Overcoming Dynamics NAV upgrade challenges

In our recent blog post, Dynamics NAV 2017- What to expect, we highlighted new developments in the latest evolution of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Deeper integration with Office 365, cloud migration, access to Cortana Intelligence and embedded Power BI – no wonder your customers want to upgrade so they can streamline business processes and strengthen their competitive advantage!

Microsoft claims that NAV 2017 will ‘bring two worlds together’ and that’s great news for organizations that have already made separate investments in their Office and ERP solutions. It’s also good news for developers with increasing revenue opportunities from upgrades.

But, are you prepared for the Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade challenges, which have grown more complex with higher levels of integration and cloud migration? Simplanova, a Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade specialist, understands the time-consuming process of upgrading and believes that the task can be much quicker and simpler with professional support.

Why your customers want to upgrade

First, it’s important to understand why your customers want to upgrade. You will find that upgrades are driven by business decision-makers as well as the IT department. By understanding the reasons for upgrading, you can focus on the most important tasks and avoid wasting time on non-essential upgrades.

We believe there are three main reasons:

  • To gain access to new functionality that can improve their efficiency, productivity and competitive advantage.
  • To improve agility and response to a changing business environment.
  • To maintain support for their Dynamics NAV system.


#1 Helping customers meet their business goals

The latest versions of Microsoft Dynamics NAV incorporate features that help businesses meet current or emerging business needs. In the past, customers may have used customization to achieve business outcomes. Many of these are now available as standard features of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. For example, integration with Office 365 can streamline reporting and document management, and improve communication between different departments.

#2 Adapting to changing business conditions

Many organizations find that their business has grown or they are facing new competitive or business challenges. But, if their Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution has not changed, they may be struggling to meet the new demands.

#3 Maintaining system support

Customers with older versions of Microsoft Dynamics  NAV may find they can no longer obtain support from Microsoft, software vendors or developers. Just one example – Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 support ended in 2015 – shows why they have an urgent demand for upgrades.


Technical Dynamics NAV upgrade challenges


Understanding and focusing on your customers’ goals and needs is just part of the upgrade challenge. There are also many technical issues that make a Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade complex and time-consuming.

Erik P Ernst, a Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) highlights the problems of migrating Microsoft Dynamics NAV classic reports, a task that can consume hundreds of hours. He also believes that older Microsoft Dynamics NAV versions often include large numbers of customization’s that are no longer needed.

Other commentators agree that simply moving customization’s to newer versions of Microsoft Dynamics NAV can create additional problems when testing or troubleshooting. And, modifications to forms, code and tables can be difficult to identify since they are frequently undocumented.


Planning an upgrade


Because upgrades can be time-consuming and costly, it’s important to set clear objectives. Your customers want to achieve the best possible return on their investment in an upgrade, but they don’t want to waste money on unnecessary tasks.

Make sure that you and your customers agree on the technical and business benefits that will result. That helps you establish and justify a cost for the upgrade project. So, talk to your customers’ IT and business decision-makers to establish priorities and objectives. You can read more in our previous blog post “How to Make Dynamics NAV Upgrade Projects Fast, Efficient and Profitable”.


What type of upgrade?


You also need to assess your customers’ current installations. If the customer has a recent Microsoft Dynamics NAV version, they may only need a technical upgrade, particularly if business needs have not changed and there are few customization’s.

But, if the version is more than three or four years old and includes customization’s that can be replaced by standard functionality, the customer may need a re-implementation to bring functionality up to date and meet current business requirements.

By asking your customers for details of their current Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution, their most recent upgrade, the essential functionalities they need and the reports or customization’s that can be removed, you can develop a clear brief for the upgrade.


Take account of your resources and commitments


Upgrades are time-consuming and your customers may be looking for a rapid turnaround. When planning an upgrade, look carefully at your own resources and commitments.

Do you have the skills to carry out some of the more complex integration and upgrade tasks? And, if you tackle the upgrade with your own resources, will you be able to complete it without impacting other development tasks? Many of the tasks can be automated using the appropriate tools but, if upgrading is not your core activity, can you justify expenditure on the tools?


Work with an upgrade partner


Working with a specialist upgrade partner can help you meet your customers’ needs quickly, efficiently and cost effectively, while freeing your own team to focus on the work they do best.


Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade specialists like Simplanova use automated tools and processes to handle the high volume of routine, repetitive tasks quickly and reduce project lead times. In our experience, using automation tools rather than conventional processes can lead to time savings of up to 54 percent on upgrades and up to 89 percent on upgrades to RDLC reports.

These tools can also help identify pain points in existing customization’s as well as customization’s that are no longer needed. That helps our team focus on strategic tasks that are critical to the success of the upgrade project.  Some examples show how this approach works.


Upgrades in action


Belgian software house Harmonize IT appointed Simplanova to complete the upgrading of 73 standard and customized Resilux reports from version 3.7 to version 8.00. We used an iterative approach, delivering upgraded reports regularly. This kept the Harmonize IT team informed on progress and enabled the project to be delivered in just two weeks. Steven Debruyne, co-owner of Harmonize IT commented, “Simplanova has a direct/personal communication, which I appreciate. The pricing is correct and the reaction times are short”.

Danish solution integrator Elbek & Vejrup recognized that they did not have the skills or resources to complete the upgrading of reports – a critical part of the NAV 4.0 to NAV 2013 migration. By delivering upgrades weekly and reporting regularly, Simplanova was able to deliver the project within four weeks. Elbek & Vejrup was able to access essential resources and meet its clients’ needs efficiently, as Development Manager Jesper L Christiansen explained, “Expert knowledge and extra resources in a critical phase of the project. Without help from Simplanova we would not have been able to deliver on time”.

GEMKO Information Group, a business solutions VAR needed to upgrade an add-on to ProjectPro construction industry software to the latest NAV version, but wanted to improve upgrading efficiency. Simplanova carried out the project using semi-automated processes with results reviewed later to optimize the process and complete within the time frame. Edward L Williams, Senior Dynamics NAV Consultant at GEMKO, commented “Our partnership with Simplanova enables us to keep our customer and client projects on time while keeping our NAV Products current on the latest versions and available for sale”.


Upgrades provide a long-term revenue stream


Microsoft’s road map for Microsoft Dynamics NAV is based on annual releases, which gives you the opportunity to target long-term revenue from upgrades. By recommending that your customers upgrade at each release, you can ensure they always benefit from the latest Microsoft Dynamics NAV functionality without a major migration. And, your business benefits from a regular income stream. By working with an upgrade partner like Simplanova, you can deliver a fast, quality service without losing focus on your core business.