Business Transformation

ERP changes: the future is here soon

January 22, 2019

Is your company ready for the change? Check our review of the latest trends in the ERP-world

As a software engineering house, we track and analyze all changes that are happening in the ERP-world. Our customers and partners represent all industries and types of businesses that’s why the full variety of instruments for the future developments are in our focus.

When Microsoft announced their plans to move their ERP monolith to the cloud, we had to make a choice – to stay as we were or get ready to change everything. True, the conservatism around ERP means that the NAV application will be around for a long time. On the other hand, the move to the cloud would make NAV difficult to recognize. The name, the development strategies and tools would all be new. In this we saw our future; we should move forward and embrace the change.

One example of this is that since 2017 we have stopped promoting our standard upgrade business despite having our own reports converter and all the PowerShell scripts in place. In order to be geared for the future, you need to refactor your NAV code and move to an event-based architecture. At the same time, you should consider using flow, PowerApps, Power BI, Office hacks and other solutions. In this case, you are likely to consider a re-implementation instead of an upgrade of your ERP-system. So, we stopped.

We acknowledge that for many partners and users, this rapid pace of change can be difficult and have a negative effect on their business in the short-term perspective. But as an engineering house, we are pleased with the investments that have been but into ‘our’ product.

Changes that are going to happen

The monolith will be broken down. Microsoft has done a nice (if still incomplete) job of moving the monolithic Dynamics NAV solution to the cloud as Dynamics 365 Business Central. However, from a technical point of view, having a monolith in the cloud (where distributed architecture is the standard) does not make much sense – as a transition, sure, but that transition is now picking up speed. The result of this is that you need to keep up with the developments made by Microsoft and while continue supporting older versions of NAV may be great for cashflow, it does not help you move forward.

Microsoft has moved the monolithic Dynamics NAV solution to the cloud as Dynamics 365 Business Central

The user experience will change. The Windows client in D365BC has been given a ‘best before’ date – April 2019. After that all work would be done in web clients. Considering that Microsoft integrates Azure, Dynamics 365 for business processes and Office 365 for everything else, this makes sense. Why to maintain a proprietary client when you want everything to happen in the cloud and on multiple platforms? The challenge here is that we currently have decent flexibility in the Windows client. While the web client is improving, this move represents a challenge for many developers – they will have to find good work around and learn JavaScript.

At Global Mediator we are not yet fans of the ‘modern’ user interface and find the guidelines restrictive, but we have some ideas how the user interface can be modified to suit our needs. At the same time, we welcome the flexibility of being able to work across platforms and integrate more easily with other web-based solutions.

The developer experience will change. The developer environment C/SIDE has also been given a ‘best before’ date. After that, changes will be made in Visual Studio. We consider that moving to a professional software development environment is not a bad thing, especially when it allows continuous integration and continuous deployment with a variety of tools and test automation. Changes have been steady for the past couple of years and for those who are well prepared, these next steps are not as dramatic as they seem. Moving to Visual Studio code for a software engineer is not the end of the world. The hard part is to refactor your code to event-based architecture, so you can use it as extensions. And, the tools or converters being promoted will not be of great help for that.

“In the past changes have been incremental compared to what is coming next, but for those who are well prepared, these next steps are not as dramatic as they seem.”

– Nicolai Krarup, COO at Global Mediator

The new developers’ environment also means that the simplicity is gone – the days when a NAV expert could go to a customer, discuss what is needed to be changed and then do it on site, have come to the end. For smaller users, AppSource may enable them to use more standard solutions. For the larger users, their development cycle in NAV just moved to resemble other types of software development.

At Global Mediator we made a different choice two years ago. As a large group of specialized software engineers, we have a desire to change and a reasonable cost base. For us, it was easier to make it happen, as the legacy code wasn’t holding us back nor hundreds of users shouldn’t be trained.

The focus for the next year is to dive deeper into D365BC and to strengthen our service offering regarding Microsoft’s updates. But we will also accelerate our push to widen our offering and to include more of the technologies that CFO’s need: stronger data management, IoT integration, BI, AI/machine learning and automation (robotic, flow or otherwise)..

Subscribe to Global Mediator newsletter

Stay current with the latest insights from us