How to Enter Beginning Bank Balance for Dynamics 365 Business Central v18 and Above

Overview

On Dynamics 365 Business Central release 18, Microsoft made significant changes to the bank reconciliation features. Most of the articles and videos on entering beginning bank balances are still based on the older versions Dynamics 365 Business Central or Dynamics NAV.

Just thought I would share with the community on setting up your beginning bank balances if you’re moving to Business Central from your legacy accounting /ERP software

The goal is to have your bank balance match your G/L account. Just posting whatever is in your G/L to your bank is not the way to go and you’ll run into trouble later in future reconciliations.

Do it right initially will save you tons of trouble later.

Here are the steps to enter the beginning balances of your bank when you’re migrating from your legacy ERP/accounting software to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

What You Need

As with anything, preparation is key. There are a few things you need before entering your beginning bank balance.

Assuming you’re going live with Business Central on December 1st, they are:

  1. Previous bank reconciliation before you go live. For example, if you plan to go live on December 1st, you’ll need the bank statement from November 30th.
  2. A list of outstanding checks and transactions not cleared by the bank up to November 30th
  3. Your reconciled G/L bank balance from your old legacy system. This means you need to do one last bank reconciliation from your legacy system up to November 30th

How do you know if you have everything put ready? Here’s a simple formula:

Your G/L balance for your cash/bank account as of November 30th
+/- Outstanding bank transactions that’s not been cleared
= Amount on the Bank Statement as of November 30th

For example:

G/L Balance as of 11/30 = 10,000
Outstanding uncleared checks and deposits as of 11/30 = 2,000
The bank statement that you got from the bank on 11/30 should be 12,000.

If the above formula is not true, do not proceed! Get it right so it can save you headaches down the road.

How This is Going to Work

Once you post the entries via General Journal (make sure the Account Type is Bank Account), run your first bank reconciliation as November 30th, or the period before you go live.

When you run your bank reconciliation for November 30th, manually enter the previous bank statement total in the Bank Statement Line section. DO NOT run the bank feed import for this period as nothing you import can be reconciled against.

Click on Matching -> Match Manually to match the entry that you’ve made for the Beginning Bank G/L Balance entry.

Once the matching is done for the beginning entry, you can post the reconciliation.

For your bank reconciliation for the following period, all of the unreconciled transactions will display for you to clear against.

Conclusion

Now you may be asking “But wait Alex, we won’t get your bank statement until a few days after we go live!”

That’s okay!

You don’t need your bank beginning balances as soon as you go live. We typically get the bank beginning balances (and other non-operation related balances) setup about a week after go live.

Accepting Dynamics 365 Business Central as a Mediocre Solution

Overview

I’ll admit that I’m a bit of an old school person when it comes to implementing Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly called Dynamics NAV).

I believe when you make a decision to implement Dynamics 365 Business Central for your business, the transition should be smooth with minimal disruption.

In fact, these transition often make your process better as it sorts out (and eliminates) processes that are convoluted. It forces everyone within the company to at least take a hard look at what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

I believe the transition process should be fully planned out and accommodations be made based on the individual circumstances for each company.

Furthermore, during the implementation process, there should be full understanding of:

  • What’s being done and what changes are going to occur
  • What’s being delivered by your Business Central partner
  • What’s being prepared by your own staff

But lately, I’m noticing a disturbing trend in our industry.

Disturbance in the Business Central Force.

When I speak to people that have implemented Business Central, they’re less than enthusiastic about going live with the software.

Digging deeper, I find a lot of common issues on why these business were less than happy with what they got. Here’s a list of the few common comments:

  • Received little to no training (online training was not sufficient)
  • No audit or testing on data being converted
  • Balances transferred over did not match
  • Disconnect between the users and the implementers
  • No response for requests for enhancements or modifications
  • No response for questions they have about the usage of the system

I think the cause of this is the current trend for implementing cloud based software is the automated or templated approach.

The idea is you list out all of the steps that are required to implement a new software, in this case, Dynamics 365 Business Central and you systematize it. In another words, it make it repeatable so anyone can go through the checklist and implement the ERP software.

