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The guide to optimizing Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Microsoft Dynamics NAV, formerly known as Navision, is a global enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that provides small and midsize businesses greater control over their financials and is designed to simplify complexities in supply chain, manufacturing, and operations.

Like most Microsoft ERP solutions, NAV comes with a role-based user-interface, SQL-based reporting and analysis, SharePoint-based portal, Pocket PC-based mobile clients and integration with Microsoft Office. Like most ERPs today, NAV is an on-premise solution, which requires substantial investments into hardware, software and IT maintenance support.Microsoft Dynamics NAV logo

The on premise nature of Microsoft Dynamics NAV makes it challenging to switch or replace, however a unique feature of Navision is that value-added resellers (VARs) and system integrators are granted full access to the business logic source code. This robust network of partners vastly opens up the door to customization and support within the Navision partner and consultant eco-system.

With that said, users that require custom work done on Navision rely heavily on the expertise of Microsoft’s partner network to ensure their ERP is developed and maintained properly.

Let’s take a look at the core feature sets that come standard with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP at a glance:

At a high level, Navision focuses on offering 6 core ERP features and functionality to support the following business-unit areas for operations:

  1. Financial management and accounting: This feature helps business users manage cash flow in and out, assets, and banking.
  1. Inventory management: This feature in NAV helps users track and manage day-to-day production, inventory item counts on hand, orders in process, vendor and supplier data.
  1. Project management: Project management features allow users to create estimates, track projects, and manage capacity within storage facilities.
  1. Marketing, sales, and service: This feature helps NAV users manage company wide campaigns, sales opportunities, contacts, and service contracts.
  1. Business intelligence and reporting: This feature is designed to track overall system performance and to extend insights into different areas of the business.
  1. Multi-currency: This feature is designed to extend multi-currency tracking and language translation capabilities for global and multi-national businesses.

Gaps in NAV’s inventory management functionality:

Microsoft Dynamics NAV’s on premise framework presents a number of diverse challenges for distribution companies that manage complex supply chains. Like most distribution businesses, their core competency is not managing IT infrastructures. EazyStock clients for instance tend to be experts in the aftermarket parts or wholesale distribution industry, and they are not IT system’s maintenance experts.

The activities associated with managing and maintaining the company’s ERP system or network of systems is often times seen as a burdensome cost center that drains profits from the enterprise. Even more challenging is having an ERP system that lacks critical functionality to help finance and operations systematically lower costs to an optimized level. Specifically, NAV has the capabilities to manage the day-to-day operations of the business.

All inventory requirements associated with inventory coming and going that require attention is managed well, but what about the long-term goals of the business? What about enhanced demand forecasting or smarter internal redistribution to offset reliance on suppliers?

Take your inventory in for an annual check up:

ERP system weaknesses are best likened to a nagging knee injury. In most cases, the need for surgery is recommended however is not critical. You are still mobile and can manage day-to-day tasks, however there is always pain and discomfort. For the individual there is a cost and a recovery time to have the problem fixed, which requires a short period of change that typically results in the operation getting pushed off to a later date. However, the benefits coming out of surgery is increased mobility, productivity and less pain. This is no different than businesses that require “surgery” to help optimize their ERP system.

Inventory planners and financial managers need to look beyond simple inventory management and accounting metrics to systematically reduce their costs across the supply chain. The process of putting off optimization initiatives will often time lead to pain and discomfort when managing the supply chain. To obtain optimized inventory levels, planners require more advanced purchasing automation and real-time data analysis to support smarter and more cost effective decision-making. The good news is that users of Microsoft Dynamics NAV do not need to switch ERP’s to realize actionable results; they can turn to cloud-based inventory optimization software to get the job done.

3 ways to increase Microsoft Dynamics NAV performance:

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is built on a highly customizable platform, which can be easily integrated with add on systems to support more advanced inventory optimization. Below are 3 specific examples of how EazyStock’s inventory optimization software is helping distributors and wholesalers to further optimize their Microsoft Dynamics NAV system.

1. Centralize multi-location visibility:

Managing inventory items across multiple warehouse locations is one of the more challenging aspect of inventory management. Operations that have access to real-time, multi-location inventory metrics, including item level dashboards, system alerts, warnings and reports, have a major advantage over the competition as they have insights into data sets that help guide decision making.

NAV comes with out of the box business intelligence reports, however EazyStock is designed to analyze historical data from the ERP system, which is then transformed into actionable intelligence for systematically eliminating the unwanted fat in the supply chain. Additionally, businesses with redistribution capabilities, meaning the ability to transfer stock between stocking locations, can drastically lower their monthly purchasing costs from suppliers as inventory can be shuffled between locations to meet variable demand needs. Increasing visibility lowers operational costs and increases company wide visibility into key areas of the supply chain.

2. Lower inventory levels & costs with automation:

Inventory planners today spend way too much time manually crunching numbers in Excel when automated reports can do the heavy lifting. For example, EazyStock automates over 200 standard feature reports and data points that range from item level data forecasts to excess stock and obsolete stock With this automation in place, planners and buyers save hours and even day’s worth of manual work spent previously calculating these metrics with Excel.

With automated data reports pulled directly from Microsoft Dynamics NAV and analyzed in EazyStock, planners are spending less time systematically lowering inventory levels and eliminating wasteful purchasing and storage costs. Fewer carrying costs each month can have a strong financial impact on a businesses bottom line.

3. Increase service levels & fill rates:

The customer is king and you should never make the king wait for your product. For high demand, fast moving products the business cannot afford to be waiting on backorder supplier shipments. Safety stock levels should be mandatory for all items with high demand to ensure risk is mitigated in the delivery process for item replenishment. Smart planners know well in advance how much of their inventory is needed to carry demand between replenishment cycles.

ABC Classification models should also be used within the warehouse planning process to help streamline order processing, fulfillment and optimization. For planners that want to evaluate different stocking policies for item groups, EazyStock even has a service level simulator built in for analyzing what the effects of changing service levels would have on delivery rates and associated costs. At the end of the day, higher service levels means happier customers, but too much inventory can hurt the business if not managed and kept lean.


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