How many times have we heard this question? Lots… almost every day in fact. So, we thought it would be helpful to provide an answer to help you begin your budgeting process. The short answer is that it depends. Sigh…We understand that is not the answer you really want. So, in the next few paragraphs, we will attempt to highlight the things that impact an upgrade in terms of timeline and budget in order to provide you with a foundation for your estimate. For the purposes of this article, our thoughts will be directed towards on premise implementations of Microsoft Dynamics NAV/Navision/Business Central.
How Old is Your System?
The age of your system has a LOT to do with the amount of time it will take to complete an upgrade. Over the past several years Innovia has completed many upgrades of systems that had not previously been upgraded for 10 or more years. While your system may not be that old, many people still use Navision systems that are version 2.6 or even older.
To this end, I will summarize our thinking about systems based upon the general range of their age.
Version 2017 or newer: Good news! These upgrades should be quite simple. Innovia provides fixed fee upgrades for our clients using these versions where Innovia completed the client’s most recent upgrade. Our price for this work is between $15,000-$40,000 depending on how the existing system modifications are constructed.
Version 2015-2016: Reasonably good news. Much of the Microsoft re-engineering of the code had been completed with these versions. So the effort required for the upgrade is not as significant as with the systems that preceded these versions. However, there is still a fair bit of work required to move the custom code and the report updates to the newer formats now required by the system. Innovia may offer a fixed price for this work, provided we completed the most recent upgrade, but this will be case dependent. In terms of a general estimate for the cost of an upgrade we are in the range of $90,000-120,000. While this is substantially more than for systems that are current, it is substantially less than replacing your system. Once your company is on the newest version, future upgrades will fall into the fixed fee category and can be completed for a small fraction of this price.
Version 2009 RTC-2013 R2 RTC. The going gets tougher with these versions. While many customers are surprised, these versions are now quite old and are in fact no longer supported by Microsoft. Thus our work together with you for these upgrades will be more time consuming. The key here is to do some initial homework. If you run one of these versions, do yourself a favor and have your partner install a report tracking tool. Innovia likes 1Click Factory; but there are others, speak with your partner about the tools they use. The importance of this tool is that it will help you gauge how many of the reports in your system are actually being used. The longer this tool runs, the better. Moving reports to the newer formats will compete with moving modifications in terms of the level of effort required to upgrade from these versions to the newest Microsoft Dynamics Business Central. Innovia also recommends a database assessment, we provide this service at a fixed fee of $3,995. This assessment provides not only the number of reports that will need to be moved to the new format, but also highlights the number of customizations in your system. While this is not the definitive answer on the cost of a project, it does help both your company and Innovia understand more about the structure of your database. The range on these projects gets much wider due to the uncertainty around the number of reports to be moved and the number of modifications. Innovia typically estimates between $90,000-500,000 for these types of projects.
Pre-version 2009 RTC (Role Tailored Client). These projects are far more extensive. While incorporating all of the aspects mentioned in the Version 2009 RTC-2013R2 RTC projects, there is also a major change to the user interface. Deeper analysis is Innovia’s recommendation. While the Report Tracker and Database assessment can help, for a system of this age, it is a good time to take a more thorough review of your business processes and your business system. Innovia conducts Business Process consulting for a fixed price of $3,995 per process and a Planning Engagement to map those processes against the newest version of Microsoft Dynamics Business Central. The Planning Engagement is also a fixed price which ranges from $29,995-75,000 depending on the level of complexity in your business. Innovia will come on site at no charge for up to two days to help guide a company through some initial analysis to determine what approach best suits your situation. Deliverables from our Planning Engagement include a Functional Requirements Document, Fit Gap Analysis (Which identifies areas where the software features do not match your Functional Requirements. Followed by a discussion on ways to close these gaps), and Project Plan with Estimated Hours to complete your upgrade project. Once the planning is completed, Innovia typically estimates between $150,000-500,000 for this type of project. While experience tells us these estimates fit most companies, it is important to note that Innovia has had projects of this age that were very complex where the investment was well over the estimates we provide here.
Innovia takes our estimates seriously, in our mission statement, we end with On Time – On Budget. We recognize that your company needs to plan carefully for any investment. Innovia strives to be your trusted partner in this process and we work hard every day to live up to our mission of building lasting partnerships by delivering business solutions that exceed clients’ expectations through teamwork, dedication and innovative thinking.
How Heavily Modified is Your System?
Modifications have been the good news/bad news of Microsoft Dynamics NAV/Navision since the beginning of time. One of the primary drivers behind a company’s original selection of Dynamics NAV/Navison was that the system could be tailored to fit their specific strategic business processes. In systems where the modifications have not been constructed using the Extension/Event method you will find that the number of modifications to your system has a big impact on the effort required to complete your upgrade.
If your company is pre-Dynamics NAV 2018 you can begin the process of identifying all of your modifications. This takes some time and discipline. An upgrade is a good time to review your existing modifications to determine whether they are still required or may be accomplished with new software functionality or an app from Microsoft Appsource. This process will guide your company in determining which modifications are truly necessary and which may be abandoned in your upgrade. The fewer modifications to move, the less your company will invest in the process of upgrading.
If your company is on Dynamics 2018 or later, but has not yet completed the transition from the older modification methodology to the new Extension/Event approach, now is a great time to get started. If you have developers on staff there is a solid punch list item that can be worked on over time in preparation for your next upgrade. If you do not have developers on staff, work with your partner to develop a plan for accomplishing this important work well ahead of your upgrade effort. It will significantly reduce the investment when you decide to upgrade.
*A short note on versions 2016 and 2017. Microsoft did introduce the Extension/Event approach beginning in version 2016. However there have been several iterations of the development platform and these versions will require a bit more work to handle the transition to the newest Extension/Event methodology. This does not mean that you cannot undertake the conversion of your existing modifications to Extensions/Events, but it does mean there will likely be some rework required when you make the move to Business Central in order to have your Extensions/Events become fully compatible with the new easier upgrade process.
What Else Can Affect Our Upgrade Cost?
Many things can impact your timeline and budget. The key to keeping your project on time and on budget is planning. As the old carpenter saying goes, “measure twice, cut once”.
Remember, business process changes are not upgrades. While important, they are not part of the technical aspects of a system upgrade. Work to accomplish your business process reviews as a separate project. Implement these changes either as pre-upgrade work or post upgrade work. No one likes change, it is part of the human condition. Including a large amount of process change within the scope of an upgrade adds anxiety on those affected and adds risk that your project may take longer than anticipated.
New feature roll out. Microsoft Dynamics is a large system. Many customers own a large amount of functionality that is simply not in use in their current deployment. Areas that come to mind are Warehousing and Relationship Management (CRM). Introducing major new functionality should be avoided as part of the upgrade project. Again, these are worthy undertakings, but should be considered as either pre-upgrade or post upgrade projects.
New ISV or Apps. Again, new functionality can have a very positive effect on business process improvement. But, NEW PRODUCTS ARE NOT UPGRADES. If you are considering an ISV/App as part of your project, this increases the complexity of the project and adds to the risk factors that impact time line and budget.
We Hope This Was Helpful. Please let us Know if You Have Questions or if we Can Help in Any Way.
Good Luck With Your Upgrade!