Business Central; Developers, Developers, Developers

A new version of Business Central is around the corner. The codename is BC16 or 2020 Wave I. Both are the same thing.

I think it is safe to say that Business Central is a great succes. In the competing world of Cloud Business Solutions it is the most flexible product and the customer base is growing rapidly.

Business Central has a fantastic user interface and the extensibility model is next to nothing else out there.

Last week I was talking to a reseller of Business Central on the west coast of the US. He said he was small reseller since he only sold 10 installations in 2 years. Yes, he was new to BC and had no prior NAV experience.

Knowing that in the old world NAV resellers often only sold 3 licenses or less per calendar year I had to laugh a bit.

Cloud brings both challenges and opportunities that are beyond anything we have ever seen in our ecosystem.

I can see the opportunities from my perspective as a freelance developer. The demand for AL developers is insane. In Europe it seems to be doing ok, but in the US they are screaming for resources.

As for the reasons I can only guess, but it seams that growth of Business Central is happening most from outside the traditional NAV world. New partners are jumping on the opportunity to then find out that implementing BC almost always means implementing a few changes that require per-tenant extensions.

Many traditional NAV resellers still struggle with Business Central because of two reasons.

  1. Their IP is a big mess
  2. Their COGS is too high

Also, almost always they know nothing about the Azure stack and integration with Office 365.

In my opinion it’s time to change but this seems very difficult. NAV partners have a very expensive (pre) sales department that is funded with large license revenues. Their Developers have been rewarded for 20 years to deliver crappy hacks in C/Side that only had to work as quickly as possible to then start on the next hack.

I’ve seen situations where it was considered “normal” that the service desk employees of a partner logged into a customers system almost on a weekly bases to fix data with reports and customers actually pay premium service for this.

Grim Reaper in the NAV ecosystem

It seems so hard to change, that many owners of traditional NAV resellers choose the easy way out. They sell their company to investment companies.

This is probably also due to the current economy where interest is at an all time low, stock markets are way overpriced (although “Corona” settled that last week) and money is looking to be spent.

Titanic or Oil Tanker

It’s not the first time that the faith of our ecosystem is influenced by global economy. When the Three Tier concept was presented the world decided to have one of the biggest recessions in history.

If you had asked me two or three years ago I would have compared Microsoft to Titanic. In all their glory they wanted to go so fast that they ignored all the rules and headed straight for an iceberg.

Now that Business Central is being picked up by new partners and a (small) subset of the existing NAV ecosystem I am a bit more positive. Actually a lot more possitive.

Today I would compare Microsoft more with an Oil Tanker that is trying to change course but it is going insanely slow. People at the bridge are giving orders to change direction but by the time this is happening it’s (almost) too late.

Now is the time!

It’s easy to say to existing NAV partners that they are too late, but that is unfair and not true. The ERP world is moving a lot slower than Microsoft wants. ERP is not implemented at startups but at companies that have been in business for a longer period of time.

Business Central 2020 Wave I contains a few changes that are important for the old NAV ecosystem. The most important ones are the actual implementation of Enum’s, the introduction of flexibility of the sales pricing module and integration with Common Data Services.

Microsoft is listening but change is slow, but slow sometimes is good.

Oops, they did it again

The previous release of Business Central caused a massive riot because Microsoft broke the majority of Apps published by their partners on the AppSource. This resulted in a lack of trust and the compeition even started to use this as selling against Business Central.

Microsoft made a drastic, but important executive decision to promise not to make breaking changes anymore.

Unfortunately this seems to be an impossible promise since the enum implementation again breaks existing extensions, although I think it will be a minority this time. I haven’t checked this however.

Since Wave I 2020 is not officially released Microsoft might actually decide to fix this. Let’s see what will happen.

Small NAV Partners, now is the time!

A few things need to happen.

  1. Stop paying sales people that cannot even do a proper demo. They are not needed anymore. Instead you need industry specialists that understand the customer.
  2. Stop calling everyone who can make a change to C/Side a developer.
  3. Embrace Azure

What if they don’t?

What we see in the US will happen in Europe too. New partners will start selling Business Central that don’t have the legacy. Legacy in expensive sales people and legacy in bad code. Even legacy in stupid customers who accept crappy solutions.

It’s time to decide which side of the Business Central ecosystem you want to be part of, because Business Central will continue to be the best ERP in the cloud, with or without you.

Developers don’t have to be affraid of the future. If you are willing to let go of writing fast and crappy solutions and invest in repeatable quality apps the future is fantastic.


  1. I chose AL side
    let the battle begin 😉


  2. Spidi says:

    I understand from your post that old developers and partners did crappy solutions until now. New solutions and add-ons will be great in AL. New startups and all newbies will do awesome solutions, no need to know things about D365BC.
    Where is your constructive criticism ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan Johansen says:

    I have been on the other side of NAV… XAL and through 25 years been a part of wall to wall ERP solutions. The customer paid a little fortune for a solution that could do everything the customer needed, from ERP mail boxes to calculation of nutritions for a croissant sold in an special POS also developed in the ERP system! And when the new update came out, the customer paid again… not a small fortune this time, but a big fortune!
    This has been the normal in the country where NAV, XAL and AX was invented. But now a whole bunch of small and midsize companies have developers that costed a fortune to educate, and they are now of no use… still they are trying to sell hacks… Years ago I and a few others saw it coming. My dayly work is now O365 making BI with the Power Stack. And yes, also making smooth Access UI fronts on Azure SQL. It works actually! But hey! The companies swearing only to make fossil fuel engines, are they not in the same boat? Absolutely, but shoot me and call me early up in the morning if not a lot of people will deny that a new era has come… sometimes the same people crying about how not fair it is for them, that they are unemployed… The battle is won in the preparation and never standing still…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jens Glathe says:

    Different kind of application. Shifting toolchain. Shifting features. No way to get into this… apparently. Maybe also also a solution that doesn’t fit its target? Why would a company invest in this? They should have actual businesses to run, not to play catch-up with application providers gone on an ego-trip. I’m in this business for a while, now. What I see is almost complete dissociation of customers (users) and vendors, not only in the ERP world.


  5. Thank you for posting such a great article. I am an application developer on ERP field from Japan. If you do not mind me asking, please allow me to put my 2 questions here.

    1) Does “IP” mean here “intellectual property”, namely, code customizations?
    2) You mentioned that “Their COGS is too high”. Do you suggest the following options to reduce their costs?

    (1) Stop paying sales people that cannot even do a proper demo.
    (2) Stop calling everyone who can make a change to C/Side a developer.
    (3) Embrace Azure


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