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The Right Time to Move On: Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central

19 April 2022
Sam Peterson
Sam Peterson
The Right Time to Move On: Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central

In today's fast-paced business world, incorporating all the latest technology trends in the business is essential to get a competitive edge over competitors. The world of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) specifically designed to enhance business efficiency, is no exception.

Microsoft has launched multiple advanced & robust ERP solutions like Dynamics NAV (legacy version), or Dynamics 365 Business Central (cloud-based version) to oversee day-to-day business operations smoothly. These ERP solutions can easily manage the regular activities of thousands of enterprises of all sizes & industries in no time. 

In 2018, Microsoft replaced the on-premises-only ERP solution, Dynamics NAV with Dynamics 365 Business Central. It is an innovative cloud-based solution with next-level enhanced functionalities & flexibility for ever-evolving businesses.

In the next few minutes of reading, you will unlock the comparison between two popular ERP solutions: Dynamics NAV vs Business Central. 

This write-up provides an in-depth Business Central vs Navision comparison including the reasons why it is high time to move to Dynamics 365 Business Central and how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

So, if you are a Dynamics NAV user or considering moving to Business Central, you have stumbled upon the right page. 

The wait is over; let us start with the write-up:

Before discussing directly, the major difference between Navision and Business Central, let us first delve deeper into these two solutions: 

What is Dynamics NAV?

Dynamics NAV, also known as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, is an on-premises comprehensive ERP solution designed for small & medium-sized businesses. It is a powerful tool for managing finance, supply chain, accounting, CRM, and various aspects of the business. 

What is Dynamics 365 Business Central?

Dynamics 365 Business Central, formerly known as Microsoft Dynamics NAV, is an all-in-one cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution. It is more advanced and powerful than Dynamics NAV, facilitating seamless integration of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning to make informed decisions.

Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central: Tracing the Progression

Initially called Navision, Microsoft rebranded it as Dynamics NAV in 2005 after acquiring it in 2002. Through the acquisition, Microsoft leveraged Navision’s codebase capabilities to transform existing applications into an intelligent, cloud- hosted ERP – Business Central. Microsoft designed this innovative, accelerated functionality for modern businesses and segmented it primarily for SMEs (or Small and Mid- Sized Enterprises). The new solution helped companies streamline processes while making it more straightforward for the users to securely collect and share critical data for departments across the organization.

Let us look at the history of the transition from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central:

Dynamics NAV(2002-2013)

Navision, a Danish software company developed Dynamics NAV.

Microsoft acquired Navision in 2002 and rebranded this software as Dynamics NAV.

Post 2002, Dynamics NAV started its journey to become a remarkable and popular on-premises ERP solution.

Dynamics NAV(2013-2017)

Microsoft started working on developing a cloud-based version of Dynamics NAV, known as "Project Madeira".

In 2017, Microsoft introduced Project Maderia as Dynamics 365 Business Edition.

Dynamics NAV(2018-2019)

Microsoft again rebranded Dynamics 365 Business Edition as Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Migration Option for existing Dynamics NAV users to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Microsoft retained support for existing Dynamics NAV users, and no new features were introduced.

Dynamics NAV is now Business Central(2020- 2023/Present)

Microsoft urged Dynamics NAV users to transition to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Tech giant announced, there would be no new features in Dynamics NAV in 2021.

Mainstream support of Dynamics NAV ended in Jan’2023.

The next-level innovative features were added to Dynamics 365 Business Central, making it a more robust and NexGen tech-driven solution.

The transition from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central has been a gradual process initiated with the cloud-based solution development. Microsoft has also encouraged Dynamics NAV users to migrate to Business Central in response to more upgraded features & 24X7 support from their team in the future. 

Why Go For Business Central?

Business Central is robust yet flexible software that enterprises may choose to customize as per the unique, specific needs of their business functionalities. Growing enterprises may also switch to Dynamics 365 Business Central for their ever- altering requirements while eliminating spending on new solutions for any new development or challenge. Besides, with two hosting options – Business Central On- Premise or Business Central Cloud, the platform empowers businesses to win all their growth aspirations.

