Navision Porsche

A brief history of Cbiz and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

39 years old today!

Cbiz started all those years ago in 1981, just 3 years before the original version of Dynamics 365 Business Central was released. Back then it was called PC-Plus and made by PC & C in Denmark.

Who would have known that 10 years after its launch, “Navision” would cross our paths? It did so with a bang in 1994. It was under the guise of Navi 3.56, and I still remember the training course – run by Jens Lykkegaard – that my Dad, brother and myself were on. It was the first course run in the UK by Navision.

I remember being gobsmacked by the products interface, technologies, robustness and open development environment. It really felt like the future. It was a far cry from the existing solutions out there. Navision was a car compared to the horse & cart solutions we had seen back then!

While the path of Cbiz and PC & C took wildly different courses, it was the shared vision that they and my Dad had that struck me. They both wanted businesses to have an accounts and inventory / supply chain solution that could be moulded to their own needs. This similarity of vision was to the point that my Dad dropped his own hand-crafted ERP project and backed Navision fully.

To put it into practical terms, he had spent almost 2 years designing & coding a customisable Accounts and Inventory solution in Borland C++, just so Cbiz could offer businesses the ability to tailor their system to meet their own individual preferences. The exact same goal as PC & C. They just took it a huge step further by creating their own development environment and database to make that happen!

Reflecting on the past 39 years, Cbiz has been fortunate enough to have seen the world of technology and accounting systems morph and grow in leaps and bounds.

Reminiscing over the first few years before Microsoft bought Navision, we took quite a technical lead in the sector:

  • First custom-designed Accounting software, written on a Tandy TRS-80 Model III (early 1980’s)
  • Designing & creating “MacWason”, we think the (or at least one of the) first GUI accounting packages designed on & for the original Apple Macintosh (mid-late 1980s)
  • Writing a MUMPS based hotel back office solution (mid-1980’s to early 1990’s)
  • Writing a Windows-based accounts & finance system that could be customised for individual businesses (mid-1990s)
  • Attending the 1st Navision (now Business Central) training course in the UK (~1994)
  • Worked on the original text-based Navi 3.55/3.56 in UK projects (1995).
  • So solid and flexible was the Navi3.56 foundation, that our last customer (on this version) started their “upgrade” in 2009!
  • Worked on the 1st windows-based version of Navision (Navision Financials), deploying it to a test environment before it was released (at Beta 8) (~1995).
  • Created a single company solution that had VAT registration in several countries and currencies (mid-late 1990’s)
  • Created a fully integrated real-time ecommerce solution that enabled a new brand site/portal to be launched within a day.
  • With all setups done in Navision and no web knowledge required (late 1990’s / early 2000’s)
  • Had Navision working with SQL Server as its live database before Navision enabled this as an option (early 2000’s).

Since Microsoft bought Navision is has gone through a few renames, huge technical changes and is now ‘properly’ on the cloud.

Since Microsoft took the reins, the product has gone through several improvements:

SQL Server is an option, product rebrand and increases in functionality

  • Microsoft Business Solutions Navision 3.70
  • Microsoft Business Solutions NAV 4.00

A new “three-tier” architecture option is released

  • Dynamics NAV 2009: (“6.00”) 2009, 2009 SP1, 2009 R2

The modern 3 tier solution is now the only option

  • Dynamics NAV 2013: (“7.00”) 2013, (“7.1”) 2013 R2
  • Dynamics NAV 2015: (“8.00”) 2015
  • Dynamics NAV 2016: (“9.00”) 2016

Development can now be deployed as “Extensions”

  • Dynamics NAV 2017: (“10.00”) 2017
  • Dynamics NAV 2018: (“11.00”) 2018, (“12.00) 2018 R2

Cloud-based solution as well as continuing with the on-premise (both with the same functionality)

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: (“13.00”)
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Spring Release: (“14.00”)

Development can only be deployed as an Extension

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Wave 2: (“15.00”)
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Wave 1 2020: (“16.00”)

As you can see Dynamics NAV is far from over, dead, buried, or side-lined (no matter what the competition wants – or would want you – to believe! While Dynamics 365 Business Central looks completely different to the “Classic” interfaces – or that of the text-based solution it is so proudly founded on – its functionally has deep dependable roots going all the way back to 1984. And now, with Microsoft, it has branches reaching for the sky. Showing just how future proof PC & C’s original idea was and how far Microsoft R&D can take it.

I liken Business Central’s journey to Porsche and their 911’s. They have improved & honed their 911 over many years (luckily, they didn’t keep renaming it!), each version faster and more advanced than the previous. A modern sports car, enhanced by its heritage and founded on a concept that is as relevant today as it was groundbreaking in 1963.

It has been both fun & reflective reminiscing over the past few decades. We’ve been lucky to have been involved in such an active, progressive and energetic time in the world of business software.

I am looking forward to seeing and being involved with what the Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Common Data Services and Microsoft’s broader vision for Dynamics 365 delivers: for businesses and its users. Happy Birthday Cbiz!


For more information, Wikipedia and the dynamicsuser.net sites have a wealth of detailed information, some of which was used to write the above.
External links disclaimer: Although we make every effort to ensure these links are accurate, up to date and relevant, Creative Business Systems (Cbiz) cannot take responsibility for pages maintained by external providers.

PS Unfortunately, my model Porsche 911 GT2 lost it’s Navision branded spoiler sometime ago!

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