The goal is so the solution center can hire anyone off the street at a discount, give them minimal training, and just have them follow the template with the customer to get them running in Business Central.

All this so the solution can offered at a lower priced to attract new customers who has no idea what’s going on.

Unfortunately, these low cost implementation trend is a race to the bottom. There’s always going to be the guy that can offer something at a lower price.

In most cases, to lower the price of implementation is to cut corners.

Sure, you can start using Dynamics 365 Business Central if all of your requirements are part of the template (which is the bare minimum). For anything else, you have to wait or you’ll need to figure out how to go around it on your own. The person that’s hired or contracted to help you will certainly not know the answer.

Accepting Less Than Mediocracy

I mean, I wouldn’t be as shocked if the people I spoke to received mediocre service and support. I’m more shocked that people just choose to accept less than mediocre service and support.

Some of the problems the people I spoke to seemed indifferent  to their situation:

  • Accept that requests for modifications takes weeks (sometimes months) to deliver
  • Accept no answers to their questions
  • Accept that they should hire internal staff to maintain Business Central
  • Accept the inconsistencies of working with contractors to the solution center
  • Accept their numbers are off right from the beginning
  • Accept the lack of training
  • Accept that you cannot have a deeper discussion about your business problems and how it can be addressed

I can go on and on, but I keep wondering…  At what point in time was this considered acceptable? Did I miss something?

Everyone talks about the destination. Nobody talks about the process.

Companies are excited about Business Central. It is the best mid-market ERP software. The number of improvements Microsoft has made is astounding. This is not including the strong integration with the existing Office 365 suite.

It’s exciting even for me, as a partner, to see what a fully deployed solution can do. We use it internally, and let me tell you, it has made deployment of these features a whole lot easier and a whole lot palatable. Not to mention how quickly and how organized we can operate as a cohesive team.

No one really pays attention to the question “exactly how do we get there”? Sure if you get a check list and go down the list to see what’s on the template and what’s being delivered, but is your business transformation really off of a templated checklist that you didn’t even create?

Conclusion

I’m not sure why companies are so accepting of their situation.

Do they feel that they’re trapped because they’re scared of what will happen to their data  in the cloud (which is managed by Microsoft) if they switch  software vendors?

Do they feel like it’s expensive to get a new vendor in?  Too much hassle since they’ve gone through it once already?

Do they feel that these problems are just temporary and they’ll just magically go away?

Or worst, do they feel every software vendor is the same and “that’s just how it is”?

Whatever it is, I sincerely hope that this is just a phase. And I hope we, as an industry, can do better.

Quick Video on Closing the Year in Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics NAV

It’s that time of the year again. Close out the year! Most companies align their fiscal year to the calendar year so right around this time, we usually get a ton of support calls from people that forgot how to close the year end and need a quick refresher.

So I made a quick 2 minute video on how to do year end processing. Why? Because you can’t go through a 10 minute video in 2 minutes and I know you have a ton of other things to do.

I’m using the older version of NAV, but the menu tree is the same as in prior versions. To access the accounting period, in the video, the NAV 2013 has the icon pointing to Department – Financial Management – Accounting Period. If you go to Financial Management -> Setup in version 4.0 and 5.0, you’ll see the accounting period.

If you’re using Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can just search on the term Accounting Periods and you’ll be able to start on the same process:

The processes are exactly the same from version Navision version 1.2 to Dynamics NAV 2018 to the newest version now called Dynamics 365 Business Central.

The One Huge Mistake You’re Making When Setting Up WMS for Dynamics 365 Business Central

Overview

I mentioned In my previous article that there are multiple ways of setting up warehouse management.

In reality, however, there really are two ways: there’s the option of setting up your warehouse with Directed Pick and Put-away…and the wrong way.

In almost all companies where bin location management (or warehouse management using wireless scanners) is desired, setting up your warehouse with Directed Pick and Put-away will be the correct decision.

The Setup

Assuming you’ve done the necessary prep work in your warehouse for a warehouse management system, you will then need to configure the existing Locations in Business Central to be warehouse enabled.

Basically, to enable a location for Direct Pick and Put-aways, you will need to run a process called Create Warehouse Location from the Location List.