Business Central also helps businesses reduce administration and operations costs by delivering insightful data and ensuring meaningful strategies. Essentially, Dynamics 365 Business Central allows system administrators to manage processes and prevent production delays, thus enabling prompt, result- driven decisions.

Business Central: Major Features & Advantages

Business Central is the upgraded version of Dynamics Navision that provides more benefits to the business than ever before, like increased efficiency, improved financial management, enhanced inventory control, facilitated better decision-making, and smooth integration with other Microsoft apps.

How can Dynamics 365 Business Central make a difference?

Let us discuss it in depth:

Enhanced Efficiency

Incorporating the Business Central platform in the business mitigates the duplication of workflows, thereby saving enormous time. This way, it streamlines business operations and enhances efficiency

Better Financial Management

It enables your business to manage its finances more precisely by automating the various day-to-day accounting tasks. Besides, it gives you real-time visibility to track your cash flow movement

Informed Data-Driven Decisions

It has in-built AI & ML-based technologies that enable your business to make better, more accurate decisions based on real-time data. Subsequently, your business can gain a competitive edge over your rivals

Better Inventory Optimisation

Your enterprise can optimise the inventory level using real-time inventory insights. In this manner, you can ease order fulfilment by mitigating the stockouts

Greater Scalability

Business Central’s futuristic solutions help you to be future-ready and scale your business by adopting to emerging market demands and supporting the growth of your business

Smooth Integration

It enables you to integrate smoothly with numerous other Dynamics 365 solutions, Power BI, and other Microsoft apps like Office 365, enabling you to unify your business operations to increase automation and control

Subscriptions/ Licenses

Dynamics NAV has a one- time licensing fee model for it being an on-premise system. While with Business Central, being a SaaS (or Software as a Service) solution, businesses can pick periodical subscriptions (monthly or annually) depending on business budgets. Besides, Businesses can even opt for a perpetual license fee model that allows owners to treat Business Central spending as an operational or a capital expense.

Intuitive User- Interface or UI

To ensure ease of use for the users, Business Central comes with a dynamic UI that includes updated command bars, intuitive search features, business metrics, improved dashboards, and more for a web-optimized User Experience.

Easy Integrations

Business Central integrates seamlessly with third-party applications to boost business efficiencies, improve operational capabilities, and win planned outcomes quicker for desired business growth.

Automatic Upgrades

As a SaaS platform, Dynamics 365 Business Central enables automatic, flawless updates with minimal or no involvement of tech support. All the upgrades would occur automatically every six months and at zero cost, as the upgrade charges are already a part of the subscription fee. Moreover, any third- party application or customizations are compatible with each new update.

Cloud- Hosted or On- Premise

Business Central is a SaaS cloud ERP solution hosted in Microsoft Azure. The application delivers numerous benefits, including agility, scalability, mobility, lower ownership costs, and more. Businesses can also choose to deploy Business Central as an on- premises solution based on needs, however, with limited features.

New AL Coding

The C/AL language was integral to the NAV’s core system and its customizations. While, with AL language- based extensions integrated into Business Central, the modifications leave the core system untouched and make upgrades a lot easier.

The Inference

The fast- shifting business landscape is pushing global enterprises to optimize and upgrade their exiting capabilities, including production, finance, operations, among others. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central perfectly fits the gaps that businesses struggled to fill. Therefore, over a million companies across the globe have understood and influenced to leverage the benefits that Business Central delivers as a robust invention.

Dynamics 365 Business Central: Key Functions

  • Financial Management: It offers comprehensive financial management features to manage your finances more precisely and accurately. Its in-built budgeting and forecasting capabilities enable you to analyse and design focused financial goals and have better control to improve financial health and gain stability
  • Sales & Marketing: It enables your marketing team to manage marketing campaigns. You can also seamlessly track customer interactions and various sales activities, including leads to cash, quotations, orders, and invoicing to take planned actions and provide personalised assistance
  • Supply Chain Management: You can easily manage your supply chain, including inventory management, purchase orders, sales orders, and demand forecasting to maintain a balance between the demand and supply, mitigate the supply chain challenges and meet the delivery needs

Let us deep-dive and explore all the Dynamics 365 Business Central features that make it more awesome than what it used to be as Dynamics NAV.

