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.

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

How to Set Up Fixed Assets for Tax Purposes

There aren’t that many how-to documents on the Microsoft Customersource website. However, this one has to be one of the most important must-reads for all Navision (Dynamics NAV) end users and implementers wishing to setup fixed assets in Navision.

The article is titled – “How to Set Up Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) Depreciation in Fixed Assets” and can be found here:

For end users, you will need to be current on the Microsoft Enhancement Plan in order to view the document. 

This document will teach you how to setup Navision so it can properly depreciate fixed assets according to IRS specifications.

As an implementer, I always encourage the client to use Dynamics NAV for all of their accounting and bookkeeping. This is especially true since the system can be easily setup and used. In addition, keeping all the books in Dynamics NAV will allow you to freely choose the right CPAs for your company without having to be held prisoner by one CPA. It also ensures continuity of your records should you have to switch to a new CPA.

Source of all Evil?

I noticed this when I did a search on Google using the keyword Dynamics NAV or Dynamics GP (or AX or SL, or whatever).

http://thesource.ofallevil.com/dynamics … rview.aspx

It seems random, on top search results it displays www.microsoft.com. On the later pages, it displays thesource.ofallevil.com.

The source of all evil? Is this a Microsoft joke? Or did Google intentionally do this?

Entering Beginning Bank Balance for Dynamics NAV (Navision) for a New Implementation

During a new implementation of Dynamics NAV (Navision), most Dynamics NAV (Navision) consultants understand how to load in A/R and A/P beginning balances. However, when it comes to bank beginning balance. The subject is usually more murky. On one hand, you need to put in the bank balance so it shows up on the bank ledger, on the other hand, if you put in just a lump sum, doing the first bank reconciliation will be a nightmare.

The goal when entering a beginning bank balance, is to update the bank ledger to ensure the amounts are correct. In addition, the bank transactions that are not cleared needs to be come up so it can be properly reconciled.

In this example, we’re going to assume the Navision client is going live on 1/1/2010.

Here’s the information we need from the client:
1. The G/L bank ending balance as of 12/31/2009
2. The last bank statement (from the bank obviously) on 12/31/09
3. The beginning G/L balance

First of all, the Dynamics NAV (Navision) client or the consultant needs to itemize what checks are outstanding (not cleared yet as of the 12/31/09 bank statement).

We all know that to load in beginning G/L balance, we use the General Journal. We typically use loading of beginning balance as the same step as we load in the bank balance.

Let’s say the Dynamics NAV (Navision) client has the following:
Bank Balance on 12/31/09: $10,000.00
Outstanding Check #123: -$2,500.00
Outstanding Check #124: -$500.00
Deposit on Hold: $1,000.00

While we load in the beginning balance, we set the Account Type as Bank Account. Doing this will automatically update the bank ledger and the G/L ledger based on your Bank Account Posting Group.

So your beginning G/L balance would look like the following:

Beginning Entry for Bank Balance for Dynamics NAV
Beginning Entry for Bank Balance for Dynamics NAV

Assuming you received a bank statement on 1/31/2010. There were no transactions that were cleared and no additional transaction made to the bank. Your bank rec would look like the following:
Doing so, the transactions will match exactly to the bank statement and to the G/L.

In conclusion, you can say that the bank beginning balance is the Bank Balance + Outstanding Checks – Deposits on hold.

Average Cost to Implement Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision)

First of all, there are no 2 businesses that are exactly the same. I don’t care if they’re in the same industry, if the owners are siblings, and/or if they live in the same household. Companies are as unique as the fingerprints of the owners that run them.

As such, no 2 implementations are exactly the same. This is because the people that work inside the companies are unique. They live the company culture that are defined by their managers. And the company culture are as unique as the personalities of the people setting them.

There has been countless times where I hear “we do everything like everyone else” or “can’t we take what you did for other customers and implement it here?”. No. You don’t do everything like everyone else and no, we will not take other implementations and apply it here. Unless we want to guarantee failure.

