Author Archives: Alex Chow

Misconceptions about Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision) Implementation

It’s the dawn of a new year and if you’re still reading this blog, congratulations! Why? Because you’re still in business after going through the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. So hats off to you and thank you for keeping our economy afloat by doing what you do!

I have to say that 2010 was a pretty good year for AP Commerce and we’ve worked hard to meet the strict requirements set by Microsoft for the partners to maintain the Silver level. I’m hoping we can keep the momentum going for 2011.

Regarding Dynamics NAV, as much as Microsoft is out there educating partners and customers, there are still a lot of misconceptions that I find in the market place about the implementation of NAV. I just thought I’d share some of these misconceptions that I find myself explaining several times to different parties.

Your Partner Needs a Large Team to do a Proper NAV Implementation
NAV is a product that is specifically designed to allow implementers to help clients get up and running in a short period of time. As such, it really doesn’t make too much sense to have a bunch of NAV implementer/developers coming and going to your individual site. From my experience, any additional NAV professionals that are added to your implementation project beyond 3 I’d consider pretty excessive. At 3 NAV professionals, you will start seeing a point of diminishing or negative return. Having being a 3rd person on a NAV project before, there were barely enough things to keep me busy for half a day. So yes, a NAV team of between 1-3 people can help your $100 million a year company go live with NAV.

This is not to say that you can get away with a small NAV team on the implementee side. Not having enough key people involved from the client’s end usually spells disaster from missed requirements and/or refusing to buy into the new process.

NAV is an IT Software
NAV is NOT an IT software. It’s an operation software for your business. I’d say less than 5% of NAV needs really needs to involved IT. As such, the biggest mistake the client can make regarding NAV is to have NAV be managed by the IT department. Since most IT departments are not heavily involved in the daily operations of your business, it’s very tough to expect your IT to effectively manage and propose projects that enhance your business operations. The best possible candidate to be the manager of NAV is the people that are involved in your core operations. This person does not need to have any IT experience, but he/she does needs a huge amount of experience and knowledge with your operations. There’s nothing IT about production planning.

NAV Requires Heavy Customization
Not considering the business forms (PO, SO, Invoice, etc), NAV can and have been used out of the box. The reason that there’s a misconception about that NAV requiring heavy customization is because most of the customization that are done not are NOT actually required. They’re done to enhance the respective operation they’re implemented in. As mentioned in my previous blog, every business is ran differently, because of these differences and the owners of NAV realizing the power of having the flexibility to customize, there’s usually a desire to squeeze as much productivity as possible. There’s nothing wrong with customization as long as they can translate into time and money saved for your business.

Once these owners are used to these modifications that makes their operations that much more effective, they start to wonder why this isn’t the “standard function”. The reason why some functions are not “standard functions” is because not everyone runs their business the same way. On this topic, this is precisely why the “cloud ERP” model at this stage, does not work. The cloud has to be everything to everybody, conforming to the cloud may be tough for your business to have a competitive advantage to squeeze every penny out of overhead. Rather, it may increase your workload since you may be forced to use Excel or other programs to keep track of and process data that is not in the cloud (this is probably a separate blog post).

NAV is Expensive to Implement
This is a tough subject to tackle. The bottom line is that expense is relative. If I can propose a project to you that cost $1 million, but it can save you $1.1 million, it may be a good investment. The reason I say may is because you would need to break out your financial calculator and calculate the present and future value of the money for the investment verses the present and future value of the money saved, over time. Not turning this into a finance class, the point is that you really have to determine what it can bring to your business instead of just looking at the price tag. If your partner can eliminate unnecessary steps and processes while allowing your existing employees to be more effective at what they do, what is the break even point on the investment?

Any investment, in my opinion, that pays back within 5 years is a pretty good investment. More aggressive people may require the investment to payback in 3 years or less. Factoring into this payback period is the risk of an implementation failure, which is something an executive must gage as well.

My guess is that any investment in NAV to improve your business will have a better payback period than a new Mercedes S550. Unless that’s your dream car, in which case I’d ask you to set a bigger dream.

