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Archive for the ‘Dynamics NAV’ Category

Today we’ll feature some of the updates and new views we saw at the recent annual NAV Directions conference in Orlando.  We’re sharing these with our own clients, but it only seemed right to share what’s new from NAV with our larger audience of blog readers as well.  So here goes…

We recently returned from the Microsoft Dynamics NAV annual conference and  we’re pleased to share what we learned there.  We gained insight as to the road ahead for NAV, and saw a number of the fast-growing family of third-party applications many companies are using to enhance NAV’s underlying capabilities.  We thought we’d share a few of those with you here today…

  • Microsoft announced that the forthcoming 2018 product – code named ‘Tenerife’ – would be “the single NAV product, with full NAV functionality, for both cloud and on-premise” going forward. That’s important, because Microsoft is making a push into the cloud like never before, and it’s good to know that the Dynamics NAV product is one they’ve chosen to be fully present in both forms: hosted on someone else’s server (in the cloud) or on your own (on-premise) for the foreseeable future.
  • While past NAV upgrades From Microsoft have recently been scheduled annually in October, this year’s date has not yet been announced. We’ll keep you posted.
  • NAV will continue to be customizable to the way you work – another important consideration. Long true of on-premise versions, it’s now slated to be true in the cloud via ‘extensions.’
  • ‘Tenerife’ (or NAV 2018) will mark a new stage in the interplay between Office 365 and Dynamics 365 (the current cloud product), specifically around Outlook and the Office 365 Business Center, a collection of apps based on NAV.

Among recently announced enhancements from our favorite 3rd party providers…

  • Warehouse Insight: Mobile warehouse data collection using handhelds in the warehouse to pick, pack & ship… Get real-time access to NAV inventory & production… Perform all those inventory and warehouse functions from hand-held devices… Capture lot & serial
  • Advanced inventory counting now simplifies inventory and cycle count entry, reconciliation, posting and analysis.
  • Integrated shipping with all major carriers including FedEx and UPS with real-time, detailed package management.
  • NAV Sales Configurator: Accurately quote your products with multiple configuration options that allow for assemble-to-order configurations directly from quotes and orders, or create production BOMs for more complex production environments.
  • Additionally: Production scheduling solutions from Insight Works and others… advanced document management and new expense reporting from ZetaDocs… and more.

Dynamics NAV is Microsoft’s best-selling ERP system worldwide, by far, proudly serving over 120,000 companies today worldwide.  Knowing that it’s a platform well poised for the future both on-premise and in the cloud is a strong message going forward for all those users, and we’re glad to see the product continue to grow in both functionality and users, worldwide.

 

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We noted last week Microsoft’s recent announcement at the annual “Directions” Conference in Orlando that Dynamics NAV would be available as a complete ERP platform both on-premise and the cloud in its forthcoming 2018 release.  Today, we thought we’d highlight a few other capabilities of NAV courtesy of its many ISVs.  These independent software vendors create added functionality for a base ERP product so that users can experience true ‘best-of-breed’ functionality with their software.

While some vendors try to be a one size fits all application, the world has evolved.  Today we know that the best applications are those that use proven base-ERP (accounting, production, etc.) technology from leading publishers, and then allow ISV providers to enhance the product in specific ways that make it a more precise fit for a wide variety of user types with specialized needs.  Manufacturing perhaps best defines the benefits of this approach.

Insight Works (formerly Dynamics Manufacturing Solutions) publishes a number of modules that integrate tightly and directly with Dynamics NAV to enhance the user experience.  Here are a few we like in particular that will benefit a lot of those users engaged in manufacturing or distribution.

  • Mobile Warehouse Data Collection – Locations and items can be tracked via mobile devices with real-time access to NAV warehouse, inventory and production data on the shop floor. You can scan directly to sales and production tickets for immediate picking, capture lot and serial numbers, use License Plating to streamline warehouse operations, and even customize views and menus on your handheld mobile units.
  • Shop Floor Data Collection – Use barcodes to capture time, field service and employee time management, thus eliminating a tedious manual input chore. You can capture shop floor data including consumption, output, scrap and quality, as well as record non-productive and rework time for reporting.  Time & attendance based on employee shifts with multi-level time card approval from the shop floor or from NAV are available.  Access your information via a web browser or enable data entry from devices in the field or on the shop floor.
  • Advanced Inventory Counting – Simplify inventory and cycle counting with comprehensive data entry, reconciliation, posting and analysis tools. You can easily perform manual or barcoded inventory counts and cycle counts, and automatically post lot or serial number discrepancies.  Use predefined count sheets to complete on the spot inventory counts and track historical statistics.  Supports all location types, and allows multi-user manual entry for non-barcoded counts to add to count sheets on the fly.
  • NAV Sale Configurator – Improve your ability to accurately and quickly quote products that have multiple possible options and configurations. You can create assemble-to-order configurations directly from your sales quotes and orders, or create production BOMs for more complex requirements.

