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Business Central vs. Navision: A Full Comparison

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

Choosing the right tools is crucial in today's competitive business landscape.

Business Central and Navision, more commonly known today as Dynamics NAV, are among the leading contenders in this space.

Both are comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, offered by Microsoft to help businesses navigate the complexities of modern operations.

Think of ERP as the heart of a company, pumping information and resources to every part of the organization.

Making the right choice can be the difference between growth and stagnation.

As we dive in, we’ll explore the unique features of Business Central and Dynamics NAV, helping you make an informed decision.

Elevate your business using the next-level power of Business Central – Contact us today to enhance and optimize your operational efficiency.

A Brief History

Understanding the roots of a product can provide valuable insights into its present capabilities and future potential.

With that spirit, let's delve into the histories of Navision and Business Central.

Navision: Setting the Stage

Originating in Denmark in the 1980s, Navision started as an innovative accounting software.

Its growth and success caught the attention of tech giant Microsoft, leading to its acquisition in 2002.

Subsequently, it was rebranded as Microsoft Dynamics NAV, witnessing several upgrades to cater to modern businesses.

Business Central: The Cloud Era

With the digital shift towards cloud solutions, Microsoft unveiled Dynamics 365 Business Central in 2018.

While retaining core functionalities of Dynamics NAV, Business Central emphasized cloud capabilities and tighter integration with Microsoft products, quickly becoming a prominent ERP solution for businesses embracing cloud technology.

In essence, while Navision set a solid foundation in the world of ERPs, Business Central took the baton and sprinted forward, aligning with the ever-changing technological landscape.

As we move on, we'll delve deeper into how their features and functionalities compare in today's context.

Core Features Comparison

Choosing between Business Central and Dynamics NAV depends largely on understanding their features.

Let's delve deeper into the core functionalities of both systems and understand how they address various business needs.

1. General Ledger and Financials

Dynamics NAV (Navision)

Rooted in its history as an accounting software, NAV's strength lies in its detailed general ledger and financial management tools.

Offering comprehensive analytics, forecasting capabilities, and a layered approach to financial reporting, it ensures businesses maintain precise control over their financial health.

Business Central

This modern iteration brings all the capabilities of NAV's financial tools but elevates the experience with cloud integration.

The advantage here is the real-time collaborative approach to financial management, allowing multiple stakeholders to access and analyze data simultaneously.

2. Supply Chain Management

Dynamics NAV (Navision)

NAV's robust features offer meticulous inventory management, streamlined shipping procedures, and efficient vendor relations.

Its granular approach ensures businesses have a clear understanding of their supply chain, reducing inefficiencies.

Business Central

BC further refines NAV's foundational features.

Enhanced analytics, automated workflows, and integration with modern vendor management solutions ensure an optimized end-to-end supply chain process.

The cloud-centric nature also means better real-time monitoring of supply chain events.

3. Sales and Service

Dynamics NAV (Navision)

With a well-rounded suite for managing customer relations and sales, NAV ensures businesses can effectively nurture leads, manage sales pipelines, and maintain lasting customer relationships.

Business Central

Standing out with its tight-knit integration with Microsoft's suite of CRM solutions, Business Central offers businesses a broader and more seamless customer management experience.

Enhanced tools for customer insights, integrated communication channels, and advanced sales forecasting make it a top contender for businesses prioritizing customer relations.

4. Project Management

Dynamics NAV (Navision)

NAV offers reliable tools for project management, ensuring businesses can effectively track tasks, allocate resources, and monitor budgets.

Its structured approach helps businesses keep projects on track and stakeholders informed.

Business Central

Here, the game changes with innovative cloud capabilities.

Intuitive dashboards, real-time collaboration, and seamless integration with other Microsoft tools like Teams and Planner ensure a more cohesive project management experience.

Stakeholders can access data on the go, so decision-making is swift and informed.

5. Human Resources and Payroll

Dynamics NAV (Navision)

NAV's HR module is comprehensive, catering to all stages of employee management, from hiring to retirement.

Its payroll functionalities ensure timely and accurate compensation, taking into account various tax and benefit considerations.