Then, you will need to enter the Location you wish to enable the Directed Pick and Put-away for, in addition, the Adjustment Bin.

When you click on the Create Warehouse Location process, it will do the following:

  1. Enable Directed Pick and Put-away on the Location Card
  2. Move all inventory in the Location to the Adjustment Bin setup in the Location Card

The purpose of the Create Warehouse Location process is that it will move your inventory quantities to the Adjustment Bin.

Moving the items to the Adjustment Bin allows you to do a physical count using the Warehouse Physical Inventory Journal or the Warehouse Item Journal to move the items from the adjustment bins into the regular physical bins in the warehouse.

Any remainder inventory quantities not accounted for using the warehouse journals will be counted as Positive or Negative Adjustments when you run the Calculate Warehouse Adjustment process from the Item Journal.

The Problem

For the location (or warehouse) to be able to properly process orders with Directed Pick and Put-away enabled, you need to associate each Bin with a Bin Type Code and a Zone Code.

However, when you’re setting up the Zones and the Bins for the Location for the first time, you will NOT be able to define a Zone Code or a Bin Type Code against the Bin.

If you try to define a Zone and a Bin Type for the Adjustment Bin, you will counter an error saying the Zone Code must be blank.

The reason you’re getting this error is because you need the Directed Pick and Put-away marked as true on the Location Card in order to fill in the Zone Code and the Bin Type Code.

But you can’t mark the Directed Pick and Put-away as true if there are inventory quantities in the location. Which is enabled by running th Create Warehouse Location process.

And you shouldn’t run the Create Warehouse Location unless the Adjustment Bin is setup with the proper Zone Code and the Bin Type Code.

We have quite the problem here…

What if I Run the Process Without Zone and Bin Type?

Yes, you can run the process without defining the Zone and the Bin Type on the Bins, but that’s not what you should do. In fact, that’s where most people get in serious trouble.

After the Create Warehouse Location process is finished, you’ll want to go in and fill in some additional bins or begin setting up other bins in the warehouse.

However, if you go into the Bin screen to setup additional bins, you’ll encounter this error:

That’s correct. In order to add additional bins in a location with Direct Pick and Put-away enabled, BC requires you to have a Zone Code and  Bin Type Code.

Now you’re screwed.

If you continue using WMS in the current setup, you’ll have some bins with Zones and some bins without Zones.

When you do adjustments, it will not properly move items from the bins with Zones and bins without Zones, leaving you with tons and tons of inventory quantity problems that are too many to list in this article. That’s pretty much a nightmare.

You’re now in a world of hurt.

The Correct Way to Enable Warehouse Location

Before you run the Create Warehouse Location process, make sure you set up all of the Zones and the Bin Type codes with the zones.

How how do we do this if the system is blocking us from doing the right thing?

The answer is by forcing it using Rapidstart.

When you create the Bins, you need to utilize RapidStart Configuration Package to FORCIBLY fill in the Adjustment Bin Code WITH Zone Code and Bin Type Code.

The 4 fields you need on the Bin table are:

  • Location Code
  • Bin Code
  • Zone Code
  • Bin Type Code

This way, the bins will be inserted with the proper Zone Code and Bin Type Code when the adjustment entries are created.

Processing future transactions within the warehouse will flow normally and all in the world will be well again.

Conclusion

This is the conundrum when enabling a Location to be Directed Pick and Put-away. During the setup of the warehouse, you’re not able to use Zones. After the location has been converted to have full WMS, you’re required to use Zones.

While I’m not sure if Microsoft will address this issue in the future, at least, now you’ll know how to fix it.

That being said, having your warehouse move off of a manual-based process to an automated (or computerized) one, in itself, is often not an easy task as it requires buy-in from the warehouse users and reconfiguring the warehouse process so it all flows so flows in a smooth and consistent way…but this will be a topic for a separate article.

Different Flavors of Warehouse Management in Dynamics 365 Business Central

Overview

Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly known as Dynamics NAV) is a comprehensive ERP system. As such, it has many features that caters the different needs of businesses, for example, manufacturing, service managment, CRM, distribution, etc. Each one of these functional areas can be configured a number of ways depending on the needs of the business. During my time working at AP Commerce, there are never any shortages of investigating different setups based on on the needs of a business.

