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Dynamics NAV to BC: What You Should Know About Navision Upgrades to Business Central

Do you feel it’s time to upgrade your outdated Microsoft Dynamics NAV system to something that serves your business better? As one of the most popular ERP solutions in the world, Dynamics NAV (Navision) has built a reputation on its universal functionality and flexibility to fit many types of organizations and industries. Although you have relied on your Dynamics NAV system for years, you may be starting to see cracks in the foundation and the costs to maintain it are adding up. As your business grows, you need a system that can handle more and save processing time.  

Why Upgrade to Business Central?  

We recommend Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to all our Dynamics NAV/Navision clients looking to update and move their system forward. It’s a practical and sustainable solution that can grow with your business. It’s also an evolution of Dynamics NAV. Listening to the specific needs expressed by business owners, Microsoft has invested millions into developing this technology and focused on helping organizations operate exactly how they need to. This technology has grown into far more than just a common ERP platform. Software developers can better accommodate users with ultra-customized software systems, easy automatic upgrades, and personalized add-ons to meet each unique business need.  

Microsoft’s goal with Business Central is to guide companies through their own digital transformations. Here are 6 of the top reasons why Business Central is a smart, strategic choice if you’re looking to update your Dynamics NAV solution:   

  1. Business Central is quick to learn and adopt.  
    When upgrading to Business Central, the learning curve is not a steep one because, even with its slick new web-based interface, Business Central still features the well-known Microsoft Office look and feel and also offers integration capabilities with the full suite of Microsoft products (including Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 CRM, Office 365, and Power BI). Users will enjoy a clearer presentation of their personalized information, including a better dashboard and use of graphs.  
  1. It’s easily customizable for growth.  
    Building on NAV’s legacy means Business Central has the full capability of the world’s most popular mid-market ERP system. The upgrade to Business Central is seamless, and the system grows as your business grows. You can implement as much or as little of it as you want now and roll out more in the future when needed. It’s literally the last system implementation or upgrade you will ever need.  
  1. Automatic upgrades twice a year won’t disrupt customizations.  
    Business Central’s design solves the common problem of expensive, drawn-out upgrade nightmares. Microsoft has designed Business Central in such a way that partners and customers can’t accidentally modify the core system and don’t affect the upgrade path when they apply third-party business apps or other specific customizations. Compare this to NAV upgrades where modifications to core code have to be unpicked before upgrading. This can take months to complete depending upon the complexity of the environment. 

    True multi-tenancy (when a company shares one code base) means significant upgrades are automatically processed in the background every six months, often without disruption or cost. You’ll automatically be upgraded if your Business Central system is deployed in the cloud, but you also have the option to delay the upgrade for 90 days. Microsoft also offers a helpful notification window where you can easily set up a sandboxed environment to test the new version beforehand. 

    NOTE: Some other software providers may say they also offer this automatic upgrade capability, but they’re missing key features provided in the full upgrade package that Microsoft delivers.  

  1. You can choose from flexible deployment options to fit your needs
    Business Central offers several deployment options ranging from private to public cloud, all designed to work seamlessly with other Microsoft applications. Microsoft’s proactive pivot to a cloud-based ERP system has solved a lot of headaches for users, including expensive hardware and upgrades, operating systems, and maintenance costs of on-premises solutions. By the way, yes, you can still deploy Business Central on-premise if you prefer to, but you might miss out on prime integration with cutting-edge Dynamics and Azure services. 
  1. Business Central offers everything your Dynamics NAV system does (and more).  
    With a totally new development platform, some might assume Business Central is a very different solution than NAV. This may be true for the software developers. However, the Business Central Base Application still contains most of the robust business code logic and processing routines of NAV. These features have just been further developed, tested, and enhanced over many years.  
    Be prepared: If you’re making the switch to Business Central, it’s still important that your software developer has a good understanding of the Dynamics NAV framework and code structures to be able to extend and build code in Business Central. Here are 3 reasons why your Business Central partner needs prior experience Dynamics NAV.   
  1. It’s designed to grow and evolve with your specific business needs and goals.  
    Business Central uses a modern multi-language development environment based on Visual Studio that is an Open Source and cross-platform development environment. The .AL (Application Language) Extension for Visual Studio enables developers to extend Business Central by building specialized apps for a specific customer or tenant to personalize their system further. Developers can also publish these apps to be sold through the ever-expanding Microsoft app marketplace, AppSource

Comparing Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Business Central 

While there are a lot of reasons to upgrade your Dynamics NAV system to Business Central, it’s still a big decision to make. We want to make sure you have all the information in front of you so you can make the best decision for your business today and tomorrow. We have put together a comparison between some of the important details and technical aspects between Business Central and Dynamics NAV.  


