Microsoft Dynamics NAV is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) app from Microsoft. The product is part of the Microsoft Dynamics family, and intended to assist with finance, manufacturing, customer relationship management, supply chains, analytics and electronic commerce for small and medium-sized companies and local subsidiaries of large international groups. For modifications of the system, the proprietary programming language C/AL is used.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV has been superseded by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV originates from Navision, a suite of accounting applications which Microsoft acquired in 2002.
Navision originated at PC&C A/S (Personal Computing and Consulting), a company founded in Denmark in 1984. PC&C released its first accounting package, PCPlus, in 1985—a single-user application with basic accounting functionality. There followed in 1987 the first version of Navision, a client/server-based accounting application that allowed multiple users to access the system simultaneously. The success of the product prompted the company to rename itself to Navision Software A/S in 1995.
The Navision product sold primarily in Denmark until 1990. From Navision version 3 the product was distributed in other European countries, including Germany and the United Kingdom.
In 1995 the first version of Navision based on Microsoft Windows 95 was released.
In 2000, Navision Software A/S merged with fellow Danish firm Damgaard A/S (founded 1983) to form NavisionDamgard A/S. In 2001 the company changed its name to "Navision A/S".
On July 11, 2002 Microsoft bought Navision A/S to go with its previous acquisition of Great Plains. Navision became a new division at Microsoft, named Microsoft Business Solutions, which also handled Microsoft CRM.
In 2003 Microsoft announced plans to develop an entirely new ERP system (Project Green). But it later decided to continue development of all ERP systems (Dynamics AX, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL). Microsoft launched all four ERP systems with the same new role-based user-interface, SQL-based reporting and analysis, SharePoint-based portal, Pocket PC-based mobile clients and integration with Microsoft Office.
In September 2005 Microsoft re-branded the product and re-released it as Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
In October 2013, Microsoft released Dynamics NAV 2013, which was available with the RTC only, and introduced support for 64-bit Windows operating systems as well as a redesign of storing dimension sets, interoperability with SharePoint, and a web client.
In October 2014, Microsoft released Dynamics NAV 2015. This version's improvements feature the tablet client, document reporting using Microsoft Word, Bank Integration, and more.
In October 2015, Microsoft released NAV 2016 features enhancements in reporting and email integration, deferral accounting, and posting preview function.
Microsoft continues to invest in Dynamics NAV and is now on an annual release cycle.
The product itself has gone through several name changes over the time. Initially "Navigator" was used in Denmark, although most Danish users knew it as "IBM-Navigator", as IBM distributed the software. Internationally it was sold as "Navision", except in the U.S., where it was called "Avista". The names "Navision Financials", "Navision Solutions", "Navision Attain", "Microsoft Business Solutions - Navision Edition", and—as of 2014—"Microsoft Dynamics NAV" (pronounced [næv] or, contrary to standard rules of reading shortened words, [en ei 'vi:], except in the U.S. where most customers simply say "nav"—short for "Navision") have all been used to refer to this product.
Windows based Navision versions from 1.00 onwards were:
Navision Financials 1.00
Navision Financials 2.00
Navision Financials 2.50
Navision Financials 2.60
Navision Financials 2.65: Introducing the NAS (Navision Application Server)
Navision Solutions 3.00
Navision Attain 3.01
Navision Attain 3.10
Navision Attain 3.60
Microsoft Business Solutions Navision 3.70
Microsoft Business Solutions NAV 4.00
Dynamics NAV 5.00
Dynamics NAV 2009: ("6.00") 2009, 2009 SP1, 2009 R2
Dynamics NAV 2013: ("7.00") 2013, ("7.1") 2013 R2
Dynamics NAV 2015: ("8.00") 2015
Dynamics NAV 2016: ("9.00") 2016
Dynamics NAV 2017: ("10.00") 2017
Dynamics NAV 2018: ("11.00") 2018, ("12.00) 2018 R2
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: ("13.00")
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Spring Release: ("14.00")
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Wave 2: ("15.00")
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Wave 1 2020: ("16.00")
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Wave 2 2020: ("17.00")
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Wave 1 2021: ("18.00")
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Wave 2 2021: ("19.00")
Before NAV 2013, Microsoft Dynamics NAV gave administrators the option of using either a native database server or Microsoft SQL Server, as the DBMS. SQL Server is now the exclusive database option for NAV. Retiring the old "Native database" has given way to long-awaited improvements in reducing/eliminating database locking, which can occur when hundreds or thousands of users are using the same data at once.
Document reporting in NAV 2013 is based on the RDLC 2008 format (RDLC 2010 in NAV 2013 R2). Reports are edited partly in the NAV Development Environment and Visual Studio. NAV 2013 R2 includes a free report editor. Any reports will render in either Screen preview, PDF, Word or Excel formats, depending on the users needs.
NAV 2013 also supports the OData format. With OData support in NAV 2013, Excel pivoting can now be done without knowledge to SQL specifics, limited to only those fields available for RTC views.
Running NAV on SQL has made it possible to use MS Excel PowerPivot to access all data in NAV via SQL login. But with OData support in NAV 2013, Excel pivoting can now be done without knowledge of SQL specifics, thus giving 100% access to filter any data in NAV, with no restrictions. (Versions 2009 R2 and later allow the default restriction of 5,000 records to be changed via editing a config file.)