What you think you need may not be what you need. Yes, I did write that in one stroke without flinching. One of the most common requests from potential and current users of Business Central (Dynamics NAV) is they want to effectively manage their warehouse using warehouse management system.

The question I’m always tempted to ask is: “What type of Warehouse Management are you looking for?” Of course I never ask that question because this will cause more confusion than I can handle.

So why am I tempted to ask that question? Again, in each functional area in Business Central (Dynamics NAV), there are a number of ways to set it up. Having said that, here are different ways to setup WHM for your business. Note that Warehouse Management can be defined per warehouse, so every warehouse that you have can be setup differently.

NOTICE! The purpose of this article is not to give you a complete step by step instruction on BC (NAV) warehouse management, the purpose is to give you some knowledge on different ways to go about implementing WHM so you can have some knowledge and input when you speak with your Dynamics NAV partner on it.

Considerations

One word of caution is when implement ANY warehouse management system, you have to make sure your warehouse is organized, efficient, and accurate. A lot of companies make the mistake of buying a warehouse management software because the warehouse is too messy.

DON’T DO IT!

Software, in general, is designed to streamline your operation and speeed up the processing. If your warehouse is disorganized, inefficient, and not accurate, any warehouse management software will make it worst. You will be disorganized, inefficient, and inaccurate at a faster rate. Garbage in, garbage out.

The Flavors

Here’s a picture of the Warehouse Mangement setup in Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV):

Bin Mandatory

From initial look, if you just want to keep track of the items on the bins, this is the option for you, right? Unfortunately, no… I’ve never been in an implementation where we just place a checkbox on this field without at least enabling Ship/Pick or Receive/Put-away.

Just checking this on enables you to keep track of items by bin, however, one of the main problem with just checking this on is that you specify bin on the purchase and sales order. So if you have an item that’s on 2 different bins, you have to split the sales/purchase lines. Not only that, if you want to move an item from one bin to another, you have to use the item reclass journal, which effectively creates Item Ledger, value entry, and the general ledger. Doing physical inventory may also create a lot of excessive entries that will bog you down when you use the Item Ledger to do any sales and purchase analysis.

Pros: Allows you to tag bin code to an inventory transaction

Cons: Have to split sales and purchase line so the quantity matches the bins on the item ledger Creates a lot of excessive entries to key ledger tables Makes life harder than it has to

You Typically See This Setup for: No one. You’re better off using the Shelf/Bin No. field on the item card. This is how NAV 2.0 handles bins. We’re in Business Central now, no sense in going backwards when there are better options.

Require Shipment/Receive

Just enabling these option allows you to use the Warehouse Ship/Receive function. The main purpose of the Warehouse Ship/Receive is to allow the user to batch the sales orders by a container or a trailer going out per carrier. This option is typically enabled for companies that ships and receives by containers. The warehouse shipment is typically used to generate your bill of lading for the trucker.

Without turning on Pick and Put-away, I would NOT recommend turning on Bin Mandatory. You would encounter the same problem that I’ve stated above. For smaller companies, spliting up the warehouse process may not be necessary.

Pros: Allows you to Ship and Receive by container or bill of lading Warehouse Manager can control what he/she wants to ship based on released orders instead of the order processor printing out a pick ticket The warehouse process is separated out from the order fulfillment process (so warehouse can do their own posting) More accurate inventory can be achieved since inventory can be relieved when it’s shipped

Cons: Not recommend to enable Bin Mandatory (same cons as above) Not necessary if you do not wish the warehouse people to be posting stuff

You Typically See This Setup For: Large item distributors or manufacturers that want split out their warehouse processing, but does not care of bin contents Companies that ship and receive by containers but do not want to split their items into bins in the warehouse.

Require Pick/Put-away (No Require Shipment/Receive)

This is an option is what I would like to call the mini-fullblown warehouse management. This options provides the flexibility for the warehouse staff to create warehouse put-away and warehouse picks as they see fit, they can also assign these warehouse documents to the appropriate people to do the processing. Another way to use this feature is to allow the order fulfillment people to create the pick request to the warehouse without actually printing a pick ticket.

