Enterprise resource management is a critical function for today’s businesses, and many utilize advanced ERP software solutions to help organize and support essential activities. Microsoft Dynamics is a leader in both of these respects. More than 110,000 companies across the globe utilize Dynamics NAV as their ERP, and it isn’t difficult to understand why.

NAV offers key features for ERP and is an incredibly flexible product that supports valuable integration and add-ons. When companies seek to customize their NAV platform, they have a considerable amount of options available to them, including a range application program interface (API) add-ons that provide even deeper functionality.

Customizing Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Microsoft notes that organizations have an array of opportunities for tailoring their Dynamics NAV ERP solutions, calling NAV an “easily adaptable” system. And with powerful APIs, it’s possible to customize the way an organization and its employees use their Dynamics platform. An API, or application program interface, is a software add-on that allows one program to communicate and interact with another software program through its code. These types of applications are also known as online applications.

Depending on the industry a company operates in, there are options for automating and connecting sales platforms, improving support for purchasing, streamlining accounting and enhancing inventory management through the use of different APIs.

As DynaMe contributor Michael Taylor pointed out, some of the most impactful NAV add-ons include those for automatically sending emails and faxes directly from the platform, options for manual or automated currency exchange, dimension management for new and historical documents and transactions, and even a sales tax add-on.

One option that’s seeing more attention recently is shipping. Taylor pointed out that certain APIs can enable NAV users to connect with major shipping providers including UPS, UPS Freight, the United States Postal Service and FedEx. These add-ons offer live and negotiated shipping rates and freight charges as well as capabilities for recording tracking numbers and more.

Software pricing: Online or offline?

Shipping add-ons can provide several key benefits, including the ability to see accurate shipping rates in real time and according to the specific packages or freight being transported. What’s more, rates associated with new carriers or service providers are continually made available without the need for a software update.

In order to reap these kinds of advantages, decision-makers must select an online NAV add-on. While online add-ons require internet connectivity, their functionality also comes with a lower up-front investment, reduced annual feeds and the ability to pay only for what the company needs.

The other option here is to leverage an on-premises, or offline, add-on that does not require internet connectivity. Although this arrangement supports more predictable pricing via fixed up-front and annual fees, there are also a number of drawbacks:

  • The initial installation is a more complex and time-consuming process, and includes a higher up-front investment for the necessary on-premises software.
  • The system requires updates to provide information on new or changing carriers, feeds and other services.
  • Because the system is on-premises, internal IT staff is responsible for rolling out updates, which must be supported with testing and could result in bugs and mismatched functionality.

The question of use-based pricing

One of the key advantages of an online API is the ability to leverage a usage-based pricing model, or a pay-as-you-go construction. While many decision-makers tend to raise concerns about pay-per-use, there are considerable benefits to more variable pricing.

As Recurly contributor Danielle Childs pointed out, a usage-based pricing model is particularly well suited for software APIs, as it helps ensure that cost is matched with delivered results for both high- and low-volume users.

The solution: Online API provides essential advantages

Overall, the best route for Dynamics NAV users is to select online API add-ons that provide a more tailored user experience. An API can support constant access to new and updated information in real time, secure lower up-front and annual costs, and help shorten and reduce the complexity of the installation process.