Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 was released on 5 October 2015. This is now the third annual release in a row and Microsoft seem to be very comfortable about their annual release strategy. In fact, we have seen new enhancements like the Social Listening integration already in one of the monthly Cumulated Updates in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015.
This release is packed with new functionality and has a strong focus on mobility, automation and integration.
The new universal app delivers the familiar role-tailored experience on all devices, from tablets, notebooks and 2-in-1s, to desktop computers and smartphones, making it a truly universal app for Windows, Android and Apple OS. Any enhancements we do as a partner are instantly available as the app is fully powered by the Microsoft Dynamics NAV server. I already made use of the camera and GPS integration and added a field on the contact card so that the user can add a picture of a business card.
The most generic and significant enhancement in my opinion is the Workflow functionality. Previously, Workflows supported document approvals processes only, but now they can be used everywhere and for everything - like notifications, restrictions or automation of process steps.
Workflows are probably best illustrated by some examples. The NAV workflow follows the When-Then paradigm. When an event happens and it fulfils certain conditions then a response is created. A simple workflow pairs a single event and a response, for example: When a new customer is created, send an email message to the salesperson responsible for that region to alert them of the new customer. More complex workflows are built from chains of events and responses. For example: When a purchase invoice exceeds $250, put the purchase invoice on hold until it is approved by a manager. Or an example of an even more complex workflow and automation: When Purchase Invoice is released then post the invoice and create a payment line on a journal and send an email to a user. Endless use cases come to mind. Not all workflows might be available out-of-the-box but with help from your Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner they can be easily developed.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 includes several enhancements for integration with internet services. The currency exchange rate service, for example, automatically updates your exchange rates daily. Microsoft Dynamics NAV also now integrates with the Document OCR Scanning service from Lexmark. This service can send a PDF purchase invoice to the internet service and bring back all the information to generate a purchase invoice draft. All you need to do is review and post the invoice. Even better, up to 75 documents per month are free.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV integrates now natively to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft SharePoint. This means that data is directly represented in each other’s system rather than synchronising data between the applications.
If you bring all of these features together then you can see how Microsoft Dynamics NAV eases your business processes. Imagine your salesperson makes a picture of a receipt with his/her phone, which is sent to the Incoming Document folder in NAV and saved into SharePoint. A workflow kicks in and sends the image to the OCR service. Another workflow starts on receipt of the structured data from the OCR service and creates a journal line and notifies the sales manager for approval. Once approved, the journal gets automatically posted by a third workflow.
Cloud – The power of choice
Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers many deployment choices. It can be installed on your servers, hosted by an infrastructure partner or deployed on a virtual machine in Microsoft Azure. In addition, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 now fully supports Azure SQL. Rather than buying licenses for a Microsoft SQL Server, you have the choice to subscribe to a managed service. This is especially a good choice if you haven’t got the personnel or expertise to look after your SQL Server by yourself.
Azure SQL is an enterprise grade, full managed SQL Server with a SLA of 99.99%. It offers flexible performance levels and will scale automatically up and down within the agreed levels for your peak times. So you pay only for what you need on an hourly basis. Compare this to an on premise scenario, where you need to buy the hardware based on the worst case, even though most of the time all that extra capacity won’t be needed.
Madeira and the future
I travelled in October to Directions EMEA in Mannheim, Germany, and had a chance to have a sneak peek at future functionality. We will see much more integration with Office 365. For example, we will be able to open a Microsoft Dynamics NAV customer card or a sales quote directly within an email. No need to swap applications, which is a further step for increased productivity
The next version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV is already in the making and has the codename Madeira. Up until now all codenames of Microsoft Dynamics NAV were named after an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Madeira is the first island you encounter when leaving the Mediterranean Sea. It was about time to leave the Med, as in my opinion Microsoft Dynamics NAV is already en route to conquer the world of SMB-ERP!