Tens of thousands of businesses rely on Microsoft Dynamics NAV or GP to manage their operations. Many of these businesses are making the switch to Microsoft’s latest mid-market cloud ERP offering – Dynamics 365 Business Central. While NAV and GP are traditionally run as on-premise solutions, Business Central is a native cloud solution, which will impact your IT team.
In this article, we will explore how your IT department will be transformed by an upgrade to Business Central.
Let’s start with probably the biggest benefit of moving to the cloud – no more upgrades. Upgrades can be time consuming and expensive. But with Business Central, your software is always on the latest version automatically without any impact on your customizations that add functionality or otherwise change the behavior of the system. In Dynamics 365, customizations are extensions of the system and are designed in a way that facilitates the update process without the need for rewriting them every time an update is released.
There are two major releases to Business Central each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Minor updates occur month to month as needed. Microsoft publishes extensive release notes documentation so you can learn about the new features, functionality, improvements, and updates that you can expect. Major new features are generally turned off by default and, if needed, you can also request a delay in the application of an update. The product development team at Microsoft is driven to implement changes and updates to the system that will have the most effect on users. In fact, users can suggest and vote on ideas for future updates.
All updates are included in the Business Central monthly subscription fee.
Reduced Hardware Infrastructure Requirements
Business Central eliminates the need for onsite server hardware infrastructure because the system is hosted directly by Microsoft in Azure. This includes infinitely scalable hardware and all of the underlying platform components that are needed, such as Windows Server and SQL Server. Removing the need to manage onsite hardware infrastructure can free up IT resources to focus on other more valuable tasks.
Watch the video below to learn more about the security and stability of Microsoft’s Azure datacenters.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/s5I4wcQ6n0g” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
No More Client Maintenance
Business Central is a 100% web-driven app, eliminating the need to maintain client installations on user workstations. The need for using technologies like Remote Desktop or Citrix to help manage user environments also goes away. In addition to the cost savings from eliminating remote access software tools, the user experience is greatly improved and help desk tickets regarding remote access usually decrease substantially.
Business Central supports any type of computing device as well as the majority of browsers such as Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Supported device types include desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. The Business Central interface is responsive and optimizes itself depending on the type of device used. And licensing for multi-device access is included in the base subscription fee.
Easy User and License Management
Business Central utilizes the same authentication mechanism as Microsoft 365 (aka Office 365). This means once a user is authenticated for one (or the other), they have easy access to all of their ERP/CRM and productivity applications. This makes license assignment very easy and can all be done within your Office 365 admin portal. As a Stoneridge Software client, you’ll receive just one monthly invoice for all your Microsoft subscriptions.
Important note – OEM’ed versions of Office 365, such as that from GoDaddy, do not work like this. They have their own authentication mechanisms and therefore do not allow the single sign-on concept presented above. So if you are considering a move to Business Central and you use Microsoft/Office 365 not directly provided by Microsoft, this is something you need to look into and possibly change over to a true Microsoft provided Office 365 subscription.
Security and Compliance
Microsoft cloud services, of which Dynamics 365 Business Central is a part, are audited at least annually against the SOC reporting framework. This framework outlines the internal control objectives that should be met in order to provide a secure and safe computing environment. Both SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports are available. You can learn more about Business Central compliance from Microsoft here.
Most GP and NAV users use some type of ISV solution (3rd party add-ons) on top of their core ERP solution. In the GP/NAV world, you manually find and install update these apps. With Business Central ISV solutions are now done as extensions and can be found on Microsoft AppSource. There are over 800 apps available for Business Central and installing them is usually as simple as clicking a button. Once installed, they get updated automatically, just like Business Central.
While many of the legacy GP/NAV ISV solutions have come out with Business Central apps, not all have. Additionally, Business Central may include functionality out of the box that you previously needed an ISV solution to handle. Talk with Stoneridge Software to find out if your current ISV solutions are compatible, or even needed, with Business Central. If you still need an add-on solution that isn’t compatible with Business Central, we can help you identify and evaluate compatible replacements.
What About Integrations?
Business Central has a robust API and provides both SOAP and OData web services. This means when you add custom fields to Business Central, the web service will automatically pick up your customizations. Details on the integrations and a comparison between SOAP and OData can be found here.
The Common Data Model
In addition to web services, Business Central is compliant with the Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM). The CDM is a common data framework that is designed to make it easier for different applications to work together. It provides a robust set of common business record types (customers, vendors, inventory, invoices, etc.) that disparate applications can access and use.
One particularly great feature of the Common Data Model is the ability to easily create PowerApps that utilize your Business Central data. PowerApps are low code apps that allow you to easily extend the capabilities of Business Central to anyone who might not need full system access. Businesses with field service technicians or service employees frequently use a Power App to access and update customer and work order data.
The rest of the Microsoft Power Suite is also ready to use from day one with Business Central, including Power Automate (which allows you to create Business Central and cross-application workflows) and PowerBI.
Summary on Why IT Leaders Are Moving from Dynamics NAV to Business Central
IT leaders are steadily leading the charge to transition to Business Central. Reduced ongoing operational costs, more time for other IT activities, a better user experience, robust security and compliance, and much better customization and integration environment are all great reasons to consider a move to Business Central. If you’re interested in learning more about how your business will benefit from Business Central, or any of the other Dynamics 365 offerings, reach out to the experts at Stoneridge Software.
Learn more about some of the features and products mentioned in this article: