Document Dynamics

The Equisys blog

10 questions to pose when qualifying a document management opportunity for NAV

Greg Cole

Document Management, what is it?

A Document Management System or DMS helps an organization store, manage and track its electronic documents and scanned images of paper-based documents.

Document Management is now standard in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016, and that’s great news for customers choosing NAV for their ERP system, and gives a compelling reason for existing NAV customers to upgrade.

Equisys has been extending NAV with DMS since 2007 and we have offered Zetadocs Express, our hugely successful no-cost document management add-on, since NAV 2009.  It’s chosen by Microsoft for using SharePoint for DMS, so we have a good understanding of this area and what customers demand from an integrated Document Management and Delivery solution like Zetadocs for NAV.

Let’s take a look at 10 questions you should ask your customer when qualifying a Document Management opportunity for NAV.

1.      Does the DMS solution match the customer’s existing IT infrastructure strategy?

Storing your documents directly inside NAV is great for simplicity: uploaded documents can be viewed against their associated NAV records and multiple supporting documents can be attached to each record.

However, these documents will increase the size of the NAV database over time. Understanding the impact of that on the customer’s infrastructure and backup routines is key. Storing documents outside NAV in SharePoint or the option of a simple file store on a network drive could well be more appropriate for your customer, ensuring the NAV database stays smaller, with backup and recovery times being faster.

Zetadocs for NAV offers a broad choice of document stores for both incoming documents and the automatic filing of sent documents to help your customers’ achieve their goals for IT and ensure NAV works the way they work.

2.      Who needs to search for documents?

SharePoint has been designed from the outset to store documents and encourage collaborative work across an organization using them.  So, SharePoint Server or Office 365 gives a customer the option to widen access to business documents that would otherwise be locked up in a finance team or only accessible to users with NAV licenses.  Appropriately permissioned staff can search and share documents linked by Zetadocs to records in NAV without everyone needing access to NAV.

If wider groups of staff in your customers’ organizations could benefit from collaborating on these business documents, then you should be considering starting a dialog about the use of SharePoint or Office 365. We’ve found this particularly important where customer service is a strong requirement.

3.      How will customer-facing staff find documents?

Automatic electronic indexing of documents with metadata (information about the documents) makes the job of finding those documents outside NAV so much easier. The metadata can be used easily to sort lists, to search on NAV record numbers or to search on a piece of information that is more relevant to a team outside finance than any NAV record number could ever be. All editions of Zetadocs for NAV support metadata for indexing both incoming documents that users capture and outbound documents that users send via email or print.  As a result, it’s easy to find a purchase order, a delivery note, an invoice, and so on.

Zetadocs Express gives users simple metadata like the NAV record number and the organization name. Our Essentials editions give configurable metadata, enabling you the partner to take any field on the associated NAV record and upload that, along with the document, without writing a line of code.

In the blog Taxonomy doesn't have to be taxing I wrote specifically describing the benefits of setting metadata automatically against documents to help staff without access to NAV search or locate documents more easily.

4.      What will your customer require from their DMS in the future, and how will you deliver this?

Being able to attach related documents to any NAV record is a common requirement, be that a customer’s email to a Sales Order or a compliance certificate to a NAV item. Having an easy way to add that ability for any NAV record is made simpler if there is a configuration tool to do that. The Zetadocs for NAV Page Modifier tool takes any NAV page as a text input, automatically adds the Documents FactBox and outputs a modified text file for you to import into NAV for your customer.

It’s really that simple to customise NAV to meet your customer’s requirements that not only help them search for files and emails attached to the current NAV record, but those attached to other NAV records.

Customers often ask to see documents like Sales Invoices for a customer shown in the Documents FactBox on the Customer card, or contract documents visible on a NAV Job card when actually those contract documents have been attached to the Customer card for a complete picture. It’s straightforward satisfying such requests using Zetadocs. Such flexibility gives a partner the ability to create many custom solutions according to exact customer requirements and simply extend them when those requirements change.

5.      How will you manage the capture of paper documents and emails?

Uploading electronic documents to NAV records is all fine and good, but consideration needs to be given to the capturing of paper documents and other files such as emails from Outlook.

Supporting locally attached scanners gives the option to upload electronic images of paper-based documents directly into the Zetadocs Documents FactBox in the NAV Windows client. This is useful in customer scenarios where immediately scanning documents like contracts is simpler than a two-stage process of walking to a network attached scanner, scanning to the PC desktop or Outlook and then uploading the file to NAV.

