Toronto-based Vox Wireless, a 75-person operation with six locations across the country, said it went live with NAV 2009 in early September. Vox Wireless is a member of Microsoft’s Technical Adoption Program (TAP), and CEO Jim Heaton said the chance to test-drive the enterprise resource planning package should give his firm credibility among his customers.
“You can’t effectively help a customer if you don’t use the product,” he said. “We switched out and installed NAV 2009 connected to Microsoft CRM, (which is in turn) connected to SharePoint.”
Vox Wireless had previously been a partner for Infor’s Visual Manufacturing ERP product, and was using it internally as well, according to Heaton. However NAV 2009, which is part of Microsoft’s Dynamics line of business applications, can be applied to distribution and professional service customers as well as manufacturers. “You’re not just restricted to one vertical,” he said.
Microsoft first gained the NAV product line as part of its acquisition of Navision A/S in 2002. NAV 2009 features a three-tiered architecture and Web services integration, along with role-tailored interfaces that can display specific information depending on the user’s job function in a company. Heaton had high praise for the product’s simplicity.
“It’s way easier to change and get information directly on to your portal pages,” he said. “The integration with SharePoint – to be able to use portal pages and document management tools – that’s huge for us. SharePoint is such a popular product right now.”
Large enterprise ERP vendors such as SAP have begun avoiding large-scale version upgrades in favour of feature packages that are released several times over the course of the year. According to Jan Sillemann, director of global product management for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, partners should not expect the company to follow a similar trend.
“We recently went out and asked customers and asked expectations on how often they want to see a new release,” he said. “The answers varied from new releases every three months to new releases every four or five years. No matter how nice you do an upgrade, it’s always something that means a change to people everyday. They are here to run their business. That’s why we have committed ourselves to this 24-month release cycle.”
In between there might be smaller releases or feature packs, Sillemann added, but nothing that matches the enhancements in NAV 2009.
Heaton said being part of TAP gives Vox Wireless a great head start on NAV 2009. “We’ve been on it for a year. The Average Microsoft partner’s not getting it until February. By the time they see it for the first time we’ll probably have done 10 implementations. You just take such a commanding lead in the market.”
Since the beginning of last year, Microsoft has also organized a Microsoft Dynamics NAV ISV Beta Access Program where many partners get early information, trainings and access to technical previews.