Are Navision and Business Central the same?

Dynamics 365 Business Central is the updated version of Dynamics Navision. Undoubtedly, they have many similarities and are built on the same foundation, but there are some major differences between the two. 

For example: 

Business Central is designed to be more user-friendly and accessible, focusing on simplicity and ease of use. Additionally, Business Central has more advanced features than Navision, such as advanced reporting capabilities and integrated AI and machine learning technologies. We have explained the difference between Navision and Business Central using the table, read further to explore in-depth.

Dynamics NAV and Business Central: The Differences

While we now understand that Business Central is an enhanced version of the earlier platform NAV, there are common queries that are worth exploring:

  • What all features make Dynamics 365 Business Central a better choice over its predecessor – NAV?
  • Are there any modernity- based tweaks in the existing functionalities?
  • Do users need to implement the new update or set everything up from scratch?

Dynamics NAV vs Dynamics 365 Business Central: Comparision

Based on Navision Business Central
Deployment Navision is associated with on-premises deployment, which means it is installed on the company’s own server locally. Business Central provides both deployment options: on-premises and cloud-based, it is flexible.
User Interface Its user interface is traditional, and complex, asking us to undergo training programs to master it. Business Central has a smooth user-friendly interface, easy-to-use and learn.
Data Management Navision is associated with limited automation and more manual workflows. Business Central has in-built automation and more advanced data management features. It is also integrated with other Microsoft products like Power BI.
Integration Navision has a limited number of integration options with third-party software. Business Central has seamless integration with numerous third-party software and has more robust integration capabilities.
Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning It does not have in-built AI & ML capabilities. It has in-built AI & ML features for accurate anticipation such as cash flow forecasting and inventory management.
Customisation It has more customisation options but asks for more programming skills. It is user-friendly including a simple drag- and-drop customisation interface that enables non-technical users to customise it seamlessly.

Check Functionalities of Dynamics NAV & Business Central:

General Functionalities

General Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
Copy & Paste Rows
Support For Connect APP & Rest API
Full Keyboard Shortcut Support
Multiple Production Environment
Batch-post Sales And Purchases As Scheduled
Enhancements For Customer Migration Tools
Filtering & Search Improvements
UK Address Validation
Migration from QuickBooks
Workflows (automated workflows) + +
Outlook Integration + +
NAV for Tablets + + + +
Social Listening
Surface Microsoft Dynamics NAV Information Directly in SharePoint online
Microsoft Dynamics NAV as a Hosted app in Office 365 + +
Interoperability with Office 365 and Excel. +
Single Sign On +
Microsoft Dynamics NAV Application Profiler + + +
Improved Extensibility for Microsoft Dynamics NAV Clients
Microsoft Dynamics NAV Provisioning Tools for Windows Azure
Multitenant Deployment
Data Upgrade Automation + + +
Help Server
Microsoft Office Alignment of Microsoft Dynamics NAV Windows and Web clients
Microsoft Dynamics NAV Web Client + + + +
Improved Charting Capabilities
Server Administration Tool
Windows PowerShellm +
Application Server (NAS) Enhancements
NAS Services
New User Concept + + +
OneNote Integration
Zetadocs Express for Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Multi-tier Architecture + + + + + + +

Financial Management Functionalities

Financial Management Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
Reconcile payables with the External Document Number field
Bulk Invoicing
VAT Registration Number Validation
Employee Ledger Entries
Reconciliation of Incoming and Outgoing Bank Transactions
Support for SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit
Electronic Payments and Direct Debits +
Cash Management
Cost Accounting
Cash Flow Forecast +
VAT Rate Change Tool
New Dimension Set Entry Table
Faster G/L Posting +
Online Payment Services
Bank Account Management and Bank Account Reconciliation
Intercompany Purchase Cost Distribution +
Reversal of Journal Postings (Unapply)
Partial Payments
Consolidation Enhancements
Predefined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Inter-company Postings +
Fixed Assets


Manufacturing Management Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
Sales and Inventory Forecasting Enhanced Integration
Manual. Planning
Production Orders
Production Forecast
Graphical. Production Schedule

