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Submitted by Christine Satariano on 3 March 2021

Are You Getting the Most from Your Annual Maintenance Fee for Dynamics 365 Business Central? Not If You are Skipping Upgrades

If your organization is using Microsoft Dynamics Business Central (BC) and is paying a maintenance fee, you’re automatically getting the latest and greatest developments…but not if you’re skipping upgrades.

You’re paying 16 percent annually to have access to the latest version of the software, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the benefits of the latest improvements if you’re not upgrading to those versions. This is especially concerning when you think about the release schedule for Business Central. The typical ANNUAL release schedule includes:

  • 2 major releases
  • 10 minor releases (formerly cumulative updates, now including more feature enhancements)


Figure 1 – Microsoft’s Lifecycle Policy for Dynamics 365 Business Central

That is an unprecedented rate of releases—representing opportunities for new functionality, improved performance, staying under mainstream support, and ensuring proper security coverage. So, you’re getting a lot for that 16 percent, but you might be missing out on a lot of it. The bottom line: You need to make sure you are staying current.

Staying Current on Dynamics NAV or Business Central Can Be Challenging—But There Is A Solution

The problem for most organizations is that, while Microsoft works hard to improve the upgrade process, it can get complicated, so, understandably, you might choose to skip over an upgrade here or there. But, again, you’re losing out on your 16-percent annual investment—not to mention missing out on the value you could be getting from the improvements to the product.

What are the challenges? There are only two challenges, but you have to tackle them because once tackled, they go away! First, you need to get current. This means getting your system to the new AL version of Business Central, which immediately lessens the complexity and thus time and disruption to your organization to upgrade.

Next:  testing. Typically done manually, testing in the past was very time-consuming and complicated. While it is easier with the AL versions of BC, it still poses disruption for your users. 

So, what is the solution? It’s certainly NOT an option to stop paying maintenance fees…not with the break-neck pace at which Business Central is being improved. You need a way to reap the benefits while minimizing the disruption to your operations. You need a partner who can handle upgrades for you, so you never have to think about them but get all the benefits. ArcherPoint’s Upgrade team developed an upgrade subscription plan that does just that.

ArcherPoint’s upgrade subscription plan remedies the first problem, moving to the latest AL version of Business Central. The benefits of being on the AL version include:

  • Your custom code is decoupled from the base application code
  • Testing time is reduced
  • Upgrade go-lives should become a non-event

The second challenge, testing, does become less burdensome with the move to AL, but if you have customizations, the need for user testing and acceptance remains. This is where automated test scripts come into play. Investing in automated test scripts NOW can drastically reduce user testing time for all future updates. Abstracta conservatively estimates that automated tests run 5 times faster than manual testing, and eventually, the payoff is immense.


Figure 2 – Costs over time when investing in automated testing

In the end, you will have an initial investment in these automated test scripts as part of an upgrade subscription that will be greater than manually testing at first, but that cost will drop dramatically as more upgrades come your way because each time, you’ll save the cost of manually testing them—and you’ll be reaping the benefits of upgrades that you were missing before. A bonus: This solution is not limited to SaaS implementations of BC. Even if you’re on-premises, you still get the benefits of upgrading like a SaaS solution. In fact, at ArcherPoint, we are creating a tool for on-premises customers, to upgrade Microsoft’s major and minor releases as automatically as Business Central SaaS customers can if desired.

Once you are on an upgrade subscription plan and have automated testing in place, upgrading turns into updating. This is how you get the most value out of the annual maintenance fees you are already paying.

Next Steps: Get Current, Stay Current

What’s the next step? Get in touch with a Dynamics partner who knows upgrades inside and out—and one that can offer you an upgrade subscription plan that will help maximize your Dynamics investment and take the pressure off you without breaking the bank.

With the largest upgrade team of any NAV/Business Central partner in North America, we have an excellent reputation for smooth execution of upgrades, regardless of industry or complexity, and we continually strive to make staying current on Business Central as easy for you as possible. Here’s just one story of how we’ve helped customers with the most difficult upgrade challenges—in this case, a customer with a 3.7 terabyte database we upgraded in just 47 hours.

What’s it going to take to get the most out of your maintenance investment? Start with a free upgrade quote from ArcherPoint.

 

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