Small Partners and the new MPN Requirements

The New Hope:
The new requirement for the MPN (Microsoft Partner Network) have many small partners (including myself) start questioning whether Microsoft cares about them at all. It seems like the new requirements are designed to have one specific interest in mind: to get rid of small partners. From a business perspective (meaning the perspective of executives and/or MBAs with no experience running a NAV business), that seems to make sense. Focus more resource on the top revenue generators in the channel because they’re the one making money for Microsoft, eliminate or reduce the resource that are available for the small partners that produce little for Microsoft.

Doing this, the hope is to drive in more revenue, while reducing overhead and cost. Everybody wins. Yeh!
 

The Reality:
As many of you know, I run a small Navision shop here in Los Angeles, California. Each year, we get 1 maybe 2 new NAV deals. Customers that does business with us, stays with us and continues to invest in Dynamics NAV in the form of new granule purchases and being current on the enhancement plan.

Through the years, I’ve purposely kept my company small. Why? It’s a long list, here are a couple off the top of my head:

1. I’m not interested in headaches of running a large company
2. I’m don’t want to deal with employee politics
3. I don’t like overhead (I believe optimal size of a NAV company is 5 or LESS. One is ideal)
4. I’m not interested in upkeeping a sales and marketing department
5. I want to keep the quality of the products that we deliver
6. I’m not interested in selling products/services that customers don’t need
7. I want to keep the personal relationship I have with my customers
8. I want to keep the personal relationship I have with the people that works for me

And, I believe at the end of the day, the difference in what the staff at AP Commerce brings home now vs. if we were a large solution center, may not be all that different. If there is a difference, I don’t believe the difference is enough to have an impact on our current lifestyle.

Given that, why the bother with the headaches?

The majority of our business is recovering failed implementations and helping customers that hates the system love it again. In another words, we keep customers and business from hating Microsoft for the remainder of their natural life. We make business want to invest in Microsoft again.

Any now they want to get rid of me?

In addition, one of the best developers I know in NAV, Per Mogensen (owner of Mergetool.com), recently came out and started his own company to better serve customers and the channel. With the new MPN requirements, there would be no way for him to do that. This is a monumental loss. Yes. Monumental.
 

The Cleansing:
So this year at Directions US 2010, I had a chip on my shoulder. I couldn’t depend on the Directions committee or the advisory board because the body only consisted of people from large solution centers. They are naturally going to be protecting their own interest.

What’s interesting from the Directions keynote by Michael Park was that they have no intention of getting rid of partners because they realize that partners are the lifeblood of their success. This was all quite confusing.

Since Michael Park was no where to be found after the keynote (I think he sensed I was coming), I had to approach another Microsoft senior manager to get some answers.

The place where I met him (shall be nameless since I don’t know if he’ll get in trouble) was quite noisy. He basically broke it down one of the key intentions of the new MPN requirements:

New Small Partners that Sell – Since the requirements to be a NAV partner is so easy. A lot of greedy IT folks are trying to catch the success of NAV. So they would go into a site, make insane promises just to make the sell, crap out, and dissappear into the night with the customer’s money. While not as big of problem in the US, it’s a huge problem (from what I heard) in Europe.
Internal Companies – Companies with large IT department can get around purchasing a license by certifying their own IT department to become a NAV partner.

In that regards, yes, get rid of those partners. People shouldn’t be selling NAV if they don’t know what they’re doing. Companies should be purchasing license instead of becoming a NAV partner just to get the license.

The third partner they intend to get rid of are what are termed “lifestyle partners“. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish describing what lifestyle partners are. From the few words he described, it seems to fit the description of our company. In another words, partners that don’t really sell. Before I could extract additional information from him, he had to leave to perform on stage (which I missed…).


A New New Hope:

There are flip sides to all intentions. I guess having the barrier to entry into NAV set so low, we’re really allowing unethical behavior to more easily occur. However, there are a ton of smaller partners out there who’s sole purpose is to pick up unhappy customers and make them happy again, and THAT has to translate into concrete dollars for Microsoft.

Make no doubt about it, small partners are an absolute key in the success for NAV. Forget NAV, the whole partner channel. Too bad the MBAs of the world does not understand that.

So I guess there’s really a delima on what to do next. On one hand, you’re risking your lifeblood with this partner “purge”, and on the other hand, you want to protect the credibility of the product.

Sucks to be a Microsoft executive right now.

