Posted by over 3 years ago
NAV 2017 - Implications of making an upgrade
It is hard to believe that, with the amount of improvements that have been made in recent years, more than half of Microsoft Dynamics NAV users are still operating software that is more than five versions old. With Microsoft’s latest launch, Dynamics NAV 2017, comes increased levels of performance, functionality, agility and interoperability, yet such benefits are failing to be identified as opportunities by many large organisations. Of course, each case must be analysed separately, since Dynamics NAV is a highly-customisable software, but it is equally true for all users that NAV 2017 would deliver endless business and operational benefits to their company, granted that it is accurately updated and re-implemented as required.
In many cases, it would be reasonable to claim that the reason for this is that businesses see an upgrade as more of a challenge than an opportunity: the potential disruption caused is perceived to outweigh the long-run benefits. Upgrades are typically expensive, time-consuming tasks that, without sufficient support, can often be a daunting process. Where should they start? What do they need to keep in mind whilst carrying out the update? What overall difference will it make to the business? These are just some of the questions that businesses face when considering and upgrade.
Much to their advantage, the newest versions of NAV have actually made it a much more seamless process to upgrade than previous ones, making it far less of a challenge to keep up with the game: regular upgrades actually reduce the incremental cost of adopting the latest version, whilst increasing security measures and thus minimising risk.
Key things to consider
When upgrading to later versions of Dynamics NAV, there are a number of issues that users need to be aware of and take into consideration.
1. Which version of NAV are you currently operating?
Although, as previously mentioned, NAV 2017 has enabled users to more comfortably upgrade their version of NAV, it is, of course, still easier for those that are running software that is less than three versions old. This is because older versions will require a major upgrade or re-implementation. The most common issues are:
- Identifying and getting rid of outdated customisations – this will reduce upgrade time.
- Identifying ISV solutions – a lot of time can be saved if you identify add-ons used in the customer solution and get the latest version objects together with data migration toolkit, rather than upgrading the solutions by yourself.
- Identifying size of database – this will give you a better indication of time required
- Being aware of refactoring – the older the existing software, the bigger the risk that customisations will have to be re-implemented from scratch since the foundations on which customisations are built may have changed on newer versions.
- Identifying reports that are actually used – upgrading reports is the most time-consuming part of the process, and so it is important to delete any unused or irrelevant reports.
- Moving customisations to events – all future upgrades will subsequently take less time.
2. What’s the best route to follow?
Although, as mentioned before, an upgrade to NAV 2017 is possible from any previous version, upgrading from older versions will, of course, be more costly and time-consuming. Once using a newer version of NAV, it would be reasonable to recommend that users undertake regular monitoring of system performance to look for possible signs that they may need to upgrade, such as slowing down or frequent errors. As well as this, it would also be extremely beneficial to upgrade with each annual release, since this will result in any future upgrades being relatively straightforward.
3. Can you upgrade customisations?
With Dynamics NAV having historically been highly customisable, businesses have typically adapted it to perform in line with their specific requirements. However advantageous this may be, it has further implications for the ease of upgrading for users, since such customisations may not migrate smoothly between different versions, making the process more complex. This is because any customisations, regardless of whether they’re still being used or not, will (perhaps unnecessarily) cost both time and money.
As well as this, you will also have to take into account the fact that Microsoft have completely rebuilt customised areas, and so customisations will now have to be realigned to the new standard functionality. Nonetheless, Microsoft have simplified the process of upgrading customisation, mostly due to the introduction of Extensions: this means that because customisations are now captured in a separate layer, developers are able to take the code and customise the new system without modifying the core.
4. What’s the impact of ISV add-ons?
As with customisations, add-ons have also proved to be a great barrier to upgrading in some situations, although many Microsoft-certified add-ons are available for upgrade with every new NAV version. If ISV add-ons are involved in the migration, businesses and users should also check that their installed version of the add-on will work with the upgrade they are planning, contacting the ISV to obtain a later version that will meet the requirements of the latest version of NAV if necessary.
5. Outline your upgrade strategy
It is advised that businesses adopt some kind of upgrade strategy, so as to not all behind. Developers should ensure that they have the necessary skills and resources to be able to carry out upgrades, or alternatively identify a Dynamics NAV upgrade specialist such as Simplanova to work alongside.
Make upgrading an opportunity, not a challenge
Upgrading to newer versions of Dynamics NAV is becoming a simple, evolutionary process rather than a time-consuming, disruptive operation. Users of recent versions of NAV have already experienced the change in migration effort and realized the benefits of upgrading.
Users of older Dynamics NAV versions must overcome their reluctance to upgrade, which is often based on well-earned perceptions of traditional migrations as lengthy and costly. But just as Dynamics NAV has evolved, so have the tools and best practices of migrations. Customers can help make upgrading smoother and simpler by recognizing the benefits of newer versions and following our five recommendations.