Users 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.