Recap of Directions US 2010 for Dynamics NAV (Navision)

This is an overview of my experiences at Directions US 2010. Again, Directions US 2010 is THE place to be at if you’re interested in learning any new for Dynamics NAV (Navision).

The biggest difference that I noticed on this conference is Microsoft’s presence. But the biggest presence is not about showcasing the latest technology, or talk about how good the product is. Rather, it’s open forum where you can meet and interact with the product team, managers, AND executives! I have to say that I’ve never attended a Microsoft conference where you can so freely interact with all levels of the NAV team. We get to hear opportunities and concerns from all levels in the NAV organization; which is pretty cool!

KeyNote:
Let’s start with the Keynote. As may of you may know from my last blog post at Directions, I got in trouble because I posted some numbers that were not meant for the general public. So this year, they were a little more careful abour releasing the numbers. Here are the key points on Dynamics NAV:

– Dynamics NAV is the #1 Revenue generator for the Dynamics product family
– It has the largest presence for ERP partners on the Partner Network
– Despit the economic downturn, the growth of NAV has been on a steady increase!

The last point just blew my mind! Even in an economic downturn, companies are still investing in ERP software, and more specifically, into NAV. Not just that, NAV grew in the economic downturn! This just shows you what a great product Dynamics NAV is and how good the parnter network that stands behind it is.

One other huge point is that Kirill (the head guy for Dynamics) is not under the business solution division anymore. He now reports directly to Steve Ballmer (the head of Microsft). This means that the Dynamics business is now significant enough that now warrants Steve Ballmer’s direct attention.

Product:
The demo on Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 has been showcased. There are couple of interesting things:

– Visual representation of data – The demo they showed is the new Item Availibity screen. It’s a visual representation on the stock level. You can click the chart and have the system generate a new purchase order based on the user input. In addition, this screen now takes into account forecast as well!

– RTC (Role Tailor Client) over the WAN – With R2, the users can now use the RTC over the WAN. This means that you can have remote offices and sales people take advantage of the the full functionalities of the RTC without the limitations of using remote desktop and/or terminal server.
There was an image of Dan Brown using the FULL RTC on an airplane 38,000 feet above ground.

– Most of the add-ins in the demo video are now in the base R2 product. Frankly, this should’ve been in there in SP1.

Interesting ISV:

Jet Reports – They’re an adhoc reporting tool using Excel. The Jet 2010 product has been greatly enhanced and there are a lot more templates and a easier user interface to start using the product. Some may even make the case that you don’t need to be good in Excel anymore to create nice reports in Jet. Comes with some very nice standard reports.

Centerline Pivotier – They’re a reporting tool as well. However, their approach is very different from Jet Reports. Their approach is to leverage the existing Microsoft product in SQL (that you already own and use) to generate nice reports. This product is a little more techincal, but easy enough to train end users. Also comes with some very nice standard reports.

Software-as-service (SaaS) companies – The whole concept of going to Cloud Computing. Believe it or not, NAV has a cloud model. And some of these SaaS companies that have booths at Directions are showing how it can be done.

Session of the Conference:
I have to say the sessions I enjoyed the most are the interactions with all levels of the Dynamics NAV team. From product managers to executives. It’s very valuable that they ARE taking into account on what we are saying about the product and ARE putting our input into releases.

I also got answers on why the tougher new MPN requirements. As a small partner, it seems that they’re trying to get rid of me, along with other smaller partners that has really been the lifeblood of why NAV was successful int eh first place. However, upon getting into a deeper conversation with an executive, I now fully understand why (my next blog topic).

Interesting Note:
I got more than a few people coming up to me. Not because they saw my blog or saw my posting on mibuso or dynamicsuser.net. They know me because because I was the “dissonant” voice in these Microsoft sessions. I spoke what, in their opinion, needed to be said. I guess when you’re really passionate about something, you fight tooth and nail to preserve it. Or make it better.

How to Define SetData and GetData in RTC Reports in Dynamics NAV Navision

For some reason unfamiliar to me, Microsoft likes to write tutorials that does not easily teach you what you need to do to get the job done.

For basic List type reports, yes, it’s quick and simple, however, when it comes to reports involving forms (i.e. sales order, sales invoice, etc), I cannot find a good tutorial on how to get it done.

Forget about the Create Layout Suggestion feature on the form type reports. It sucks. You’d save a lot more time by re-creating your layouts in the standard NAV RDLC report.