When document volumes demand, the addition of a barcode sticker to inbound paper documents enables scanning in batches with automated filing. Zetadocs for NAV reads each barcode, then splits the scanned batch of documents and automatically links them to their existing NAV records. This feature is particularly handy in scenarios when it is important to capture proof of delivery or other signed evidence to progress a sale transaction.

Emails stored in Outlook are more easily attached using drag and drop than any two-stage process where the email must first be saved to desktop and then uploaded into NAV.

6.      How to automate without losing the personal touch?

In the first portion of this blog I’ve focused on the questions and considerations around the incoming documents process. Let’s now consider the output of NAV records as documents and how partnering with an expert such as Equisys increases your chances of successful and profitable DMS projects.

When emailing electronic documents from NAV, customers normally demand that you consider a number of extra elements beyond just sending the standard report as a PDF file in an email. For instance, do your customers need to add extra attachments like their Terms and Conditions of Sale or a seasonal promotional offer when a particular item is ordered?

Are you able to use dynamic fields to personalise the emails or consolidate multiple emails in a batch so that the customer only receives one email at a time? What about setting the From address on the email so that replies are routed to a communal inbox monitored by an appropriate team, or even having flexible delivery rules that add additional recipients (TO,CC and BCC) and change the default delivery method for particular customers.

The Zetadocs for NAV Delivery editions offer these varying degrees of extra control to help you sell a document output solution that really matches your customers’ needs.

7.      How will you enhance your customers’ business processes with automation?

One of the key benefits of developing Zetadocs for NAV so that it can run on the NAV server, is that Zetadocs can now handle richer automation options like the scheduling of bulk-email batches.

So, when an overdue account slips past a new threshold, Zetadocs could automatically email a customer with an appropriately stern reminder; or all posted invoices could be sent automatically at different points in the day; or at the end of each month all customers with an overdue balance could be sent a statement automatically in a bulk emailing…lots of possibilities, yet all the while retaining flexibility and control of the process within a NAV codeunit.

8.      How will the solution help you add value to your business processes?

One of the key principals of Zetadocs for NAV is a clear distinction between Zetadocs core codeunits and codeunits provided for partner customization.

This distinction makes it easier for us to update our codeunits without fear of disrupting a partner’s customization code. The other benefit of this approach is to provide repeatable code management for partners that include examples of how to achieve additional customization for common business processes.

This way our partners are able to develop software in a familiar programming language, working from strong examples, whilst making it far easier to port each customization with minor modifications for the next customer.

This helps NAV partners working with Equisys differentiate themselves and deploy more quickly each subsequent new customer system.

9.      Are you confident that you can deliver DMS solutions profitably?

Gaining a deeper understanding of how all these considerations impact your choices and the ultimate DMS that you deliver to each customer is made easier when you partner with Equisys.  After all, we have now been down that road before with over 800 customers.

Equisys partners can rely on our deep understanding of using NAV with a DMS, and our willingness to help.  We can explain how best to provide custom solutions, and we will work with you to meet each of your customer’s unique business requirements.  That can make the difference between an effective DMS that can be customized quickly to meet specific needs and one that is basic and generic that you have had to develop extensively on your own with little or no support.

We invest in our partner support systems, from pre-sales solution advice and implementation insight to post-sale technical support, ensuring our partners have the best possible chance of successful and profitable DMS projects.

10. How will the solution enhance your customer’s experience with you?

Don’t find yourself painted into a corner where your options are limited.

Look for a Document Management solution that offers your customers choice, from where they store their electronic documents, how staff with the appropriate permissions search for those documents, how you can tailor the solution to match their precise business needs, to getting expert advice along the way from a solution provider that really understands how to do document management within NAV.

What to hear more?

We’ll be presenting at both Directions events this year, so if you are going to be at either event why not attend one of our sessions to see how our suite of business process add-ons for NAV goes above and beyond:

Directions EMEA 2015 – ISV[10] – Alban Berg – 15:00 – Mannheim, Germany, October 5-7, 2015

Business process add-ons for NAV that go above and beyond

Directions North America 2015 – ISV[118] – Grand Cypress B – 9:15 –  Orlando FL, October 25– 28, 2015

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