Upgrade Microsoft Dynamics NAV

As always in life, the “why upgrade Microsoft Dynamics NAV” answer can seem to be a mixture of carrot and stick. The “threat” is that if your current version has been retired (i.e. is no longer supported by Microsoft) then you run the risk of it no longer working one day. How much of a threat this would be needs to be weighed up against the impact on the business if this were to happen.

The reality is that, as far as we know, this has never happened. There is no documented incident of NAV crashing beyond repair or of clients’ data becoming unavailable. However, as much as we would like to smugly highlight this as testament to the robustness of NAV, there is no sensible partner who would guarantee to you that it could never happen.

“Carrots” are a nicer incentive to change. If you are running your business on an old version of NAV (version 1 to version 5 in particular) then you are nowhere near as efficient as you could be and users, particularly those who have joined your organisation since NAV was originally implemented, are probably pretty uninspired by the system.

Finally, if you have been paying your Microsoft Enhancement Plan then you are entitled to new versions of the software. If you don’t intend to upgrade then what are you paying for?

 

What is a Supported Version?

For each version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft provides mainstream support for five years from release date. After mainstream support each version then enters extended support for a further five years. Extended support provides the security that your version will keep going whilst you plan your upgrade.
Currently supported versions shown below, always good to check Microsoft Product Lifecycle page for most up to date information:

MS lifecycle

 

Why is upgrading so hard?

Two key factors will determine how “hard” upgrading will be for you:

1. Amount of bespoke work
2. Number of versions behind

Bespoke Work: early versions of NAV were pretty light on functionality so most sites will expect to have a degree of bespoke work and this may well be what has put you off upgrading to date. Upgrading is an opportunity to review bespoke work and where applicable, replace with standard functionality. When we analyse systems for upgrade we first look at what is bespoke, what bespoke is actually used and then what of this could be replaced with standard software.

Number of versions behind: If you are on version 5 or prior, then the upgrade will result in a radically improved user interface that will require training. Do not be afraid! The NAV interface will be a key reason why your users will want to upgrade.
Major point of pain for clients on version 5 and prior is the significant change to architecture. When version 6, NAV 2009, was released, it gave the option of staying with the two-tier architecture or introducing the service tier and hence the opportunity to carry out an executables only upgrade. NAV 2013 (version 7) and going forward, all is three-tier architecture. There has also been a gradual retirement of proprietary tools to standardise on more generic Microsoft products such as move from proprietary Navision database to SQL; proprietary report writer to Visual Studio tools, SQL queries etc and a proprietary interface to one akin with Microsoft Office. This means moving up to NAV 2013 or NAV 2015 will involve more work than any other upgrade; it will also bring more benefit.

NAV tiers

Upgrade Tools

With each new version of NAV, Microsoft produces tools to facilitate the upgrade. At conferences, Microsoft happily cite upgrade of days for moving between standard NAV 2013 to NAV 2015.

 

The Last Painful Upgrade

If you are on an older version, using two-tier architecture and the traditional interface then it is highly likely that this upgrade will be significant. The amount of time involved may well seem on a par to the time it took to implement in the first place and you may well feel it worthwhile to look to market at what else is out there. Let’s face it, you’ve now been on NAV for at least six years, probably much longer. We encourage our clients to look around, it satisfies curiosity and resolves any lingering doubt as to whether NAV really is the best solution available. It is especially important for teams where staff turnover has led to no sense of ownership or where bad habits have led to poor use.

“We were immediately impressed by NAV 2015; it was not only light years ahead of our old version, it was also light years ahead of the other mid-market packages we evaluated. We were also really pleased to continue working with TVision.”

Michelle Lucatello, Finance Director, PackPost

“The cost to replace would be significant and unjustified.  All the changes to functionality that SESW have required during the lifecycle of NAV have been fulfilled.”

Michael Cock, IT Manager, SESW

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