One of the most important aspects of the Form type report when you’re trying to edit the standard report is 2 functions: SetData and GetData.

In this example, I’m modifying report 5703 (Transfer Order) report. I’m going to add the Shipment Date and the Shipment Method Code to the report in the report.

Here’s what you need to do, step by step:

1. Create the fields in the classic report and point to the proper field. It doesn’t matter where you put it as we’re not displaying the classic report.
Pic1

2. Click on View –> Layout. This is to modify the report when running the report in the RTC environment. Note that you’ll need Visual Studio 2005 and above to do this.
Pic2

3. You want to add 4 additional text boxes. Two for the caption box and 2 for the text box. I just copy and paste from the existing text boxes above. Number your GetData function 21 to 24 as shown in the example.

Background and the reason for this, if you’re not interested, skip to #4:
Now you need to do a little detective work to find where the SetData and the GetData is. If you notice on the upper left corner, there’s a small hidden field in red. If you highlight the field, the code reads:
Pic3

What’s the reason behind using SetData and GetData? The reason is because you cannot add field text boxes in the report header. The argument here is performance. If you like to read, there’s a section in the 80146B manual that you can download from Customersource or Partnersource. So most of the coding is done on the lines area.

Now, back to the tutorial, where to set the SetData and GetData? Here’s where you need to play a little detective.

4. On the lower right corner, there are some additional hidden boxes in red. Highlight each one of them until you find this one (Note the HeaderInfo. It corresponds to the SetData).
Pic4

5. Highlight the text box and go to the Value property. Click on the Property Page icon to display the property of the Value:�
Pic5

6. Go to the General tab and click on the fx button next to the Value
Pic6

7. Type in the 4 additional fields you’ve set from row 21-24.
Pic7

8. Click OK and close and save the report

9. Go back to the RTC and run the Transfer Order report:
Pic8

There you have it. Seems like an awful lot of steps for something so simple… But this is supposed to make our life easier so we’ll walk along and wait for the benefits to come.

Properly Upgrading to New Versions of Dynamics NAV / Navision

Despite what the salespeople will tell you, an upgrade is an intensive task. While it’s not as intensive as doing a new implementation, it should not be taken lightly by the partner or the end user.

One of the best things about Dynamics NAV/Navision it gives you the freedom to modify it so it fits your company like a glove. It’s because of this freedom, that you’re able to gain an competitive edge over your competitors and/or to satisfy your customer’s demands. With that freedom, you may have made a ton of modifications in order to satisfy a certain operation at some point in time.

As we all know in the world of business, everything is constantly changing. Requirements change, the way business is done change, the way we interact with each other change. Some change for the better, some may be worse. But one thing that is constant is that we, as human beings, cannot foresee the future changes with 100% certainty. Because of this, business owners and decision makers will often make modification requests that satisfies certain demands of their industry that seems brilliant at the time, but is quickly phased out in place of other changes.

The ERP software itself has to change with the business. This is why you’re considering a software upgrade to your business. Because business demands have changed and the technology has changed.

Having said that, there are basically 2 ways of doing an upgrade. In this post, I will explain the 2 methods of doing an upgrade and why I prefer one way over the other.

Merge Object Run Toolkit
One way to do an upgrade is the “merge object run toolkit” method. There are numerous tools to merge code, in fact, I’m surprised there’s not already a tool out there to automatically merge the code for you. Troubleshooting the error messages that comes up after compilation is easy. A programmer just have to compile, identify the problem, change the variables, remove some code, add some code, then done.

The merge object run toolkit option is quick, simple – a monkey can do it. In fact, if you were to go this route, I suggest you ask your solution provider to export all the codes into a text file, then hire an intern to do the code merge for you. Then ask your solution partner to toubleshoot errors that comes up. It’ll be a lot cheaper than asking your solution provider to hire an intern and bill you for it. If you don’t feel comfortable with an intern, you can contract an offshore developer for $10.00 to $15.00 an hour to do the merge for you.

The “merge object run toolkit” method is th the absolute wrong way to do an upgrade. Essentially, you’re piling on crap on top of crap. In this case, you’re better off NOT upgrading and staying with whatever version you’re using. It’ll save you a ton of headaches and unnecessary expenses.

