Sooner or later, any company using Dynamics NAV faces the decision whether to upgrade to a newer version of the ERP system. Among the main reasons for switching from Navision 3.60, NAV 4.00, NAV 5.00 or NAV 6.00 (NAV 2009) to the latest versions of Dynamics NAV are:
- Difficulties in the daily operations;
- Required process reengineering and associated master data (items, customers, etc.);
- The database size and related delays in export data for queries;
- Features in the old version that need improvement;
- Suspension of vendor technical support (Microsoft officially discontinues Dynamics NAV 2009 support in January 2020);
- Changing the business model and / or IT infrastructure, which requires an upgrade of the business applications used (for example, switching to cloud infrastructure).
The migration to a newer version of Dynamics NAV is worth it if it offers sufficient benefits over the stability of the current solution. Some important changes are related to the change in system architecture, the method of storing dimensions, redesign of storing, embedded integration with other Microsoft products, additional functionality such as cost accounting, cash flow forecast, approvals, assembly, and more.
In this article I will present and summarize these, and other major improvements and benefits related to the versions after NAV 2009 – versions 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and to the lastest version of the ERP system – Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018.
Improvements in the architecture
- Three-layer architecture
In older versions, the client directly connects to a SQL server without the NAV Server intermediate service. In this case, local machines are loaded because all calculations are done locally on the user’s computer. In the new versions, a triple-layer architecture is used with the intermediate level at which all operations are executed and, therefore, takes up the entire load. In this case, communication requires minimal Internet connectivity, and the third layer allows the flawless functioning of а web client, tablet client and phone client.
- Optimization of the architecture of dimensions
The architecture for storing dimensions in the database has been changed to generate and store fewer records that do not increase base size and slow down system performance, respectively.
A new field is added – the dimension number, and a new table in which these numbers are stored. Any combination of dimensions is stored under a specified number, and if the same combination of dimensions is used in another document, then the same number is inputted in the records. By saving the combination once in the database, the database space is preserved, and the overall performance improves.
- Redesign of posting
The design of the system has been changed to enhance the simultaneous work of multiple users and improve the accuracy of posting of different documents and journals. Thus, the tables are not locked down by users and the working process is not slowed down.
Unlike older versions, the interface structure has changed in new versions. The logic of the buttons itself is preserved, but there are new applications to facilitate user experience and subsequent integration. Some of them are:
- Search bar – a new search option in the menu
The search bar option is very useful – it enables the looking for a specific list or reference in the menu without having to remember where they are stored, unlike the old versions.
- Personalization by user
The new versions of Dynamics NAV provide the user with the ability to customize the interface to suit his/her needs by selecting which sections and buttons to be displayed, as well as customizing the menu itself. The users decide and visualize on screen the information that is most important to them at any given moment. Panels called Fact Box are also added, which provide infused information and again can be redefined or removed to suit your needs.
- Easier work with a role center
In the newer versions of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the interface can change in accordance with the role of a certain user in the company. It is possible to set up specialized profiles of employee groups in the company matching their role and rights.
- Card design
The change is related to how the sections are displayed while in NAV 2009 they are vertically positioned, in NAV 2013 and the newer versions are horizontally positioned and are also collapsible or expandable, displaying fields. In this way, the user can decide which information to visualize on the screen at a specific moment to concentrate on it, and to hide the unnecessary items. In this way we are provided with a a good layout of the working screen and more space to perform the needed operations.
In new versions of Dynamics NAV, sorting has been greatly improved. With a single click on a column, you can sort your customers – for example, to display the largest debtors – and get quick information.
- Save views as reports
Using filters in the system, we can directly export lists, which we can record as ready reports and use them if necessary.
- Export in Excel, Word, PDF
Added a standard option to export records and lists in the relevant applications.
- Export invoices by e-mail
In new versions, the system provides this opportunity both at the stage of posting and after posting.
- Saving views as charts
Each list of customers, items, suppliers can be visualized as a chart. Apart from lists, the diagrams can be made from specific tables or multiple tables and added to the homepage of the user’s own role center.
Better organization of item data
- Attributes Functionality
New versions of the ERP system offer better organization of items with hierarchy of categories and subcategories of items. Subcategories can be further defined in the main category. The Attribute functionality allows you to attach attributes to the category and subcategory that are directly inherited from the items when they are created, and so save time.
- Assembly Management
Removes the BOM journals used for billing of materials so far. Assembly orders are used in their place. Besides assembling for stock availability, it is possible to automatically assemble the items at the time of posting sales, i.e. on a specific sale order.
Automation of more features
- Categorization of accounts
Two new fields are added to the account card – category code and subcategory code. The idea of these fields is to automatically run system accounts through the chart of accounts related to assets, revenues, expenses. The benefits: you can get started quickly, because the setup is easy and understandable; it is painless to customize and link to reports like Balance sheet and Profit and Loss Statement.
- Currency conversion rates update
The system already offers the option to create a link with a certain bank website and automatically download the current exchange rates of the day It is possible through а service that needs to be set up on the system.
For management purposes:
- Cost Accounting Functionality
New versions of MS Dynamics NAV now allow you to allocate or redistribute current and budget expenditure on operations, documents, departments, projects, products to analyze the company’s profitability. This gives you far better visibility of the organization’s financial performance at any given time.
- Cash Flow Forecast Functionality
The new versions provide a tool that gives information about the company’s current and projected receivables and payables. The functionality allows the system to generate forecast operating income and costs and to calculate a cash deficit or surplus accordingly. Based on these results, the company may take appropriate action. The forecast may include records from accounting, sales and marketing, purchases and service.
Integrations with other Microsoft Business Solution products
One of the great advantages of new versions is integration with other Microsoft products such as Office365, Power BI, Microsoft Flow, Dynamics 365 for Sales and OCR. It seems that Microsoft will continue to unify and combine its products in future.
Specific features for the newer versions of Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Dynamics NAV 2017 provides the function of previewing accounting records prior to their posting and the ability to automatically create credit notes from a posted invoice.
Dynamics NAV 2018 allows you to make employee postings as salaries and expenses through journal free operations, journal payments, journal projects, accounting journal. Using User Tasks functionality, you can create tasks for yourself, other users, or other users of you.
I can continue to list further improvements in the new releases, but to decide whether the new solutions offer what you need, it’s best to see a live demonstration and test the various functionalities.
Upgrading Dynamics NAV is certainly not an easy decision, but if you consider the benefits that come with it, you will get the confidence to undertake this step. So, you need a clear plan of action and a reliable partner with whom to realize it. You will then find out that switching to a new version of your ERP system is worthwhile.
If you would like to know more about a specific new version of Dynamics NAV, contact me and I will do my best to answer all your questions.