Many businesses that currently use Dynamics NAV are making the move to Dynamics 365 Business Central. The latest announcement coming out of the Dynamics Business Central Directions EMEA virtual event indicates extremely rapid growth in Business Central adoption. Microsoft estimates that there are now over 10,000 customers using D365 Business Central, and a substantial 125,000 complementing the on-premises base.
As more NAV users are transitioning, an even larger number of users are starting to question whether the move to Business Central makes sense for their organization. Let’s try to put those questions in context.
What is the current state of Dynamics NAV?
Dynamics NAV was rebranded as Dynamics 365 Business Central on-premises over a year ago, and Microsoft stopped selling Dynamics NAV to new customers at that time. However, existing Dynamics NAV customers can still purchase new licenses for their solution as needed. Microsoft will continue to offer support Dynamics NAV through October 2027, but no longer releases upgrades for those solutions.
What are the options?
There are really two options if you are moving to Business Central:
Migrate to Dynamics 365 Business Central Online Business Central Online comes in two flavors: Essential and Premium. The Essentials licensing option provides: Financial Management, Customer Relationship Management, Project Management, Supply Chain Management. Warehouse Management, and Human Resources Management. The Premium licensing option adds Service Management and Manufacturing capabilities. With migration to Dynamics 365 Business Central Online, you will get all the benefits of a true cloud solution, like access anywhere from any device, real-time information flow, seamless upgrades, easy integration building through web APIs, and reduced hardware costs. New releases for Business Central are automatically released by Microsoft twice a year in the Spring and Fall, so the turnaround for all these ideas is relatively quick. You even get free sandboxes to test new releases 30 days prior to your automated upgrade.
Upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central On-premises The solution can also be hosted on a client server or Azure, but it does not offer the same seamless experience as a fully managed cloud-based solution. Yet, it is still a good solution if you prefer to host your software locally right now and want to have an easy path to migrate to the cloud when you are ready Dynamics 365 Business Central on-premises has many of the same features and functions as the Dynamics 365 Business Central cloud version. The main difference is the platform on which the solution is hosted.
Customers are in full control of their on-premises deployments, which includes installing updates. Microsoft supports the Dynamics 365 Business Central (on-premises) software as indicated in its Lifecycle Policy for on-premises, but only if customers keep the deployed software current according to policy. By keeping current, you're getting all the latest feature and bug fixes.
In addition, some features in Business Central Online won’t be replicated in the on-premises version. Here’s a list from Microsoft on its Docs site. For the most part, cloud features require Azure Active Directory as the authentication mechanism, or online Power Platform integration to use Power BI, Power Apps and Flow.
How to frame your decision
There are many areas of focus to consider when researching the upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central. As with any migration, it is important to first think about what is currently holding your business back.
Is it disconnected systems?
Disconnected systems make for strained business growth due to reporting limitations and difficulties in business analysis. For example, take the Quote to Cash scenario. With an integrated, cloud-based system like Business Central, you can go from quote to cash without switching applications. You can set up customers or vendors, create quotes, process orders, and submit invoices without leaving your inbox. Then you can easily export data and create outgoing documents directly in Word and Excel.
You no longer need to determine your master record of truth, which data gets passed and shared, and how the integration should work. Dynamics 365 Business Central has automatic integration with Dynamics 365 for Sales.
Is it a need for core functionality?
Business Central is built on the core functionality that was available in the Dynamics NAV product but continually adds new features. Check out the new and planned features for Business Central here. You may find that a feature or functionality available only in a third-party integration or customization is now available in the product.
Is it a lack of financial insight?
Getting insight into your Business Central data has been made much easier with Power BI and the Business Central content packs. Power BI retrieves data and then builds a dashboard based on that data. To use it, you must have valid Business Central Online and Power BI accounts. The Business Central content pack provides the dashboard and illustrates financial data over periods of time for better analysis.
While Business Central Online isn’t necessarily less expensive than on-premises, it does give you a better understanding of your monthly costs so you can budget and plan effectively. Moving to the cloud is essentially a financial shift that reallocates ERP spend from infrastructure, costly servers, and upgrades to licensing fees. In fact, transitioning from Dynamics NAV to Business Central Online is the final ‘upgrade’ you will ever have to pay for. Once you have implemented the solution, updates happen frequently, and at no added cost, ensuring you’re always on the most recent version.
Microsoft recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study and examine the potential return on investment (ROI) companies may realize by deploying Business Central. To better understand the benefits, costs, and risks associated with this investment, Forrester interviewed five customers with experience using Business Central.(Scroll half-way down the page to find the link to the study).
Choosing the right implementation partner is as important as selecting the right platform and preparing your organization for change. Axtegrity has completed cloud implementations for all Microsoft 365 ERP systems and understands the intricacies of selecting and implementing a solution to meet each client’s individual needs. We are ready and willing to help you make the most cost-effective decision for your organization. Contact us today and we’ll begin the discussion.