The draw back of using this option is that you’re only allowed to have one sales/purchase order per put-away/pick. This means that you won’t be able to group the orders together in one warehouse shipment (as stated above) to generate a consolidated bill of lading. Same goes for the receiving side, you won’t be able to receive by container or by bill of lading.

This option works perfectly if you want to enable Bin Mandatory. The Inventory Pick/Put-away document generated will allow you to split lines at the warehouse document level so you can put the items away in their proper bin without having to modify the original purchase or sales order.

Pros: Allows you to easily process inventory transactions by Bin Warehouse Manager can control what he/she wants to ship based on released orders instead of the order processor printing out a pick ticket The warehouse process is separated out from the order fulfillment process (so warehouse can do their own posting) More accurate inventory can be achieved since inventory can be relieved when it’s shipped

Cons: Not able to group orders together into one shipment or receipt Not be able to use ADCS (wireless handheld)

You Typically See This Setup For: Companies that would like to organize their warehouse by bin, but does not have the manpower to go Directed Pick/Put-away.

Directed Pick and Put-away

This is the full deal. It has all of the benefits that I’ve listed above. Group order together by warehouse shipment and be able to pick and put away by bins. Not only that, this allows you to use ADCS (wireless handheld device) so your warehouse staff and record warheouse transactions using the handheld.

All good right?

Not exactly. It really depends on what your company needs. All these features sounds cool, but if your business does not need it, trying to shove it in may create more work and processes than necessary. There are a couple of steps where the user need to interface with a computer when you enable Directed Pick and Put-away:
1. Create the sales order
2. Create warehouse shipment
3. Create pick
4. Register pick
5. Post warehouse shipment
6. Post sales order

Whereas if you do not enable any of these, the steps would be:
1. Create the sales order
2. Post the sales order

Conclusion

It’s highly recommended that you get with your Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) partner and discuss which setup is right for your business RIGHT NOW with consideration for future growth. If you try to implement everything without any consideration for your current operation, the operational efficiency will decrease. This is because of the increased overhead and maintenance that are required.

Make sure your company have the manpower and the infrastructure to absorb the overhead and maintenance required so the increase in efficiency and accuracy can be realized.

Do not implement some feature just because you like the feature. In most cases, it will be overkill. It’s like buying a size 10 top-of-the line Nike tennis shoes for your 3 year old son and forcing him to walk in it every day. Eventually, he will grow into it. But by the time he grows into it, he’ll develop some other major problems that will cost more money to fix.

Why you should build a healthy relationship with your data

Overview

Having worked with Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) for years, one of the biggest concerns I have when working with clients is receiving a really big Excel file with a message saying “my numbers don’t match! Please match it up for me!”

While I always love a good challenge on solving complex problems, after some time, these types of questions concern me. Most of the time, the client did not do their work on looking through the spreadsheet and did not try to figure out where the numbers went wrong before sending them to me.

Part of the challenge with working with anything new is to put in your own work and your own time. You can see the process as a time investment, but also the understanding of how to diligently figure out where the numbers are going when you perform certain actions within Business Central.

Being Young and…Not so Wise

Back in the days when I was a young consultant, I would always solve these big Excel sheet problems myself and help customers make sense of the numbers in the huge spreadsheet.

However, a few months later, the clients would inevitably come back with another big spreadsheet asking me to figure it out for them again…And again and again.

Hey, these were free billable hours, so why not?

Over the years, I realized what I was doing was wrong.

All the knowledge that I’ve built analyzing the data and tracing the transactions through Business Central was almost impossible to transfer to my clients. While I can tell them where to go to do the tracing, knowing how to do it, what tools to use, and what fields to look at is really the key.

More often than not, when I was telling the clients where to do the tracing, the clients kind of nodded, acknowledged what I said, but in the end just took my answer as is, without really understanding how to get there.

These hours I spent getting to know my clients systems and data, in the end, was lost – and that’s something they could have benefited from if they did it themselves.

