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Posts Tagged ‘NAV’

Microsoft Dynamics NAV has long been one of the world’s most popular, most implemented, best-selling ERP software programs for managing the small to midsize business.  Today, over 160,000 companies, deploy NAV across 2,700,000 users in 195 countries!  So when the core product evolves, the ensuing buzz cuts a wide swath across the IT community.  These days, a product long code-named ‘Tenerife’ is doing just that, as the quickly evolving SaaS (Software as a Service) next generation product begins its long journey as the future of NAV.

And as of yesterday (April 2, 2018) NAV is now (drum roll please…) Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

To begin with, what we’re seeing here is the evolution of NAV from an on-premise based software solution that’s been around for decades, that then evolved into a cloud-deployable solution (hosted by anyone from your local reseller to global partners who specialized in hosting), into the latest rendition, in which the CBFKAN (code base formerly known as NAV) evolves onto a Microsoft SaaS platform that is sold on a subscription basis (by “named user”) to users within a company for one flat monthly per-user cost.  (There will actually be three levels of pricing, dependent on the ‘type’ of user you choose to purchase.)

To reiterate, D365 Business Central is the complete installation of NAV software, that is, it’s the same code base.  That means that the functionality and flexibility and extensibility for which NAV has been long known are still there and fully functional.  NAV is a special, unique product, so that code base integrity is important.  But while the product itself remains intact, the ‘branding’ (and hence, name) is changing.

With D365 BC, there are some new wrinkles.  For one, it puts the individual users – the ‘clients’ – in a web-only situation.  These clients run on tablets and phones or in your computer’s web browser but, notably lacking at least at this point, is a traditional Windows client.  For existing NAV users, that might be a deal-breaker right there.  For the newer user starting fresh, perhaps not so much.

The software license is now provided via the Cloud Solution Provider program, a newer Microsoft delivery program in which providers must be registered.  It renders users as ‘named’ users (one client instance by individual name, generally) paid for via a monthly subscription-based fee.  There are no ‘concurrent’ users in the D365 BC/CSP model, but there are also no upfront software costs or what today is known as annual maintenance.  It’s all bundled into the one monthly fee.

D365 Business Central takes advantage of an app store philosophy embraced years ago by Apple and later others, in which applications are purchased through an online store.  With D365/BC, these apps add or extend the functionality of the base NAV product, and fit neatly into preassigned code areas within NAV for ‘plug-in’ flexibility and ease of installation.  In NAV, these are known as ‘extensions.’  The aim, at least for Microsoft, is to build a large and robust community of extension developers and users, thus growing the overall base of Dynamics 365 users.

There’s more to the announcement than will fit in a single post, so we’ll finish this post in a second installment in our next post.  Stay tuned…

 

 

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Our firm provides specialty software for the printing industry from a company called PrintVis.  Their print-industry specific solution consists of a wide range of added functionality that is baked into Microsoft  Dynamics NAV (as they say, “You can buy NAV without PrintVis, but you can’t buy PrintVis without NAV”).  That functionality has enabled them to automate close to 400 printing operations from the largest to the smallest, in dozens of countries around the world.  So we thought we’d take advantage of their expertise by sharing their recent post (#134 in a series…) on the NAV Change Log, courtesy of a consultant by the name of Doug Wiley, who wrote the post for them.  Excerpts follow…

In essence, the Change Log is exactly what it sounds like: a log of changes that are made in your database. Essentially, there are two types of “audit trails” in PrintVis: those that track transactional data (like inventory movements or changes to the G/L) and those that track changes to things like master records.

The first type is always on, and can’t be shut off. The second type is the Change Log, and that needs to be configured and turned on manually.

Turning it on is easy. You just search for “Change Log Setup” and open the window. There is a single check box which turns on the Change Log (in red).  The more complex setup is in the background, which can be reached by clicking “Tables” in the ribbon in the window above (in green). Here you will determine which tables, and which fields within those tables, you would like to track. You have the option to track “Insertion” (adding a record), “Modification” and “Deletion” by table.

