It’s one of the most common questions we get: “Why should I upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central from NAV?” The answer really depends on your specific situation, as there are many factors to consider.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through product lifecycle implications and discuss the potential impact your organization may experience as you upgrade NAV to Business Central.
Microsoft has a well-documented product lifecycle support policy. The benefits vary slightly between products and the focus today is on Microsoft Dynamics, so that’s what will be presented. Certain products, such as Windows and SQL Server, have extended security support options available.
Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Support Categories
The lifecycle support categories are:
Mainstream Support – the product will receive new features, security updates and non-security updates (think bug fixes)
Extended Support – the product will only receive security updates
Beyond End of Support – no updates of any kind
Note that self-help support (which includes Microsoft online Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other resources) is available at least twelve months after the end of the extended support phase. Paid support, which for Dynamics is typically provided by Microsoft channel partners, is available based upon an individual partner’s discretion.
So, what are the ramifications of being in Extended Support or Beyond End of Support?
Extended Support for Microsoft Dynamics NAV
During Extended Support, you should be safe security-wise, but as the years go by, frustrations with the ability to work with other modern technologies can increase.
Examples include leverage things like Flow, PowerApps, and the very useful Outlook integration which dramatically reduces the need for you to tab between windows. If your solution meets your needs as-is, you should be fine. If you have a desire to utilize new technologies as the years go by, you may run into challenges.
Beyond End of Support for Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Once you reach Beyond End of Support you’re at risk due to the lack of security updates so you should upgrade. You’ll also find it harder (and/or more expensive) to find NAV partners willing and able to provide support. As an example, we (Advanced Business Systems) charge more for our Customer Care plans for older versions of NAV. The pool of resources available to provide that support is simply not as large as it is with more current versions of Microsoft Dynamics.
As you can see by the table below, anything older than NAV 2015 is out of Mainstream Support and NAV 2015 Mainstream Support is ending January 2020. Of higher concern, Extended Support for NAV 2009 is ending at the beginning of 2020.
If you are running anything prior to NAV 2009, Extended Support has already ended.
NAV Support Lifecycle Start and End Dates
How Does Lifecycle Support Work with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central?
Business Central is available both on-premise and in the cloud, hosted directly by Microsoft. For the cloud version of Business Central, it’s always up-to-date with two major releases every year (one in the spring and the other in the fall) and minor updates as needed. Major changes are turned off by default so as to not unexpectedly and radically change a user’s experience.
So, with the cloud version you’ll always be up-to-date.
The on-premise version of Business Central follows one of two policies:
Fixed Lifecycle Policy for Business Central October 2018 and April 2019 versions
Modern Lifecycle Policy for Business Central 2019 Wave 2 and beyond
Specific details for each on-premise lifecycle policy can be found here.
In summary, the Fixed Lifecycle Policy is like the policy used for NAV. The Modern Lifecycle Policy is more stringent and requires customers to be current in order to obtain support. While partners may be able to provide support for older versions, if they need to get Microsoft involved, you could run into trouble if you aren’t current.
You can see that the time frames for new features and extended support are compressed to six and twelve months under the Modern Lifecycle Policy:
Summary: Microsoft Dynamics Support Lifecycle Policies to Know as You Consider 365 Business Central
So, what does this all mean to you?
Business Central is the next iteration of NAV. Some may argue that point, but it is. If you’re on an older version, our recommendations are as follows:
If you’re on NAV 2009 or prior, you need to start planning your upgrade to Business Central now.
If you’re using NAV 2013 or NAV 2015 and view your ERP as an investment (and not a tax), you should upgrade to ensure that your solution continues to provide and expand its value to your organization.
If you're on NAV 2017 or 2018, you should start planning now for an eventual migration to Business Central, but you don’t face the same urgency as those with older versions of NAV.
There are over 50,000 customers using NAV worldwide. The reason I bring that up is because upgrades need to be scheduled. Therefore, you need to talk to your partner now so that you can get on the calendar at a time that works best for your organization.
With the expiration of NAV 2009 extended support and NAV 2013/2015 mainstream support, demand is going to be high.
George Delp, Business Development Manager
George is the Business Development Manager for Advanced Business Systems. George started out as an information systems auditor and is a former CPA/CISA. For the past twenty years, he’s helped companies select and implement ERP software solutions — including Solomon (SL), Great Plains (GP), Navision (NAV) and now 365 Business Central.