Can the Dynamics NAV 2016 web client be the only client?

Over the Christmas break we finally got around to upgrading my company's internal Microsoft Dynamics NAV system to 2016, pretty late this time but we wanted to refactor some of the customisation to use events and our clients took priority, we finally got there. As part of that we decided to try internally what we had been suggesting should be a viable strategy to our customers which was to only use the web client rather than any full windows clients.

How did that work out for us? Well we failed and although I was pretty insistent that people give it a thorough go, there where three consistent issues that eventually forced me to deploy the windows client. What where they?

Advanced filters, column selection & creating saved views

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to discover the extent to which filters are used within NAV. They have always been NAV's most important feature – making the product really powerful and flexible.  The cross column quick filter in the web client actually enhances that for simple enquiries but the lack of being able to select multiple fields and set the precise filter against them drove them mad. Again I hadn’t appreciated how often they were saving those filters to a view and then repeatedly selecting it before then deleting it a creating a different one. All our consultants create saved views for the project they are working on at that time, deleting them when they are complete for instance. The web client allows you to use a saved view but does not allow you to create and delete one.

Similarly the "choose columns" is there in the web client now but you cannot change the order they are shown in or change the ‘quick entry’ flag. This means that if you haven’t got it exactly right in the default profile then they cannot change it to their individual preference. Not something our people where able to accept.


No flow filters

The feature NOT available in the web client that broke my resistance first was that it doesn’t support flow filters. The end of December is our year end so it was minutes into the new year before our accounts team were trying to set a date filter to finalise our 2015 figures. And they couldn’t which pretty much made it game over there and then. Again flow filters are and always have been one of Dynamics NAV’s secret weapons. Not everyone needs them, but every power user does and that means a web client only deployment is still doomed to fail.

No departments menu suite

You have the option to search  in the web client now for the pages and reports you need but that requires you remembering the precise wording of what they are named. In reality do people remember – no. Whereas the guide of sorting through the menusuite and selecting from the options help them find it. I was surprised how much flack I got about not having this option in the web client but it was the most missed by the most people. 

Conclusion – you need a mixture of clients

You cannot use just the web client across your entire organisation just yet in our experience. Sure, for maybe the majority of users you can and for those you should. The benefits of how having any local software are great but currently for your power users there are a few features the web client doesn’t have that mean you’ll have questions you won’t have an answer for if you try. My conclusion is that for now, you need a mixture.