The Best New Features in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018

Microsoft Dynamics NAV continues to go from strength to strength, with the 2018 version of the stalwart ERP solution released in December. The new release stays true to Microsoft’s aim of deeply integrating all of its products, allowing for a better user experience and as a result, significantly improved productivity for its users.

The tech company has worked hard to make this the most innovative version of NAV, formerly Navision, to date, with over 600 new updates. That’s too many to cover in one piece, so here are the highlights:

Address autofills

Most of you will be familiar with this process on the front-end of any website that requires an account sign-up; you enter your postcode, and sometimes house number, and the system automatically populates your full address. The inability to do this in NAV has long been a bugbear of users, so Microsoft has allowed the use of a third-party web service to do this using one of its new APIs. When you’re adding new companies on a daily basis, you don’t need us to tell you how much time this can save you. What’s also great about this feature is that the address is formatted in the Post Office’s preferred way; no more lost mail!

Artificial intelligence improvements

Artificial intelligence is at the top of the digital transformation agenda for enterprises, so it was only a matter of time before it came to the systems you use every day. In NAV, the new AI feature primarily works by reading images. By adding an image to your contact cards, NAV can detect the person’s gender and estimate attributes like age. It doesn’t overwrite any existing attributes however.

This functionality is especially useful for manufacturers, who can upload photos of stock items. For example, if you add a photo of a chair, the AI will be able to categorise it as a chair and as furniture, decipher the colour and even estimate the height and depth of the item. This will save huge amounts of time in data entry, as the artificial intelligence does the work for you.

Support for SQL Server 2017

The latest version of NAV working on the most recent SQL Server 2017 doesn’t seem like big news. However, what’s really important about this is that it improves the performance significantly – we’ve experienced a performance improvement of 20-30%, which again saves us significant amounts of time (are you sensing a theme here?) – NAV 2018 is the fastest version of NAV I’ve ever used.

Extended customisation functionalities

One of the most exciting new features is the ability to edit the fields on contact and account records. You can remove redundant fields like fax and telex – does anyone even use them anymore? – to streamline the user experience. You can also add fields that you know you’ll use regularly.

This change reflects Microsoft’s growing philosophy of giving more control to the end users. Previously, making changes like this would have required significant development work from your in-house development team or, more likely, your outsourced provider. By allowing you to customise your interface, Microsoft is continuing its trend of putting more power in your hands.

APIs for the win

Dynamics NAV 2018 was launched with 44 APIs, but that number is growing. This came about largely due to the availability of competitor APIs, like Sage and Quickbooks. NAV is now exposing some of its features to external programmes, allowing you to do more than ever. For example, being able to create a 100 line Sales Order in one API call instead of repeated calls for each Sales Line. 

Article produced by UK IT support specialist, Technology Services Group (TSG).

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