Also notice for that each of these you have the option to turn it off “blank” (even if the change log itself is turned on), track all fields, track some fields, or to select the fields you’d like to track.

The interface to this functionality is relatively simple, but the way in which it’s configured is where the nuance and decision-making come in.  In the past, it was always recommended that the Change Log be used sparingly, to prevent the size of the database increasing too much when people altered records. Now that disk space has gotten more abundant, and cheaper, you can err more on the side of using it, but there is still a good reason to plan well: If you want to find who made a change, to what, and when, you will still need to sort through all of the changes that have been logged.

Fortunately, NAV has excellent filtering and sorting tools which will get you what you want – but still there’s no need to capture a bunch of changes which don’t really matter that much from an operational standpoint.  Picking which fields in which tables you’d like to track is step one of this process. For example, you probably want to know if a customer’s payment terms change, but not so much if their main contact phone number or email address does. You may want to track if someone changes your posting group setup (which drives all your accounting and financial reporting), but not if someone changes the name of a journal batch. Your consultant will help walk you through this process and give examples of best practices.

The next step is choosing when you want to track these changes. Obviously turning this on when setting up a new database would be madness, since every change made by every new record imported would generate an unnecessary entry. Generally, it’s recommended to only turn it on once final setups and master data have been approved and put into the database.

The third and final step is maintaining which changes are tracked. For example, if for some reason there needs to be a mass update to your cost centers, you probably want to turn this off while that happens to avoid generating a bunch of data (and remember to turn it back on!).

Our thanks to Doug Wiley for pointing out these Change Log tips, which we will hope will help our NAV users get even more out of this most powerful and robust ERP system.

 

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(This is the second of our two posts reflecting the thoughts of noted NAV blogger Eric Wauters on the upcoming release of the new Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018.  His full, original post can be found here.)

 

Fact 8: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018 will be released on December 1st.  Thanks to the Directions conference in Orlando last month, and the feedback and the passion of the partners, this had to happen.  As Microsoft has already announced, the product itself is ready.  It’s the pricing and positioning issues they are working on that have delayed the release.

Fact 9: Extension V2 will work on Dynamics NAV 2018.  In non-Geek-speak this simply means that a very modern development experience in VSCode will work on the December release, and that we will be able to create extensions on top of our own customizations and products as well.

Fact 10: Yes, you will be able to white label your product, but you don’t have to.  “Powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365” or not, it’s your choice.  (Early word last month was that Microsoft would change the marketing thrust from promoting “NAV” to promoting a “Powered by…” approach, thus allowing resellers and ISVs the ability to “white label” their accouring offerings.  But really… I mean, really?  Would you rather by “Brian’s Accounting & Manufacturing Powered by Microsoft Dynamics” or simply Microsoft Dynamics NAV, as you always have?  No brainer.

Fact 11: Microsoft is working on the pricing.  Considering the various options… on-premise… cloud… as discrete functional-areas apps (like CRM or Marketing) and not just the “ful-blown” complete ERP system… Microsoft has a lot to think about.  But it’s coming.

Fact 12: There is no monetization in AppSource – but it will come.  This one is mostly for partners.  It means that we’ll be able to sell customized apps through the Microsoft App Store, and there will be a ‘monetization’ policy at some point.  In other words, Microsoft will likely have an approval process for apps and then make them available on the store and take their cut.  Think of Apple’s app store model.

Fact 13: Microsoft Dynamics NAV consumes an insane amount of Azure stuff – and that’s a good thing.  Cloud based NAV can generate a lot of data and metrics on its Azure cloud, and that stuff will eventually be available as analytics of some kind or another.  It’s a work in progress for now.

A new development environment… new features… the ability to run either in the cloud or at your own site… the ability to create apps… the enhanced capabilities to run with the Microsoft “stack” of applications from Windows to Office 365 (Word, Excel, etc.) to Outlook… Dynamics NAV will be at the heart of it all.

And for our customers, that safety in numbers and place in the Microsoft hierarchy of applications upon which you run your business might be the very best news of all!  It all starts happening in December.  Are you ready?

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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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