A product as complex and flexible as NAV can be considered from several points of view. One can study the NAV application software package as a set of application functions designed to help a business manage information about operations and finances. One can also look at NAV as a stack of building blocks from which to extend or build applications—and the tools with which to do the construction.
In NAV 2009, which has two quite different user interface options available, one must consider how the user interface affects both the application design and the presentation to the user. This requirement overlaps both the application viewpoint and the construction viewpoint.
You should know the different object types that make up a NAV system and the purposes of each. You should also have at least a basic idea of the tools that are available to you, in order to enhance (small changes) or extend (big changes) an NAV system. In the case of NAV, the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) includes essentially all of the tools needed for NAV application development.
Prior versions of NAV were two-tier systems. One of the tiers was the database server, the other tier was the client. As the traditional two-tier NAV Client (now referred to as the Classic Client) is still an integral part of the system, we will cover the aspects of where it must be used for development and support. All development and much of the system administration uses the Classic Client. So, even though our focus is on developing for the Role Tailored Client (aka “the RTC”), many of the images in this article will be of Classic Client displays. In brief, the RTC is for users, and as a developer, you will generally use the Classic Client for your work.
NAV 2009: An ERP system
If you look at NAV 2009 from the point of view of a firm using NAV to help run its business, you will see it as an integrated set of business applications software.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV is generally characterized as an ERP System. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. An ERP system is a set of integrated application software components designed to track and coordinate a wide variety of business activities, especially those involving products, orders, production and finances. An ERP system will typically include the following:
- Basic accounting functions (for example, general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable)
- Order processing and inventory (for example, sales orders, purchase orders, shipping, inventory, receiving)
- Relationship management (for example, vendors, customers, prospects, employees, contractors, and so on)
- Planning (for example MRP, sales forecasting, production forecasting)
- Other critical business areas (for example, manufacturing, warehouse management, fixed assets)
The integration of an ERP system is supported by a common database, by an “enter once, use everywhere” data philosophy, by a modular software design, and with data extraction and analysis tools. The following image is a view of an ERP system from the highest level:
The design of Microsoft Dynamics NAV addresses all the points in the above description and more. The NAV ERP system includes integrated modules covering the breadth of business functions for a wide range of business types. These modules share a common database and, where appropriate, share common data.
In the NAV system, there is a considerable overlap of components across application areas, with individual functions showing up in multiple different “modules”. For example, in NAV, Inventory is identified as part of Financial management, but it is also, obviously, an integral part of Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and others.
The particular grouping of individual functions into modules that follows is based on Microsoft marketing materials. Some of these assignments are a bit arbitrary. What’s important is for you to obtain a reasonable understanding of the overall set of application components that make up the NAV ERP system. In several of the following groupings, menu screenshots are included as examples. These are from the Role Tailored Client Departments menu screen.
Financial Management is the foundation of any ERP system. No matter what the business is, the money must be kept flowing, and the flow of money must be tracked. The tools which help to manage the capital resources of the business are included in NAV’s Financial Management module. These include all or part of the following application functions:
- General Ledger—managing the overall finances of the firm
- Accounts receivable—tracking the incoming revenue
- Accounts payable—tracking the outgoing funds
- Analytical accounting—analyzing the various flows of funds
- Cash management and banking—managing the inventory of money
- Inventory and fixed assets—managing the inventories of goods and equipment
- Multi-Currency and Multi-Language—supporting international business activities
NAV Manufacturing is general purpose enough to be appropriate for Make to Stock (MTS), Make to Order (MTO), and variations such as Assemble to Order, and so on. While off-the-shelf NAV is not particularly suitable for most process manufacturing and high-volume assembly line operations, there are third party add-on and add-in enhancements available for these. As with most of the NAV application functions, manufacturing can be installed in parts or as a whole, and can be used in a simplistic fashion or in a more sophisticated manner. NAV Manufacturing includes the following functions
- Product design (BOMs and Routings)—managing the structure of product components and the flow of manufacturing processes
- Capacity and supply requirements planning—tracking the intangible and tangible manufacturing resources
- Production scheduling (infinite and finite),execution, and tracking—tracking the planned use manufacturing resources, both on an unconstrained and constrained basis
Supply Chain Management (SCM)
Obviously, some of the functions categorized as part of NAV Supply Chain Management (for example sales, purchasing, and so on) are actively used in almost every NAV implementation. As a whole, these constitute the base components of a system appropriate for a distribution operation. The Supply Chain applications in NAV include parts of the following applications:
- Sales order processing and pricing—supporting the heart of every business—entering, pricing, and processing sales orders
- Purchasing (including Requisitions)—planning, entering, pricing, and processing purchase orders
- Inventory management—managing inventories of goods and materials
- Warehouse management including receiving and shipping—managing the receipt, storage, retrieval, and shipment of material and goods in warehouses