV 2017 includes changes that are not backwards compatible with earlier versions.
Before NAV 2017, there was no standard method of merge analysis. Analyzing differences between versions relied on manual methods and object merges carried a high risk of error.
Customization also present problems, because custom objects won’t necessarily upgrade to the latest version. If the earlier NAV deployment includes add-ons from software vendors, there can be problems, particularly if the vendor has not gone through the upgrade process.
Upgrade tools in NAV 2017
The latest versions of Dynamics NAV now include upgrade tools. These are based on the tools Microsoft used for their own upgrade process. They include tools that allow developers to compare a customer’s version with the original base version, making it easy to identify modifications or customizations that need to be migrated to a later version. The merge tools identify custom objects and merge them with the new version automatically.
Tools to upgrade Classic Dynamics NAV reports
Although those tools make upgrades easier and faster, Classic Dynamics NAV reports upgrade from earlier versions remain a problem. Upgrading reports is one of the slowest and most complex parts of an upgrade, and can take up to 90 percent of NAV upgrade project time. We believe that automation tools can simplify the process of upgrading Classic reports to RDLC format.
However, it’s important to choose a tool that meets your specific report upgrading needs. We recommend evaluating a number of factors before purchasing a tool.
- What’s your process for upgrading reports, and does it work effectively?
- What are the final deliverables and report format?
- What is the pricing for the tool? Should you pay for a license that only lets you upgrade reports or one that allows to both upgrade and use upgraded reports daily?
- Can you choose a monthly or annual subscription, or can you make a one-off payment to cover only the reports you want to upgrade immediately?
- How does the tool handle inaccuracies and errors? Will you get support immediately, without disrupting your project?
- Will all the features of upgraded RDLC reports work as expected, with page breaks, dynamic headers and other elements in the right place?
Simplanova’s Dynamics NAV report transformation tool – Simplanova Report Converter
We took these factors, mentioned earlier, into account when developing tools for our own projects, as Simplanova CEO Petras Butenas explains. “The idea of the Dynamics NAV upgrades automation has come from our practice and experience in various Dynamics NAV Upgrade projects. When we started noticing the repetitive tasks and recurrent issues, we knew there had to be a way to make it simpler and faster. We have been into it since the very beginning of this company and since 2013 we started the creation of Dynamics NAV Report Upgrade automatization tool. Over the years the tools were evolving to become the ultimate NAV upgrading tools and I am glad to share with You the best what we can offer from our experience. Report Converter has helped our team to save more than 8000 hours for NAV Upgrades – now You can use it for Your project time-saving.”
According to Simplanova’s own calculations, 95 percent of the time can be saved for upgrading Classic NAV reports (up to 2009 R2) to Native Dynamics NAV RDLC report format with Simplanova Report Converter. Also, this is the only tool on the market that allows fully automated conversion to NAV objects without any yearly license fees with the main working environment in one NAV page!
Simplanova’s Matrix Form and Dataport conversion tools
In parallel with the Dynamics NAV report upgrade tool, we have developed Dataport and Matrix Form Converters. Dataport Converter automates upgrade to XMLports by 90 percent (according to Simplanova’s own calculations). The Dataport Converter is integrated into Simplanova Tools pack and can be used by our partners for their projects already.
Matrix Forms Converter automates the matrix form conversion to Pages by 30 percent. Matrix Form Converter is still in Beta version, but if You want to use it for NAV Upgrade projects for converting Matrix Forms to Pages – contact our team to get more information.
The benefits of upgrade automation
Dynamics NAV Upgrade Automation tools have ensured our upgrade process goes smoothly and eliminated the risk of human error. We have also identified a number of specific benefits that can help reduce upgrade timescales. Our automation tools help our team to:
- Convert Classic reports to RDLC reports,
- Transform Matrix Forms to Pages,
- Transform Dataports to Xmlports,
- Identify changes more precisely
- Identify pain points in customized solutions,
- Plan upgrades more accurately,
- Identify customizations that are no longer needed,
- Identify missing captions,
- Generate a translation sheet.
Automation tools can improve speed to market and give greater flexibility to plan projects and meet customers deadlines more efficiently. It’s great that many of the benefits, which were used for our internal projects and were sold to customers as services, can help our partners during their projects. That’s why we have released the Dynamics NAV upgrade tool pack for them.
Time is one of our most important assets. Saving upgrade time means freeing additional hours for developers to pay more attention to customers, improve services or products, or work on new projects.
Freeing and motivating developers
One of the less obvious benefits of automation is its impact on developers. Research about motivating developer performance indicates that the best developers have a proactive, flexible, adaptable approach and are prepared to share knowledge and follow good practice.
By partially automating their work, you can make the process more attractive and more flexible in the use of their time. Automation tools don’t just improve upgrade performance, they keep developers motivated because they can avoid long manual tasks.
When your team has more time to innovate and create a difference for your customers, it becomes your company’s biggest asset.
Dynamics NAV upgrade automation tools for your business
Our automated Dynamics NAV upgrade tools helped our team to prepare custom solutions for upgrading to the newest version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and the role-tailored client.
We believe that upgrade automation can also save time for Dynamics NAV partners who manage a large number of upgrades or specialize in development rather than upgrades. It can also help partners who only handle upgrades occasionally and feel they lack in-depth experience or knowledge of the process.
We are glad to offer the Dynamics NAV upgrade tool pack for automated conversions – Simplanova’s Report, Dataport and Matrix Form (Beta) Converters. The tools are ready for installation and use for Your own projects. Submit the Form below and get free Dynamics NAV Upgrade Tool Demo.