Knowledge Lost

Effectively what I was doing was showing the client how to fish, but in the end, I was giving the client the fish. By doing all the work myself, I was robbing my clients of the ability to gain further understanding of their own data and how they relate to Business Central (Dynamics NAV). More importantly, they wouldn’t grasp the key understanding of what tools to use so they can navigate their data within their system.

Even if I figured out the mystery, the client did not get the key knowledge of how to figure it out themselves the next time their numbers don’t match. All the knowledge about reconciling between their Excel sheet and Business Central (Dynamics NAV) was then lost.

Instead, I realized that the smarter thing to do was to teach the users how to fish and insist on the clients to do the fishing themselves! In the first few tries, I would walk through with the user on the data they’re looking at, then assign them the tasks that I would do if I was doing the work. They would come back with the results from the first lists of tasks then I would guide them to the next set of tasks, and so forth, until the conclusion is reached.

Conclusion

We all need help with what we do. We grow up with the tradition of transfer of knowledge, by learning from someone more knowledgeable. With more knowledge about your surroundings, life will inevitably get easier because then, all complex problems can be solved without too much effort.

One big part of having an easier work life is to understand what’s going on with your operation and how it translates into your system. There’s no way to build this knowledge without doing your work yourself beforehand. You need to understand your tools and understand your data.

I find that the users that are able to pick up the system the quickest are the ones that come to me with specific questions confirming their suspicion.

For example, if my clients asks whether they can change an account setting on the General Posting Setup to affect certain sales transactions because they want their financial reporting to look a certain way – rather than asking me why their revenue accounts don’t match the financial reports they want – that’s a sign that eventually, they’ll be able to figure everything out by themselves.

Building an understanding of your data and your system can take more time at the beginning, but it pays off in the long-term, and in the meantime, AP Commerce is there to get to know them!

Importance of Testing

Overview

So, you’ve decided to switch to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and finished the hard work of development, migration, and training. Now you’re ready to go live, right? 

But, I’ll bet there’s one thing you’ve unknowingly neglected. That’s testing the new software. After the implementer tells you that they’re done with the development and migration, the first thing you need to do is to run testing. 

Testing might sound simple, all you need to do is run through a couple of scenarios, and you’re good, right? I wish it were as simple as that, but often it isn’t. 

After the implementer hands you the keys to the software, testing is an investment you and your team need to take seriously. Doing that will set you up for future success.

Testing is essential because it allows the users to:

  • Get familiar with the new system
  • Find potential problems
  • Discover unknown features
  • Overcome the fear of change
  • Establish confidence in your team

Make Sure Users Understand the Importance of Testing

It’s no secret: people are much more likely to take advice from people they trust.

The first step to implement an effective testing process is to build trust with the people you work with – and more specifically, the ones who are going to use the new system.

Even though we always emphasize on the importance of testing, most users won’t follow through with proper testing, even if they promised they would.

Why? There are many reasons. Often, the users are not aware of how important testing is. More often, however, they are just busy dealing with daily challenges and crises at work. 

This is why building trust with the company is key, and also having a clear and easy process ready for them. You, as the implementer, should be the subject-matter expert, but you also should see yourself as a mentor to managers, to help them help their employees.

Again and again, you need to explain the benefits of testing and that testing will benefit the user and their team. More importantly, emphasize on the fact that it’s not to waste their time; but rather is an investment that pays long-term dividends.

Time is one of the biggest reasons users will avoid testing, but time is also one of the reasons testing is so important.

Some of the main benefits that come from testing are to save time. Becoming familiar with the new system, solving any problems, and discovering all of the features will save users time in the future.

It’s essential to explain that while testing requires time upfront, it will save them precious time in the future.

Work With The People in Charge

The first important way of implementing a successful testing operation is to know your place: You’re not the one in charge, but you’re there to make sure that those who are thrive.

As a consultant, you’re not an employee but an advisor. The key to success is communication. You need to make sure that managers understand that you’re here to support their success; not to do everything for them. You need to set the stage for them to have all the necessary keys in their pockets so that whenever a problem occurs, they know what to do.

As it is the manager’s responsibility to oversee the testing, your job is to make sure that the testing is done properly and more importantly, they don’t cut corners. You also need the manager to be aware of how important test runs are.

