With this blog post, I’ll share with you the newest upgrade concept for especially outdated Microsoft Dynamics NAV solutions to effectively move to the latest version. We call this upgrade concept - “Clean Start”.

ERP Upgrade Has Simplified

Few years ago, most ERP providers said the lifecycle for ERP systems were 7 to 10 years. Most of the technology partners, who performed the ERP upgrades, claimed the upgrade process was complicated and time consuming, especially when migrating from very old systems that had many layers of customizations.

Today, ERP providers, such as the Microsoft Corporation, have drastically improved their upgrade process so much so that it is more of an “update” process. Now companies are “updating” their ERP systems annually. 

With the introduction of Microsoft Azure services, the upgrade/update process is simple, painless and even excludes the previously required hefty investment. These new services also deliver access through new technology platforms, such as web clients and tablets, which have become more important for employees’ daily work tasks.  

ERP “Clean Start”

Many of the Partners and their customers we’ve worked with in 1ClickFactory were on severely outdated Dynamics NAV versions, like 3.60 and older. On these versions, many companies do not see a viable means to get their solution up-to-date and back on track because upgrade becomes too complex and too expensive.

This is where the “Clean Start” upgrade model for Dynamics NAV solutions comes in. What is “Clean Start”? “Clean Start” is a service to migrate outdated solutions to a newer standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV version without any customizations.

At 1ClickFactory, we prepare and supply data migration tools that can help Microsoft Dynamics Partners to migrate customer data from any older version to the latest version during the upgrade. Data which was stored in customized fields will be migrated to newer version in special tables so no data will be lost.

If add-ons products (i.e. ISV solutions) were used in the previous outdated solution and are available for the newer versions, then they can also be added during the upgrade to the new version.

How to Support Customizations

Does the “Clean Start” migrate support customizations? As I mentioned previously, “Clean Start” is an upgrade migrating data only, not functionality. Obviously, we understand that most of companies would like to keep their previous customizations, if they are still in use, to preserve functionality that was built into their old environment. Given this, after the data migration, we recommend the Dynamics Partner follows this process to support upgrading customizations:

  1. Work with the customer’s end users to identify what functionality is missing and what additional data is needed.
  2. Create the missing functionality, then allow the end users to review it by using their own data (e.g. vendor names). This is done while still using the old version.
  3. If required, the Partner can easily add fields, upgrade reports (e.g. invoices or sales orders) and even add functions to simplify daily work.

In many cases we’ve found the data migration, functionality review and re-development takes much less time than upgrading of customizations.

“Clean Start” or Re-Implementation?

You may say that “Clean Start” is very similar to re-implementation and you would be right. The biggest advantage of “Clean Start” when compared to reimplementation is keeping the historic data without any data loss, as well time saving during the data migration process. I recommend “Clean Start” for companies who have old versions and would like to restart their ERP upgrade cycle. As well, I recommend “Clean Start” for companies who have a lot of customizations and see that there are many improvements in standard version that match the functionality of those customizations.

Let me share with you my view on how I separate and compare the three distinct upgrading models (Full Upgrade, Re-implementation and “Clean Start”) in the table below:

In summary, each upgrade model has its strengths and weaknesses. In some cases, the Partner and their customer adjusts the model slightly, using different methodologies for a single upgrade, such as doing a full upgrade and not migrating some very well separated customization or removing some old data prior to doing the standard data migration. 

Understanding the power of the newest technologies, I recommend all ERP solutions are upgraded/updated at least once every 3 years. I believe that doing regular upgrades saves money in the long-term and will make the “upgrade” process more of an “update” process over time.