Dynamics NAV

Business Central

  • On–premises and hosted solutions
  • Designed more for Cloud-based deployments
  • Can also be hosted on premise
  • Integration with Cloud Services and Cloud Intelligence
  • Predominantly on-premises implementations with some hosted sites
  • Often invasive customizations to suit customer needs, which have proven to be difficult and expensive to maintain, upgrade, extend, and support
  • Predominantly Cloud-based implementations
  • Less invasive customizations and rather multiple extension apps to extend and enhance business processes for companies, which can be upgraded automatically on semi-annual updates, usually with little or minimum effort
  • Easier to extend, upgrade, and support
Development Environment and Language
  • C/SIDE (Client Server Integrated Development Environment), which was older technology with a fixed editor and very limited coding assistance
  • C/AL (Client/Server Application Language), which was a Database specific language
  • Object–based with all Objects stored within the Database
  • Difficult to release and maintain version control on source code
  • Modern multi-language development environment using Visual Studio code, which is Open Source and Cross-platform. The development environment using VS Code Extensions that improve development tools, including text editor enhancements for a better programming experience
  • .AL (Application Language) is based on C/AL, but it has been extended for future new language features and updates. It has been designed for developing Cloud-based apps for extending Business Central
  • It is a code–centric, folder-based environment (not object–based) that can be compiled and packaged as .app packages for specific customer use or published on Microsoft AppSource
  • Source code/version control (Git)
  • Ability to use Docker containers for developing and testing extensions and maintaining different versions using Bit Time Saver
  • PowerShell scripting for easier and quicker handling of tasks and automation of tasks
Development Methodology
  • Developing new code logic
  • Directly customizing base system code logic, including the base or custom objects
  • Code object number ranges could be reserved for ISV development partners for their products
  • Developing new Code Logic
  • Extending Base Logic with event–driven development coding without changing base logic code and making upgrades easier and faster
  • Developing apps designed for the Cloud or on-premises databases
  • Code snippets that provide templates for coding application objects
  • Get context-sensitive IntelliSense
  • Compiler validation while coding
  • Updates when required
  • Regular, automatic updates on the development environment
System Upgrades
  • Upgrades when required
  • Semi-annual automatic upgrades on base application software and additional incremental automatic updates
  • PowerShell Integration
  • Install code extensions developed by ISV (Independent Software Vendor) partners directly from Microsoft AppSource to extend the functionality of the system
User Involvement
  • A power user instead of a developer can now amend pages, add new fields, and save the result as an extension

Important Licensing Changes to be Aware of in Business Central  

SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions are typically priced on a subscription basis, and that is also the case with Business Central if deployed in the cloud. This signals a big change in budgeting processes compared to perpetual licenses. Additionally, Business Central also moves away from licensing based on concurrent users to a new model based on the number of employees who actually use Business Central. 

You’ll notice the impact of these changes in the Business Central deployment model as soon as you upgrade from NAV—starting with Microsoft’s mapping of concurrent licenses to licenses tied to Named Users. 

If you have questions about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, you’ve come to the right place. With the most resources in one place dedicated to Business Central, we are sharing all our knowledge on the flexible cloud platform in this complete guide. This white paper includes every important detail about Business Central that you should know before implementation, including functionality, licensing, pricing, customization, and partner selection. Armed with the facts, you can evaluate Business Central’s fit for your business and learn how it’s a “one system for life” solution. 

Open Door’s All-Inclusive Guide to Business Central

Read Now

Start Your Upgrade Today with Open Door Technology  

If you’re still not convinced it’s time to upgrade to a better system, please be aware that no new versions of Dynamics NAV will be released after December 2018, and NAV is now closed off to new customers. Your version of Dynamics NAV will eventually enter Extended Support and will eventually no longer receive updates.  

So you don’t get caught locked into a legacy system that can’t and won’t evolve with your business. Upgrading from Dynamics NAV to Business Central is a big decision, but we believe that it’s the right move to make. At Open Door, we have the most resources in one place dedicated to Dynamics 365 Business Central and are confident that we can help you reorganize and improve how you operate. To learn more about how Business Central can enhance your business and what’s involved in upgrading, get in touch with our team!