Analysis of Objects then Upgrade
An upgrade has many benefits. They include newer technology so your workers can be more efficient, new ways of bringing information together at your finger tips, easier to get a new hire on board with easier interface. The additions are many.

However, one of the least looked at of the benefits of an upgrade is what we can take out. As stated before, because of Dynamics NAV/Navision ability to customize, you may have made some changes in your system that is no longer used or used sparingly. Removing unnecessary codes will simplify your processes, screen layouts, reduce training for new employees, and yes, improve the performance of your database.

In addition, there may be some changes or modifications done that is now part of the standard functionality in the new version. You may also want to consider removing those the modification in favor of the standard functionality to make support and future upgrades easier.

Doesn’t this seem like a lot of decision making for a “simple” upgrade that you may have been promised?

When doing an upgrade, assuming you have partnered with a good solution provider, should do analysis on existing modifications. List all important changes and modifications done to the existing database. Suggest what can be taken out and if the modifications have a standard function equivalent.

From the list, the users will need to decide what modifications can be removed, what to keep, whether to use existing functions, or revamp the existing process for a better process provided by the new system.

For the NAV partners, this requires a good knowledge of new features and how the new and existing functionalities are used.

Conclusion
Needless to say, I’m not a fan of of the first method. If you’re planning to upgrade using the “merge object run toolkit”, I would highly suggest you to save your money or donate that money to charity.

If you received a quote from a partner for an upgrade with the “merge object run toolkit” method, I would hang up the phone, burn the quote, and run as far away as possible. You may need to take a shower and change your phone number as well.

Be Current or Not Current on the Microsoft Annual Enhancement Plan

Since Microsoft announced the new Business Ready Enhancement Plan Renewal Policy, talks about whether the customer should stay current has increased significantly.

At 16% of your total software list price, it’s potentially a sizable recurring investment for companies using the software. Not just specifically to Microsoft, almost all ERP, CRM, business software out there requires users to pay an annual enhancement of some sort.

Other than the obvious questions of “what do I get for staying current?”, the benefits are numerous and I encourage you to get with your partner to learn what these benefits are. But the primary reason with the new policy is that you need to be current in order to purchase additional granules and users.

This may sound very scary at first, but hopefully this blog post will put in perspective on what this means should you decide to stay current or not.

1. How many years of Enhancement will I pay to pay for the software again?
Assuming your system list price is $100.00. At 16%, you’d be paying $16.00 per year. So $100.00 / $16.00 = 6.25 years. You would need to be current on the Microsoft Enhancement Plan for 6.25 to pay for the software again.

In another words, the bet you placed by staying current on the enhancement plan is that Microsoft will release new versions of NAV that you will upgrade to (full or executable only) during 6.25 years. In addition, with the new enhancement plan policy, you’re also betting that you’re business will grow and change, therefore, requiring additional modules and user licenses in the 6.25 year time span. So if you’ve purchased additional modules, upgraded, etc during the 6.25 year time frame, you’ve won.

2. How many years can I not pay the enhancement plan for the cost to accumulate to pay for the software again?
Again, assuming your system list price is $100.00. Assuming that you decided to skip the enhancement after the first year, the penalty you’ll pay is around 20% (you may have to check the exact percentage in your area). So $100.00 / $20.00 = 5 years. You can skip the enhancement for 5 years and pay for the software again in 5 years.

In another words, the bet you placed by NOT staying current on the enhancement plan is that Microsoft will not release anything of interest worthy of upgrading your system in the next 5 years. You do not expect your business to see growth or changes to purchase additional modules or user licenses. If you have not purchased any modules or done any upgrade to newer version in the 5 years since you skipped the enhancement, you’ve won.

Conclusion:
In a down economy, it may pay not to be current if you do not expect the cycle of your business to turn up again within the next 5 year period. Then again, it’s pretty tough to gage what will happen in the next 5 years.

Whether or not to stay current really depends on the business and the people that runs the business. For the enhancement plan, I always view this as an insurance and the same type of mentality as an insurance. Most of the time you pay for the insurance premiums complaining about it’s hefty price, but when problems occur, you’re glad you paid the premium. In Navision’s case, the time is 6.25 years.