Business Central

Building on NAV's strong foundation, Business Central introduces cloud-enhanced HR processes.

Whether it's onboarding remote teams, accessing employee data from anywhere, or integrating with modern HR tools, Business Central makes these processes seamless and efficient, especially pertinent for businesses with diverse and global teams.

Dynamics NAV offers a solid, time-tested suite of features.

In contrast, Business Central builds on these strengths, introducing modern enhancements, and integrations tailored for today's digital business landscape.


Usability and User Experience

A system's features are only as good as its usability.

The ease with which a team can navigate and adapt to software can significantly impact business operations.

Here, we'll explore the user experience dimensions of Dynamics NAV and Business Central, shedding light on their interface design, customization capabilities, and onboarding process.

1. Interface Design

Dynamics NAV (Navision): With a traditional, functional layout, NAV is straightforward but might feel dated to some. It emphasizes efficiency over modern aesthetics.

dynamics nav interface

Business Central: Sporting a contemporary design, Business Central offers an intuitive and visually appealing interface. Its cloud-based nature ensures easy access across devices.

business central interface

2. Ease of Customization

Dynamics NAV (Navision): NAV supports in-depth customization. However, significant tweaks may demand expert intervention.

Business Central: Designed for adaptability, Business Central simplifies customization and seamlessly integrates with third-party tools, enhancing flexibility.

3. Training and Onboarding

Dynamics NAV (Navision): New users may face a learning curve with NAV, necessitating thorough training sessions.

Business Central: With a user-friendly design, onboarding is swifter. While training is beneficial, interactive tutorials make the process smoother for newcomers.

In essence, while Dynamics NAV is a robust, reliable system, it does require a more dedicated approach to training and acclimatization.

Business Central, on the other hand, offers a more modern, user-friendly experience, making it a preferred choice for businesses looking for quicker onboarding and a contemporary interface.

Integration Capabilities

The ability of an ERP system to seamlessly interact with other tools can greatly enhance a business's operational efficiency.

Let's explore how Dynamics NAV and Business Central fare in terms of compatibility with Microsoft products and third-party applications.

1. Compatibility with Microsoft Products

Dynamics NAV (Navision): NAV integrates well with Microsoft products like Office 365, promoting unified collaboration.

Business Central: With its cloud design, Business Central's compatibility is robust. Integration with Microsoft tools like Outlook and Teams is seamless, fostering a connected workspace - especially with remote work becoming the norm.

2. Third-Party Applications

Dynamics NAV (Navision): NAV supports third-party integrations, albeit with some effort due to its architecture.

Business Central: Cloud-driven Business Central excels in third-party integrations, with Microsoft AppSource offering a plethora of options. This makes extending functionalities far easier.

While Dynamics NAV maintains strong ties with Microsoft products, Business Central takes integration to new heights.

Its cloud foundation and optimized compatibility make it an ideal choice for businesses looking to create a unified digital workspace and effortlessly expand their ERP capabilities through third-party tools.

Deployment and Scalability

The deployment method and scalability potential of an ERP system are crucial factors for businesses.

Let's explore how Dynamics NAV and Business Central stack up in these areas.

1. Deployment Models

Both Dynamics NAV and Business Central offer different deployment models.

While Dynamics NAV caters to on-premises deployment, Business Central embraces both cloud-based and hybrid setups.

This makes Business Central more adaptable to the modern trend of remote work and eliminates the need for intricate infrastructure management.

2. Scalability and Flexibility

In terms of scalability, Dynamics NAV can pose challenges, especially when it comes to infrastructure investments for accommodating growth.

In contrast, Business Central shines with its cloud-driven architecture.

It effortlessly scales to meet growing demands, be it increasing data volumes or user counts.

This flexibility positions Business Central as a potent choice for businesses with expansion on the horizon.

Pricing and Total Cost of Ownership

Understanding the financial aspect of adopting an ERP system is important for profitability.

Let's delve into how Dynamics NAV and Business Central compare in terms of pricing, total cost of ownership, and potential hidden costs.