If you’re a robot and have no personalities, or you want to fit your business process to the software, then use Quickbooks. Any other unique data that you need to keep track of, use Excel. Don’t bother buying an expensive hard-to-modify software that you will have the same problems with if you were using Quickbooks.

For the record, Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision) is an easy to modify software that fits your business like a glove. As such, there are setups that will be involved to fit the software to your business.

There are definately similarities that applies, however, the task is up to the implementor to make recommendations on how to implement these similarities without making too much distruptions to your business.

Having said that, making a post about the average cost to implement Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision) will surely draw criticism. This post is about MY experiences implementing Navision. OUR Dynamics NAV (Navision) practice is DIFFERENT than other company’s practice. OUR company is unique, just every company out there is unique. So before you flame me, remember this is based on MY experience, NOT yours because you are not me and I am not you. You and I live in different areas, grew up with different environment, eat different foods, breathe different air, is allergic by different things. Did I get my point across? Good.

These numbers are based on the implementation using the Classic client. We find that the Role Tailor Client is more suitable for management for doing analysis and running reports, not for data entry. For order processing, manufacturing processing, etc. we find that using the Classic client is a lot more fitting and more user friendly.

The initial implementation is to always to replace their old system with NAVision. The new features and functionalities are nice and will definitely reduce the expenses for the company, but unless they’re mission critical, we usually recommenend holding off introducing new processes until NAV is up and running. The reason we do this is because we don’t want to overload end users with too much new information where they will feel overwhelmed. For example, if the companies uses 3rd party software to process EDI and the users are used to it, we would hold off integrating EDI into NAV on the next phase whenever the customer is ready.

As a rule, we always recommend the client purchase the base of any addons they may use in the future. For example, if the client plan to integrate EDI into NAV, we always recommend the client to buy Packing (the minimum requirement) and use Lanham’s E-Ship/EDI database from the beginning. This will reduce time to merge the objects when everything is up and running.

Ok, so here it goes.

Our typical new NAV client for us has the following traits:
– Users: 11 to 20 users
– Locations: 1-3 location
– A distrubtion based company. (They usually import goods from overseas, repackage it, and sell them in the US.)
– Sometimes with light manufacturing (at most, running production BOMs without using MRP)
– Light warehousing (maybe using warehouse receipt and warehouse shipments).
– Some EDI Trading Partners

The time spent on an implementation like this are, based on the quotes I’ve written, are between 120 – 200 hours.

Some of the basic time required are (NAV2009 and prior):
Initial Analysis and Writeup (30 – 40 hours)
Database installation and setup (10 hours)
Development (30 – 60 hours)
Training (30 – 50 hours)
Onsite after Live date (20 – 40 hours)

The development usually includes:
– Customer information Import
– Vendor information Import
– Item imformation Import
– A/R balance import
– A/P balance import
– G/L balance import
– Open Sales Orders import
– Open Purchase Orders import
– Inventory balance import
– Busines forms modification (SO, PO, customer statement, etc)
– Mission critical modifications that’s not in base NAV
– Misc. tweaks during user training
– Transfer of all data with dataports written on the day before live

The software price is set by Microsoft. There’s nothing we can do about that. The hourly rate are different by region, so do your homework and find what the hourly rate for your region is. Around my area, it’s about $150 – $200 an hour. But don’t print out my blog to use as a bargaining tool. It won’t work.

Dynamics NAV (Navision) Can Solve All of Your Business Pains!

Dynamics NAV (Navision) can do anything for your business. Yep, you heard it right. Implementing Dynamics NAV (Navision) can solve all of the problems for your company. It’s true! Since working with Dynamics NAV (Navision) in 1999, I have never encountered a business problem that cannot be solved in Dynamics NAV.
Compliance? No problem.
Reporting? No problem.
Unique business processes? No problem.

AND! Implementing Dynamics NAV will solve your company’s problems within a reasonable budget!

But how is that possible? We all know every software has it’s limits. What if customers makes irrational requests? What if the salesperson over promised? What if the project will take 1000 hours to program?