Implementing NAV (Navision) through a 3rd party Consultant

Rarely in a NAV implementation that the problem you get stuck on is techincal. As we all know, Dynamics NAV aka Navision is simple to implement and simple to customize. It’s one of the reason why it’s the dominate mid market ERP today.

Most of the challenges you’ll face are with people. And one of the toughest challenges when implementing Dynamics NAV is working with 3rd party consultants the end user company hired to help them implement a new system.

Perhaps, this is one of the bad side affects our industry has brought on to ourselves. With too many software  partners not knowing what they’re doing (or as some people call them: crooks), it’s natural for clients to feel fearful that their implementation will fail. So the client will naturally want to bring an objective 3rd to give second opinions and help the client through this transition.

Most of the time, these 3rd party consultants will have years and years of experience in the accouting software industry. They will often hold certifications, have CPA or MBA background, have good relationship or are friends with either the owner or a top executive of the company, and may have developed or sold the old system they’re replacing with Dynamics Navision.

Having worked with the client before you come in, they’re often unusally firm on how they want things to progress. The challenge is to work with them and sell them on your game plan to get the client implemented successfully.

Some of the pitfalls when implementing through a 3rd party consultants are:
– They try to lead the implementation even though they do not understand NAV or the implementation process
– They claim knowedge of all aspects of clients business, often they don’t.
– Get caught up with “what should be there” instead of opening their mind to new ways for the clients to get things done
– They are pressured to be productive, so they often take a small pieces of a business process and create unnecessary steps, error checks, reports that sounds great verbally, but inpractical when actually doing it.

In addition, some of the non-implementation problems you may encounter are:
– Eating into the client’s IT budget
– Clients avoids responsibility for the implementation of Navision
– Thrid party consultants have their own priorities

As an implementor, you cannot simply brush these people aside. Obviously, they’re able win the hearts and minds of the top executives in order to get the contract. Brushing them aside would award you with the biggest enemy during and after the implementation.

Unfortunately, years in the accounting or ERP software business are not useful if the person has no NAV experience. I equate that to hiring a general doctor and asking him/her to perform heart surgery.

This is not to say that companies does not need 3rd party consultants. They are important to fulfill key expertise you may not have. They are also potential key allies during implementation to convince the users of the ideas and changes in business processes. This is true especially if they have a close relationship with the company management.

Some of the benefits they provide are:
– Organize the relevent people during interview process
– Cut through the politics and get you the information you need
– Help you get the implementation moving when it has stalled

Some of the best 3rd party consultants I’ve work with does the following:
– Provide services that compliments NAV. (i.e. server, Sharepoint, network, etc)
– There to learn NAV with an open mind and attempt to learn table, form, report, etc designer
– Document new processes and procedures after the implementation of NAV
– Eager to become part of your team and learn how to support the client after they’re live

The best case scenario is the 3rd party consultant stays out of your way implementing Navision and help you when you ask for it.

If you cannot avoid working with a 3rd party consultant, the best advice is to let down your ego. Remember that we’re there to do the job for the client, NOT to take the job from the 3rd party consultant.

Take the time to explain the whole process and treat him like he’s part of the management. Again, the key is to convince the 3rd party consultant to allow you to take the lead on the implementation, then have him take the lead for taking over ongoing support.

Ensure that you do not let him/her feel threatened that you’re going to discredit him or take his job, this is NOT what we’re there to do.

How to Create Drilldown page to a custom table in RTC – NAV2009 SP1

This is so someone does not pull their hair out like I just did. I cannot find anywhere in the documentation where this is explained so here it is:

1. Create your custom table
2. Create the drilldown page with SourceTable to your custom table
3. Save the page and REMEMBER THE ID
4. Go to the table property on the table you created in step 1
5. TYPE IN the Page ID in the DrillDownFormID property in step 4
6. Save and test your work.

In the table designer, there’s no place to specify the Drilldown Page. So you will need to use the DrillDownFormID property on the table even though there’s no forms created. 

<Posted edited, thanks to a3arn for confirm that you do not need to create a form>

If you look through the standard objects, you’ll notice that the drilldown FORMS have the same ID as the drilldown PAGES. Tricky….

Future of Dynamics NAV (Navision) – Recap of Directions 2009

This blog post is an overview of my experience at Directions 2009. In my opinion, this is THE event to attend if you provide software or service to Dynamics NAV (Navision).

