The latest version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV – NAV 2017 – enhances existing core functionality and adds new features such as integrations and intelligence capabilities that improve the overall user experience.
NAV 2017 adds features that users have been asking for, including item attributes, simplification of jobs and vendor approval workflow. This release also includes important system enhancements, such as contextual notifications and embedded Power BI. And, deeper integration with Outlook and Excel brings key business applications closer together, extending the Office 365 experience.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most important Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 features. And, we’ll also share the views of NAV experts. They will review the features that are most relevant to Microsoft Dynamics NAV users and developers according their experience. The experts will also discuss the direction that the future development of the NAV platform could take.
Top features of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017
Here are just some of the top features of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017. They make it easier for users to carry out day-to-day tasks and improve productivity and accuracy. Clearer presentation, improved workflows and greater integration make NAV 2017 an important tool for enhancing the user experience.
As well as providing pre-defined attributes, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 allows NAV users to create custom item attributes and assign their own attribute values. This makes it easier to manage items. Users can view item all standard and custom attributes in a fact box on the item card or item list pages. They can also filter your items based on their attribute values. This will help sales and purchasing teams speed up item searches. Within the Item attributes module there is increased support for web and retail stores.
Simplification of jobs
NAV 2017 streamlines the job experience with an updated Project Manager role center and new wizards that make it easier set up jobs, or enter timesheets and job journals. Now, NAV users can quickly access common tasks, create new charts or set up a new ‘My Jobs’ list. By using the new Job Quote report, users can quickly email customers with the price for a project.
New workflow templates
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 comes with an increased number of workflows out of the box, including:
- Vendor approval
- Item approval
- Item price change approval
Improved Office 365 experience
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 is integrated with Outlook and Excel to extend the Office 365 experience. NAV users can create and send documents to their business contacts directly from Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Bookings. Integration with Excel means users can access all their financial data and use the application’s charting and data analytics functionality. If users add or delete records, it’s easy to keep the database up to date and maintain compliance by publishing changes direct to the Microsoft Dynamics NAV database.
Embedded Power BI
Power BI, Microsoft’s powerful analytics tool, is now embedded in Dynamics NAV. Users can use its features to create informative, visually stunning charts and reports, and share the content in any role center.
NAV 2017 offers a number of enhancements across its Windows, web, tablet and smartphone clients. Contextual notifications now appear at the top of pages, not in pop-ups, and provide guidance for completing a task. Notifications can alert users to information such as stock availability of an Item they are selling or a customer exceeding their credit limit. NAV users can take action directly from that notification, such as raising a new purchase order for the out-of-stock item.
Another important enhancement is the use of Bricks, which provides an alternative display to classic rows in all lists. Bricks flow naturally to fill the available space and are a more compact representation of a record. Lists can be displayed as a series of picture thumbnails, each representing a record. Users can toggle between wide and tall bricks, and display small or large thumbnails.
In The NAV People video You can see the demonstration of Top 5 Dynamics NAV 2017 features
The experts’ opinions
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 has many other useful features. To get an expert view on what’s important from the user and developer perspective, let’s hear from three experienced NAV specialists.
Users and customers who upgrade to NAV 2017 will appreciate the new improved web client and smart notification system. I think that the NAV web client will be the most-used client very soon, like Dynamics 365. They will also appreciate integration with Office 365 (the Outlook integration is a great feature for Salesforce) and integration with Power BI reports. The attributed articles and the improved media support through Mediaset type will be popular too.
My favorite feature for my clients is definitely the new Task Scheduler. It is much more robust than the old Job Scheduler and uses a logic similar to UNIX CRONTAB with process control. I’ve written several posts on this topic in the past and open many support cards on the subject. From my point of view, the next complete transition from C/AL code to AL for VS Code is the most interesting development.
I think one of the most useful things Microsoft have done from NAV 2016 – 2017 is to improve the user experience for the end users. The majority of the screens we use every day have been cleaned up so there isn’t too much information presented to the user when they are navigating around the system.
If you compare an Item Card from 2016 to 2017, it’s hugely different and it’s a huge improvement. That’s not a challenging thing to fix, but it’s great to see that they have spent time in hiding fields, hiding buttons and adding tool tips to actions as well. It will make a big difference for new NAV users.
From the development side I’m excited to see where they keep going with the development previews and, in particular, the page designer. I think, once that functionality is out properly in the future, that will be a great tool to have.
I’d like to see them continue to invest time in effort in the web client as they want to close the bridge between that and the desktop client. The web client is great (especially compared to its first versions) but I’m looking forward to seeing it improve every NAV release. With the release of NAV 365 as well, I think NAV will benefit greatly from that due to the changes they made for both applications. The Outlook integration is fantastic. It wows every customer I show it to so I’m excited to take advantage of further Office integration in the future.
Domas Kudzevičius, experienced and certified Dynamics NAV project manager Simplanova
This year Microsoft has introduced many more high-end features, including the potential to use Cortana Intelligence for forecasting, Power BI for analysis, and better integration with Office 365. This definitely adds value for the business.
From my experience, one thing that end-users notice immediately after upgrading to NAV 2017 is the notification handling interface. It’s much more user-friendly than the annoying pop-up one-by-one error messages. Now the user gets a stack of all errors in one go, which saves time and patience.
If we are looking at NAV 2017 from the developer’s perspective, the most important thing to mention is Extensions. In the previous version (NAV 2016) it was a feature that was barely usable because of its limitations. Now, with NAV 2017, Microsoft has expanded the potential of Extensions and even provided separate tools for development of Extensions. I believe Extensions will be important to the future of NAV. It will help maintain customizations more easily during upgrades, and implementation of custom solutions will become a much simpler process.
Positive developments in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017
As the experts point out, Microsoft has improved the user experience with enhancements to the clients, improved notifications and greater integration with Office 365. Powerful features like embedded Power BI and support for Cortana Intelligence will help improve business performance. From the developer’s perspective, the improvements to Extensions and page design tools are important.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 has delivered many positive improvements and benefits for users and developers. By concentrating on user experience and great tools for developers, we hope future releases will continue this positive trend.