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Microsoft Corporation — Microsoft Dynamics NAV

From the Dec. 2007 Review of
High-End Accounting Systems

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a strong player in the mid-market accounting software
lineup. NAV is a great choice for mid-size operations of larger organizations
or mid-size companies. NAV’s greatest client load consists of companies
with five to 500 employees. The multi-language and multi-site capabilities allow
NAV to compete internationally with competitors such as Accpac 500 ERP. NAV
is best suited for companies in the distribution and manufacturing industries.

Modules/Scalability – 5 Stars
Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers business solutions through components that include
Financial Management, Business Intelligence and Reporting, Supply Chain Management,
Project Management, Customer Relationship Management, Human Resource Management,
Languages, Manufacturing and Workspace Collaboration. Microsoft’s mid-market
ERP products all use a flat pricing model known as “Business Ready Licensing,”
where the products are sold in one of three pricing bundles or tiers consisting
of an entire suite of modules.

Tier one is the Business Essentials Edition for customers who need core financial
management and trade functionality that includes Basic Financial Management,
Basic Supply Chain Management, Basic Business Intelligence and Reporting, and
Configuration and Design tools. Tier two is the Advanced Management Edition
for growing, mid-market or high-functional needs customers who are looking for
an adaptive solution with a broad set of functionality. The Advanced Management
Edition includes all functionality in the Business Essentials Edition in addition
to Business Intelligence and Reporting, Manufacturing, Advanced Supply Chain
Management, Advanced Financial Management, Project Management, and CRM. Tier
three is Advanced Management Enterprise, which extends the Advanced Management
Edition with additional components that provide customers with complex needs
access to a rich set of advanced functionality that includes Advanced Manufacturing,
Advanced Project Management, CRM with Field Service, and Advanced Configuration
and Development Tools with source code access. Additional components are also
available a la carte for all editions to serve unique business needs.

Usability/User Experience/Security – 5 Stars
With the release of version 5.0, Microsoft introduced a variety of application
enhancements that focus on user flexibility and the user experience. Version
5.0 continues to build on that functionality by improving data sharing across
applications. Using a familiar user interface and increased integration with
other Microsoft products, Microsoft NAV 5.0 increases employee efficiency and
effectiveness. Tight integration with the Microsoft SharePoint server allows
users who are out of the office to access vital information from anywhere. With
the improvements offered in release 5.0 and even more on the way with 6.0 due
to be released in late 2008, Microsoft NAV is undeniably headed in the right

Data-entry screens are easy to use and easy to navigate. The integration with
Microsoft Office (especially Outlook, Excel and Word) gives the user tightly
integrated tools with which they are already familiar. Integration with Microsoft
Visio is also a nice feature; I especially liked the ability to create workflow
diagrams in the software for users to view and access. Those workflow diagrams
allow the user to visually see the flow of transactions through the entire process
if so desired. Dashboards are a nice touch, and they enhance the user experience,
as well.

Product security is satisfactory at all levels. NAV allows access to security-enhanced
information with reliable backup processes. Administrators can control security
by restricting users access to only those pieces of the software to which they
have permissions, and change Logs give Administrators the ability to monitor
changes to the system after the fact.

Extensibility – 5 Stars
Given the background of the core product and large independent developer community,
a great number of highly specialized applications currently exist to help make
Dynamics NAV a great choice for many different industries. These specialized
solutions can be easily located on the Microsoft Solution Finder website. Although
not necessarily specific to Dynamics NAV, Microsoft has invested considerably
over the past few years to help focus attention on several key vertical markets
where it believes its mid-market products are a particularly strong fit, including
Chemical Manufacturing, Consumer Packed Goods, Construction, Food & Beverage,
High Tech, Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, Public Administration, Specialty
Retail, and Wholesale Distribution.

Portals and collaboration is a strong theme in Microsoft’s vision of
how businesses should work to extend their workplace. Dynamics NAV can expose
your business applications to customers, to partners and to employees using
SharePoint Services. SharePoint, especially with Office 2007, provides a set
of services called the Office Business Application services that enable you
to connect transactional systems and really expose portals and collaborations.

Integration/Customization – 5 Stars
Dynamics NAV offers a variety of tools and methods for customizing the product
and integrating it with other Microsoft products. NAV works like and with the
Microsoft Office system programs people use every day, which helps them work
productively because they can access, use and share data and information without
switching applications or re-entering data. You can work in Microsoft Office
Excel spreadsheets, use Word formatting, synchronize with Outlook, exchange
data with Microsoft Biz Talk Server, and find maps and directions from right
inside the software using Windows Live Local Search. NAV’s integration
with Microsoft’s SQL Server streamlines a company’s business processes
from start to finish. Using Celenia CRM Connector, a third-party connection
component, users are able to connect valuable information stored in NAV with
sales-oriented CRM tools of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. CRM connector uses two-way
synchronization to provide consistent and current information.

Reporting – 5 Stars
NAV allows users to “own” their reports. Users can build and modify
reports to fit their needs at any specific time. The export functionality of
the reports allows greater flexibility in the presentation of company data.
Reports can be exported to any program that supports SQL Cubes. Business Analytics
is built in to NAV, giving users a structure for evaluating the data pulled
from system reports. The FRx suite of modules provides comprehensive GL financial
reporting. NAV’s reporting capabilities continue to be ahead of the curve,
and users will find them to go above and beyond what is necessary.

Support, Training & Help – 4.5 Stars
Two service plans are available for Microsoft Dynamics NAV: The Business Ready
Enhancement Plan and Deluxe Support Services. The Business Ready Enhancement
Plan gives you upgrades, updates, service packs, fixes and regulatory/tax updates.
Also included is unlimited online training (called E-Learning), which provides
classroom equivalent online training on specific topic areas such as product
modules. A wealth of written training materials as well as “what’s
new” training materials provide detailed training between product versions.
Users also have access to Customer Source, an authorized website that contains
a searchable knowledgebase, downloads, documentation, discussion boards, online
training, news and other features.

With the Deluxe Support Services option, users get a Deluxe Support Services
professional who will manage the user’s support relationship with Microsoft,
facilitate the escalation of support incidents and act as the user’s advocate
within Microsoft Dynamics. Also included is remote supportability review and
report, 10 support incidents, 24×7 support on severity one issues such as situations
like the user’s system being down, one-hour guaranteed response rate on
other support calls, a subscription to TechNet Plus, and a Deluxe Support Services

Customers must be enrolled in the Business Ready Enhancement Plan in order
to purchase Deluxe Support Services. The only concern I see is that you must
purchase the Deluxe Support Services option to obtain telephone support from
Microsoft. Without this purchase, the user’s telephone support will be
dependent on their Reseller.

Overall Assessment
Microsoft Dynamics NAV continues to be one of the strongest players in the mid-market
accounting software arena. NAV offers the look and feel of Windows, which users
will find very comfortable, and integration with other Microsoft products allows
users to be much more productive. The use of SharePoint Services extends the
desktop beyond the walls of the organization. In short, Microsoft Dynamics NAV
gives users the flexibility and power to support the needs of a growing business.

2007 Overall Rating: 5 Stars