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Upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Business Central

If your company still uses Dynamics NAV, it may be time to upgrade to Business Central. On this page you can read about the benefits of upgrading and how to upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Business Central.

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Why upgrade to Business Central?

There are many reasons why it may be a good idea to upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Business Central, but in short, it is almost always wise to be a part of the technological development and take part in the many benefits that come with it. It is not only a matter of new and upgraded functionality, but also of security and financial and resource savings.

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Save money

D365 BC is not necessarily cheaper than Dynamics NAV, but when you switch to Business Central you also switch to a payment model where you do not buy your software, but instead rent it. So you can't compare Dynamics NAV and Business Central one by one in terms of price, but the advantage of Business Central is that once the solution is installed, you can easily track the monthly expenses and plan your budget more efficiently, which in most cases will make Business Central cheaper than NAV.

In addition, the move to the cloud eliminates the need for a large part of the internal IT infrastructure, ie. expensive servers and maintenance, as well as upgrades and licensing fees.

In short, the transition to Business Central is the last upgrade you will ever pay for. Once the solution is implemented, it is updated automatically and completely free of charge.

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Machine learning and data analysis

Manual errors and inefficient workflows can be minimized in the D365 Business Central by utilizing technological advances such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). With these technologies you have the opportunity to monitor equipment, filter spam, analyze, predict and more and you will be better able to make better decisions which are based on precise insights from i.a. Power BI.

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Improved security

Data is the new gold and has great value for the modern company. Therefore, virtually all companies invest both money and time in securing their data and with the new GDPR requirements, the importance of securing its data has become even greater. With Microsoft D365 Business Central Cloud, you get a system with extremely high security, in fact one of the leaders when it comes to detecting, protecting and responding to threats in cyberspace. Once you know that your data is stored securely, you can calmly focus on running and developing your business and achieving your business goals.

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New and improved functionality

Business Central is basically an upgraded version of NAV, Business Central is actually based on the basic code from NAV, but since Microsoft stopped developing on NAV in 2019, Business Central also contains far more functions and options compared to NAV. In addition, the functionality can be easily extended by adding new apps, also called Business Central Extensions, from AppSource.

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Efficient and flexible ERP

Business Central is a user-friendly solution with an intuitive user interface that reduces the learning time for new users and thus also the time to be spent on training and support. Business Central is also scalable and can be quickly and easily adapted to the changes that occur when the company expands or reduces its operations. In addition, the flexibility Business Central offers is extremely valuable as it allows the user to access the solution via mobile apps anywhere and anytime, thus increasing efficiency.

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Things you should be aware of before upgrading to BC

Upgrading from Dynamics NAV to Business Central requires more than just migrating data from NAV to BC and pressing the start button. Although upgrades have become both less time consuming and complicated than they were with the major Dynamics NAV upgrades, successful migration still requires both thorough planning and preparation.

You should consider the following before upgrading:

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Supported versions

Since D365 Business Central is based on exactly the same basic code as NAV, which creates a natural connection between the two solutions and means, it is relatively simple to upgrade from NAV to D365 BC.

However, it is only possible to upgrade to Business Central Online from supported versions of Dynamics NAV On-premise and an upgrade presupposes that adjustments in the application are made as Extensions. Data from tables with code adaptation can thus not be transferred directly to Business Central. Therefore, it is important to be aware of any corrections in the application's base code before embarking on an upgrade project.

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V1 Extensions phased out

With Dynamics 365 Business Central, V1 Extensions are no longer supported and must be converted to V2 Extensions.

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Upgrade Code Units

If changes are made to the database schema, D365 Business Central automatically monitors whether these changes are detrimental to the functionality of the application or not. If the monitoring of the database indicates that any change is harmful and may result in the deletion of data, the monitoring will consider it destructive and you will be prompted to deal with that situation using upgrade codeunits.