These are just a few of the many added capabilities companies can take advantage of when they work with a flexible, customizable and extensible solution like Dynamics NAV.  That’s just one of the many reasons why over 120,000 companies in over 70 countries rely on NAV to run their business.

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We just returned from the annual Microsoft Dynamics NAV “Directions” conference held this year in Orlando, Florida.  In today’s post we’ll share what we’ve learned about the future direction of Microsoft’s best-selling ERP product globally, Dynamics NAV.

It’s best summed up by the words of Microsoft General Manager Marki Perisic, who told partners last week that the next version of NAV – currently code-named “Tenerife” – is “the single product moving forward in the cloud and on-premises.”

That comment stood in contrast to last year’s announcement of the Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Business edition.  With the new announcement, it becomes clear that the full NAV framework is the way forward, both on-premise, and in the cloud.

While Microsoft is making a very big push to bring everyone into the cloud, they also recognize that not everyone is ready to go there just yet.  Said Perisic, “We’ll do everything we can to make the cloud the more attractive option, but we give you the on-premises option for those who can’t go to the cloud.”  He went on to announce new plans in areas including user interface, tighter Office 365 integration, Azure-based services consumption, AppSource and “accountant experiences” (imagine being able to ping your accountant’s assistance directly from within NAV).

At the conference Microsoft announced that ‘Tenerife’ will offer “full NAV functionality” in Dynamics 365 (the current cloud offering), and is expected to offer a broader range of customization and add-on options than previously expected.

NAV ‘Tenerife’ will also mark a new stage in the dynamic interplay between Dynamics 365 and Office 365, specifically around tighter integration with Microsoft Outlook and around Office 365 Business Center, the collection of business apps that include Invoicing, Bookings, and others, and which will be using Dynamics 365 Tenerife “under the covers.”

The conference made clear that NAV (as well as companion Microsoft ERP products AX and CRM) are going to be the way forward.  Less clear was what is going to happen to the users of SL (formerly Solomon) and GP (formerly Great Plains) who seem to have been left out of the new direction.  While GP and SL are not going away, Microsoft has made its choice for the future of small to mid-size business ERP systems – and NAV is set to be a pivotal element of that future strategy.

 

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NAV LOGO 2016Users of Microsoft Dynamics NAV software know what we learned ourselves about 15 years ago: that they’re fortunate to own about the best all-around ERP software on the planet.  As resellers, we have choices about what to sell (we offer two today, as we long have, NAV being one of them).  And after extensive research some time ago we eliminated a wide range of options to settle on NAV – before, incidentally, it was even owned by Microsoft.

Fifteen years later, our opinion has not changed much – though NAV itself has.  It’s grown and matured and opened even further into realms of deeper functionality and interoperability with lots of other software and add-ins, like most software today.  But it’s retained its extensive flexibility, modifiability, customizability and extensibility – now across multiple platforms – and allowed deeper analysis in the hands of those who know to handle it, than probably anything out there today.  It does this in large measure because at its core it was developed, years ago (in Denmark) as a world-class platform by some world-class programmers, who in hindsight were ahead of their time.

Because it’s been around a while, folks running older versions of NAV occasionally need to consider the question of upgrading what they have, which means stepping through the various subsequent versions if they have not stayed up to date… or taking another look at their business through the lens of NAV today, with all its new features, capabilities and cross-functionality with add-in products, and deciding whether they should consider re-implementing with the new version.  This could mean moving away from old modifications because the new software may now innately support the desired functionality, or simply because the old workflows can be replaced by NAV’s new and improved workflow capabilities.

For example, if you’re on NAV 2009 (or prior), your business is probably different from back then.  As NAV blogger Duncan Kerr asks of that situation in a recent post at MSDynamicsWorld.com, “If we were doing this now, how could we make it even better? Are those old databases and modifications worth hanging on to?”

Often, old customizations become new “features” of newer NAV versions.  For example, he notes, item attributes that were previously a customization are now standard, and there are better ways to link dimensions today through standard functionality.

