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Archive for the ‘Dynamics NAV’ Category

Every NAV client we know (and every NON-NAV client too, for that matter) eventually confronts the need to adjust their costs.  A recent blog post by Alex Chow, of AP Commerce, a California (and Taiwan)-based NAV consultant provides a quick tip that NAV users should know.  While his advice won’t solve all costing issues, it provides an important foundation.

Chow points out that users occasionally need to use NAV’s “Adjust Cost-Item Entries” feature.  The problem is, when you do this, NAV also adjusts the entry date of that item, often causing an unwanted back-dating issue in a previous accounting period.

The reason, Chows notes, is that the adjust cost process will always adjust to the date of the original sales transaction (unless specified otherwise)

For example, if you haven’t run Adjust Cost in a while, and you then run it say in June, and there was a sale transaction in, say, March that has not been adjusted yet, the resulting entry will date itself to that of the June entry.  That’s a problem if you’ve already closed the books on March, as is likely.

However, as Chow points out, “this is where the Allow Posting From field from the General Ledger Setup screen comes to the rescue.”  If you set the “Allow Posting From” field on the General Ledger Setup to a different date (say for our example, June 1), any adjusted entries that are BEFORE the Allow Posting From date will have same posting date as the Allow Posting From field entry.

In our example above, it’s 6/30/18 and you run the adjust cost process. In addition, you set the Allow Posting From to 6/1/18. If there was a sales transaction that occurred on 3/15/18 that has not been adjusted yet, the resulting adjusting entry will be posted on 6/1/18.

Setting the Allow Posting From should be done after you close the month out, NOT before, notes Chow, adding that “I’ve seen situations where the user changed the Allow Posting From BEFORE the adjust cost was ran.  So all of the adjusting entries were posted in the current period instead of the period that they should’ve been in.”

The more you know…

 

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There is understandable confusion in the marketplace today, whether among resellers or users of the product known as Microsoft Dynamics NAV (and formerly, so long ago… Navision).  Let’s see if we can clear things up just a bit.

For starters, the NAV to BC transition is one more of form than function, which is to say, the product features and robust capabilities that have long made NAV one of the world’s best-selling accounting and ERP software systems, are largely the same in Business Central.  What’s changing, at the forced behest of Microsoft, and quite rapidly at that, is the delivery system.  NAV is largely moving from what’s commonly known as an “on-premise” solution to one served up “in the cloud,” which is to say, over the Internet, using a web browser.  (Though current on-prem users will continue to be able upgrade those on-prem versions into the foreseeable future, we’ve been told.)

This is nothing more than the ongoing evolution of the product, and its underpinnings have been in the works for years.  But Microsoft’s all-in approach to the World Wide Web means that it’s intent on moving virtually everything to the cloud.  That’s why you see their recent de-emphasizing of Windows… the recent migration of the Office products (Word, Excel, etc.) into the O365 web-based products… and the more recent decision to make NAV its foundational product in the cloud, via the new moniker of Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Business Central has two specific modules — Essentials and Premium – that include all NAV’s ERP features:

  • Financial Management
  • Project Management
  • Sales and Service
  • Reporting and Analytics
  • Supply Chain Management

It’s then sold essentially in three price configurations:

For $8 per user per month you get the Team Member version, which includes Employee Self-Serve, the ability to run (but not create) all reports, and the ability to read and approve information.  As you can imagine from the price, it’s a very low functionality piece, but it’s ideal for serving the needs of folks like shop floor workers and very occasional “viewer” type users.

The next level up is the Essentials version.  This runs $70 per user per month, and includes a range of functionality including invoicing, purchasing, opportunity management, budgets, finance, fixed assets, P.O. management, resource management, workflow, contract management, simple inventory, advanced sales, advanced inventory and distribution.  That’s a very complete offering, ideal for many companies other than manufacturers or companies with extensive service management requirements.

Finally, there’s the Premium version which incorporates all the functionality noted above plus service management and manufacturing.  The Premium level pricing is still only $100 per user per month.

It’s all part of the inevitable crush to the crowd, and what Microsoft is really doing here is providing its users – both current and future – with a clear path to getting there that will satisfy the demands of even the most sophisticated business now, and for many years to come.

Or, as Martha Stewart used to say… “It’s a good thing.”

 

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Michael Hartmann is CEO of QBS Group and a former Microsoft employee.  In a recent article, he writes about how he thinks ERP buyers will approach Dynamics 365 Business Central (the ERP system formerly known as “Dynamics NAV” or “Navision” for those keeping score), as well what it means to the market and to resellers (like us!).  We’ll share a few of his thoughts here today.

