Dynamics NAV to Business Central Migration: Top Tips for Success
Planning a move from Dynamics NAV to Business Central? Keep these tips in mind for a successful migration.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Navision is a flexible ERP solution that has been popular with small and mid-sized companies for decades and can adapt to various industries quickly. In particular, manufacturing and distribution companies appreciated its robust production control tool suite. However, users still ran against the limitations of its on-premises infrastructure. NAV was eventually re-written for the cloud, which launched as Dynamics 365 Business Central in 2018 - a modern, cloud-based version of this mid-market ERP solution.
Now that Dynamics 365 Business Central is on the scene, many companies currently on NAV are moving to reap the many benefits of Business Central. In this blog post, we will look into what makes a Dynamics NAV to Business Central upgrade successful and what challenges you may expect along the way.
What's the Difference Between Dynamics NAV and Business Central?
In a nutshell, both NAV and Business Central are geared towards small and mid-sized businesses, enabling them to create a single source of truth and manage all their core operations under one platform.
The difference lies in how they do it. Essentially Business Central is a new and improved version of NAV. It's cloud-based, offers improved integrations and easier updates, and has enhanced its functionality.
If you'd like a deeper understanding of the differences and similarities of these solutions, read our blog post on this topic: "Dynamics NAV vs. Dynamics 365 Business Central."
Potential Challenges in a NAV to Business Central Migration
When migrating from NAV to Business Central, you are changing infrastructures as you go from an on-premises ERP solution to a cloud-based ERP. One thing to remember is that infrastructure impacts everything - from customizations to reporting to basic accounting tasks.
Some companies may face challenges if they don't create an environment to support their new cloud-based solution. For instance, network capacity is exceedingly essential for cloud ERP solutions as it supports remote work and maintains the uptime needed for data streaming.
Data migration can also be another potential challenge if it is not planned and executed well. The choice between a full reimplementation or a "lift and shift" depends on your organization and factors such as the age of your legacy system, complexity, data volume, and whether your existing NAV solution was implemented correctly.
If you have been using your NAV system for a long time, expect to spend more time sorting and cleaning your data before deciding when you'll bring it over to the new system. Migrating data from NAV to Business Central means you are converting data from one schema to another. In some instances, your existing data may have invalid records, and you might need to convert them into a different format. Typically, there are a few tools/methods you can use to bring your data to the new solution:
Intelligent Cloud - If you're moving from NAV version 2018 R2 or later, you can replicate your data in the new environment using the Intelligent Cloud tool. While this is read-only, you can begin taking advantage of new functionality provided by Power BI and Flow as you continue with your implementation.
RapidStart - this is a service by Microsoft that enables users to create configuration packages that link their Excel files to Business Central tables.
Excel - Your data (vendors, inventory, transactions, customers) can be transferred from NAV to Business Central using the Edit in Excel feature. One thing to note is whether your files are compatible with Business Central will depend on what extensions are available.
Finally, review any complex customizations you have in your existing NAV solution. In most cases, Business Central's out-of-the-box functionality will replace most of your customizations, or there will be a third-party ISV solution you can quickly deploy. However, if there is something niche that you want to bring over that does not have a pre-built ISV solution, you may need to convert your modifications from C/AL to AL extensions.
Top Tips to Make Your NAV to Business Central Migration a Success
Here are some best practices and tips on making your migration from NAV to Business Central online successful.
✅ Prepare for the move
Migrating to Business Central will allow you to leverage all the business benefits of cloud ERP. This ranges from money saved on hardware, upgrades, and IT maintenance, to improved accessibility and agility. Take some time before the move to understand what specific business goals your company plans to achieve with the new functionality and how it can improve your existing processes.
✅ Get executive buy-in
You need a project sponsor who will prioritize your initiative from the get-go. This will encourage greater involvement from your leadership team in the migration and testing processes, which is often crucial to migration success.
✅ Communicate project goals clearly
Keep lines of communication open and frequent between your executive team, project team, and ERP partner. Good communication can help you avoid obstacles that cost money, cause delays, and ensure on-time delivery. Understand all the factors that may impact the migration, including business goals, data inputs, required outputs, and more. You should be able to articulate this information– regardless of the system, they are using.
✅ Ensure efficient project management to keep on track
Robust and efficient project management is another crucial factor for success, but it needs to happen both internally and on the ERP partner's side. Both teams need to be aligned and working towards the same outcome. To get there, ensure your teams have the authority to push projects through the pipeline and are equipped with the tools to adapt to changes in real time. Remember that uncertainty, lost momentum, or wasted time waiting for decision-maker approvals are some of the biggest reasons migration projects get sidetracked.
✅ Create an environment that supports collaboration
Successful NAV to Business Central migrations happen in collaboration with your internal team and external ERP partners. Fostering an inclusive, collaborative environment is another factor for success, and it should be designed to keep your teams working towards the same goal and staying on track. Ensure this by making knowledge management and data-sharing processes a part of your strategy from the jump to prevent teams from getting sidetracked.
✅ Test early - and often
Another tip for success - design a testing strategy for your end-users and get them involved in the entire project. From defining business processes, and workflows, and creating use cases, testing will help you align expectations with the business strategy as well as serve as an interactive training process.
The most significant difference between Dynamics NAV and Business Central is that the former is an on-premises solution while the latter is cloud-based. Switching to a cloud-based ERP solution unlocks business benefits that are unavailable on-premises. Making a successful move from NAV to Business Central requires a deep understanding of the value of the cloud, getting internal executive buy-in, and finding the right Dynamics 365 Partner. Working with a partner you trust makes it easier to develop a strategy for success.
Planning a Migration? Kwixand Solutions Can Help
If you're ready to start planning your move from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central, the Kwixand Solutions team can help. We are a Dynamics 365 Business Central partner, based in Vancouver, Canada, and we help guide companies across the US and Canada through all stages of their digital transformation.
We provide implementation, upgrades, training, and support services for the full suite of Microsoft Dynamics 365 products & Power Platform suite. To learn more about how we can help your business, book a free consultation with our experts today.