1. Initial Costs, Subscription Models, and Licensing:

Dynamics NAV (Navision): Dynamics NAV typically involves upfront costs for licenses and implementation. Licensing can vary based on user counts and modules needed. It follows a traditional approach to software acquisition. Since NAV is run on-premises, you must also consider the hardware costs involved in the initial setup.

Business Central: Business Central follows a subscription-based model, requiring monthly or annual payments. While this eliminates high initial costs, it does involve ongoing expenses. Licensing structures vary, allowing businesses to choose based on their requirements. Fortunately, there are no hardware costs involved in the setup.

2. Hidden Costs: Training, Customization, and Maintenance:

Dynamics NAV (Navision): Additional costs might stem from training requirements, especially given its traditional interface. Customization might demand expert assistance, leading to added expenses. With an on-prem platform like NAV, you’ll require regular maintenance which could involve dedicated IT personnel or external support services.

Business Central: While Business Central's user-friendly design reduces training costs, it's not immune to customization and maintenance expenditures. Customization might be more accessible due to its cloud nature, but businesses should consider these factors when assessing the total cost.

Dynamics NAV might involve higher upfront licensing costs, while Business Central's subscription model spreads costs over time.

The hidden costs like training and customization are present in both systems, although Business Central's cloud advantage alleviates many aspects of hardware and IT personnel costs.

Careful evaluation of these costs is essential to make an informed decision aligned with a business's financial strategy.

Security and Compliance

Data security and regulatory adherence are paramount.

Let's compare how Dynamics NAV and Business Central address these concerns.

  1. Data Protection Features: Both systems prioritize data security, with Dynamics NAV offering basic measures and Business Central leveraging its cloud structure for robust encryption, multi-factor authentication, and automated updates.

  2. Regulatory Compliances (GDPR, CCPA, etc.): Dynamics NAV might require extra effort for compliance due to its architecture. In contrast, Business Central streamlines compliance with integrated tools, aiding businesses in meeting GDPR, CCPA, and other regulations with ease.

While both systems address security and regulatory factors, Business Central's cloud infrastructure provides enhanced data security measures and simplified compliance adherence.

Making it an attractive choice for businesses prioritizing data protection and regulatory alignment.


Community and Support

The strength of user communities and official support plays a crucial role in the adoption and success of an ERP system.

Let's explore how Dynamics NAV and Business Central compare in terms of their user communities and official support.

1. Strength and Activity of User Communities

Both Dynamics NAV and Business Central have active user communities that provide valuable insights, best practices, and solutions.

These communities are hubs for collaboration, where users can exchange knowledge and troubleshoot challenges.

Dynamics NAV's community benefits from years of existence, while Business Central's newer community is rapidly growing.

Fortunately, with more and more companies now moving from NAV to BC - there’s a lot of overlap.

2. Official Support Channels

Dynamics NAV (Navision): Microsoft offers official support for Dynamics NAV, providing technical assistance, updates, and patches. This support is crucial for businesses relying on the system's stability and performance.

Business Central: Similar to Dynamics NAV, Business Central benefits from official Microsoft support. This support extends to both technical issues and keeping the system up-to-date with the latest enhancements and security measures.

Both Dynamics NAV and Business Central offer strong user communities where users can tap into collective knowledge.

Additionally, their official support channels, backed by Microsoft, ensure that businesses have the necessary assistance to maintain the system's functionality and address any challenges that arise.

Don’t want to handle ERP issues yourself? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.


Comparing Dynamics NAV and Business Central reveals distinct advantages and considerations.

Dynamics NAV boasts a legacy of comprehensive functionalities and an active user community, making it a reliable choice for businesses seeking a proven platform.

However, its traditional interface and potential customization challenges might warrant additional training and expert involvement.

On the other hand, Business Central brings a modern interface, seamless cloud integration, and enhanced scalability.

Its compatibility with Microsoft products and third-party applications opens avenues for seamless collaboration.

While it may not have the depth of community knowledge as Dynamics NAV due to its newer status, its forward-looking approach makes it a compelling option for businesses seeking adaptability and growth.

The decision between the two ultimately hinges on a company's current stage, technological preferences, and long-term goals.

Enhance your business using the power of Business Central to ignite and optimise your growth.

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