If the management team of the company asks you to manage their people as if you were their boss, one thing you need to do is to get the customer’s managers to take the lead.

In order to make sure you don’t get a phone call every day with questions, you should have a plan that includes milestones for the use to be complete – so the testing process is faster and easier because the users have clear directions to follow. A good and simple plan will also give the managers something to look for and help them communicate with their team.

Again, explain the benefits of testing to the managers, and make it clear that in the long term, the company is going to save time and money by making sure everything is running properly. Don’t forget: the best offense is a good defence. 

As with anything new, it will take time for everyone to grow comfortable with the new system. It won’t happen overnight, but if everything is done strategically and in an organized manner, the risks of encountering problems in the future are going to be reduced and your clients are going to save precious time. By doing so, your clients will be more likely to recommend the system to other companies.

Make Sure The Process Is Easy

As an implementer, part of your job is to make the customer test the system, and more importantly, make the testing easy.

You can’t, and shouldn’t, sit and look over their shoulder and watch them run through different tests. That would be a waste of your time because that’s not what you are being paid for, and you want the users to run tests in their natural environment.

The users often forget that testing requires a lot of extra time and effort, on top of their regular workload; which is why you need to ease the process for them as much as you can.

The implementers can’t just mandate training. That will only make people want you to leave faster. Instead, provide them a clear step-by-step testing process that they can implement.

To Sum It Up

If implementers don’t do their job correctly, the testing won’t be successful.

Proper testing will benefit the users for years to come and make the new system much more enjoyable to use.

If the user is running into error after error, or they aren’t able to find the features they need in the new system, it will cause frustration, and make the system – or worse, you – look bad.

When the implementer does his/her job correctly, the transition from implementation to testing and regular use should be smooth. The users will still need to build confidence in the system and may encounter some problems, but testing will help prevent many unnecessary struggles with the system.

How to Avoid a Mutually Assured Destruction While Implementing a New ERP System

Overview

While working with companies on ERP implementation (in our case, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central), what I tend to notice more often than not is that companies know what they want to get out of ERPs, but not how to do it. The result is that managers create their own chaos that makes people go in different directions. It also means that internal managers often sabotage their own ERP implementations.

This article is part of a series regarding how internal managers can implement better new ERP systems.

All roads lead to Rome; but some of them are more steady than the others.

Common System for a Common Goal

It’s not rocket science: when companies decide to switch to a new ERP/accounting software to address specific problems they’re facing, it’s for a specific reason. Usually, it’s because they have reached the limits of their current software, or it would be too expansive to do otherwise.


While the new ERP offers a positive cost-benefit outcome, managers need to come up with common goals when implementing the new system to ensure a successful implementation if they want to avoid a mutually assured destruction

After companies shop and find the perfect system for them, the steps that follow typically are planning, configuring and then implementing the software.

One modest but extremely important goal, in most cases, is to just go live with the system. Even though this is a simple and vague goal, it allows parties involved to be working on the same objective, which is to go from the old, legacy software to the new one. It also means transfering crucial information to the new system the way that fits your company’s culture and ways of working.

Here are the do’s and don’t when it comes to implementing a new ERP system.

Too Much Potential is like Too Little

There’s one thing managers need to keep in mind while implementing a new ERP system: time is money. The potential offered by the new software may appear limitless; but while this perception of infinite improvement may prenail for a while, having too high expectations from this change could have the very opposite effect.

This is why a strategy is necessary.

A new ERP could help your company with (but is not limited to):

  • Automation
  • Better information for customers
  • Accuracy
  • Process re-engineering
  • Better analysis/reporting for management

While the ultimate goal of going to a new software is to make everything better, too much of a good thing may turn out to be bad. 

Think about it: more often than not, vendors promise the moon to their clients. When a manager watches the software’s demo, he/she will think the possibilities are infinite. But often, the honeymoon phase doesn’t last. But keep in mind that these people are salespeople, and your company needs to have a down-to-earth, strategic approach on how to implement the software. Make sure you know from the beginning what your company wants to get from the system, so you know what to prioritize.

