Getting started with Project “Madeira” Preview & First Impressions

If you are not familiar with Project “Madeira” or would like to learn more about the Preview, please take a few minutes to read my post titled: Project “Madeira” Preview has arrived & here’s everything you need to know! 

Microsoft’s Project “Madeira” Preview is available not just for Partners and ISVs, but also for end-users. Whether you are currently using Dynamics NAV today, or you are a prospect looking for your next ERP solution, you can sign up for the preview and start taking Madeira for a test drive in minutes!

02-Preparing and finishing setup

Thanks to the new “Getting Started” product tour functionality, it will be very easy even for first time users to learn how to use Project “Madeira”. From navigation, to working with transactions and reporting, to getting the Universal App configured, it’s all covered under the Getting Started features. Furthermore, Help is also at hand, should you need it. Simply click the ? icon near the top right of the Project “Madeira” window and a new tab (or window) will open up with the help site.

Managed Services for Dynamics NAV vs. Project “Madeira”

At NAV Directions last year, Microsoft announced its Managed Services offering for Dynamics NAV, and at first glance, it isn’t a far cry from what we’re seeing with Project “Madeira”: On Azure, managed by Microsoft, in a multi-tenant architecture.

But one critical difference between the two is that Partners can build their own customized, vertical solution and offer these with Managed Services for Dynamics NAV.

In Project “Madeira”, all clients are essentially running the same out-of-the-box database, but with extensions that can be enabled or disabled to deliver customized functionality.

Since Project “Madeira” will be in use by customers of many different VARs and will be continuously updated, traditional customizations will not be allowed.

First Things First: System Requirements

You can find the detailed minimum system requirements here, but here is a brief summary:

  • Browser: Latest version of Google Chrome for Windows, Firefox for Windows, Safari on OSX, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 and Internet Explorer 11
  • Mobile Devices: iOS 8.4 or later for iPads and iPhones; Android 4.4.3 or higher and at least 1GB of RAM; Windows (Desktop or Phone) 8.1 or newer and at least 1GB of RAM
    • Smartphones must have a minimum screen size of 4″ and tablets must have a minimum screen size of 7″
  • Outlook: See the minimum system requirements link at the top of this section for full details on Outlook applications, browsers and platform support
  • Office 365 is not required, but I would certainly recommend it so you can get improved productivity with Microsoft Office apps like Outlook, Excel, and Word.

Now let’s get you signed up…

Step 1: Set up your Project “Madeira” login

The Project “Madeira” Preview is only available in the United States at this time.

With that out of the way, let’s go to http://madeira.microsoft.com (http://www.projectmadeira.com also works).

01-SignupClick on the button that reads “Try the preview” and use your “work e-mail address” to continue. Here, work e-mail address implies your Office 365 Business credentials.

If you do not have an Office 365 account but want to explore the enhanced integration features, you could sign up for a trial subscription.

If you are a Microsoft Partner, you may also have access to the Microsoft Office Demos portal, where you can create a demo O365 tenant in minutes. Follow this link for tips from Microsoft PartnerSource on provisioning a demo O365 tenant to use with Project “Madeira”.

Home and Student Office 365 logins and Microsoft Live ID credentials do not work as Office 365 Business credentials.

I have, however, found that I could use a personal e-mail address (similar to what I was able to do when signing up for a PowerBI.com account). If you are going to use a personal e-mail, then type it in, and you will see a screen asking you to check your e-mail to finish signing up (and creating a password).18-NewSignUp

Upon completing that process, go back to the Project “Madeira” site and click on “Try the Preview” again, and use the same e-mail address.

This time, you may be prompted to identify whether this is a “work or school” account or a personal account. Be sure to select “work or school” account and use the password you had set up a few moments earlier.

02-Preparing and finishing setupYou will now see a screen for a few minutes telling you the the Project “Madeira” environment is being prepared.

I’ve set up a couple different accounts (one with O365 Business, and one with a personal e-mail address), and in both cases, it took just a couple of minutes for the environment to be provisioned.

03-LoadingOnce provisioned, you will see a splash screen while Project “Madeira” loads. For those of you who are using NAV 2015 or 2016, this will look familiar to the Web Client splash screen.

When you are finally greeted by the Project “Madeira” home screen, you will find yourself in a (new) Role Center called “Business Manager” which looks somewhat like the “Small Business” Role Center from previous versions of Dynamics NAV.

04-WelcomeStep 2: Follow the “Getting Started” Product Tour

I know, I know, who’s got time to do a Product Tour?! If you’ve used Dynamics NAV, you’ll probably do what I did and skip it.

Then, 20 minutes later, you’ll be wondering to yourself, “hey, how do I activate the Universal App?” or “how do I get it to work with Outlook?” And guess what? If you’d watched the product tour, you would have been guided through all of those processes!

05-GuidedTour01The good thing is, you can always launch the product tour again by clicking the green tile (Activity Cue) titled “Replay Getting Started”.

The product tour is broken into 5 parts: Welcome Tour (navigation), Billing and Invoicing, Reporting, Run Business within Office 365 and Outlook, and Activate Tablet and Phone app (Universal App).

Step 3: Download the Universal App on your Tablet or Phone
16-Project Madeira AppIn Dynamics NAV, you would have to configure the NAV server, deploy an SSL certificate (and download/trust it, if self-signed), create a new NAV service tier, etc. None of that is needed with Project “Madeira”. It is ready for mobile access.

Simply go to the app store on your device (Apple iOS, Google Android, and Windows OS are all supported at this time) and look for the app named “Project Madeira”.

19-ActivationCodeIf you are already using the Dynamics NAV app on your mobile device, this will not be affected by downloading the Project “Madeira” app.

