With Project “Madeira” and Office 365 Outlook, 1+1=3

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! 

24-Madeira OutlookLike Dynamics NAV, the Project “Madeira” Preview plays well with Microsoft Office, and especially Office 365.

From O365 Single-Sign On, to the ability to export data to Excel and Word, to copying and pasting rows from Excel, to integrating with OneNote, to sending e-mails, synchronizing contacts and getting Inbox / Task overview with Outlook, it’s all been there in Dynamics NAV for some versions now.

So how can Microsoft makes things better with Dynamics NAV and Office? Well, for one, there’s plenty of room for improvement with the Outlook integration. Dynamics CRM has excelled on this front for many years now, with the ability to track e-mails, manage contacts and opportunities, and much more without ever leaving Outlook.

While we didn’t exactly get the Dynamics CRM flavor of Outlook integration, what we are getting is quite significant, and in some ways, even exceeds what Dynamics CRM and other ERP systems are capable of today!

This functionality was initially demonstrated at the NAV Directions conference in Orlando,FL last year.

Right from an e-mail in Outlook for Office 365, you can launch a NAV function or see related information about the customer or vendor and their transactions. This brings a whole new level of integration between the ERP system and Outlook that will, no doubt, help with efficiency.

From the “Getting Started” page, go to fourth part of the product tour, and click on “Set up in Outlook”. This will send out a series of sample e-mails to help you get started.

28-Madeira Outlook 5

Whether you are using the Office 365 Outlook Web App, or the installed version of Microsoft Outlook, you can enable the Project “Madeira” add-in.

This functionality is designed to work from the Universal App for Tablets and Phones as well.

I have personally tested the new functionality only in the Office 365 Outlook Web App at this time. When time permits, I will try to test the functionality with a locally installed version of Microsoft Outlook as well.

25-Madeira Outlook 2

 

Note: The Project “Madeira” add-in does not appear to be available in the Office store (https://store.office.com), so I am not sure how it will be installed. Perhaps it’s a privately published add-in? I should point out that this has not impacted me in any way when using the Office 365 Outlook Web App.

 

Upon completing the step in “Getting Started”, you will receive three e-mails from Project “Madeira” Preview:

  1. 26-Madeira Outlook 3From “Project Madeira Admin”: Open this e-mail first. It walks you through how to use the add-in to see information from Madeira in Outlook
  2. From “Andy Teal” (Customer contact): Sample e-mail with a Sales Quote request
  3. From “Julia Collins” (Vendor contact): Sample e-mail with an Invoice from a Vendor

27-Madeira Outlook 4In e-mails #2 and #3, you can click on the Project “Madeira” add-in to see information on the customer / vendor right within the e-mail, and click on the Create action to generate a new Sales Quote or Purchase Invoice.

 

Results:

In both e-mails #2 and #3, the Customer and Vendor were correctly identified and the Header was populated, but I noticed that no Lines in the transaction were populated. So it does not appear that the functionality – as it stands – is able to create Sales Lines or Purchase Lines based on information in the e-mail.

I also stumbled upon an interesting behavior when testing this functionality with both e-mails #2 and #3 open in separate pop-up windows at the same time and viewing Project “Madeira” information in both windows.

Outlook (or more appropriately, the add-in) let me create a Sales Quote in e-mail #2, but when I attempted to create a Purchase Invoice in e-mail #3, I got an error telling me the Contact was not associated with a Vendor. Upon closer review, I noticed that the add-in was referencing the contact from e-mail #2.

I closed both e-mail pop-up windows, and when I went to each e-mail one by one and tried again, I did not get any error messages.

Conclusion:

All in all, pretty slick functionality. I don’t believe I have seen this level of integration with any of the other ERP systems I’ve been around.

If you think this isn’t a game changer, just read this review on PCWorld.com which calls Project “Madeira” a Small Business Productivity Hub. While PCWorld is a leading technology publication, they rarely write about mid-market ERP systems. So when a senior editor writes a piece on Project “Madeira” the day it is announced, you can gauge how significant this new functionality is.

Well played Microsoft, well played!

Note: Office 365 Home and Student subscriptions function differently from Office 365 Business subscriptions. The functionality described above requires an O365 Business subscription (sometimes referred to as a “Work or School account”), and will not work with O365 Home and Student accounts which use a generic Microsoft account (formerly called a Live ID).

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