This is when the software genius comes in, and the learning curve starts to go up. Shortly after the product is acquired, the manager will look at it, learn about the new features to figure out how they can benefit the company. Suddenly, so many problems the company had with the new system are going to be solved. Suddenly, a whole new world is going to be opened to your company. Then, an infinite list of ideas will come out of the manager’s expectation of this new system.

One thing to keep in mind when implementing a new ERP is that when working with developers, they are likely to say yes to most of your requests. Developers tend to see every request from a customer as a challenge, without necessarily thinking about budgets.

The result: developers overpromise and managers run wild.

To avoid this situation, having a specific end goal in mind, with specific areas to improve is the solution.

Most people do cost-benefit analysis based on the cost and the improvements that it would bring. However, the time to get it up and running is often overlooked.

When you start a bunch of projects, especially during a period of high stress such as moving to a new system, you end up stretching your resources very thin. Too often, resources are stretched indefinitely and the end goal is so evasive that even the manager tends to forget it.

This is why successful ERP implementations begin with specific, realistic goals that fit your company’s culture and needs, and will save you time and money.

Conclusion

I’ve worked with many companies in the process of implementing new software. While I have a complete confidence that they improve the companies’ efficiency and in the long-run make everybody’s life better, my experience has shown that not having a full-length implementation strategy can cost time and energy; and since time is money, investing in time-saving strategies is the way to go.

It’s simple: focus on the main task at hand. Go one step at the time. While it may take slightly more time, the end result will be less confusion and better results.

The last thing you want, when implementing a new system, is to yield fear and uncertainty.

Fear and uncertainty lead to failure.

Strategy, coherence, and preparedness lead to success.

Ways You Are Sabotaging Your ERP Implementation. Going Parallel.

Overview

A continuation of an article published last time.

This is another one of the biggest causes of the owners/management causing the demise of their own ERP projects.

Going Parallel

Most proponents will state that going parallel is the safest way to ensure that if the new system doesn’t work, you can safely go back to the old system and not have any loss of data.

This sounds really good on paper, it’s actually abominable in practice!

Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. Not enough time in the work day for the user to do twice the work. Imagine your work day, now do it twice with the same amount of time. Notwithstanding the time restriction, you’ll also be bored as out of your mind. Twice.
  2. The process is different from the new system vs the old system. When you implement a new system, processes will change. Keeping 2 separate processes using 2 different software systems will confuse the crap out of anyone.
  3. If anything is missed, which there always will be, reconciliation is a nightmare. Oh your number is off by $89.42? Good luck finding that.
  4. People will always work in an environment where they feel safe. Not because the old system is better, but because it’s familiar.

From my experience, when companies go parallel, they fail.

BURN THE SHIPS

In 1519, Captain Cortes told him men to “Burn the Ships” after he landed in North America. He knew that if his men (and himself probably) had a means to go back, they would not be committed on giving their all to survive in the new land.

The same thought can be applied to your ERP implementation. Telling your people that implementing a new ERP is important, but give them an option to do things the way they did before, they will always go back and do things they feel more comfortable.

Now you may be asking “but Alex, what if the new system doesn’t work?” The answer is simple, don’t go live until you’re ready. If your preparation is crap, you will fail anyway.

The next question you may be asking is “but Alex, what if we encounter problems with the new system?” There’s no instance where there are not problems when you go live. As long as you make proper preparation, the problems that arise should not be major. Any competent Dynamics 365 Business Central (AKA Dynamics NAV) partner or developer should be able to knock them out quickly.

Preparation

Before you burn the ship, it’s your job to ensure every business process can be, at the very least, replicated in the new system. This is part of your preparation before going live.

Having a smooth transition to a new ERP software can’t be completed with just thoughts and prayers, it needs meticulous testing, simulations, and feedbacks.

Be aware that it’s not going to be 100% smooth when you cut over to the new system. There will always be problems after go live. The important things are the major known kinks are resolved.

There shouldn’t be an instance where major problems that comes up when you turn on the switch, then someone seriously messed up.

Conclusion

Take the page out of Cortes’ playbook. Burn the Ships. Have your people focus all of their attention and resource into making the new software work in your organization.