Then too, we’ve seen folks with modifications that in hindsight they may not have needed once they discover the full capabilities of NAV.  Kerr points out the power of “workflows” in the latest NAV 2017:

“The redesign of the Dynamics NAV workflow engine means you can very quickly and easily introduce a workflow that allows you to control your business, and solve business problems. There is now an internal NAV workflow engine – but also the wider Microsoft Flow within Office365. In the past you would find yourself saying “The costs on that item were wrong, now my inventory’s wrong,” or “The customer wasn’t credit checked and we just found out he’s a bad risk.” Now you have out-of-the-box workflows to review those things before they’re used.”

Kerr summarizes his thoughts about upgrades and re-implementations by noting that “The point of an upgrade or reimplementation isn’t simply about functionality; it’s also about moving to a platform that allows using a wider range of technology, like Office 365 and Power BI. The technology feels fresher and more modern, and you’ve got staff coming in who expect to see the latest and greatest.”

NAV users who remain current on maintenance have the good fortune of knowing that those benefits are within their grasp, and often worth pursuing.  They already own their software, so it’s really just a matter of the time-costs required to do the upgrade, and not starting over – as so many older ‘legacy’ ERP and accounting system users are finding themselves doing today.  In other words, upgrading, even re-implementing, become another way to extend your business software ROI.

 

 

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nav-user-picA common request from Dynamics NAV users is to set up new users (provided of course you own a sufficient number of user licenses), so today we’re sharing a post originally published for general consumption on the Microsoft Developers Network describing how to do just that.  (We’re giving you a slightly abridged version today, edited for space.  You can find the original full post here.)  We thought it might be handy for our NAV clients (with thanks and credit to MSDN).  These instructions are for NAV 2016 but work pretty much the same for 2015.

Before a user can access Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you must have created them as users in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. To create and modify users, you can use the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Windows client, NAV Web client, or NAV Windows PowerShell cmdlets.  Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 supports the following credential authorization mechanisms for Microsoft Dynamics NAV users:

  • Windows
  • UserName
  • NavUserPassword
  • AccessControlService
  • Office 365 Authentication

This topic contains separate procedures for creating users for each credential authentication mechanism. For information about how to configure RoleTailored clients and the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Server instance for a specific authentication scheme, see Users and Credential Types.

The following procedures describe how to configure users in the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Windows client. Similar steps apply for creating users in the Web client. A Microsoft Dynamics NAV Server instance can either support users with Windows authentication or users with other credentials.

To create a new user

  1. In theSearch box, enter Users, and then choose the related link.
  2. In theUsers window, on the Home tab, choose New.
  3. In theUser Card window, on the General FastTab, fill in the fields as described below:
  • User Name: Specify a unique, short name to identify the user.
  • Full Name: Specify the user’s full name.
  • License Type: Choose one of the available license types.
  • State: Specify if the user’s access is enabled or disabled.
  • Expiry Date: Optionally, to set a time limit on the user’s access, choose a date.
  1. To set up a user for Windows authentication, follow this step:
    • On theWindows Authentication FastTab, in the Windows User Name field, type the name of a valid Active Directory user, using the format domain\username. Or, choose the AssistEdit button, select Allow for the Session, and then, in the Active Directory Select User or Group dialog box, identify a Windows user.
  2. To set up a user for NavUserPassword authentication, follow these steps:
    1. On theNAV Password Authentication FastTab, choose the Password field to specify a password for the user.
    2. If you want to require the user to change the password after they log in for the first time, selectUser must change password at next login.  The first time that the user logs on, a prompt will appear prompting the user to change the password.
  3. Open theUser Permission Sets FastTab to define permission sets for the user. Choose the first row under Permission Sets and then select a permission set. Choose additional permission sets as needed. For more information, see How to: Define Permissions for Users.
  4. Add any Notes or Links for the user in the respective FactBoxes.
  5. Choose theOK button to close the window.

And of course, should you need assistance, we’re there for you.  877-273-2444.

 

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metrics_mfgIn our prior post we talked about the metrics often applied in manufacturing to determine whether a company is best-in-class, or merely adequate, that companies use to identify and then improve their strategic performance.  We noted how manufacturing education associations like APICS and MESA have created metrics guidelines to help companies analyze their own strengths and weaknesses.  And then, because after all we’re all about ERP, we noted the difficulty in making the leap from identifying key metrics to actually implementing improved operations, controls and workflows through ERP.

Today then, a quick look at a couple examples drawn from the experiences of manufacturers, as identified by some consultants at a firm called Edgewater.

