Wednesday, October 24, 2018
A new paradigm for upgrading that has never been seen before?
A couple of years ago, I released a blog (see here) on getting the tactics to upgrading right. Back then I focused on 4 tactics, but with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central release, those tactics are changing and there are more options for partners and customers to consider. Will it become easier? Not for the next upgrade, unfortunately, but once you are on Dynamics 365 Business Central, the costs of upgrading will start declining. I will prove that to you if you get to the 4th cost reduction (or put my money where my mouth is).
Is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central good for our customers (or why should customers even consider going there?). Well, there are many reasons (and if you want to understand more, Google is a good tool or if you just want a high-level view you can go to this article). What I am sure of, though, is that with the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, we will see a new wave of customers that want to upgrade to the platform of the future. Even customers that are on versions before Dynamics 2009 and earlier, will see an opportunity in either upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central or reimplementing to Business Central. This is a perfect opportunity to blow some extra life into engaging with existing NAV customers and helping them out with the options to move forward and thereby adding some value.
Passion of upgrade innovation
1ClickFactory is very passionate about innovating the upgrade process, and we have experience of doing more than 400 Dynamics NAV upgrades in the last 8 years from versions all the way back to Navision Financials 1.10. We apply our experience and knowledge into our tools and methodologies to constantly improve speed, quality and price of the upgrades.
The (less) ugly truth about upgrades
Since I wrote about upgrades two years ago, a number of new ways to handle the cost of upgrading have materialized. Based on the vast experience we have, we have found that there are 4 key areas that carry 80% of the cost of any upgrade and if optimized, reduces the price for upgrading significantly. The four areas are:
- Classic Reports
- How many versions need to be upgraded
Let’s take a look at each of these and the options that are now available as you move customers forward on Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Cost reduction 1: Classic reports
Millions of classic reports have been built with the classic reporting tool that was available between 1995 and 2009. Two years back the only real solution to move these reports forward was moving them to Microsoft’s standard RDLC format. 1ClickFactory built a tool that does that transformation automatically for 90-95% of the transformation, on average. This tool is still an option. But there are more tactics. You can, for instance, minimize the cost by only transforming the reports that are being used (on average less than 50%). To identify these, you can use the 1ClickFactory Report Tracker Tool (you need to register). You can also identify the reports that really are analysis reports and as such should not even be delivered through as a report, but more as Business Intelligence report, such as JetReports. Finally, you can convert the reports to the ForNAV reporting tool, which is substantially cheaper than converting to RDLC.
Cost reduction 2: Customizations
For customizations, we finally have a light at the end of the tunnel. By 2020 Microsoft will terminate the ability to develop C/AL and thereby also make changes in the standard code. From now on you will only be able to extend the code, which is much less expensive to upgrade. What does that mean for old customer versions with changes in the standard code? Well, it depends… on the road you and your customer chose. If you chose to clean out the customizations and basically move to a standard Dynamics 365 Business Central, then the investment is not so big (see also CleanStart from 1ClickFactory). If the customizations are too important to leave, then the investment is bigger, as first the customizations need to be moved to Events (and later Extensions) before it will become less expensive.
Cost reduction 3: Add-ons
2 years ago, I wrote that using add-ons that were certified as CfMD was the best way to keep the costs down of upgrading add-ons. This is still true, but not the only truth. In the future you need to make sure you select add-ons that have a strategy to deliver a future road in the form of an extension for Dynamics 365 Business Central (an app) and the migration tools. Once you have all your add-ons converted to Extensions, then the cost of upgrading will also decrease.
Cost reduction 4: Stay current
Staying current is one of the most ignored tactics to keeping down the cost of upgrading. The more versions you skip, the more the cost of upgrading grows exponentially. So how will this work in the future? Well, if you are on Dynamics 365 Business Central in the cloud, then upgrades will happen automatically every time Microsoft releases a new build (here we already have a super-saving). That is one of the key advantages of being in the cloud. For many existing customers this is not a possibility yet, though, given many customizations (the Business Central cloud solutions do not have publishers that support customizations everywhere, yet) and customers might also have important add-ons that cannot be moved to Extensions yet. For all of these existing customers the choice is Dynamics 365 Business Central on premise (which could have been called NAV 2019), that support both add-ons, old customizations and the new Extensions technology.
I promised that upgrading would become less expensive. It will. As customers move to the Dynamics 365 Business Central on premise, they will be able to convert customizations (as Microsoft releases publishers) to Events and then to Extensions. Add-ons will also be converted to Extensions over time. The final stage being that all customizations and add-ons become Extensions. At that point it will become cheap to upgrade. But it could also become cheaper before then (now I am putting my money where my mouth is). If you and your customer sign up for an upgrade subscription from 1ClickFactory, to keep your customer on the latest yearly build, then the price will have a certain level to begin with, but as more and more of the old customizations and add-ons move to the Extensions technology, the subscription price will be reduced. I believe that is a unique opportunity to save costs sooner rather than later.
Cost reduction 5: The Upgrade Analyzer
Now that you know something about the less ugly truth about upgrades to Business Central, the key problem becomes understanding the economic impact of all these choices. Not easy! To help with that, 1ClickFactory is releasing the Upgrade Analyzer during Directions EMEA 2018. The Upgrade Analyzer will allow you, just by uploading the .fob file of your customer to our website, to get online access to the pricing of all these options, so that you can simulate exactly what your customer needs. This tool is my 5th key cost saver to you, as it is free and will save you what could be weeks of analysis work, basically a change in paradigm for doing upgrade proposals.
You can learn more about the Upgrade Analyzer here.