When it comes to enterprise software, having an ERP in the cloud is nothing new. Much like the CRM world, there are a variety of SaaS offerings for managing your enterprise’s resources with minimal infrastructure investment (including Acumatica, our choice cloud-based ERP). Many businesses, however, are still resistant to even consider migrating this particular flavor of business application into the cloud.
To boot, many software providers have also been either slow or unwilling to adapt their solutions from being on-prem to being cloud-based. This has historically been the case with Microsoft; who had taken very small and incremental steps to making Microsoft Dynamics NAV anything but a traditional install-and-use platform.
However, with NAV 2016 this seems to be changing. The semi-usable NAV “Web Client” of yore has seen a reported 60+ improvements – and you don’t need a changelog to tell; it’s a lot more fluid and intuitive and is something very easy to get used to.
So I decided to put it to the test: as someone very adept at using the NAV Role-Tailored Client, could I use – really use – the NAV 2016 Web Client for a day and not completely lose my mind?
First Impressions of the NAV 2016 Web Client
At first blush, the home screen was a lot more muted and flat, relative to previous incarnations. Sure, it won’t be winning any beauty contests, but it shows as a more mature and self-assured product.
With the collapsed ribbon and familiar Role Center parts, the client is poised and ready for productivity. So, as any long-time NAV user, I move to top-right of my screen and use the search function to find the page I’m looking for.
Immediately I’m pleasantly surprised by the find-as-you-type enhancements – NAV uses the same fuzzy search logic to find all the different lists, tasks, reports, what-have-you, that match my criteria.
I play around with this for a while until the novelty wears off and decide to jump in and create a new sales document to emulate actual productivity.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’m blown away by how much thought Microsoft put into the actual flow of work when it comes to document-creation. When I click the Dynamics CRM-esque “New” button I’m greeted with all the glory of Web 2.0 – expandable FastTabs and a feature I wish the Role-Tailored Client had: cross-column search.
I tab my way through the variety of fields on the page and make my way to the lines, where cross-column search comes in handy again. This time, I thought I’d try just typing in the Unit Price and seeing what comes up:
Is it weird that I love the cross-column search feature this much?
Moving on, I decide to post the document and then see what printing looks like. I decide to print the document to PDF and see what that looks like. It works like a boss, outputting the invoice to PDF and opening within my browser proper.
I go on and click through and work with filtering in the Web Client and am content with the way it works – fairy easy and intuitive, but not entirely up-to-snuff versus the Role-Tailored Clients filter pane.
I was particular impressed by the personalization you can do on a page – you can re-sort columns and now actually show and hide columns in list views.
Very, very cool. Definitely huge leaps in the right direction!
After my “day” in the cloud (in the world of NAV consulting, that’s about an hour) I was very impressed with how far the product has come! Is it a 100% replacement for the Role-Tailored Client? No, but it’s a solid option for being productive in an install-less world. With the clear message from Microsoft that they are serious about integrating Office 365, CRM, and NAV in the cloud, I am actually a little giddy to see where the next iteration (Madeira) will take the Web Client.