Supply Chain Management Functionalities

Supply Chain Management Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
View Item Availability By Unit Of Measure
non-sequential numbering
Item Categories
Item Attributes
Document Management. Document Capture and OCR
Item Availability by TimeLine
Item Availability by Event
Inventory Movements
Additional Default Bins and Dedicated Bins
Enhanced Integration to Service Management
Assembly Management
Supply Planning Setup Enhancements + +
Automated Data Capture System
Item Budgets
Planning Transparency
Pick + +
Standard Cost Worksheet
Price Management
Supply Planning + +
Costing + +
Item Tracking + + + +

Business Intelligence and Reporting Functionalities

BI and Reporting Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
Skip Empty Lines In The Account Schedule Report
Document Reporting
Power BI + + +
Excel Add-In for Ad-hoc Reporting + +
Excel. Integration (Edit in Excel) + +
Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services from within Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Jet Reports Express for Microsoft Dynamics NAV + +
Open XML Integration +
Predefined Charts and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) +
Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) Driver

Service Management Functionalities

Service Management Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
Enhanced Integration with Manufacturing. Warehouse Management and Assembly Management
Planning and Dispatching of Materials Overview
Service Order Management + + + + +
Service Contract Management + + +

Project Management Functionalities

Project Management Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
Job Information Included In Archived Sales And Purchase Documents
Jobs WIP Calculation Compliance
Usage Link
Jobs + + + + +

Sales & Marketing Functionalities

Sales & Marketing Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
AI supportfor Sales & Inventory Forecast
Al support for Late Payment Prediction
Dynamics 365 for Sales Integration
Sales and Purchase Document Approval
Interaction/Document Management
Payment Terms Translation + + + + +
Document Archiving + + +

Cloud Functionalities

Cloud Functionalities Dynamics NAV 2004 Dynamics NAV 2005 Dynamics NAV 2009 Dynamics NAV 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Dynamics NAV 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 Dynamics NAV 2017 Dynamics NAV 2018 Business Central
MICR fonts available in Business Central Online
Workflow Templates
Electronic Invoicing
Currency Exchange Rates
Document Management
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) +
Incoming Document Workflow

Early Warning Signs to Migrate from Dynamics NAV to Business Central

The answer would be "Right Now", as Microsoft has discontinued mainstream support for versions preceding NAV 2009 and Dynamics NAV versions by Jan’2023. By making a move to Dynamics 365 Business Central, your organisation can benefit from more:

  • Streamlined and intuitive user interface
  • Enhanced integration with other Microsoft apps
  • More advanced analytics and reporting capabilities
  • Access to the latest security features and ongoing updates and support from Microsoft

Switch from Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central Today

Grow More with Dynamics Square

If you are currently using Microsoft Dynamics NAV and want to upgrade to Business Central, get it from the best in the business, Dynamics Square. We are trusted and leading Microsoft Dynamics 365 partners with years of experience in implementing and customising ERP solutions to make a difference. Our seasoned professionals have the expertise to ensure a smooth transition and help you get the most out of your new ERP solution.

When to Upgrade from NAV

The Answer would be NOW! Because Microsoft has already ended the extended support for the versions before NAV 2009 while the mainstream support for most Dynamics NAV versions will end by 2023.

Key Takeaway

In conclusion, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central are robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions but differ significantly in functionality, usability, and scalability. While Dynamics NAV has been a trusted solution for many years, now Microsoft is eliminating this in response to more modern and flexible Dynamics 365 Business Central.

If your organisation currently uses Dynamics NAV, it is essential to start planning your migration to Dynamics 365 Business Central as soon as possible. It can lead to compatibility issues, security vulnerabilities, and missed opportunities to take advantage of the advanced features and capabilities offered by the newer solution.

In short, considering all the points of Dynamics NAV vs Business Central, moving to Dynamics 365 Business Central is an intelligent investment that augurs well for the future of your business. 

Don't wait until it's too late to make the switch!!

Start planning your migration today and enjoy the benefits of a modern and scalable ERP solution that can help your business be agile to future demands to scale higher and become a force to reckon with and drive the change.

Let us Engage Today!

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