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!

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?

Entering Beginning Inventory Balance

When moving from a legacy system into Dynamics NAV (Navision), one of the areas you want to try and avoid is messing with the inventory G/L accounts. Most systems are usually pretty good with open A/R and A/P accounts, they can be transferred using the “posting back to the same account” technique that most implementers do. The beginning A/R and A/P G/L accounts would be based on your entry on the General Journal. This is assuming that the A/R and A/P aging reports matches the G/L.

Inventory valuation is one of the areas where we find the most discripencies based on what is entered on the Item Journal  from the physical count and the inventory valuation report from the legacy system. Depending on your requirements, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to go through line by line on the item journal to see where the differences are.

A rule of thumb I always go by is to let Navision determine what the inventory value should be in the G/L based on the positive adjustments posted from the Item Journal.

To accomplish this, do the following:

Suppose you have the following G/L accounts:
11000 – Inventory
58850 – Inventory Adjustment

When posting a positive adjustment in the Item journal, it will post a debit to Inventory and credit to Inventory Adjustment.

When you’re ready to enter your beginning G/L balance, enter the G/L balance for Inventory to account 58850. This way, the difference between the inventory G/L balance from the legacy system and Navision will be reflected on account 58850.

If you do not want to reflect the adjustment in the current period due to financial reporting reasons, you can adjust the difference into an asset account. We usually recommend create a separate account (i.e. 11100 – Inventory Suspense) to store this difference until you can depreciate it.

By not posting any general journal entries to the inventory accounts, you’ve ensured that inventory valuation reports will ALWAYS match G/L, making everyone happy in the process.

How to Print to local printer using RDP

This is a poor man’s way of having users connect remotely and allowing them to print locally. Using RDP, you will not have to spend money on an expensive product like Citrix unless you really have to. Note that Citrix is a great product, but it’s out of reach for customers who have limited IT budget.

1. On the remote computer check to make sure the “Printers” box is checked on the “Local Resources” tab of the “Remote Desktop Connection”.

2. On the server install the printer driver that the remote user has. 

3. When the remote user connects the server will now see all of the remote’s printer ports

4. The remote user will now need to go to the “Printers” folder of the host computer and change the port setting 

5. When they click on the “Ports” tab of the printer they will see a list of all available ports. The ports that refer to the remote user will appear as TS00x (Where x will be 1-8 depending on the number of installed printers the remote user has).

6. Started with TS001 printed a test page. If that doesn’t work, then changed the port and keep test printing until something prints on your computer.