With NAV 2009, Microsoft introduced a completely new client interface named the RoleTailored Client (abbreviated RTC). The RTC allows tailoring the NAV experience by individual users, based on their job responsibilities, through toolbar/menu layouts called Profiles and homepages called Roles. In one-person offices this can be a disadvantage as users must re-login, after changing their Role or by configuring a different user name/profile, to access the varying RTCs they would want to use. In multi-person offices, in the absence of either of these options, it can lead to confusion when attempting to help individuals who may have wildly different screen layouts and settings. Roles are assigned either per user or by groups. Individual users can customise their toolbar and navigation pane, or administrators can customise the layouts for all users in a given Profile; they can then disable individual customisation for users in that Profile. Some levels of customisation are only available through the NAV Development Environment.
The NAV client interface previously available in versions 5 and older was retained in NAV 2009, but renamed the Classic Client, making NAV 2009 the only "hybrid" version, offering both the Classic and the RTC interface.
While the Classic Client supports both Native and SQL databases, the RoleTailored Client requires a SQL database. Additionally, SQL database logins are not supported with the RoleTailored Client.
In October 2012, Microsoft released NAV 2013, which discontinued support for the Classic Client. The RoleTailored Client has been renamed the Windows Client. Additionally, a built-in Web Client and SharePoint Client were added. The Web Client does not require any special add-ins and works on computers and mobile devices alike. The report-building and database access that had been previously available with the Classic Client is still available and used as development tool to modify the system by customers and by a reseller (consultant).
Relative to Microsoft's other 3 ERP products, the Dynamics NAV's sector is for small distribution and manufacturing companies that want more than "out of the box" functionality. Very few installations are actually made "out of the box" as all sales of the product are through Microsoft-approved resellers who base their entire businesses on how many consulting hours they can apply to any given installation. The solution has a standard feature set, but it can also be thought of as an "ERP System construction set" if, at the end of the installation, you want to end up with every erector piece that was in the box still attached to your system. A better analogy would be to think of the NAV program as a 4'x8' sheet of pegboard, with 4,600 evenly spaced holes. It is used to cover various sized company boxes, ranging in size from shoebox, through pizza box, knockdown furniture box, up to double-doored refrigerator box. No matter the size box the underlying company is, the 4'x8' sheet of pegboard remains the same. It then becomes the reseller's job to link up whichever pegholes are needed to the specific company under the interface. They may not need all of the holes; some company boxes may need less than 1,000 links, but all of the holes remain visible to the end-user after the installation is complete. The Pascal-like development language is easily accessible to appropriate developers and is designed for rapidly customizing the software.
In first quarter of 2014 NAV reached 102,000 current customers. An increase of 8,000 in under a year.
As a native international ERP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV is available with 43 official localizations and several unofficial ones (provided by local partners).
The NAV solution is also compliant with IAS/IFRS.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV delivers integrated functionality to provide support for:
- Financial management
- Supply chain management
- Customer relationship management
- Sales and marketing
- Service management
- Human resource management
- Project & Resource management
- Warehouse management
The Microsoft Dynamics NAV software is composed of three major components:
The Application Server (starting from NAV 2009 RTC), a service that controls all aspects of Microsoft Dynamics NAV's operation
The Client(s), the actual user interface into Microsoft Dynamics NAV. NAV 2013 includes three clients:
- Windows client
- SharePoint client
- Web client
NAV 2015 further introduced a Tablet Client
NAV 2016 introduced a Phone Client, Tablet Client
Microsoft Dynamics NAV uses a concurrent user licensing model only.
In 2006, Microsoft introduced the "Business Ready License" (BRL) model. The customer purchases user sessions, which have access to certain parts of the system included. There are two types of user—Business Essentials (BE) and Advanced Management (AM); AM provides access to more functionality than BE. Under the previous licensing model, "Module Based License" (MBL), users came with no functionality—this all had to be bought separately. Microsoft offers a path for customers to transition from MBL to BRL licensing.
With the arrival of NAV 2013, Microsoft introduced a new licensing model called "Perpetual Licensing", which considerably simplifies the pricing structure. With Perpetual Licensing, customers license the Solution functionality and access to that functionality is secured by licensing users. User licenses are of two types: Full User or a very discounted Limited User. The full user has access to the entire system, where as the Limited user only has read access to the system, except write access key tables such as Time sheets, Warehouse Pick and Commenting plus any three extra tables of choice. The Limited user is "concurrent" and with 2013 is trust based, as of version 2013r2 the limited user licensing is checked.
In addition to the base product, Add-ons are sold by ISV's. Because the base program has to focus on generic versions of business cases, software products supplementing/modifying NAV functionality are required, sold and distributed as NAV Add-ons, to improve functionality of NAV system or make it applicable in some business spheres.
There are vertical and horizontal add-on solutions. Horizontal add-on solutions supplement one of the NAV functions or add new function (e.g. financial management, human resources management etc.). Vertical (or industry-specific oriented) add-ons expand NAV functionality to support some industry (e.g. health care, brewery, financial services etc.) The majority of add-on solutions are multilingual with most supporting English.
Utilities are another form of add-on for Microsoft Dynamics NAV that make the resellers' jobs simpler. Utilities are small software modules used by Microsoft Dynamics NAV programmers and database administrators, to make their jobs more convenient and effective. Also it makes program development and implementation processes faster and the cost lower for the resellers.
NAV CfMD (Certified for Microsoft Dynamics)
With NAV 2013, producing and maintaining Add-on solutions for NAV has become more expensive, since acquiring an exclusive NAV object number range is expensive, unless the solution gets certified. Solutions will have to be certified with every non-minor release of NAV, which happens once a year from NAV 2013 and onwards.
NAV CfMD is an exhaustive quality check of the entire software solution. This helps ensure the quality of the NAV Add-on solutions.