SAN DIEGO, Mar. 12, 2007 – At Convergence 2007, the annual event for Microsoft Dynamics customers and partners, the company today announced the upcoming availability of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0, expected on Mar. 31, 2007. From the beginning of the development process, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 has been designed to work with familiar programs such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services to help teams and individuals work more efficiently, integrate with existing systems, fuel business productivity and make sound decisions quickly.
To learn more about the upcoming release, the development process and the challenges that Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 helps customers address, PressPass spoke with Mogens Elsberg, general manager, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, who has overseen the development and delivery of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0.
PressPass: What are some of the more noteworthy feature advancements in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0?
Elsberg: Overall, the advancements in this release are in three core areas: we’ve strengthened the entire solution with new and enhanced application functionality, we’ve added new integration capabilities with Microsoft Office and other Microsoft software and technologies, and we’ve made improvements to the overall core technology that will help improve the developer experience and boost partner productivity.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 includes several areas of new and enhanced application functionality that will serve to drive productivity by streamlining business processes. These include Sales and Purchase Document Approval, Prepayment, Intercompany Purchase Cost Distribution, Inventory Costing, Item Tracking, Jobs and Service Order Handling.
Additionally we have worked hard to maximize the benefits that Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 users can gain through integration with other Microsoft products and technologies. For example, the solution has very deep integration with Microsoft Outlook that enables users to complete daily tasks within one program and have the data synchronized in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 and Microsoft Outlook.
Another key feature is Record Links. Companies often have a lot of relevant information they need to refer to in formats such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel documents or on Web sites. In Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0, Record Links allows users to add links to any Web site or file stored on a document management system such as Microsoft SharePoint.
And thanks to integration to online maps such as Windows Live Local Search, users can click a button next to the relevant address in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, on the customer card, for example, see the address highlighted in the on-screen map, and follow the simple driving directions.
We have also made significant productivity improvements to our core technology and have integrated our Rapid Implementation Methodology (RIM) -- which now forms part of Sure Step, a methodology that uses models of a company to make deployments and configurations much more predictable -- directly into the solution. This provides our partners a clear implementation blueprint to work from, so they can more effectively plan their own resource requirements, and offer their customers a straightforward and well-defined implementation path, with no surprises along the way.
PressPass: What was the development process for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0?
Elsberg: There were many things we did while developing this release. Most important was our early feedback and input mechanisms, which helped ensure that our development direction was being set by appropriate stakeholder feedback. We took a traditional approach in terms of getting input from customers and partners. We did this by creating a structured online feedback forum, to gain detailed responses from stakeholders. We predicate our development on customer needs, so this insight proved to be extremely valuable.
The more non-traditional aspect of this process was what we call the Customer Model, which is a very extensive research project where we took a very close look at users and the roles they played in the companies using our solution. We identified 60 roles. This research formed the backbone of the RoleTailored approach that Microsoft Dynamics is taking in developing and delivering leading business management solutions.
PressPass: What are some of the benefits that Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 will bring to Microsoft’s partners? What has the feedback been so far?
Elsberg: There is new and enhanced application functionality in many areas of the product, which enables partners to offer solutions that drive business value for their customers by streamlining their business processes. An example of this is in the area of supply chain and inventory management, with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 offering sophisticated inventory costing and item-tracking capabilities.
The deep integration of Microsoft Office with other Microsoft products also represents a further strengthening of one of our partners’ most powerful differentiators – the ability for them to offer their customers a seamless experience working across the Microsoft platform. There are also great opportunities for partners to build extensions to the product, and new and improved ways to build vertical solutions.
The feedback from the partners who have been involved in our technical preview program has been overwhelmingly positive, and I can give you a couple of examples to highlight what their thoughts have been. Tina Thomsen, CEO of Denmark-based TopSolutions, has told us that “The tight integration [of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0] with Microsoft Office provides the individual information worker with unprecedented freedom in accessing and working with Microsoft Dynamics NAV data from their environment of choice. Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 allows the information worker to focus on what to get done rather than how, through its continually improved core features.”
And Allen Beck, president and CEO of Beck Consulting has told us that: “The upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 shows a tremendous development effort not only for the product we love, but to the existing and potential market as well. The level of integration with the complimentary Microsoft product line showcases Microsoft’s commitment to technology and productivity.”
We really value the strong relationships we have with our partners and we are looking forward to working with them on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 business.
PressPass: Customization is a key trend for ERP systems for 2007. How does Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 contribute in this area?
Elsberg: Customization has been a keystone for over a decade for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The fact that there is a development environment built-in and the ability to customize anything has provided a very compelling product.
In the development process, being able to retain flexibility and ease of use of the product – the two main enablers of customization – is without doubt always a key priority for us. We see it as one of our major product strengths - the product has won several awards for this and has earned the reputation in the market that “Microsoft Dynamics NAV equals customization and simplicity.”
PressPass: How is Microsoft Dynamics NAV faring against its competitors?
Elsberg: Against local competitors, in what are typically very fragmented markets, the stability and long-term investment commitment of Microsoft is a major differentiator. But when you look at our growth, which is significantly higher than the market’s overall growth rate, we consider this a very clear indication of our solution’s ability to compete.
The close integration that our solution possesses with other Microsoft products is also a compelling competitive advantage. Finally, our partners bring vertical-specific technology and expertise into play. That’s very important to our customers, who aren’t just buying products; they’re investing in long-term business solutions.
PressPass: When you speak with customers who use Microsoft Dynamics NAV, what are some of the primary challenges they rely on the product to address?
Elsberg: Integration is definitely a key one, as I’ve discussed above. And Microsoft Dynamics NAV can be implemented easily, affordably and rapidly, avoiding ‘project-creep.’
We’ve all heard stories about ERP implementations that took much longer and cost much more than anyone originally anticipated, so we strive to make it a predictable, and as much as possible, an enjoyable experience for them.
We truly believe that with RIM and Sure Step there is now no reason for any customers who choose Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 to have anything other than a smooth and predictable implementation process.