Dynamics-NAV from a developer's viewpoint
November 23, 2016
Dynamics-NAV from a developer's viewpoint
Score 10 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft Dynamics NAV
I personally have used, consulted, developed and installed NAV for over 22 years, going back to the original character based product. I have used NAV across a wide spectrum of businesses and assisted hundreds of companies with their implementations. I describe the software as a full featured ERP system that conforms to your industry and business rules rather than forcing you to conform to the software. As the product has matured, the feature rich environment has improved and stayed current with the needs of the business world. There are very few companies that are able to use an ERP system right out-of-the-box and NAV has solved this problem by providing the end-user with an almost unlimited ability to customize their environment. Add to this the availability of source code and there is almost no problem or process that cannot be addressed.
- All of the Dynamics ERP systems are fully integrated with the full family of their Office products (Word, Excel, etc.) but the true power behind Dynamics-NAV is that it comes with complete access to the source code. Although most ERP packages provide some type of a development environment, it is always a third-party software package and requires an additional expense. NAV comes with full source code access and devolvement tools out-of-the-box and requires no additional purchase. The user is able to modify pages, reports and even add additional fields to the standard tables. If your company has an internal development staff you have the ability to purchase the same full development license that the VAR has, allowing you to handle all system customizations and support in-house. The sum total of this high flexibility is that you are able to make NAV conform to your business rather than you conforming to the software.
- In addition to the available source code, NAV provides the user with an unlimited ability to modify and build within the rich environment of C/AL code. In over 20 years of modifying the NAV product I have never had a client ask for a modification or custom functionality that I was not able to provide. Add to this the fact that NAV now includes many development points that allow the user to place their custom code inside of the system without impacting the base code. This makes the upgrade process quick and easy and avoids the common occurrence of being version locked.
- The user interface of Dynamics NAV has been well thought out and provides a very easy to learn and use package. Master records (Customer, Vendor, Items, etc.) have been laid out in a standard format. Once you learn where fields are located on one record you have learned them all. The forms (called Pages in NAV) have a very similar structure and, by design, are uncluttered and easily customized by the user without impacting the base code. This allows each user to configure the Page to the way they work, easing the learning process and speeding up daily work and data entry.
- The NAV environment has grown to be very feature rich in the functionality offered and provides the user with almost everything they need with the purchase of the base product. Advanced features can be added if required as can a large number of third party add-ons made exclusively for the NAV environment. Additionally, user licenses are sold as concurrent and not as named. Concurrent licenses control the number of users allowed into the system at any one time meaning that anyone can be provided with the ability to log into the system. This allows the company to setup an unlimited number of users with the ability to access the system at any given time. This allows the occasional user to share a license with other users who only need to access the system to enter a small amount of data or run a few reports. This functionality is a plus for the company with a large sales staff or outside workers who only need limited access to the system. Named licenses would require that you purchase an access license for every person who needs to access the system.
- As with most ERP packages, the Jobs functionality within NAV is somewhat limited in functions. It has been primarily designed for large projects such as building a house or large piece of equipment where the process is set from the start and has little change. Small job shops where each project is custom find the package very restrictive and inflexible to use. The WIP calculation has been greatly improved with the last couple of releases but still does not allow the user to a great amount of flexibility or provide you with the ability to post in detail to the general ledger.
- The item reservation process is very restrictive in the way it was written. NAV does allow you to reserve inventory against sales and projects but is very unforgiving if the need arises to change or release those goods. It is possible but requires that the user jump through multiple hoops to accomplish the task.
- Security within NAV is very good but requires that you build custom user roles as the standard roles provided by the package do not lend themselves well to the normal company environment. The standard permission roles tend to either provide too much access or too little and are often hard to follow and understand. However, NAV has provided a new tool that makes the creation of custom roles quick and easy but still requires that they be created. Additionally, NAV still does not provide field-level security, only record level. It is possible to modify the code to control this or purchase an add-on but is not available out-of-the-box.
- Dynamics NAV is the preferred Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for companies that want an end-to-end solution flexible enough to support their unique needs but robust enough to handle complex business processes. It offers a very fast implementation, a highly customizable platform to fit your business' changing needs and a fully functional solution that is simple to use allowing for an easier user experience. The net result is a quicker ROI and lower implementation costs.
- The single biggest expense to most systems is the user license. Since NAV uses concurrent sessions and not named the actual expense can be lower due to access sharing. Add to this a very quick turnaround on new license purchases (many times it is same day) you only purchase the actual number of license needed.
I have personally supported all of the Dynamic family of ERP systems and made the decision to concentrate on NAV as the solution of choice. From a support and development standpoint there are few if any packages that can compare. It is not uncommon for most of the companies that I support to only call me once or twice a month after the first year. This is due to the ease of tracking down problems and errors and the ability for a developer to provide the end-user with routines that automatically correct the most basic kind of error.
Needless to say I am a very big believer in Dynamics NAV but do understand that there are times when other ERP offerings are better suited. I feel that if the company looking at purchasing an ERP system can use the package right out-of-the-box they are better suited to go with Dynamics GP or SL. Both packages are very feature rich and offer a great amount of standard functionality. However, if you require a system that needs to conform to your work environment there is no better package in Dynamics NAV. Additionally, if you are in an industry that is very unique and/or specialized, an industry specific package may be better suited. Dynamics NAV can be made to fit any industry or requirement, the determining factor is, as always, cost.