You can probably think of a million more “what if”s. The bottom line is implementing NAV will resolve all of your client’s business problems. You absolutely need to keep this mentality or you won’t have a successful career in NAV.

First and foremost, you MUST believe this as well. All Navision programmers knows how quick it is to deliver on customer’s request and it’s unique ability to adapt to any environment. If you do not believe this is true, you’re working with the wrong software.

The first step in truly believing this is remove the word NO from your vocabulary.

By being closed minded and using the word “No” too often, not only are you diminishing the potential of NAV to your clients. You are training yourself to become close minded on finding clever ways to solve difficult problems.

Do not say no to customers, instead, find alternative solutions. You should have enough experience to know if the requirements does not make sense. And you should have enough understanding of business process to give alternative solutions to address the client’s pains.

Take for example the following scenerio:
Client: “I want to go to the moon”
You:    “Why do you want to go the moon?” (while at the back of the head thinking “Oh crap, the salesperson promised the moon”)
Client: “I want to see the surface closely”
You:    “If I can get close up pictures of the moon’s surface, would that be sufficient?”
Client: “Ok”

Or this scenerio:
Client: “I want to go to the moon”
You:    “Why do you want to go the moon?” (while at the back of the head thinking “Oh crap, the salesperson promised the moon”)
Client: “I want to feel the moon’s atmosphere”
You:    “At the Kennedy Space center, you can feel the moon’s atmosphere. Would that be ok?”
Client: “Ok”

Instead of:
Client: “I want to go to the moon”
You:    “No, you can’t go to the moon, it’s not possible with current technology”
Client: “The salesperson said I can.”
You:    “No. It’s not possible, your request is illogical”
Client: “Get your salesperson back here, I want a refund!”

I know this is a very, very simple example, but you get the point. Every problem is diffcult and easy depending on how to approach it.

In an implementation, much like in sales, you need to get as many people on your side as possible. By throwing the word “no” around too often, you will be seen as an enemy trying to make their daily lives miserable. Furthermore, the client will be convinced that they have bought the wrong solution.

It’s important to keep a positive attitude during an implementation. Instead of directing customers to dead ends and killing their dreams and hopes, show them the light at the end of the tunnel by addressing their problems and pains in a different way. Engage their illogical request and do the work to make it logical for them. Listen carefully to their request and dig into your experience and knowledge to provide the customer with a better way. If all else fails, ask your client to write their request logically on a piece of paper (this always works by the way).

Consider this: No business that can buy NAV operates on flawed or illogical business process. So you can safely eliminate the probability that the client request is flawed or illogical. So the solution must be on the implementor/developer. It’s your job to recommend:
1. A solution
2. An alternative solution
3. A better solution

No one in the world likes to pay for “No”. And removing “NO” from your vocabulary is the first step on becoming the best implementor and developer in the world.

I know there are experts in the community that feel very strong about this. All comments (flame or non-flame) welcome!

Where do you put the Customer PO No.?

In Dynamics NAV 5.0SP1, the caption for Your Reference has been changed to Customer PO No. For us, we’ve always used External Document No. to store the Customer PO No. on the sales order.

It’s obvious that the change in 5.0 SP1 was done due to partner requests. I just want to get your opinion on where you put the Customer PO No. when entering a sales order. Please vote here:

My Microsoft Conundrum

First of all, let me state that I’m a amateur investor in the stock market. I have a discipline when it comes to stock investing in that I look for companies with good products and/or strong management. One of the major holdings I have is Microsoft (MSFT), in fact, my Microsoft stocks takes up about 20% of my portfolio.  As an investor, I want to see the stock shoot up and demostrate increased sales of the product quarter after quarter. Likewise, I want to see the profit increase quarter after quarter.

The reason I bought Microsoft stock is because I believe in their products. I believe in their vision of “business software” will be. As to what I believe their vision is, that’s a separate BLOG post.