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Names of variables

With Business Central, Microsoft has introduced completely new methods and statements. If your current Dynamics NAV solution contains variables, where the name is now used by a standard AL method or statement, it is necessary to change the variables before you start upgrading to D365 BC. It is also possible to close variable names in quotation marks. If you do not do this and import an object that has this code in text format, it will not be possible to compile that object.

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Codeunit 1 has been replaced by System codeunits

With Business Central, Microsoft removed Codeunit 1 ApplicationManagement, which was part of Dynamics NAV, and replaced it with System codeunits. No functionality has been removed in connection with this change, but the difference is that the new System codeunits cannot be customized. The change obviously affects the upgrade process, but it also has a big impact on how you develop and adapt the solution in the future.

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Phased out or changed functionality

If you are upgrading a Dynamics NAV solution that is built around functionality that has been completely phased out or changed in the new standard version of Business Central, it is important that you make sure that your upgrade code units migrate the solution's data correctly.

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MenuSuite no longer in use

In Dynamics NAV, pages and reports could be searched in the web client, provided they were included in MenuSuite. In Business Central, on the other hand, pages and reports using MenuSuite can instead be made searchable by adjusting the setup properties on the page itself and the report objects. That way, pages and reports that were previously searchable in the Dynamics NAV client will no longer be searchable after an upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Business Central unless you specify the required object properties.

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How to upgrade to Business Central?

Whether the upgrade will be successful depends on a number of factors, not least which version you upgrade from and to what extent your Dynamics NAV solution is customized and therefore differs from the standard version of Dynamics NAV.

The upgrade itself basically consists of two parts:

  • Upgrading the application code
  • Data upgrade

NOTE! Please note that Active Business Solutions does not take responsibility for any errors or unwanted changes and we recommend that you always contact your Business Central partner before making changes or upgrading the application.


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Upgrading the application code

It is very common that customers, as far as possible, want to retain all customizations implemented in their existing databases and migrate them to their new Business Central database. Depending on the version being upgraded from, the amount of modifications in the code may vary between the two versions. It is necessary to merge code from different versions of the application together in order to upgrade the application code. This merging process is called a code upgrade or application upgrade. In addition, you must be aware that you must upgrade the application before upgrading the data.

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Single-tenant and multi-tenant implementations

Whether it is a single-tenant and multi-tenant implementation, the work process when upgrading is basically the same. However, one should be aware that there are differences as the application and the business data with a single tenant installation are located in the same database, while the application code with a multi-tenant installation is not located in the same database as the business data.

Below is the overall process for each type of installation.

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Single-tenant upgrade

  • First upgrade the application code
  • Then create a new database on the new platform
  • Move the now upgraded application to the new database
  • Export the application to a .fob file
  • Finally, upgrade the data and import the .fob file

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Multi-tenant upgrade

  • First upgrade the application code
  • Then create a new database on the new platform
  • Now import the upgraded application to the new database
  • Finally, upgrade the data by placing the tenant in the application database

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How to upgrade the application code?

  • First install the necessary prerequisites and tools
  • Prepare Application Object Text Files
  • Merge application versions
  • Handle any conflicts
  • Import and compile the merged objects in an empty database
  • Check / change application family and version
  • Build object search index

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Upgrading data

Below you will find the overall process for upgrading the data.

How to upgrade data?

  • First create a full SQL backup of the old database
  • Then uninstall all extensions in the old database
  • Upload Business Central Partner License to old database
  • Delete all objects except tables in the old database
  • Clear server instance and bug fixes in old database
  • Convert old database to Business Central
  • Import upgraded application objects to converted database
  • Connect a Business Central Server instance to the converted database
  • Compile all objects in converted database
  • Run schema synchronization on the converted database
  • Run data upgrade on the converted database
  • Upgrade all Javascript-based control add-ins to new versions
  • Publish and generate symbols for Extensions
  • Upgrade or repair V2-Extensions
  • Publish and install local functionality extensions
  • Import permission sets and permissions
  • Finally, set the language in the customer database

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