The other day a colleague returned from a customer with a brochure they had received from one of the UK’s other Dynamics partners and its front cover brought me up with a jolt. In big bold letters they were proposing that Classic NAV users could ‘get the benefits of the latest version of Dynamics NAV but without the need to upgrade!”. Had I been wrong to have continually banged on about the need to upgrade to new 2013+ platform quite as hard? A quick read confirmed I was more than OK. I’d hate to think though that someone less informed might get suckered in, categorically it’s the wrong thing to do.
I’m sure that this seems an attractive option for some still on old versions of NAV due to the apparent saving of time and money. There are though some very good reasons why it’s a risky strategy that you should really think long and hard before selecting. I thought I’d list those arguments here.
Publisher Support & Backup
One the reasons your company bought what was probably called Navision in the first place was the backup and continuous investment from a large ERP vendor like Navision was and Microsoft certainly is now. Trouble is Microsoft stopped providing mainstream support for the classic versions of NAV back on the 13th January 2015. Anything goes wrong now and partners are on their own. Check this partner’s latest financials on D&B or the like and you’ll discover they don’t quite have a balance sheet to underwrite the resources and risk this gamble might require.
Partner Lock In
The only way they can get even remotely close to the latest NAV functionality is by using a lot of ‘custom .net based add-ins’. These are not like the usual customisations to NAV in that the source code will not be on your system. That means that once you have installed them the only people who can support you is them. In effect they have locked you in to their services and however bad those services are, you have no choice but to suffer.
Audit or Due Diligence Failure
Any audit by any reputable firm as part of a finance or acquisition transaction or even audit by a current or prospective customer, is going to highlight that you are using an old, unsupported by the publisher, version of the software. They will highlight that as a risk and that means you have no chance of going public, raising venture capital or selling for a good price. It’s a negotiating point against you when you won’t have the time to do anything about it.
Mandatory System Stagnation
Its going to hold your IT infrastructure back and progressively cost more to maintain. The technical upgrade to the 2009R2 client they propose (which most of our classic user did years ago anyway). If you check the requirements document, you’ll see Window Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2, .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 and Windows 7 are as advanced as it gets. It talks also about Office 2003 & 2007.
Now this doesn’t mean that it won’t work with SQL Server 2014, Windows 10 or Office 2016 and I have to confess I haven’t tried them but I contend that its likely that one day Microsoft will change or remove something critical in a way that prevents operation or even installation of the old software. That means that your going to have to stay pretty much with the hardware and software you have now. While you may not regard that as an issue now when your hardware wears out, the new modern hardware may be a new design or specification that won’t work. You cannot buy new server with a 32bit processor now for instance and the cost of second hand ones is rising as companies have to do a desperation purchase when theirs suddenly stops and the spares are no longer available.
Do you really want to commit most of your IT system to staying exactly the same for the foreseeable? What happens when the browser your running stops being supported by the web sites you’re going to because of security issues for instance. Two PC’s on every desk? One just for your Classic version of NAV?
No regulatory updates will be issued. If the Government mandates changes to tax or reporting information for instance, then Microsoft will issue ‘fixes’ or ‘updates’ to the supported versions that add that functionality. If you follow the enhanced Classic its down to your partner.
Think that won’t happen? Well given the consultations that have been happening with the accounting industry software association I expect HMRC to introduce mandatory online submission of VAT returns with full transaction detail in the way they have successfully done with PAYE data. This would massively cut the possibility of VAT fraud and its been proven to work in several other European countries such as Spain and Germany. That’s going to require major changes to any NAV version prior to 2013 and Microsoft will not be retrofitted those. Is your partner going to cover the cost of this or will they pass the bill on to you?
Its not close to being true
It’s not really as good, its not even close. Obviously they’ve not let me have a look at precisely what they are proposing but we have recently taken over an ex-customer of theirs and that given us some insight. Again I’ll not list all the advantages but here are the first ten that pop into my head, covering several different areas that you could try asking them to show you with their ‘latest version equivalent’.
a. Can you access NAV with a finger friendly interface from your tablet or phone?
b. Can you save filter settings so you can reuse them with a single-click?
c. Show us the cash flow reporting then please?
d. What happens to other scheduled overnight tasks if one errors?
e. Availability and reservations for kit components direct from a sales order?
f. Can you decide if inventory can go negative item by item?
g. An enquiry that allows a full multi-level BOM explosion complete with costs?
h. What’s the equivalent of the new availability by event page (which is just ace)?
i. Can users create PowerBI dashboards by pointing to a published query from NAV?
j. What the integration with Dynamics CRM like if you need a proper CRM system?
I was taught at the start of my consulting role to always treat clients’ money as if it was my own. That means telling them not to waste it if I wouldn’t and this is one of those cases. Don’t spend any money on this pale imitation, save it for as long as it takes to do the right thing and upgrade to where Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV is now. I’d even say that returning to the market and looking at alternatives to NAV is a better strategy than this, although I bet new NAV easily wins that contest.
So why is this partner doing this? You need to ask them but my theory is that they have a lot of IP that Microsoft is increasingly making obsolete and that’s starting to hurt. They are not going to sell their workflow to any 2016 user are they? Why email a request for information when you can just ask Cortana direct from any type of phone? Emailing documents, been out of the box for ages guys. All of that means the only people they can sell it to are people using old versions of NAV. Great strategy for them to crush the last few pounds out of it before it dies, not in the purchaser’s interests though at all.
The really funny thing, the customer that passed on this brochure had upgraded to 2015 some time ago, their data was out of date!