Most of the sessions in Directions 2009 were about the RTC experience, upgrading to RTC, getting partners to buy into RTC.

Instead of posting a session summary ,which doesn’t really do the presenter justice with a few paragraphs, I just decided to write some highlights that stuck out for me during this event.

Numbers:
Now, for some numbers shared by the MBS executives:
– xx% of all Microsoft ERP sales is Dynamics NAV Navision – (Microsoft asked me to remove this number)
– There are now 1,350,000+ registered users for Dynamics NAV (Navision)
– There are 76,000+ Dynamics NAV (Navision) customer implementations worldwide
– No other mid-market ERP has more users and install base

Wow!! That’s some serious numbers! xx% of all Microsoft ERP sales is Navision! For all the people saying that Microsoft will discontinue or kill Dynamics NAV or Navision in favor of other products, I would seriously ask them to check their facts again.

New Cool Stuff in NAV2009 SP1:
(For all the people that covered what I’m about to write, I’m sorry if I’m duplicating)

– Dynamics Online – This is a Microsoft Software + Services thing. The demo they showed is a customer processing credit card transactions and have the credit card cleared by Dynamics Online. This is very neat and I’m very excited to see what other services they plan to offer with this program.

– Drilldown to Detail Reports – One of the best features in Quickbooks is the ability to drill down directly from the reports. For a long time, no other ERP product can duplicate what Quickbooks did unless they purchase BI tools or other report writing tools. This is now part of NAV2009 SP1. It’s about time!

– Edit in Excel and Import it Back – The folks demoed the ability to export to Excel, which was there since v5.0. But now, you can edit the data in Excel and import the data back into NAV. In addition, there is version control if the data is different from the time it was exported. But this functionality is not out of the box, it requires some programming.

Future of Dynamics NAV (Navision):
C/AL is Not Going Anywhere – One thing confirmed by Microsoft is that they will NOT kill C/AL either (the Navision programming language). It will continue to be used to develope Dynamics NAV (Navision). This means that partners do not have to rush to hire a ton of C# or VB programmers as previously thought. It also means customers do not have to fear about MSFT revamping the core logic of Navision making it unrecognizable.

Application Roadmap – In the Dynamics NAV (Navision) Statement of Direction, there’s talks about adding an Application Roadmap. This roadmap will list out improvements and new functionalities within the application to be added to the future releases.

I’ve confirmed with many Microsoft executives and managers that the NAV product team DO look at MS Connect for production suggestions. Even though they do not respond to most of the suggestions, they do put the suggestions into serious consideration. So if you want to make a difference in the future of NAV, this your chance!

Interesting ISVs:
– Centerline – They make reportings tools within NAV. Essentially, you can build queries within NAV and have it print very nice reports using SQL reporting services.
– Lanham Address verification – Lanham & Associates (the makers of EDI, eShip, etc) is developing a address verification grnaule within NAV. I have to say that it’s taking long enough for someone to come out with a good solution within NAV. No pricing is available on this product yet but this looks very exciting.

Session of the Conference:
For me, the session of the conference was not in Navision. It’s called Inventory Management devlivered by Jon Schreibfeder (www.effectiveinventory.com). His session described how to achieve profitability by managing your forecast and your items. Lanham’s forecasting granule is based on this guy’s teachings.

Other interesting observations:
– There were more than a few Microsoft Partners using a Mac
– Learned the approach for purchasing ERP software for Europe, US, and Asia. Very interest, but I’m not sure if the conclusion was based on too much alcohol or scientific proof.

How to Calculate the Current Fiscal Year

In Navision, there’s no function that will give you the fiscal year according to what you’ve setup on the Accounting Period table. Here’s a code that will get the current fiscal year based on the accounting period:

AccountingPeriod is a record variable  to table 50
Date1 and Date2 are date variables

AccountingPeriod.RESET;
AccountingPeriod.SETRANGE(“New Fiscal Year”,TRUE);
AccountingPeriod.”Starting Date” := WORKDATE;
AccountingPeriod.FIND(‘=<‘);
Date1 := AccountingPeriod.”Starting Date”;
IF AccountingPeriod.NEXT = 0 THEN
  Date2 := 12319999D
ELSE
  Date2 := AccountingPeriod.”Starting Date” – 1;