Keeping Microsoft Dynamics NAV Up to Date

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You have been running Microsoft Dynamics NAV for a couple of years now and you have seen the notice that your version is at or near the end of the Support Life Cycle.

Understanding the different types of upgrades and what the benefits of each one entails is critical to maximizing the value of your ERP investment. What is best is different for every organization.

The biggest thing that makes Microsoft Dynamics NAV different from other ERP systems is the level of customization in the application. You can change almost anything about how it works. This is both a blessing and a curse; when it comes time to upgrade it is a lot more challenging than upgrading your Windows Vista to Windows 7.

Solution Upgrade

The solution upgrade is the most often talked about when discussing upgrades.  This is where you are looking for all of the new features in the new version being demonstrated, blogged about, and discussed.

The requirements for this type of an upgrade can be quiet complex and depend very much on how much customization exists in your database. At a high level the following steps need to be implemented:

  • Isolate the objects that have been changed in your database
  • Assess the complexity of those customizations
  • Identify the effort to replicate the customizations in the current version
  • Review the findings and discuss which customizations still make business sense
  • Merge the customizations into the new version
  • Convert the business data to the new version

Technical Upgrade

Customers who are running  a version of NAV older than 5.0 SP with Platform Update 2 looking to move from Windows XP to a Windows 7 based desktop environment will want to look at the option of performing a technical upgrade.

This upgrade updates the Microsoft Dynamics NAV platform but does not change the application itself to the new version; this means that the behavior stays the same but the program can run on the newer operating systems and processors.

While there is less planning involved in a Technical upgrade than in a Solution upgrade, there are a number of items to consider when doing a technical upgrade.

One of the major changes in a technical upgrade is the version of the C/AL language being used. As with every programming language, functions encounter what is known as a breaking change from time to time; and what worked in one version might work very differently in a new version.

A technical upgrade on its own does not produce any additional functionally, it can offer the ability to allow features from a new version to be downgraded or back ported into the database but those would need to occur as a separate development task.

Re-Implementation

The option of re-implementation has  become more popular. .Often customers that have experienced a great deal of change recently in their industry and are looking to upgrade several versions at the same time might want to look at the option of re-implementing the solution.

Re-implementing allows you to maintain the capital investment in the software and the core education of the staff using the application, but also review what makes sense for your organization without being tied to decisions that were made on market conditions of previous years.

BDO Solutions is a national firm with local practices throughout Canada, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Reseller of the Year in Canada for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

By Sean Henderson, Solutions Consultant, BDO Solutions, leading Canadian Microsoft Dynamics ERP & CRM Partner.

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