From 29-31st October 2018, the annual Directions EMEA event in The Hague, Netherlands attracted over 2,200 attendees. This partner-only event represented 60 countries in Europe, Latin America, and APAC, and focused on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Business Central. This is nearly half the partner community across 30% of the countries where Microsoft NAV, and soon Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Center, is and will soon be generally available.
Over 100 Microsoft staff were present and contributed to 3 keynotes, and many of the 150 breakout sessions which focused on best practices, common data services, and deep dive development workshops. The keynote speakers were Marko Perisic, GM Dynamics SMB; Toby Bowers, WW Business Applications and Industry; and Cecilia Flombaun, WW Business Applications Partner Lead. Some keynote takeaways were:
- Large community. Microsoft Navision has a 31 year heritage with 220,000 customers and 3.3M users in 196 countries supported by 4,5000 .
- Better user experience. D365 Business Central has better select, copy, paste, and search options, and systematically embedding functionality into Office 365. For example, users can export records from D365 Business Central to Excel, add more records in Excel, and update D365 with the new or changed records.
- Synchronize "on prem" to the cloud. Microsoft D365 Business Central will be available on premise, and data can be synchronized to the cloud for uses to take advantage of mobility support, AI, and other features.
- Roadmap. Releases twice a year with the next one having 100+ features, including expanding to new countries, simplifying code ("C/Side to AL") migrations, and others.
- Replacing customizations with extensions. To migrate to D365 Business Central, partners should help clients replace custom code with extensions that can be used with D365. This will allow clients to stay up to date with Microsoft Cumulative Updates, which are released monthly.
There were many sessions presented by partners and skilled consultants. A particularly interesting session discussed the lessons learned from migrating customers on older NAV versions to D365 Business Central. Some key findings were:
- Eliminate C/Side code by 2020. Many partners customized NAV2009 with client specific requirements. The community of consultants and developers have taken the challenge to replace C/Side code the modern AL programming language.
- Converting customizations to extensions is challenging. Moving customizations to AL has challenges, but is a worthwhile effort to reclaim IP previously provided to clients. There are Microsoft tools to help, but these are not entirely flawless, requiring additional effort to get it right.
- Three-step migration from NAV2009. To get to D365 Business Central, clients need to migrate from NAV2009 to NAV2013, then to NAV2015, and then to D365 Business Central. Again, there are Microsoft tools to help with the migration, but the process needs to be well managed and monitored for possible rework.
Clients and Partners working on these migrations should be looking at replacing customized processes with "off the shelf" and proven ISV solutions that can eliminate complexity, cost, and delays to completion. The ERP migration is complex enough, and likely to have unpredictable challenges.
To minimize unknowns, customers should seek ISV solutions that provide predictability, speed to implement, and agility. Data Masons Vantage Point EDI achieves these items for EDI and XML integration with many proof points across the food, retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries. To find out more, click the button below to contact our General Manager for EMEA, Larry Velez.