In our prior post we described some of the useful functionality embodied by dimensions, as applied in the framework of the accounting package known as Microsoft Dynamics NAV, or simply “NAV”. Be sure you read that post first, to get the general overview, before proceeding on to today’s, where we’ll set up and use dimensions.
To set up dimensions, you must define which dimension and dimension values you want to use in your company. You’ll also want to define which will be global across the company, and which will be shortcut dimensions (both defined in our prior post). With dimension functionality you can support your firm’s business and accounting rules by defining, for example, which dimension combinations are allowed in a journal or document. In this manner you can limit and define that, say, a certain item cannot be sold in a certain area, or so that certain expense types may only be posted by certain employees. You can also define default dimensions for account types like customer accounts or individual accounts.
Then, on a journal line, as you enter information about an entry (such as an account number, or a customer number, etc.) you can also add dimension information in the same way (provided you’ve set up your shortcut dimensions as ‘fields’) directly on your journal lines. When you post an entry, all the dimension information gets posted with it.
Working with NAV’s ‘help’ documentation, you can slowly begin to build your dimension groups, defaults and shortcuts to work the way you want to see your information reported. As any of our staff will tell you, it takes awhile to master, but the power makes the time investment worthwhile. It’s a matter of learning to think in, appropriately, several dimensions (think of an object with height, length and width, or of multiple tiers of data stratified by rows and columns throughout).
Finally, you can also use dimensions as ‘filters’ to slice and dice your data in ways meaningful to you. You can then filter on all G/L entries using the two dimensions you have defined as ‘global.’ You can use your budget dimensions to filter budgets. You can display items for only the dimension values you request to see.
Filters can contain a dimension value plus qualifiers like “Equal to” or “Different From” plus the typical Boolean operators like And, Or, Less Than, and so on.
In the long run, learning dimensions is a process more than an event. Start small and simple, by merely setting up a couple global dimensions, say for Sales or Departments. Experiment with adding additional dimensions, filters and their corresponding values. Learn to make them meaningful to you and your peers. Once you’ve built a primary set of dimensions, you can always add to them later, and they’ll remain in your system for as long as you like, yielding ever more powerful and meaningful ways to segment your transactions, journal entries and related data into the reporting entities that are right for, and unique to, you.