One of the strengths of Dynamics NAV as a product is its flexibility and ease of customisation. This means that while all implementations share a common base, no two installations of NAV are exactly the same – there are always a few small changes to tailor the solution for each client.

One common question that we get from our clients is: ‘Can we modify the database ourselves?’

My response to this is usually a very qualified yes. There are a few considerations to keep in mind before a client can make any changes on their own.

The first is licensing as Microsoft require an end user to purchase special modules to make software changes. This can be at two levels:

  • Application Builder. This is the entry level that allows you to build modules without changing any posting routines and relevant posted tables.
  • Solution Developer. This granule allows full access to develop throughout the system.

The next consideration is acquiring the skills to develop within NAV. While a person may already have general programming skills, NAV uses a proprietary development environment which must be learnt. NAV is a complex and interconnected ERP system – making an uninformed change may have unintended consequences elsewhere in the system.

Finally there is the process & documentation that is required around each change. At Fenwick Software we have developed a set of quality control processes using the Object Manager add-on to NAV. This allows us to:

  • Document changes and modifications that are carried out in the system
  • Ensure objects are only placed in live when safe to do so
  • Ensure all code conforms to Microsoft and Fenwick development standards
  • Keep track of the differences between the clients Development, Testing & Live environments

These processes together ensure that we are able to support our clients even after they have had the software for many years. Typically when clients modify the database on their own, it is very difficult for them to maintain these processes. As a result, the support of their system may become more complicated and potentially more expensive. So the fact is that clients can modify their databases, but it is a decision that needs to be considered carefully.

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Written By David Love

Dave joined the company as a NAV consultant in February 2002 after completing a Bachelor of Information Technology degree at Swinburne University. Dave is a Principal Consultant, he manages NAV implementation and upgrade projects across many industries including: manufacturing, distribution and waste management & recycling.

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