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!

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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