The news is really very good, Hartmann notes.  From a bumpy start in a dual-world of NAV software and the new sort-of NAV D/365 platform, Microsoft has now finally moved to a much clearer path “knowing that it is not just cloud enabled, it is actually developed from the ground up to be the SaaS platform for Dynamics in small and medium businesses. Microsoft will keep a dual strategy, allowing the partner and customer to choose respectively on-premise (Dynamics NAV 2018) or a cloud deployment.”

Hartmann points out that with the new Business Central product now fully available – all based on the original NAV code base – the question arises of how quickly it will be adopted by the marketplace.  He argues that some of the basic rules of the ERP market have not changed.

For one thing, despite the cloud positioning, most existing clients have modifications to their systems.  Migrating these capabilities, Hartmann says, will take time and investment by capable partners, in order to move these modifications into the new “extensions” model Microsoft is providing for modifications to its cloud product.  And, he notes: “customers want to work with an ERP solution that has industry capabilities and they need to mirror business processes that reflect the specifics of their industry.”

Finally, he comments on the path forward for resellers:

“Selling, configuring, deploying, and supporting an ERP platform requires specific skills. Partners will be held accountable if the ERP system does not produce the desired business impact and keep the operation up and running. It is not an easy “expand to ERP” move for an IT partner.

“As a result, generally speaking, only when the trusted partner of an ERP customer is ready to offer migration services will customers go to the new platform, such as Dynamics 365 Business Central.  And it is not the type of quick upgrade that many of us have seen in the past with Office or other productivity apps. Microsoft has considered this and is now investing heavily in a program called Ready-to-Go. This program allows [the reseller] to run through a set of milestones that will make sure [an]existing NAV solution can be successfully migrated and deployed on Dynamics 365 Business Central. Hitting these milestones requires training and work from multiple resources inside a partner organization.

The conclusion to be drawn is that the move from on-premise to cloud will be a journey – something we’ve expounded on many times in the past.  It’s an evolution, not an event.  The great news is that current NAV clients can be confident that their solutions are going to run – either on-premise or in the cloud, at their choosing – for a very long time to come.

And that is very comforting and reassuring to everyone – customers, users and resellers alike – indeed.

You can follow the full text of Hartmann’s article here.

 

 

 

 

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In our prior post we announced the April 2nd release of the “new NAV” whose name has officially been changed by Microsoft to “Dynamics 365 Business Central.”  We noted then a lack of space in a single blog post to parse all the official announcement’s details, so we’ll cover those here in our concluding post wrap-up.

Current NAV users may be asking themselves: What about us?  Is our beloved NAV going away, only to be replaced by this new cloud-based incarnation?  Of that we can give a resounding ‘No.’  Recall those 160,000 companies out there using NAV, across 2,700,000 users, spread over 195 countries around the world.  Microsoft earns an awful lot (even by Microsoft standards!) of revenues from that installed base, and they’re not anxious to disrupt that.  Rather, by the D365 Business Central evolution, they are fully intent on building a very large base of next generation customers, but still built upon that core NAV code base in which countless millions have already been invested.

In fact, the new D365 BC has a lot to recommend it.  Following are some key highlights:

  • A cloud presence supported on Microsoft Azure, among the world’s leading global cloud platforms.
  • A deep focus on BI – business intelligence, analytics, big data… call it what you will, but the integration of Dynamics 365 with Office 365 and LinkedIn and the custom applications developed by third parties, ISVs and partners means there is an enormous world of data out there to be mined for business insights and improved decision making, in a way never before available. If there’s a big takeaway, we think it’s about this openness to big data.
  • When you realize that instances of D365 BC will also include Azure, Business Intelligence via Power BI, Power Apps, and Microsoft Flow it gives new meaning to the term “all-in-one business management solution.”
  • Starting in fall 2019, there will be no “NAV 2019.” Instead, you’ll have Dynamics 365 Business Central on-premise.  Just like clients up until now have always enjoyed it.  The new cloud implementations are simply an additional, new, future-facing option.
  • The product will be robust. With the entire existing NAV code base, users are offered Marketing, Sales, Service, Operations, Supply Chain, Warehouse Management, Discrete Manufacturing, Talent, and of course, Finance.  It’s full NAV objects and functionality with D365 branded vertical solutions and ISV cloud embed programs (like PrintVis, already a leading business management solution for the print industry).
  • Partners can still do individual client customizations, but we’ll do them via “extensions,” with an option for publishing those extensions in the app store.
  • The code will continue to evolve as Visual Studio, but with 44 business APIs available at the announcement, it leaves the product open to all manner of 3rd party apps and extensions in many other environments including C#, Python, Azure, Android Studio and many others.
  • Pricing will be three-tiered with choices including: Team Member (similar to the former “lite” user), Essentials (like the former “full” user), and Premium (includes Manufacturing & Service).

