Find out how moving to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can help you future proof your business
Companies don’t change their Enterprise and Resource Planning (ERP) software very often. Much time and money is invested in, firstly, implementing a new ERP and, then maintaining it. However, there does come a time when there is a need for a change in order to move with the times and stay competitive.
In 2018, Dynamics NAV became part of the Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 family. The solution was renamed as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. As a result, Dynamics NAV 2018 became the last version and, as of the beginning of 2023, NAV will no longer be in mainstream support. Therefore, the clock is ticking to move to a solution that can be supported by a Microsoft Partner and that is updated regularly.
In this white paper we take an in-depth look at Business Central and put forward the case as to why moving from NAV to BC would help your business reach its future ambitions. Your business will not only benefit from it today but will also be future proofed for tomorrow and beyond.
What are the differences between Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central?
Although the base functionality NAV and Business Central (BC) is fundamentally the same, there are four key differences between NAV and BC:
- User Interface
Whilst NAV software needs to be installed on your on-premise server, or on a virtual machine in a private cloud, Business Central can also be deployed as a web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) product. It has a modern user interface that is incredibly intuitive. The solution uses AI to provide insights from your data and users have the ability to move easily around the system, drill down into the detail of individual transactions, accounts, reports, and graphs with the click of the button.
- Product hosting
While NAV was generally deployed as on-premise, Business Central has been designed as a SaaS product. It is hosted and managed by Microsoft on their Cloud Platform – Azure – taking away the need for companies to buy SQL licenses or have resource to manage the server environment.
- Product upgrades
If you are using a version of NAV that is still within mainstream support, Microsoft will continue to release new features, security updates and non-security updates. However, as has always been the case on-premise solutions, you’ll need to discuss the merits of deploying these updates with your NAV Partner as there maybe clashes with your environment. With the older solutions, a hotfix or update may cause interoperability issues with customisations and third-party products that work together with your Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution.
In contrast, Business Central is governed by Microsoft’s Modern Lifecycle Policy. This means continuous service updates and a major update every six months. These updates happen automatically, with you managing the schedule, and ensure that your software is always the latest version. This provides your business access to the very latest technology, as soon as it is available.
TVision regularly runs webinars highlighting these important changes, and you can watch past webinars on demand on our website (www.tvisiontech.co.uk/webinars).
- Software licensing
NAV and Business Central are licensed in different ways. NAV is licensed for concurrent users. The types of users are Full, Limited, Device Only, Windows Group, and External. Meanwhile BC licences are based on named users and the types are Essential, Premium, Team, and External Accountant.
Where NAV had an upfront licence cost, followed by an annual 16% charge for Enhancement Plan (EP), Business Central uses a monthly subscription model that charges per user and includes the features of the enhancement plan.
What are the benefits of moving to Business Central?
When you move from NAV to BC, you are moving to a modern ERP. Here are just a few of the benefits for your business:
- Seamless integration with the Microsoft stack
As part of the Microsoft family, Business Central connects seamlessly with other Microsoft products, such as Office 365, Teams, and the Power Platform. Consequently, Business Central data and processes are available to disparate teams for them to work together collaboratively with links to other Microsoft products without leaving Business Central. This leads to greater streamlining of business processes and increased business efficiency and productivity.
- ERP 24/7 from anywhere
Moving to a cloud-based ERP means that you can access it at any time and from anywhere with a web client. With remote and hybrid working continuing to be prevalent, Business Central’s “24/7 anywhere” accessibility capabilities ensures that your business continues to operate smoothly regardless of where your workforce is working from.
- Scalable to your business needs
Software scalability is a system’s ability to keep pace with your business growth. This means that your ERP system should be able to handle increases in transactional volume, workload, and amount of data. This is one of Business Central’s real strengths. With a monthly subscription fee, you can easily add or remove users as needed. It has extensive functionality that grows with you as your business grows.
- Always up to date
Business Central SaaS is governed by Microsoft’s Modern Lifecycle Policy. This means that there are continuous service updates, as well as a major update to the product every six months, in April and October. Over the last two years, Microsoft has used these updates to not only improve the application but also enhance BC’s integration with the Microsoft stack and simplify the user onboarding experience, amongst other things. With Business Central SaaS, you are guaranteed to always be on the latest version of the product without any additional costs. For example, Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 went out of extended support in January 2020, and with this are risks for catastrophic business data failure should anything go wrong with your NAV instance.
- First rate security
Microsoft is always investing heavily in security and compliance, enhancing its services in a range of ways, varying from automated threat detection and identity isolation to just-in-time (JIT) virtual machine (VM) access. This investment ensures that Business Central continues to be a safe and secure SaaS solution.
What are the risks if you don’t move to Business Central?
