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Data Masons Blog

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The Great Debate Shifts to Customizations: Findings from the Dynamics Communities NAV/BC User Group World Tour UK

June 3, 2019 @ 10:06 AM

On 20th May, a group of NAV users met at the Microsoft Building 3 at Thames Valley Park, Reading, England to learn and share experiences. The common theme was the final upgrade to Microsoft D365 Business Central. The event was organized by MS Dynamics Communities and attended by Errol Schoenfish, WW Product Marketing, and from Microsoft UK, Umar Bari, Arvind Dutta, Robert Pope, and Ayeshna Hirani. 

Several users were learning about Business Central for the first time, some have been researching the change, and a few were actively evaluating the effort to make the final upgrade. As a reminder, the “final upgrade” is Microsoft's promise to users that historical heavy lifting of changing ERPs after a few years will be obsolete because they will benefit from feature and functionality improvements over time with periodic updates. WorldTourUserGroup_Full-Color-1

During the keynote, Microsoft announced new migration tools to reduce the number of steps to migrate. In October 2018, Data Masons learned that a NAV 5.0 company would have to make 3 migrations before they could arrive at Business Central. We hope that users will react positively when they learn about the new migration tools later this year. 

A great deal of time was spent on practical advice for making the upgrade. Several partners presented on their experiences with one major theme: What software customizations get redone? In fact, the partners believe this topic is more important than deciding on going to the cloud or not. This is because Business Central can run on either, and interestingly enough, partners generally believe that the first step is to stay on prem. Going to the cloud can be done later, after the internal debates on security and risk are deliberated by company executives.  The real debate is to determine what customizations need to be redeveloped in the Business Central paradigm. This is a topic that Users have control or influence over and should master. 

To learn how to integrate EDI with Dynamics WITHOUT customizations, check out our white paper: 3 Keys to Integration Without Customization.

To determine what to customize or not requires some work. Based on our experience, we suggest the following.  

  • Step 1: Understand the processes that are in use.  
  • Step 2: Determine if the process can be replicated with 'out of the box' ERP functionality. 
  • Step 3: Evaluate third party ISV solutions that could run business processes.  
  • Step 4: Weigh out the pros and cons of the build vs buy options. 
  • Step 5: Get consensus from the business. 

With some speculation, the optimist would lean towards the best scenario of a minimally customized ERP, and flexibility to 'turn off’ ISV solutions over time as Microsoft adds more functionality to the platform. The pragmatist is likely to leverage all the 'best of breed' functionality ISVs and Business Central can provide the business. The pessimist is likely to wait a bit longer before they evaluate the Upgrade. 

Data Masons is working with several clients that have made pragmatic decisions to put the EDI workload outside the ERP, and make EDI simple for the business to leverage as a strategic asset in their digital transformation strategy. 

In a future blog, we'll put more details behind the five-step evaluation process that can help put some structure in the most important debate of what to customize for the last upgrade. In the meantime, if you're interested in getting a head start on integrating EDI with your Dynamics systems without costly and complicated customizations, read our white paper on how this can be done.

Download the "Integration Without Customization:  3 Keys to Automated Integration" Brief

Larry Velez
Written by Larry Velez

Larry Velez brings over two decades of experience in technology leadership to Data Masons. Previously, he served in a Director level position with Microsoft and senior technology roles for Forrester Research and Gartner. His experience building channel partnerships and coordinating delivery teams will greatly benefit Data Masons’ partners and customers.