What is Microsoft Dynamics NAV?

December 16, 2016 11:31 am Published by These all-encompassing terms reflect the software’s ability to address all operational areas of a business. Microsoft Dynamics NAV has functionality that addresses
  • Accounts
  • Inventory
  • Manufacturing
  • Jobs/Projects
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Human Resources
  • Payroll

Customers implement the areas that are applicable to their business or project’s needs. There is a wealth of material on the Microsoft website providing information on features available in the product. The aim of this paper is to provide a short overview of what the product is rather than lengthy lists of what the product does. This is unashamedly non-technical; technical papers for the product are available via the link above.

It’s an SME solution

The product is aimed at small to medium businesses (SMEs), typically supporting 5 to 300 concurrent users on a single site, often more in distributed systems. Companies looking for smaller systems would be better suited to Microsoft Enterprise or competitive products such as SageLine 50, Quickbooks, Access Accounts etc. Companies looking for bigger systems would be better suited to Microsoft Dynamics AX or competitive products such as SAP, Oracle etc. For more information please also see The Business Case for Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

For users familiar with Microsoft Office (and these days that typically means anyone who’s ever seen a computer) Microsoft Dynamics NAV is as easy to use. As a Microsoft product, Microsoft Dynamics NAV leverages Microsoft technologies such as SQL databases, integration with Office suite and other Microsoft technologies such as Sharepoint and SQL Server Reporting Services.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV developed from Navision

Unusually for a Microsoft product, Microsoft Dynamics NAV is open source. The reasons for this go back to its pre-Microsoft origins. Microsoft Dynamics NAV originated in Denmark, developed by a company called Navision a/s. The first Windows 32bt version was released in the mid-90s as Navision Financials. Typical of an early release, the software was light on functionality. This is a common dilemma for software developers looking to release the product and begin generating revenue. Most software companies overcome the problem of spreading the early development cost by authorising partners to develop add-ons that can be interfaced to the core product. Navision’s approach was different; they supplied source code.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is open source

The open source approach is the key differentiator and a major benefit for customers. Source code is loaded onto the customer’s server and any licensed organisation can access the code, including the customer if they so wish to purchase the required technical licence. This means the software can be further developed to meet the needs of each organisation. The development may be simple, cosmetic changes or may involve complex coding. Development takes place within the database and becomes part of that solution; there are no interfaces. Both the product and the channel were designed to support such specific developments. There is no ‘lock-in’ to any partner or version of the software.

In the UK there is often a dislike of ‘bespoke software’, and is therefore often the last option undertaken if no product fits. But no product does provide a ‘one size fits all’ solution; even with industry-specific software, there is always a compromise. If every company operated in the same way, how would they differentiate themselves from their competition? Navision was designed to be further developed to meet individual needs. In the mid-90s early versions made this a necessity, there simply wasn’t the depth of functionality. Today Microsoft Dynamics NAV v5.0 benefits from the extensive functionality you would expect from an established product and retains the flexibility to be further developed. Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers all the benefits of a bespoke fit with none of the drawbacks.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is functionality rich

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a functionally rich software solution for mid-market companies. It is also a partner channel where Microsoft Gold Partners such as TVision work with customers to implement a business solution that provides fit to processes with the flexibility to change as your business grows.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV was ‘born’ Navision Financials. As the range of standard functionality increased, the name changed briefly to Navision Solutions to reflect the fact that it was now much more than just a finance system. In 2000, following the merger of Navision a/s with another Danish software company, Damgaard, the name changed again to Navision Attain. Same product, different generations, different marketing strategies!

The Navision buyout

Microsoft bought Navision in 2002, establishing the Dynamics suite of six core products. Over 2 million people use a Dynamics product in their daily work; over 1 million of these are Microsoft Dynamics NAV users. Companies using Microsoft Dynamics NAV include recognisable household names as Ikea, Adidas and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The systems range from simple accounting solutions to complex manufacturing and supply chain management.  They enjoy a product that is easy to use, backed by the biggest software company in the world and supported by local partners.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss if Dynamics NAV is the right business solution for you.