Also, you will not be able to use the Dynamics NAV app to connect to a Project “Madeira” tenant.

Once the app is downloaded on your device, type in the activation code (you’ll find it in the fifth part of the “Getting Started” product tour), then enter your credentials, and you’re on your way!

Need Help with Project “Madeira”? Microsoft’s got you covered!

22-MadeiraHelpWhen we need help, most of us instinctively reach for the F1 button; force of habit.

However, since you’re using a web browser to access Project “Madeira”, that won’t work. Pressing F1 will launch your browser’s Help documentation instead.

21-MadeiraO365HelpTo get to Project “Madeira” help, look towards the top right of your browser window (or the Universal App window) and you will see a question mark icon (?). Clicking on the icon will display a menu, including a link for Help.

Depending on where you are when you launch help, you will either be taken to the main help page, or to a contextually related help menu (such as “How to: Register New Customers”, if you launch Help while creating a new Customer record).

I have not been able to get to field level help in Project “Madeira” at this time, but it will likely be addressed in future updates.

Wait, There’s More! Additional Resources from Microsoft for Project “Madeira”

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV development team has created dedicated “Blog“, “Learn“, and “Feedback” sites for Project “Madeira” covering items such as connecting your tenant to PowerBI.com, Importing your business data, etc.

You can get to these directly from the Project “Madeira” site by clicking on the links on the top right of the page, or by following the direct links below:

Additionally, there is also a Project “Madeira” FAQ page on the Microsoft CustomerSource portal:

Searching in Project “Madeira”

23-DynamicsNAVSearchIn past versions of Dynamics NAV, the Web Client had a Search icon placed around the top right area of the screen, which could be used to find pages and reports that do not appear on the Role Center / home page.

 

 

23-Madeira Search

In Project “Madeira”, the same functionality exists, but the icon has been changed. Normally, an icon change would not warrant a mention, but I initially confused the icon for ‘feedback’ / ‘suggest a feature’ and found myself wondering where the Search icon had gone.

Searching in List pages is similar to the way it is in the Dynamics NAV 2016 Web Client: simply type in a partial name or number (does not need to be case-sensitive), and Project “Madeira” will search in all visible columns in the List page.

First Impressions

Project “Madeira” runs pretty zippy both in a web browser as well as from the Universal App, and I did not experience any latency issues from my office in Houston, TX. But that should be no surprise since Dynamics NAV 2016 already ran pretty fast on Azure.

In terms of hotfixes and cumulative updates, Project “Madeira” will have continuous updates, so manual code merges and patching server and client-side executables to deploy cumulative updates will be a thing of the past.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, a lot of functionality is simplified and reminiscent of Mini-forms / Mini-pages found in the Small Business Role Center in Dynamics NAV 2015 and 2016.

I am curious to see if there will be a ClickOnce Windows client option available by the time Project “Madeira” hits the market in the second half of this calendar year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it.

As I explore Project “Madeira” and closely look at the modified functionality that’s included here versus what’s included in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, I can see what Microsoft is trying to do. For years now, it has struggled to effectively position Dynamics NAV to compete well in the SaaS market, even though the product works great with Azure (and other hosting partners, and in WAN deployments) and has out of the box multi-tenancy capability and SSO.

Most VARs who have been selling Dynamics NAV for years are still more comfortable selling an on-premise single tenant solution with customizations than Dynamics NAV as a service in the cloud. Many Azure deployments still take more of an IaaS or PaaS flavor, where a customer is purchasing Dynamics NAV under the Perpetual Licensing model and then hosting the software. VARs have also struggled on the pricing front with the many variables that come into play when pricing an Azure environment.

And while there’s nothing wrong continuing to sell Dynamics NAV as an on-premise solution, or under the Perpetual licensing model, Dynamics NAV is fully capable of competing on an equal or stronger footing with other cloud-based SaaS ERP and Accounting solutions, in terms of the breadth, depth, and maturity of functionality. Unfortunately, that message is not being properly communicated to the market and to prospective buyers.

In hosted Dynamics NAV deployments, the quality of service (latency, performance, scalability, etc.) varies from hosting provider to hosting provider, as do technical skills. Customers are either paying too much for services they do not need, or keeping costs low by Dynamics NAV in severely resource constrained environments which result in performance issues and a degraded experience.

Some hosting companies still lead with Citrix and published RemoteApps, and many VARs and hosting partners alike are not leveraging tools like ClickOnce.

In fairness to third party hosting providers, any of these issues can also happen in an IaaS / PaaS Azure deployment.

But when you consider all of the above, it makes perfect sense why today a line was drawn in the sand and we now have two flavors of what is, underneath the branding, the same core product:

  • For those who want to continue to sell a system that is On-Premise, or an IaaS/PaaS model, with lots of customizations, and full ERP functionality, Dynamics NAV will continue to be the solution with the “Power of Choice”. Perpetual and SPLA licensing models will continue to be supported.
  • For competing against true cloud solutions like NetSuite, Intacct, etc., Project “Madeira” will be the way to go. SaaS offering, running in Microsoft’s Azure cloud, provisioned in minutes. Covering core ERP competencies such as Financial Management, Supply Chain Management, Opportunity Management and Project Management, integrating well with industry-leading productivity solutions like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and available on a variety of platforms and devices.

Even little improvements like adding the ability to migrate data from Intuit QuickBooks is a sign that Microsoft wants to be able to help partners cut down the time it takes to get customers live on Project “Madeira” so they can get a quicker return on their investment.

To summarize, I think Microsoft deserves a pat on the back for a job well started. Having said that, let’s see how Project “Madeira” (and Dynamics NAV) evolves over the weeks and months that follow.


 

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Microsoft Project “Madeira”, please visit: http://aka.ms/MadeiraFAQ

 

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