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.

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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.

Author: James Crowter

I’m passionate about how businesses can improve their efficiency by getting process optimal more of the time. For the last twenty five years I’ve worked to help organisations of all sizes and types implement the ERP & CRM software that typically they decide they need when things are going wrong. I’ve seen that work unbelievably well and enabled those organisations to rapidly grow but I’ve also had some hard projects over that time where it’s felt more like warfare at times. Since 1996 (and version 1.01) I’ve been working with a small Danish product called Navision that’s now become Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV and I’ve also been using and consulting around Microsoft CRM since 2005. As managing Director of one of the longest established first Navision and now Microsoft Dynamics partners I’ve been involved in the complete history including numerous product councils and system design reviews. It’s my privilege to know many of the key Microsoft executives and product designers and have insight into both where the products are now and their future direction. So colleagues & clients have asked me to start this blog to share some of the insight that both this knowledge (obviously where not restricted by NDA’s or client confidentiality) and experience can help. Specifically I want to concentrate not on the specifics of how (there are some great blogs already for that) but why. If any user helps their business make better decisions or consultant can give better advice then that will be objective achieved. I founded Technology Management in 1992 and have led from the front ever since. Helping clients use technology to grow their business is my passion through explaining technology in terms that everyone can understand. My interest in computing began at the age of eight, long before my school had the equipment to cope. Throughout school and university I developed software commercially. I hold many IT certifications, such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV (for over 17 years), Microsoft Dynamics CRM (for over 10 years), as well as Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange and SQL. In October 2015, I was awarded the title of Most Valuable Professional (MVP), a title given to a select few individuals (31 currently) across the world specifically for Dynamics NAV. After years of working with a range of distribution and manufacturing software for hundreds of organisations, I focus on understanding the business requirements of an organisation, what it will take to deliver the systems required to maximise their potential. Follow me online via my other social channels: - Twitter: @jamescrowter - LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jamescrowter Or email me directly at james[.]crowter[@]tecman.co.uk.

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