In February this year, the Microsoft Dynamics Global Product Management Team in Copenhagen asked us if we could create a demo solution featuring the new SharePoint client for NAV in time for EMEA Directions 2012, taking place in Rome, Italy April 25-27th. Directions is the annual NAV conference “by partners for partners” and with the intense buildup to the release of NAV 7 this year, the conference was completely SOLD OUT – with the number of participants doubling since last year.
NAV 7, or NAV 2013 as it will be called officially, will ship with a new SharePoint client called the NAV Portal Framework (NPF) that will access to virtually any NAV function from within SharePoint. The demo concept Microsoft asked Catapult to build was to create a custom branded demo system, leveraging the new Metro theme currently being developed by the Microsoft user experience team.
The entry point for the demo solution is a CFO home page that blends SharePoint and ERP data with graphs and data visualization, allowing the user to
- Drill down to a workspace with more specific financial data and from there launch a NAV sales invoice web part ( source NAV 7 ). The underlying business transactions can be performed and data are updated in the NAV 7 back end.
- The home page also showcases collaboration centered on bank reconciliation with workflow, timelines and notifications, allowing the CFO to easily spot from the home page the status of the task.
- Data visualization showing NAV generated KPI’s on the NAV Portal Framework homepage in a carousel view
When I stand back and reflect a bit on this project, it brings me back to 2002 when Microsoft invested in ERP and I can’t say back then that I was convinced this was a good thing. Fast forward 10 years and quite a few versions later, I see it clearly. It makes perfect sense because the tools we have now (NAV 7 with NFP) allow organizations to deploy business solution across multiple interfaces and we rarely meet with companies where SharePoint is not a critical part of the information flow at this stage.
It was absolutely fantastic to see this project unfold within Catapult. The project team consisted of a Designer, UE developer, SharePoint Analyst, NAV developer and NAV functional consultant – and at first it was like the whole group spoke in different languages. In the first release of the NAV 7 NPF we expect that building functionally rich solutions will require cross-functional expertise. That’s why you see the all the different people on the project team. This will undoubtedly change with future releases when NAV skills will allow you to configure the SharePoint client.
After diving right into the details of NAV 7 and the tools available, people with different specialties started being aligned and started to understand the concept of the solution – which to me was the best indication of how powerful it is. It empowers people and helps people them make smarter decisions.
It was awesome to hear Dan Brown share his insight into the direction of the product, knowing that we will get to play a part in defining the roadmap. When we get back from Italy we’ll begin working on an enhanced version to hit the stage at Microsoft WPC in Toronto this July. I feel like a little kid, bursting with excitement about what’s in store with the next few generations of Microsoft Dynamics NAV.