Monthly Archives: August 2011

Magento and Dynamics NAV (Navision)

E-Commerce
Magento is an unstoppable force.

There are NAV e-commerce add-ons out there, however, the websites that are created, at least from what we’ve seen, looks very outdated and “old”. In addition, it’s hard to add features and customize the website to your liking. The end result is probably not the best foot you want to put forward if your e-commerce webstore is the first thing your potential customers sees about your company.

Even if the integration works flawlessly, if you have a terrible looking website that’s hard to navigate in, you’ve just wasted your money. This is true for B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business) websites.

Integration
The infrastrucutre is basically the same, to have real time, you must host the the web server in house. Not a lot of companies like to do that because of reliability and the cost (IT people, hardware, software, etc) of hosting the most vital order taking system for a company inhouse.

When it’s hosted, then we’re just uploading and downloading data and syncing anyways, so there’s really not that much benefit for you to purchase an expensive e-commerce add-on for Navision.

This is where Magento comes into play. Magento is an open source webstore software that’s gaining in popularity. How do I know this? Well, I hear a lot of new softwares and services that our clients are excited about. Usually when I hear a product once or twice, I’ll make a mental note.But more than that, it will require some investigation because I know the next thing the client will ask for is integration.

There are usually 2 components when designing the integration piece:
1. Getting the data to the Magento site
2. Getting the data back from Magento to Navision. i.e. Authorize.net approval amounts

There are a couple of ways to go about it:
1. Webservice directly to your database
2. Flat file transfer to Magento web database
3. Pump data to SQL Express and have Magento do query on it

I’m not a fan of having web services connected directly to your production database as, depending on the traffic of your site, it may cause performance problems. You probably don’t want people around the world to be querying into your production database when the customer service people are on the phone with your customers.

Personally, I prefer options 2 and 3 because if the website is down, you still have your ERP to take phone orders. If your ERP is down, you still have your website to take orders.

For real time, or as close to real time, you can use NAS to pump data in/out as much as you like, which is what option 2 and option 3 is for.

Your Magento developer(s) shouldn’t have any problems with the import/export of the data you give them.

Conclusion
There are probably a lot of other methods of integrating your Dynamics NAV (Navision) solution to Magento. The important thing is to not get caught up with what you need and what you’re being sold. Usually simple is good and simple is more than enough.

Having said that, I’d love to hear some other methods you use to integrate Dynamics NAV and Magento. If Magento is the next best thing for web stores since slice bread, us Dynamics NAV (Navision) community should be ready for it.

Dynamics NAV 2009 Reporting Book

Let me first start by saying that I’m not a fan of doing book reviews. In my very humble opinion, most books about Dynamics NAV that are released, although a good read and provides some valuable information, does not bring much INCREMENTAL value to the NAV professional. What do I mean by Incremental value? It’s the money and most importantly time and attention, that you spend reading the books verses what you get out of it.

Most information written can be obtained for free on the Customersource or Partnersource website. In fact, the training materials that can be downloaded for free goes into greater detail than what’s covered in the books. Well, not exactly free. I’m assuming if you can access Customersource, you’re a customer that’s current on the Enhancement Plan, or if you can access Partnersource, you’ve bought a Partner Plan.

To be a good NAV professional, I don’t think there’s a good substitute than what’s on those training manuals or even on the Application Designer’s Guide that comes with your product installation disk.

Reading the training manuals is, personally, where I get the most incremental value on becoming a good technical and applications person.

In addition, there are Navision forums such as http://www,mibuso.com¬†and dynamicsuser.net that frequently has contributors to give you ideas on a particular problem you’re having.

My general feeling is, why pay for something when you can get the better stuff that you’ve already paid for (Customersource) or for free (online forums)?

Having said that, recently, I’ve been granted a sneak peek as a reviewer at a book that a fellow NAV colleague, Steven Render, has been writing. The book is titled Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 for Professional Reporting. You can find the book here:

http://www.packtpub.com/microsoft-dynamics-nav-2009-for-professional-reporting/book

From my previous blog posts, I’ve been pretty disappointed at the lack of documentation and training material available for the NAV 2009 RDLC reporting feature. The only document released by Microsoft is the training manual #80146 and the information that you can gather from NAV blogs.

Training manual #80146 is pretty good at going through the RDLC for Navision, but that’s about it. By moving to SQL, it really opens a whole new world of reporting possibilities, other than the RDLC. What this book does is that it goes through and explains the different options out there and shows you how to go about creating reports based on these different options.

I understand that there are books out there about RDLC and SQL Reporting Services, but most of the information on those books does not apply to me as a Navision professional. This is why this book appealled to me because it was a Navision book that talked about reports.

I highly recommend this book, until Microsoft can release additional resources for download on Customersource on reporting and truly take advantage of the “Microsoft Stack”.