10 features to look forward to in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 R2
Microsoft took the wraps off its upcoming release of Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 recently at the Directions EMEA conference, September 2-4 in Vienna, Austria. Members of the Catapult team were fortunate to attend the event with about 850 members of the Dynamics NAV community, primarily from Western Europe. The event took place one month before the North American Directions, scheduled for early October in Nashville, TN.
The unveiling of NAV 2013 R2 was significant because it is the first major release since the NAV product team, based in Copenhagen Denmark, announced its intention to move to an annual release cycle for major versions. Annual releases make it easier for customers to keep their NAV systems current, making upgrades easier and providing greater access to platform integration capabilities.
While nowhere near as groundbreaking as the release of NAV 2013 last year, the new release, codenamed Sicily, brings some much anticipated capabilities and some exciting new possibilities with Azure and Office 365.
Here's a breakdown of what's new in R2:
SEPA Direct Debit Collections - This feature provides an efficient way to handle customer's payment collections through a customer's preferred bank in the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) with less manual entry of data and effective mandate handling. By allowing users to collect money from their customers in a seamless connected way with the invoicing process, the order to cash lead time is minimized and cash management efficiency increased.
Export Payment Data - This feature that enables a user to export payment data to an electronic bank file in SEPA-compliant format. This lets the user integrate electronically with any bank in the Single European Payments Area and get higher efficiency in the end-to-end payment process. When payment instructions to the bank are managed directly in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the user gets better control over the payment process and the ability to enhance cash flow due to SEPA rules about dates.
Data Exchange Framework - The introduction of a data exchange framework to enable the import of delimited (CSV) bank statement files and the export of data to bank payment files in delimited and fixed-width formats is a major step forward for NAV. Based on the description of a specific bank file format, a partner can add or modify the file's format definition and how the file's elements map to fields in NAV. When such a data exchange setup is created in the framework, users can import the bank statement file or export the bank payment file in question.
The Data Exchange Framework supports the following much-desired capabilities:
- Export Payment Data to a Bank File enables the user to export payment data to an electronic bank file. This gives the user the ability to integrate electronically with a bank and gain high efficiency in the payment process end-to-end. When payment instructions to the bank are managed directly in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the user gets better control over the payment process.
- Automatic Bank Reconciliation enables the user to do bank reconciliation in an automated way. Import of bank statement data combined with automatic matching against posted bank ledger entries eliminates trivial, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks. Combined with a new and more intuitive user interface, the feature makes bank reconciliation both fast and easy to do.
- Automatic Payment Registration is new feature that enables the user to work with payment registration in an automated way. The result is increased efficiency in the payment registration process, which in turn makes it easy to keep data about the cash situation in the company continuously updated. Further, with good and accurate control of the payment registrations, the periodic bank reconciliation process also becomes easier.
Register Payments Using Payment Registration provides an efficient way to manually register incoming payments, with less manual entry of data and faster access to overview information about accounts receivable. This feature allows users to register incoming payments in the way that payments are handled in their businesses, and helps them gain greater control of their business through increased efficiency in cash registrations and better overview.
FIK and GIRO Payments enables the user to export payment data to an electronic bank file. This gives the user the ability to integrate electronically with a bank and gain high efficiency in the payment process end-to-end. When payment instructions to the bank are managed directly in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the user gets better control over the payment process. This is a Danish localization only.
Hosting Dynamics NAV 2013 on Windows Azure Infrastructure Services
Microsoft announced that their Azure Infrastructure Services are ready to host the most robust Dynamics NAV implementations. One of the key benefits for customers is greater licensing flexibility by matching the license to the customer's needs rather than the deployment model. This means customers can choose on-premise licensing and later deploy to the cloud. Windows Azure is not tied to a SPLA or subscription licensing.
With Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 on Windows Azure, midmarket customers gain peace-of-mind for their ERP investments by getting access to the complete Microsoft stack in some very impressive Cloud datacenters. Running NAV on Azure promises ERP access from anywhere and from any device with the choice of a desktop client, web client or SharePoint client. Portability between environments and for hybrid hosted and on-premise configurations is also supported.
Microsoft also announced the release of a feature pack for provisioning on Windows Azure, which enables partners to automate provisioning of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 on Azure Virtual Machines. Provisioning on Windows Azure includes creating virtual machines, uploading and installing Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013, and setting up web and Windows clients using ClickOnce.
Integrating Dynamics NAV 2013 with Office 365
Making business decisions based on the data in your ERP system allows you to respond to business with real-time information to support your day-to-day activities. Along with using Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 and Office, integration with Office 365 opens up the possibility to extend NAV into a variety of new user scenarios. Using Microsoft Excel allows for unstructured but powerful analyses to be performed quickly. Along with showing classical list data, SharePoint Online features a new way of building extensions - the SharePoint App model.
Key features of the Dynamics NAV and Office 365 integration include:
- Send and store Excel documents to SharePoint Online and open them with Excel Web App or view as dynamic charts and tables from SharePoint in a web browser.
- Embed Microsoft Dynamics NAV Web Client pages in a SharePoint site, thereby allowing SharePoint users to see and interact with Dynamics NAV without leaving the SharePoint site.
- Use the Windows Azure AD service achieve single sign-on between the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Web client and Office 365. Also, if you use Microsoft Dynamics NAV in an app for SharePoint, you can use Windows Azure AD to achieve single sign-on between the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Web client and SharePoint. There is no need to deploy Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Windows Azure to use the Windows Azure AD for user authentication.
Import Payroll Data - This new feature allows a user to import payroll data from files sent by Danish payroll providers. With this feature, the user will be able to work more efficiently with the registration of payroll data. For this release the feature supports the import of files from five major payroll providers in Denmark.
KPIs as Web Services - This feature that makes it possible to create KPI web services based on account schedules. KPI web services can be used to integrate with applications such as Excel, so that the user can work with continuously updated KPI numbers outside of Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
Link to Incoming Document - This feature makes it possible to create a link to an incoming document in an electronic form in the workflow for incoming documents. Having the link strengthens the user's ability to manage the approval, registration, and investigation processes around incoming documents in both small and mid-size companies.
Getting ready for R2
With so many important new features and architectural options coming into play before the end of 2013, there is still a lot to learn about NAV 2013 R2. Our team is busy working through training materials and Hands-On Labs for partners in preparation to begin rolling R2 out to our customers. As NAV becomes more integrated into the overall Microsoft platform, particularly with Office 365 and the ability to provision infrastructure easily on Windows Azure, Microsoft is raising the bar for midmarket ERP. With so many organizations already running NAV 2013 we are also looking forward to the "annual upgrade" experience, ideally solving a major challenge for customers that want to keep current with their investment.