Let’s start off by clarifying one thing: stop thinking of a Dynamics NAV upgrade as something you “just have to do.”
In fact, an upgrade (or re-implementation in some cases depending on the upgrade path you choose), represents a huge opportunity to create VALUE for your organization.
So, if we’re talking about seeing upgrades as an opportunity to create value — and you’ve struggled in the past with developing an upgrade business case — where can we find these opportunities? Below are five of the most common and worthwhile motivations behind a Dynamics NAV upgrade.
Dynamics NAV upgrade motivations:
Can you continue to get support for:
- Your existing version,
- Its customizations and reporting,
- Add-ons / ISVs?
The Bottom Line: The older your version of NAV, the harder it will be to find the support and responsiveness you need from partners and ISV’s. As the technology evolves, these vendors will be training their staff on the latest version and over-time, skills required to support older versions will be harder to come by.
In addition to getting access to the right skills, it’s also important to consider Microsoft’s support strategy. For example, mainstream support for NAV 2009 will be ending soon as that release is now two versions behind the latest NAV 2013 R2. This means the sooner you upgrade to the latest release, the more likely you will find the most up-to-date and well-trained support personnel.
2. Business Capabilities Gap
Many of our customers have found this is the biggest area of value creation.
You may have added users, acquired additional companies, added product lines, or require new methods to manage and track elements of your business.
Important questions to ask:
- How has your business changed or grown since your implementation or last upgrade?
- Have you evolved or changed the way you analyze your company performance? Upgrades offer a great opportunity to revisit your NAV dimension structure and reporting capabilities.
- Have your departments or users created manual workarounds or spreadsheet-based tracking because your existing system does not include the functionality to manage that new line of business?
- Did you implement customizations in your initial implementation that no longer make sense for your organization? Could they be replaced by features that are built into the latest version of NAV?
The Bottom Line: In the past Microsoft took 3-4 years to introduce new major versions of NAV. Chances are your company has evolved and changed in many of the areas NAV touches during that time. Most likely new features and functions could have emerged that will either replace previous customizations or enable you to expand NAV’s footprint.
3. Compliance and Risk
Businesses today are increasingly being required to operate in an environment of complex regulation and broader accountability to stakeholders. Whether it is transparency in financial reporting, implementing internal controls, quality standards, audit and lot or batch traceability, or simply minimizing operational risks, a Dynamics NAV upgrade can offer significant benefits. As regulation and tougher accountability measures have emerged, Microsoft NAV has evolved greater capabilities to support customers in remaining efficient and operationally lean while meeting requirements imposed by external agencies and third parties. Read the NAV upgrade case study of this engineering services firm to learn more about how they built their business case.
The Bottom Line: A clean upgrade to the latest version of NAV can reduce business risk, support audit and reporting requirements and controls frameworks, and introduce better support for process governance. The new release of NAV also provides improved accountability with user roles.
4. Software Modernization
When talking about modernizing your software – it’s important to consider what this means from every angle, including: how NAV has evolved as a product and how other technologies have evolved around it.
The Bottom Line: NAV has a role centered user interface which looks and operates a lot like Microsoft Outlook and other Office applications. Beyond that, an upgrade also represents an opportunity to take advantage of more robust integration and realize the promise of a true software platform. For example, cloud services for other line of business applications such as cloud procurement solutions, POS systems, web services, SharePoint, Office 365 and more.
5. Infrastructure Modernization
The investment in capital equipment for IT is an ongoing budget line for most established businesses. Over time, your hardware for networking equipment, servers and desktop computers needs to be upgraded to match the new software released, or, at the very least, to accommodate your growth.
The Bottom Line: Often, the best time to upgrade your hardware is at the same time as a software upgrade. This allows you to match your hardware to the capability of the improved software to gain all of the advantage of increased screen response times and database queries.
An alternative to upgrading the on-premise hardware that NAV runs on is moving your solution to cloud infrastructure (IaaS). In a cloud based, multi-tenant environment, updates are simply pushed out to users with some advance notice to perform testing and validate the updates on your NAV instance.
The Bottom Line: Instead of buying and capitalizing equipment that wears out and becomes obsolete rapidly, your hardware budget can be converted to supporting cloud-based virtual servers where your software is hosted and rely on outside experts to maintain the infrastructure within guaranteed service-level commitments. A software upgrade or reimplementation can be the perfect time to transition a major part of your information technology infrastructure to a hosted environment, like Azure. (Refer here for more details on comparing on-premise and cloud deployments or the benefits of moving NAV to Azure).