I first heared about Navision five years ago, when I was working as a .NET developer on a web shop project. One of my tasks was to integrate the ordering functionality with customer’s existing system using the fixed format document exchange. At that time my whole world was object oriented, I used C# more than any other language, human or computer, and solution to any problem started with { and ended with }. Business logic was farthest I went in touching any business problem. Business was for businessmen, I was a programmer.

Then came along this project. This Navision something or other thing, that my web shop had to work with, that I had to care about not messing up, because customer’s business depended on it. Navision was something like SAP, my boss explained, only far inferior. No-one can beat SAP, said he, it had twenty thousand engineer-years invested into it and whatever step you make to get close, SAP will make ten more. It’s that big. But Navision was also very good, said he, only not that good. I was young, and he was smart and experienced and flashy and knew things, and I took it for granted. While it did tickle my mind, and I put in some effort to find out what these two really were, I barely had time to do anything out of scope of my project duties, so I did what I had to do, wrote that integration thingy, and went on, forgetting about SAP, and Navision, and anything else, for that matter, that wasn’t embedded in a namespace or didn’t smell of inheritance and polymorphism.

I next heared about Navision some six months later. A customer called me, and told me about this company who was hiring Navision consultants and developers, he knew the manager and could say a word or two about me, and this would be a great career move for me. I had no experience in Navision, but he said it didn’t really matter.

What the heck, I thought, let him do it. He said a word or two, and I posted my CV, expecting nothing. When the company called me in for the interviews, I realized it was time to do the homework. That’s when I really learned something about Navision.

First thing I learned was that it was an ERP system, whatever in the world that meant, and that it was comprised of all sorts of other mumbo-jumbo, including MRP, and SCM, and CRM, and whatnot. All this gobbledygook was more than enough to scare me, a simple programmer, off, but I wouldn’t give up only so easily. I kept up reading.

And then, in a blink of an eye, my whole perception of IT collapsed like a card-house, and a brand new one emerged, where problems were not solved with algorithms, and where issues peaked at levels way above code-optimization. Here was this whole new world of integrated business processes. My newly defunct idea of IT consisted of networks, databases, applications and services, and what I came to realize was that all of this, which up to that point was my whole world, was there just to support something more important – the business itself. What I went through was a true copernican revolution of thought.

I was at the crossroads, and I had to make up my mind: should I continue the way I was walking before, the way of a programmer (or developer, whatever you prefer), where I was totally at home and could fathom solutions in no time, or should I take this new way, where new skills would have to be acquired quickly and where most of what I have learned so far was soon to be forgotten or rendered irrelevant, with new challenges unalike anything I have ever seen before. The former would give me stability, easiness of the well-known path, while the latter would surely bring uncertainty of stepping into the unknown, and possibly a failure. Was I up to the challenge? I was haunted by the question. I had to decide.

Theodore Roosevelt allegedly said that when faced with a decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

I did the right thing. And Navision has changed my career.


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