I will admit to being a proper 80’s child. I can relate to most of those “Blast from the Past” posts on social media and I still have an old VHS copy of Labyrinth. Those of you who have seen the movie will appreciate some of the comparisons I am about to make.
Sometimes when faced with the question of whether to upgrade Microsoft Dynamics NAV or stay with your current version, there are a few things to consider. I have highlighted some of these points below. You may consider more than this but in the interest of keeping this blog post short I have just listed a few.
- Is an Upgrade the right fit?
It is easy to be distracted by the sales pitch and to rush headlong into that upgrade that was suggested by the professionals but sometimes you do need to consider whether it is the best fit for your company. When the Goblin King, in his funky make up, spiky hair and tight tights is telling you that time is running out it is easy to be distracted and panic but a second opinion could save you a lot of hassles in the future. Maybe an upgrade is not the right fit for your company and the way it has grown and changed. Perhaps a reimplementation is more relevant or taking on some vertical solutions that support changes to business processes. Before embarking on the mission of implementing a shiny new upgrade, first be aware of how your business has changed from when you first put NAV in. Some initial analysis will save you a great deal of stress further down the road.
- Information before Action
So our heroine (Sarah) in Labyrinth meets a wee little worm who immediately and unintentionally sends her in the wrong direction. The worm has knowledge of the labyrinth and the hidden openings and also knows the path that will take you directly to the castle. Many companies are like this. There is usually a hidden gem of an employee who often does not even work directly with NAV but may be the one person who understands exactly what each business department does and how they interact with each other. This is sometimes the Personal Assistant or the receptionist. Never take them for granted when looking at your upgrade plan, especially if you are a consultant doing an initial business analysis.
You will never find a shortage of people who will tell you about the problems they are having with their current system/processes but remember to listen for the deeper meaning in this. You won’t be able to solve all issues but try to fix those that affect everyone. Imagine if Sarah had sat with that little worm and told him about why she was in the Labyrinth in the first place instead of just whining about her predicament. Surely the worm would have directed her on a different path.
- Microsoft Support timelines
Microsoft regularly updates the release timeline for NAV in the form of the NAV Roadmap. Keep an eye on this to check if your current version will be out of Microsoft support soon. Don’t panic if your NAV version will not be supported by Microsoft, your NAV Partner will still offer support but if you do manage to find a bug in the software that they cannot solve, unfortunately you will not be able to refer this to Microsoft. Luckily this is not a regular occurrence so you can stick with your current version if you do not need to immediately upgrade. Don’t be afraid to pace your upgrade and check whether your project plan will result in a go live just a few days before the next release. If desired, you may want to extend or delay your upgrade project to ensure you implement the release that you need. If you are going to upgrade consider which version you will upgrade to and the benefits available.
Remember you control your own timeline. Don’t let that salesperson con you into pushing for an early upgrade that will be obsolete the moment you go live with it.
- Hardware Horror
Before you even start on the path of a NAV upgrade, first check if you have the required hardware to support your new version and any hardware changes your upgrade will bring. Also be aware that you will need some scope for growth so be aware of the capabilities of your current system and the potential new hardware investment. If you do not have the hardware to back up the new software you want to put in then you will have performance issues and your staff will be less inclined to support the change to a new system.
- Change Management – Don’t lose your head
This seems like a moot point. Nothing is really changing is it? We are just putting a newer version of the current software in? Wrong! If you are running an upgrade that first analyses whether current processes are a correct fit, changing from Classic Client to Role Tailored Client and doing this in a set time and the changes will affect more than a handful of employees then change management becomes something to consider in an upgrade.
It is important to have your employees on board with the changes that will occur. Ensuring a transparent schedule of the timelines will help employees fit the testing into their daily jobs better. Managing the change in your company will make for a smoother transition to the new version. You may even find that some employees that have issues with the current version will be happier with the new version when they learn that their issues will be solved. It is important to make the transition (dare I say it) fun and as painless as possible but also to keep it professional.