Microsoft has set a target of 200,000 Dynamics NAV customers by 2019. That‘s a combination of cloud and on-premise deployments. But, is it a realistic goal?
Hitting the 200,000 mark would be a massive achievement for Microsoft. Remember, it took Navision and Microsoft over 20 years to reach the 100,000 mark in 2014. Now, they aim to recruit the second 100.000 customers in just 5 years.
To achieve this, Microsoft is making a huge investment in product development. By adding more features and functionality, they want to make sure that every customer has a great experience with the product and remains loyal to Microsoft. That way, the company aims to attract and retain more satisfied customers in 5 years than it had done in the previous 20 years of NAV history.
If Microsoft hits that target, it will be great news for the developer community too. In just two years time, the market size will double the 2014 level. The business opportunities won‘t just come from new NAV customers. Microsoft has to retain the loyalty of its existing customer base to reach the 200,000 mark.
However, we know that almost 70 percent of users around the world are still running old versions of NAV. So, if Microsoft wants those customers to enjoy the latest and best possible NAV experience, and remain loyal, that presents a massive upgrade opportunity.
Imagine relying on a Nokia 5110 today. At one point, the 5110 was the most popular mobile in the world. Okay, it might still work today, but it won‘t give you the performance and capability of the latest smartphones. If you tried a smartphone, would you really want to continue using your Nokia 5110?
The opportunity is there to build revenue and profits from NAV upgrades. But, we’ve found that many developers are not making the most of the opportunity. Part of the reason is the myths surrounding Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrades. So, let‘s take a closer look at the reality.
Myth 1. Any NAV developer can do upgrades
It‘s true that developers can do upgrades, but would you want your top talent to spend their time and specialist skills on the large number of repetitive tasks that make up a Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade?
If you feel ill, you don‘t try to diagnose yourself; you visit a doctor. And, if your medical symptoms are complicated, the doctor will refer you to a specialist consultant. It‘s the same with your car. If the engine is running badly, you take the car to a service center where trained technicians have the skills and the tools to fix the problem quickly.
Roberto Stefanetti, MVP, NAV Product Manager at Soluzioni EDP Srl added, “Technically it is possible if the developers are skilled to new NAV technology). In practice, if an upgrade is not done correctly, you risk a rollback to the previous NAV release.”
Specialists carry out the same jobs every day and that applies to Dynamics NAV upgrades too. Upgrade specialists like Simplanova have the resources and experience to carry out the high volume of repetitive tasks quickly, using proven processes, best practice and automated tools.
That combination of skills and automation means upgrade specialists can reduce project time by up to 54 percent, compared to conventional methods. Just think how much time that would free for your developers. They can concentrate on the strategic projects that really matter to your business and you can provide your customers with faster upgrades at lower cost.
Myth 2. We don‘t have time to do an upgrade
That all depends on your priorities. January is a great time for making decisions about your priorities for the year – personal and business.
Imagine how many people start the year with a resolution to go to the gym every week. Then something else comes along and the gym drops down the list of priorities. But, if something really matters, shouldn‘t you find time for it in your busy schedule?
Going to the gym regularly could make a real difference to your health. So, if you want to change, you find the time.
Microsoft‘s NAV ambitions mean there is a big opportunity for developers to profit from upgrades, so shouldn’t that be a priority for your business? An upgrade means your customers will get better results from their NAV installation and that helps strengthen customer loyalty.
However, according to Roberto Stefanetti, an upgrade is a job that takes time, concentration, continuity of work and detailed tests. If you update very old versions of NAV, upgrading is really expensive. He adds that you also need time to do accurate tests. Automated tests are sometimes not sufficient, you need a complex test scenario.
By working with a specialist upgrade partner, you can make time for that important NAV upgrade because a specialist will take care of the time-consuming repetitive tasks. If you spend some time planning and preparing for the upgrade, you could save even more time and get better results.
One of the most important tasks is to ask your customers to carry out an audit of the functions they use, department by department. That way you only upgrade the functionality each customer needs, saving time and money. You can also avoid problems and delays by evaluating any customer add-ons to make sure they are compatible with the new version you are planning.
With careful planning and the support of an upgrade partner, you will find upgrades take less time than you imagined.
Myth 3. Upgrading to newer versions isn‘t worth the effort
Microsoft‘s growth strategy is based on adding even more functionality, features and interoperability with the release of each new version. As a result, the latest versions of NAV represent a powerful platform with a broad range of options to integrate with other platforms, devices and services.
However, the greater level of interoperability also increases security risks that could expose your customers‘ systems to attack. Upgrading regularly ensures that the NAV installation has the latest security measures in place to minimize risk.
Regular updating has another important benefit. If your customers only upgrade occasionally, each upgrade will take longer. Some customization will not upgrade easily; customers will miss bundled capabilities on intermediate versions that could have saved them money. And, it could take a large expensive project to move from an old version.
As Roberto Stefanetti points out, where customers have large numbers of customizations, it is generally cheaper to install a new version, bringing only what you need from the old implementation and try to redesign processes using new NAV features.
Upgrading regularly reduces the incremental cost of moving from version to version, and that really is worth the effort.
Myth 4. Each new version of NAV requires serious changes
It depends on the starting version, according to Roberto Stefanetti. If you start from a very old version, managing events and extensions can be an invasive process.
While, that may have been true with upgrades of earlier versions of NAV, but it‘s no longer the case.
Upgrading earlier versions delivered new features and functionality but also required changes to the underlying infrastructure. Updating architecture, database and core system objects turned an upgrade into a major operation.
Now, Microsoft has moved to annual version releases that have no impact on the underlying infrastructure. The company also releases cumulative updates each month that include bug-fixes and security updates.
Upgrading regularly avoids serious changes and makes the process much easier and quicker.
Myth 5. Upgrading custom functionality requires modification to core NAV objects
That‘s another myth that is no longer true because of changes to the structure of NAV in the latest versions.
NAV 2017 saw the introduction of Extensions and that has transformed the upgrade of custom functionality. NAV now has separate layers for core objects and customizations, so the core system upgrade can be completed quickly and easily.
The customizations are captured in the Events and Extensions layer, allowing developers to take the code and customize the deployment without modifying the core. There‘s an additional benefit because using Extensions to handle customization maintains stability by protecting the code from unwanted or unauthorized changes.
However, Roberto Stefanetti points out that if you redesign the application with extensions that are approved, it could be costly; you need a lot of tests to certify the apps in this way.
A new approach to Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrades
Microsoft has made changes that make it easier to upgrade the latest versions of NAV.
However, upgrading older versions remains a time-consuming task that can distract your team from strategic projects. By partnering with a NAV upgrade specialist like Simplanova, you can free your team from repetitive upgrade tasks and deliver projects faster, and at lower cost.
With Microsoft‘s focus on rapid growth, upgrades can become an important part of your revenue and profit plans.
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