One company was a biotech firm headquartered in Kentucky with branches worldwide.  Possessed of an entrepreneurial spirit, the CEO was known as a “go, go, go” style of leader.  Their greatest challenge was to use technology in ways others had not.  They needed to bring global acquisitions into the family in quick and agile fashion.  They were a big user, as are many others, of Microsoft technology, from “the stack” through ERP (Dynamics).  They chose to employ a global infrastructure (via Azure) to minimize the investment within a specific country – where they’re opening several outlets per month – and crank up hundreds of servers quickly to speed the process.  Here, the platform goes hand in hand with ERP to ramp up quickly and cost-effectively on a common platform.

Another company was an Arkansas based poultry processor (of five millions chickens a week!) with challenges very specific to their business processes.  As their I.T. director notes: “In each of our independent processing locations we consider how they perform, accounts payable or accounts receivable, and ask each one: Is this a market differentiator for us? Is it something that sets us apart? Specific business process owners must justify keeping a process at an individual location; if they cannot, we eliminate those processes and standardize them across the organization.”

Here, it’s all about those ‘best-in-class’ competitive differentiators that a SCOR metric (noted in our prior post) helped them to identify and address.

But above all in these and other cases, it’s always about the results.  To do that, the CEOs had to be sold on the idea that a lot was going to be asked of their team.  As one I.T. director pointed out succinctly in speaking of his firm’s ERP project:

“In order to be successful, we had to make some assumptions about the level of effort required from non-IT people. Fortunately, our CEO bought into that completely and committed those resources, making it really clear to all the VPs that whatever we needed to do to make it successful was what we were going to do. I didn’t have to spend a single minute trying to convince anyone about what was required of them or what we needed from them. Having that full buy-in from senior leadership down made a huge difference.”

It’s a lesson well-learned and hard-won – one even we as implementers today must remind ourselves of from time to time.  ERP is hard.  As providers, our job is just as stated above: to convey to our clients how committed their team needs to be to owing the process.  It’s a lesson we never can learn well enough.

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dyn365As we move into the year’s final month, many business minds turn to thoughts of replacing old or aging financial / ERP systems.  (What, you thought their minds turned to sugar plum fairies just ‘cause it’s December?)

We’ve long espoused the strengths of the Dynamics NAV product, since even before Microsoft acquired the company around 2004.  (Disclosure: PSSI has been a Dynamics NAV reseller since 2002.)  Feedback industry gurus and editors after the recent annual NAV “Directions” Conference we attended in Phoenix earlier this year indicates where the market is heading these days.  Today, we’ll share a few of those thoughts with our readers…

Microsoft talks often about its cloud initiatives, especially Azure.  With the recent announcement of Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s cloud ERP offering, the seeds of confusion were sown.  As it stands, the simple take is this: the Microsoft ERP roadmap shows two versions of D365 will be offered.

The first is an extension of the product released in summer code-named Madeira – that’s basically a lower-end, financials-only NAV cloud offering with subscription pricing.  This product is called the Business Edition.  It appears positioned, with a very low entry price point, at folks coming off a product like QuickBooks who have grown to require a higher level of functionality.  It seems also targeted at NetSuite, but at a much lower price point.

The other flavor of D365 will be a mashup of Microsoft CRM and the current Dynamics AX product.  That will be called the Enterprise Edition.

But Microsoft also has tacitly recognized that not all customers want cloud.  In fact, according to Ray Wang, a partner at Constellation Research, “more than half of customers prefer the on-prem” solution.

Our own observations among SMB clients (in the $10M to $100M revenue range) is that the overwhelming choice preference is for the on-premise variety, since they’re mostly involved in manufacturing and distribution, where cloud solutions are simply too risky for their day to day shop floor operations to rely upon.

Nonetheless, Wang and others predict Microsoft will continue a heavy push to move clients to cloud solutions.  The answer to the obvious question of “Why?” is simple enough: it’s a lot more profitable to Microsoft.  Customers who lock into cloud solutions are not likely to ask for their data back (wherever it might be) very often, and the monthly recurring revenues are locked in long term.  It’s a sweet deal for the provider.  But as Wang also notes, after about 5 years of subscription pricing, a customer ends up paying more for cloud than they would for on-prem, where the software is largely a one-time payout.

Says Constellation Research’s Wang: “If you own on-premises software, and you are diligent at updating the software for regulatory, tax, and other legal requirements, there’s no real good reason to move to the cloud and pay more over 5 years.  However, if you need the constant innovation in the product, then the cloud may make more sense.”

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