When Is the Right Time to Upgrade from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central?

Many companies on Dynamics NAV plan to move to Dynamics 365 Business Central eventually – but when is the right time for your company?

You need to consider several factors to determine your best timeline for an upgrade or reimplementation to Business Central: your NAV version’s Microsoft support lifecycle, your security and regulatory compliance needs, the benefits of the newer functionality, and your evolving business requirements.

Table of Contents

Note on the Word “Upgrade”

Most customers and commentators use the word “upgrade” to refer to any move from NAV to Business Central, and this article follows suit.

Technically speaking, there are two different paths you can take, one of which is an “upgrade” and the other is a “reimplementation.” The advice in this article applies regardless of which path you choose to take.

Read about the differences between NAV to Business Central upgrade and reimplementation.

Check the Support Lifecycle

Start by reviewing the Microsoft support table below and find the status of your Dynamics NAV version.

Start Date
Mainstream End Date
Extended End Date
Dynamics NAV 2009 R2
Dynamics NAV 2013
Dynamics NAV 2013 R2
Dynamics NAV 2015
Dynamics NAV 2016
Dynamics NAV 2017
Dynamics NAV 2018


The Microsoft Dynamics NAV support lifecycle is a 10-year support lifecycle. It is defined in three main areas. The first phase is mainstream support. For five years, you will receive new features, security updates, enhancements, and non-security updates. That has now expired for all Dynamics NAV versions.

After mainstream support, you move on the second phase, extended support. For the next five years, you will receive security updates but not new features. And the last phase, number three, is beyond end of support. In that case, there will be no updates from Microsoft.

Please keep in mind, if you’re an Encore customer, we still support your NAV system, regardless of what phase of support you are in. But if there’s a bug or an issue that your partner cannot resolve, and your partner reaches out to Microsoft for assistance, if you’re beyond the end of support phase, Microsoft will probably ask you to upgrade to Business Central or update to the latest version of NAV.

Therefore, if your version of NAV is beyond extended support (NAV 2013 R2 or an earlier version), that’s an important factor to consider the move to Business Central soon.

Those in the bottom four rows of the table above — NAV 2015, NAV 2016, NAV 2017, and NAV 2018 — can still receive Microsoft extended support for a few more years, from 2025 through to 2028 depending on your version. If that’s you, then this extended-support factor does not suggest you need to accelerate your timeline. However, make sure to speak to a Dynamics Partner to develop your plan long before the end of your extended support.

Security, Patches, and Compliance

Does your current NAV version require patches to keep up with your regulatory requirements? Older versions might not get these specific updates. This can be vital to your company’s data security and compliance.

In Dynamics 365 Business Central, the latest patches will automatically be applied to your ERP, and that will lower your security risk. So, depending on your current version of NAV, your regulatory and security needs may suggest you should move to Business Central shortly.

Also, keep in mind the general security advantages of using Microsoft’s cloud ERP software, Dynamics 365 Business Central. You will not have to maintain your own server, and this helps eliminate some risks because older servers’ software is more vulnerable to ransomware and hackers, and servers can crash.

In Business Central, you’ll always be on the latest version of the solution through two major updates that are pushed throughout the year. There are also minor hotfixes that get pushed out every month.

Benefits of Newer Functionality

Another factor to consider is which aspects of your business processes will be enhanced by the new, modern functionality in Dynamics 365 Business Central.

One of the great modern functionalities is the interoperability between other Microsoft products and Business Central. This is possible with Microsoft productivity and collaboration tools that you’re already familiar with, for example, Word, Excel, and Teams.

It also applies to tools that you may be less familiar with, for example, Power Platform and Power Automate. You can extract data in Business Central via Excel queries and you can get live data. You’ll be able to build charts, dashboards and KPIs off of the information.

Another example is workflow approvals that are built into Business Central. That can help you with your approval process of transactions and give you built-in notifications and notification emails in Business Central.

If you have a remote or mobile workforce, you may find especially strong efficiency gains because Business Central will work anytime and anywhere — it’s platform and browser agnostic. As long as your team has a good internet connection, they can access it on any platform with an internet browser.

The significance of those benefits to your business should be another factor you consider in deciding your best timing to move to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Evolving Business Requirements

Has your business changed to a point where it’s hard to retrofit your existing configuration, for example, the inventory, warehouse, or bank information? Business Central modernizes these areas – for example, using barcodes and a warehouse management system, or importing bank statements, and e-commerce connectivity.

Data Staleness

Consider this, how many of your dimension values are not being used? All the dimension values will show up on search lists and reports, similar with customers and other master data. When you are entering a transaction, the customer list that you’re looking up will be very long.

Also, do you need to merge some customers? Have there been many duplicates of master records that were created?

Another example is inactive vendors. You cannot delete them, but since there are transactions related to the master files, they’ll always be there when you open up the list and look up. When your system has so much data, it slows the ERP down.

Moving to Dynamics 365 Business Central can give you the opportunity to have a Dynamics Partner configure the system to your current and future business needs.

Further Resources

The right time for your company to move to Dynamics 365 Business Central will depend in large part on these factors. Whether you see your business moving in a few months time or several years down the road, you should start planning now. These resources may be helpful to you and your team:

For specific advice tailored to your company’s own needs, please contact us.

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