Dynamics NAV – beware standard integrations!

Beware! “Yes we’ve integrated before with Navision”

Here are the answers you need to know.

So as a Dynamics NAV systems architect, clients often tell me “we’ve decide on a new XYZ system but don’t worry, they say they’ve integrated with Navision before”. Cue alarm bells big time. Bet it’s their sales person saying that and they are not agreeing a fixed price that includes any Dynamics NAV side work.

With over 120,000 licences out there and countless more companies (often one licence is used for a whole group) selling into companies using Dynamics NAV is a big, attractive market. The less scrupulous vendors tell you they have an interface, when in reality they exported a CSV file that was subsequently imported in Dynamics NAV once many years ago. They count on the fact that by the time you find out that its not what you need, you will have implemented their product and hopefully paid them making it too late to change your mind. When they call it Navision it’s another clue that they haven’t done much with it since the early 2000’s, when it changed its name to Dynamics NAV.

So that means you should get answers to the following questions before you make any commitment:

  • Does your interface have Microsoft’s Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD) Status?
    • If it does then who is the publishing Dynamics Partner responsible and is your Dynamics Partner authorised by and proven to work with them?
  • If not CFMD (Certified for Microsoft Dynamics) status then development questions
    • How many current customers do they have that use their product with NAV?
    • What versions of NAV does the interface support and what’s the upgrade commitment for the annual new NAV versions?
    • What Dynamics NAV development objects are required (so you can add the cost of the purchase and maintenance of those onto whatever there solution costs).
    • What are the object ID’s of those objects so that you can check you aren’t already using those ID’s and therefore have the costs of renumbering either the interface or your existing customisation.
    • What standard NAV objects (ideally none) does the interface change?
    • Do they have a document that gives a technical explanation of the interface?
    • In their experience how long does it take to implement the interface in Dynamics NAV and who will be responsible for the project? If they say them they are mad and don’t know what they are doing AND it could invalidate your support agreement with your partner.
  • How does the system exchange information?
    • What technique is used to pass data
      • Web services?
        • What security authentication does it use to access NAV?
        • Does it support Office 365 single sign on if you use it?
      • Polling of files?
        • Polling by NAV or their system?
        • If file what type, XML or good old CSV?
      • Confirm there is no direct SQL access required
    • Does their system continue to run if the Dynamics NAV system is offline?
  • What are the ‘touch points’ to your Dynamics NAV system?
    • If you are not on a 2013 or above version what are the prerequisite Dynamics NAV granules required?
    • Whatever version you are on, what are the mandatory data requirements within Dynamics NAV and do you use them?
    • Does it create any restrictions within Dynamics NAV, for example, only supporting standard costing or making certain pricing or discount types unusable?
    • If it replaces a process in Dynamics NAV (forecasting systems that raise purchase orders, ecommerce systems that create invoices) will it mean that those transactions have limited data and will that impact any other processes or reporting that you do?
    • What Dynamics licences does the system need? If it feeds information into Dynamics NAV, for instance, can it be run with a Limited User licence or does it need a Full Licence. Potentially a system that posts something to the general ledger will need a full licence for every user of that external system which might be a big potential extra cost.
  • How will we test that this doesn’t require us to radically change our processes?
    • Do they have a test or training setup they can give us access to that includes Dynamics NAV so we can try it?
    • Do they have training documentation? Who will teach you how it works?
    • Do you have Dynamics NAV certified people we can talk to and on your support help line?
    • Can we talk to some existing customers who also run NAV similar to us?

I’m sure there are some questions I’ve forgotten but that should do for starters. My other strong advice is you should involve your Dynamics NAV experts, be they internal or external, as early as possible. That is unless you fancy manually rekeying all the information because the promised interface turns out not to be compatible with either your version of NAV or the way your systems configured!