There is a certain amount of risk attached to moving to a new ERP. There are, however, even greater risks associated with using an older, outdated system such as NAV. These include:
- Using an ERP that is no longer supported
As you can see from the table, all versions of NAV will be out of mainstream support after January 2023. Thereafter, the product will only receive security updates until the Extended Support period ends.
|Product||End of Mainstream Support||End of Extended Support|
|Dynamics NAV 2009 R2||13/01/2015||14/01/2020|
|Dynamics NAV 2013||01/09/2018||10/01/2023|
|Dynamics NAV 2013 R2||01/09/2018||10/01/2023|
|Dynamics NAV 2015||14/01/2020||14/01/2025|
|Dynamics NAV 2016||13/04/2021||14/04/2026|
|Dynamics NAV 2017||11/01/2022||11/01/2027|
|Dynamics NAV 2018||10/01/2023||11/01/2028|
Once your version of NAV is out of mainstream support, it will no longer be updated with any new improvements or non-security updates. Once it is beyond its extended support period, security updates will end completely and the product will be much harder to support.
- Challenges of integrating with new technologies
One of the difficulties of using an older ERP system is that it is more challenging to integrate with new technologies such as external 3rd party solutions. It also makes it difficult for you to benefit from Power Automate, Power Apps, and Teams. BC is actually an App within Office 365 and therefore is seamlessly integrated with the rest of the Microsoft product stack, whereas NAV only has limited integration with some of the Microsoft stack.
- Compliance issues
Financial compliance is essential for any business and a crucial component in most ERP systems. As your ERP gets old and moves out of mainstream support, there is the risk that it no longer conforms to current financial regulations. Auditors will want to look at how you manage the risk to your business of unsupported software.
With Business Central you can be assured that it contains up-to-date functionality and is built on a platform that makes it easy for users to comply with compliance and regulatory legislation.
- Your hardware no longer able to support your NAV software
Every business will update their hardware at some point, even if it is just a new computer for a new member of staff. We have often come across the issue that new hardware doesn’t support old NAV software and this, too, creates risk for your business.
- Threat of unexpected downtime
As your ERP gets older, the possibility of it crashing increases. This could lead to unexpected downtime for your business, which could have an impact on its productivity and profitability.
Moving to Business Central: the technical upgrade options
Once you have made the decision to upgrade from Dynamics 365 NAV to Business Central, there are two conversion options available to you. The approach you go for will depend on your particular business needs.
- Clean start: This is when, as the name implies, you make a clean start when you upgrade to Business Central. Your Business Central solution does not include any customisations and the only data you take forward in your upgrade is the data which you require for day to day working. We recommend a Clean Start Approach for those on really old versions of NAV where a conversion to BC involves stepping through multiple versions of NAV to get to the latest BC version, making the project not cost effective. Clean Start also works well for companies who have changed their business processes since NAV was implemented and looking for a refresh.
- Modified start: With a modified start, you migrate all your data and selected customisations across to Business Central. A Modified Start approach is most suitable to those companies who have a highly modified ERP and need to continue to use the modified functionality in a similar way on Business Central. Alternatively, it is suitable for companies who want or need all their data on their new system. Taking all your data over to BC is a costly route and should only be undertaken where there is a tangible benefit.
What do I need to budget for?
Every upgrade/conversion project is costed on an individual basis and is dependent on individual customer needs. However, all projects involve at least three of the elements below:
- Implementation costs
This is an upfront capital investment. During your implementation period, our experienced consultants will oversee your installation and ensure that Business Central is set up in a way that it works correctly with your business’s processes and practices.
- Recurring licence costs
These are usually shown as per user per month price and can be paid for monthly, or annually, dependent upon the Microsoft pricing options available at the time. From time to time Microsoft run promotions to encourage customers who are up to date with their EP to upgrade to BC.
There are currently four different types of Business Central licences available. Most customers need a mixture of Essential and Team licences:
- Essentials – most functionality except manufacturing and service management
- Premium – all functionality
- Team – similar to a “limited” licence in NAV – read-only data access plus a few extra pieces of limited functionality
- External Accountant – if you want an external accountant to view your data.
Details of the types of licences and current licensing costs can be found at: https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-gb/business-central/pricing/.
- Support packages
Support offerings vary by Microsoft Partner. TVision’s support packages are banded depending on user/licence numbers. Our support offerings give a number of hours support a month that can be spent on general enquiries/training, as well as any bugs. We have our own inhouse support team and our packages include access to our online customer support portal.
- Other costs
As part of your conversion your business may also need to incur costs for one or more of the following:
- 3rd Party Product licence fees – for example insightsoftware (formerly known as Jet Reports) or Continia and any related maintenance fees
- Apps provided by TVision
- Development work required to implement any of your own unique customisations.
Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central with TVision Technology
TVision is your go-to partner for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. With over 400 combined years of business experience, we LOVE implementing ERP solutions that deliver efficiency, growth and control for our clients.
Our customers stay with us for the long-term, whether they are implementing a new system, enhancing their existing Business Central deployment or looking for an outstanding support partner, they appreciate our straightforward and transparent approach to technology and how it can be used to advance their businesses.
Over 30% of our customer base have already made the leap and are already using Business Central SaaS. TVision was one of the first UK resellers to embrace this new technology helping our customers successfully make the transition to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and reap the competitive advantage benefits to their business.
If you want to know more about Microsoft Business Central and how TVision could help you, please feel free to contact us to arrange a demo to see how moving from NAV to Business Central could be the right business move for you.