Strengths of Microsoft Dynamics NAV
NAV is one of the few remaining "source code available" products on the market. Full business logic source code is available which allows vendors to tailor the product to your business needs. The development environment is also tailored to make upgrades of customized installations easy and efficient.
The development history (see below) is one of the significant strengths of the product. Keeping the product compact means fewer code issues, better stability, and better adaptability to complex environments. The ability to tailor the product is one of the most significant advantages of NAV.
Many mid-market companies have broad needs including service, warehousing, inventory, order entry, manufacturing, and basic accounting. Other mid-market products use third party functionality to meet these needs (warehousing, as an example, is frequently relegated to a third-party product like Radio Beacon). NAV provides a breadth of functionality not seen in many mid-market products.
The partner network is a tight-knit group, and many of the third-party products that have been fully integrated into Dynamics NAV work seamlessly together.
Weaknesses of Microsoft Dynamics NAV
The ability to customize any product can be a weakness, particularly if implementers tend to recommend customization before exploring out-of-the-box alternatives. If you are considering Dynamics NAV, determine up front what the vendor's tendancy is in this area. If you hear the response, "We can customize that!" too often, suspect that the vendor is relying on customization rather than business process revision.
Although many vendors customize NAV, it is important to realize that the depth and breadth of functionality in the product is significant. Be sure to consider carefully the features in the product before doing extensive customization.
Reports in Dynamics NAV are flexible and plentiful, but leave something to be desired in terms of appearance. Expect to invest in cosmetic changes to many of the customer-facing reports (invoices, credit memos, etc.). The newest versions of the product (Dynamics NAV 2009 and following) are moving to a reporting engine based on the Microsoft Visual Studio reporting engine. Many older reports do not take advantage of the features of this product, but the appearance of reports should improve significantly in future versions.
Brief Demonstration Videos
History of Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision)
For most mid-market software, history looks pretty much the same. This product is different. Dynamics NAV (Navision) daties back to Danish companies founded in the early 1980s. The current product's first shipping version (Navision 1.0) dates to approximately 1995.
Unlike many products in the mid-market, Dynamics NAV was completely reengineered in the early 1990s. While other companies were struggling to transition legacy DOS products and platforms to Windows, NAV was completely reengineered, including the development of an integrated database and development tool that contain many of the common features needed in an ERP and MRP application (for example, the ability to copy or "post" entries from a temporary file [journal] to a permanent file [ledger] or sum a column of numbers). Functions like this that would require many commands in a traditional programming language like C or C++ are built into the NAV development tool making the programming code very compact, easy to modify, and stable.
This development philosophy resulted in a product broad in functionality and easily adapted to the needs of distribution, manufacturing, and service companies.
Data Guidance Group, Inc. is a reseller partner for Microsoft Dynamics NAV.