Anyone working professionally with Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrades is often asked, “will it ever get easier” in reference to the upgrade process. Then follows a deep breath and sad expression in their eyes.

I can fully understand why many are tired of their past upgrades… Dynamics NAV customers who have been through 2 or 3 upgrades often complain about the complexity of upgrading Dynamics NAV to the latest version. And because of this complexity, associated costs can be high.  So should NAV customers just accept this dispiriting situation and keep investing in future upgrades regardless the costs?

Upgrades have been a deep passion of mine for many years. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by upgrade experts daily. The good news, based on recent conversations and activity in the Microsoft Dynamics NAV channel, there is light at the end of the tunnel and relief for complex upgrades has actually arrived.

Ugly Truth About Dynamics NAV Upgrades

There are many factors that play into the complexity and therefore the price of an upgrade.  The 3 most important factors are:

  1. How many version upgrades have you missed (e.g. 2, 3 or 5)?
  2. How many customizations have been built into your system (e.g. 10, 20 or 50)?
  3. How many add-ons, especially outdated add-ons without compatibility to the latest version of Dynamics NAV, do you have (e.g. 1, 3 or 8)?

Given that these are the three major drivers to upgrade complexity, you can as a Microsoft Dynamics Partner or Dynamics NAV customer implement tactics to make it simpler and therefore less expensive to upgrade your system moving forward. 

At the same time, Microsoft is helping us with new technologies and new methods that will lower the cost of upgrading (I will touch on these later).

TACTIC #1: Stay Current with Your Upgrades

I’ll bet you are thinking: “Are you kidding me?”. It sounds like a nightmare not like a solution. Nevertheless, the first tactic is to keep upgrading to the latest version, upon every Microsoft Dynamics NAV release, now – not a year from now.

Here’s why! Simple math to demonstrate the cost benefit of staying current:

If you update yearly (upon each new release), the price will over a 7 year period be 60% of the price of upgrading from a version that is 7 years old.  That’s an automatic 40% off just for staying current!

How you ask? This percentage is an average, based on our experience at 1ClickFactory of more than 350 Dynamics NAV upgrades, considering how the price of upgrading since Dynamics NAV 2013 has decreased dramatically. Alternatively, some would argue that there is a hidden cost to upgrading annually, in the effort that the organization will have to go through.

In my experience, yearly upgrades are more of an evolution and thereby easier for the organization to “swallow” than an upgrade every 7 years, which is usually a much larger change; a revolution. Even better, nowadays you don’t need to be burdened by the uncertainty in costs of future upgrades. You can now get a fixed price subscription service for your Dynamics NAV upgrades, eliminating the financial risk by moving to an annual model.

Is your solution current on NAV 2016? Join our Upgrade Subscription for NAV service before December 31st 2016 to receive the upgrade to NAV 2017 for FREE! Click here to find out more.

TACTIC #2: Keep Customizations to a Minimum

The second tactic is around customizations; keeping them to a minimum. I think that most companies today understand that the total cost of ownership of a business solution increases as you increase the number of customizations that you add. Therefore, customers are now keeping customizations to a minimum, focusing only on those that covers their strategic needs.

Technology from Microsoft is also helping us, and the upgrade merge process (the process of merging old customizations into a new version of Dynamics NAV) by automating more version-to-version merge components.

Upgrade centers, like 1ClickFactory, have also invested heavily in automation and can, in some cases, perform the full upgrade without any developer time being involved. It is basically only CPU (computer) time to perform the work that is needed.

Given these innovations, the upgrade price is falling and becoming more predictable, especially upgrades from NAV 2013 forward (I call these RTC to RTC upgrades). Now, the upgrade process can be automated to a much higher degree through technology, yielding cost savings, time savings and eliminating a quite a few grey hairs as well.

TACTIC #3: Use ONLY Add-Ons Certified for Microsoft Dynamics

The third tactic concerns the use of add-ons. Here the advice is to only use and keep add-ons that carry the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) designation (logo) from Microsoft, which also have a proven record of updating that accreditation when Microsoft releases a new version of NAV.

The add-ons that are the least expensive to upgrade, are those that provide a new version for every major Microsoft release as well as a data migration tool for the add-on from the old version to the latest version. Older, outdated add-ons that do not comply with these requirements make an upgrade very expensive, as the developers need to treat the add-ons as if it is one big customization to the application.

There is other good news concerning add-ons. In the future, most add-ons will be developed in new technology from Microsoft called extensions, which ensures fewer code conflicts with the standard NAV application from Microsoft and therefore delivers an easier upgrade path. This will also reduce the cost of upgrading add-on/extensions. 

For ISVs interested in reading more about a service to upgrade their add-on to an extension – click here.

TACTIC #4: Run Dynamics NAV on Azure

There is a fourth tactic that can decrease the cost of upgrading in the future.  Running Dynamics NAV on Microsoft Azure, where some cloud providers can fully automate the entire upgrade process. This will further reduce the cost of upgrading. This technology is really inspiring me at the moment.

Get started: Test your solution on Microsoft Azure today! We will provide one-on-one guidance for your first self-provisioning on Azure experience, which includes a FREE calendar month of hosting on Microsoft Azure.  Sign up now!

Yes! – “The Beauty of Simplicity” is Back

So back to the question, “Is it ever going to be easier/cheaper to upgrade Microsoft Dynamics NAV?” The answer is a big YES, as this article clearly shows. There are many different advancements that have decreased the complexity of NAV upgrades and hence reduced the price of upgrading. This is the new world of upgrades; we are rapidly evolving to the beauty of simplicity!

I read recently that productivity numbers have been quite constant in the western world in the last 10-15 years, which is why we see so little growth in the western economies. If our customers accelerate utilizing the new technology embedded in software upgrades, then we will, at least, have contributed a little to change these productivity numbers. It may not disrupt your industry, but it will definitely make you more productive.

Real Dynamics Partner NAV Upgrade and Microsoft Azure Stories

We've presented CGI’s and Jendev’s REAL PARTNER EXPERIENCES on how they have embraced 1ClickFactory’s NAV on Azure and NAV Upgrade services to deliver greater value to their customers at Directions EMEA. Want to take a look at them? Check out our Case stories!

Søren Fink-Jensen, Mr. Upgrade.