As you all know, I’m also the principle of AP Commerce, Inc. based in Los Angeles. We are a small Certified NAV partner; we do nothing else other than to implement Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision). Personally, I’ve been working with NAV since 1999 and have been involved in hundreds of implementations to date. Our company is created to be a service company, not a software sales company. It just so happens that NAV is the product that we uses so we can help our customer achieve greater success.

However, this post is not to discuss accomplishments. It’s a genuine conundrum I have being an investor of Microsoft and a business owner doing business with Microsoft.

Before I continue, let’s make one thing clear about Microsoft. Microsoft is in the software sales company. Their core business is to sell software. Not service, not hardware, not internet content, not social media, not whatever. Yes, we all can see they’re trying to diversify, but at the end of the day, their business is to sell software. Period.

It’s not a secret that Microsoft loves partners that can sell and sell and sell. Since Microsoft channel reps are evaluated by how their region performs, channel reps throws all of their support and time into partners that sells. As an investor, I love this strategy. More sale means more revenue and hopefully fatter profit. By exceeding these arbituary numbers set by Wall Street, stocks shoot up. Wall Street loves growth. When I receive the annual reports from Microsoft, I always turn to the revenue and the profit section. I look at how much revenue growth this year as compared to the previous year, and the year before that. I look at the earnings per share, I look at what the cost of doing businesses. In short, I want to see growth and more GROWTH! In the world of Wall Street, public companies are evaluated by the quarter. If the quarter sucked, the company will get hammered and executives get fired…

As such, it’s not a surprise that Microsoft wants more partners to sell all of their product suites. And more and more hardware dealers and bulk software retailers find out about Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision), studies the manual, pass the required tests, and acquire the competency to sell Navision (among other softwares). In a push to sell more software, my suspection is that even larger solution centers, to be more aligned with Microsoft strategy have shifted their focus software-sales centric.

As a business owner working with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. I’m deeply concerned by this practice. As we all know, selling and implementating Microsoft Dynamics NAV is different than selling and implementing Microsoft Office or setting up a network using Windows 2003 Server or implementing Exchange Server with Sharepoint. Without proper skillset or the resource, the implementation of ERP usually fails. Once the software implementation fails, customers blame the software, the vendor, and ultimately, Microsoft. 

These bad implemenations creates a deep distrust in Microsoft; confirming their belief that Microsoft is an Evil Empire and all of Microsoft products suck. Pretty soon, word of mouth spreads (business executives and managers have powerful friends) and before you know it, more and more people have the mental imprint that Microsoft sucks because their friend of a friend got screwed. For the record, Microsoft products does NOT suck. Microsoft Dynamics does NOT suck.

Most of these companies either bite the bullet and live with a software that they can’t really use and hates Microsoft for the rest of their lives, or they call around for other solution centers to come help them out.

We have quite a number of situations where companies called us help asking us to help them with a failed implementation. In one instance, the owner of a company that bought NAV over a year ago expressed to me that he absolutely hated Microsoft and his lack of due dilligence in selecting the right vendor and the software. He couldn’t believe that his original vendor got to be a Gold Certified Partner. He was so upset that he wanted to sue the solution center and Microsoft.

To make a long story short, I accepted the task and decided to let the chips fall where they may be. Fortunately, we were able to help them out quite nicely and the owners and the employees became a fan of NAV. Not only did they became our reference and paid their bills in full and on time, but they also agreed to go back on the enhancement program with Microsoft and bought additional NAV sessions. In the end, by making the customer happy, they ended up doing more business with Microsoft.

When I started the company, I promised myself that we would be a service company, not a software sales company. What we did for this company took time. It takes time to ask the company to believe in us, then to believe in NAV, then to believe in Microsoft. Trust is the hardest thing to build once it has been broken. Unfortunately, the time Microsoft spends working with this customer doesn’t translate into revenue quickly.

As a business owner who believes in Microsoft, I want Microsoft to reward partners that can do the job correctly, not reward partners that can only sell. As an investor, I want Microsoft to spend the time and effort supporting people that can generate revenue quickly. So I can see an increase every quarter and meet Wall Street expectations.

How would you recommend balancing being a service company and being an investor?