This new release of Dynamics 365 Business Central is destined to change the face of the ERP landscape and opens up the product and our customers to a whole new world of data insights, interoperability with other pieces and whole new worlds of functionality.  The release is just the first step in the long journey forward to ensure that, by any name, the Microsoft ERP product is destined to be here, in many forms, for a very long time.

We’ll continue to keep you apprised of future Dynamics 365 changes and announcements as always.  For now, welcome to the future!

 

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Our firm provides specialty software for the printing industry from a company called PrintVis.  Their print-industry specific solution consists of a wide range of added functionality that is baked into Microsoft  Dynamics NAV (as they say, “You can buy NAV without PrintVis, but you can’t buy PrintVis without NAV”).  That functionality has enabled them to automate close to 400 printing operations from the largest to the smallest, in dozens of countries around the world.  So we thought we’d take advantage of their expertise by sharing their recent post (#134 in a series…) on the NAV Change Log, courtesy of a consultant by the name of Doug Wiley, who wrote the post for them.  Excerpts follow…

In essence, the Change Log is exactly what it sounds like: a log of changes that are made in your database. Essentially, there are two types of “audit trails” in PrintVis: those that track transactional data (like inventory movements or changes to the G/L) and those that track changes to things like master records.

The first type is always on, and can’t be shut off. The second type is the Change Log, and that needs to be configured and turned on manually.

Turning it on is easy. You just search for “Change Log Setup” and open the window. There is a single check box which turns on the Change Log (in red).  The more complex setup is in the background, which can be reached by clicking “Tables” in the ribbon in the window above (in green). Here you will determine which tables, and which fields within those tables, you would like to track. You have the option to track “Insertion” (adding a record), “Modification” and “Deletion” by table.

Also notice for that each of these you have the option to turn it off “blank” (even if the change log itself is turned on), track all fields, track some fields, or to select the fields you’d like to track.

The interface to this functionality is relatively simple, but the way in which it’s configured is where the nuance and decision-making come in.  In the past, it was always recommended that the Change Log be used sparingly, to prevent the size of the database increasing too much when people altered records. Now that disk space has gotten more abundant, and cheaper, you can err more on the side of using it, but there is still a good reason to plan well: If you want to find who made a change, to what, and when, you will still need to sort through all of the changes that have been logged.

Fortunately, NAV has excellent filtering and sorting tools which will get you what you want – but still there’s no need to capture a bunch of changes which don’t really matter that much from an operational standpoint.  Picking which fields in which tables you’d like to track is step one of this process. For example, you probably want to know if a customer’s payment terms change, but not so much if their main contact phone number or email address does. You may want to track if someone changes your posting group setup (which drives all your accounting and financial reporting), but not if someone changes the name of a journal batch. Your consultant will help walk you through this process and give examples of best practices.

The next step is choosing when you want to track these changes. Obviously turning this on when setting up a new database would be madness, since every change made by every new record imported would generate an unnecessary entry. Generally, it’s recommended to only turn it on once final setups and master data have been approved and put into the database.

The third and final step is maintaining which changes are tracked. For example, if for some reason there needs to be a mass update to your cost centers, you probably want to turn this off while that happens to avoid generating a bunch of data (and remember to turn it back on!).

Our thanks to Doug Wiley for pointing out these Change Log tips, which we will hope will help our NAV users get even more out of this most powerful and robust ERP system.

 

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A recent post by Brian Neufeld of Insight Works, a manufacturing and warehouse management supplier of software add-ins for Microsoft Dynamics points out a few of the key areas where companies lose money due to inaccurate inventory – points we think worth passing along today.

One key area of waste involves, of course, the tying up of working capital.  Inaccurate counts create situations where purchasers buy more inventory than they need, tying up precious capital.  How often is it the case that misplaced inventory, or double-locations, cause confusion and increased costs?  Having 100 of something when you only need 50 is simply wasteful – but unless you know just how many you have of an item, and its precise location, it’s a mistake that’s all too easy to make.

Multiplied across enough items, in the end you’re reducing the amount of capital available for more important uses, basically a lost opportunity cost.

And then there’s inventory shrink.  According to the National Retail Federation, 1.44% of all sales are lost to inventory shrink.   Shrink does not only refer to theft and damage, but can also be a byproduct of bad counts and other tracking inaccuracies.

And then there are labor costs.  A lot of time gets lost chasing down items that aren’t there… or aren’t where a system says they are.  That lost time is compounded when others have to join the search.  And it doesn’t have to happen all the time to add up to a fair amount of lost labor efficiency chasing product.

Then there’s the cost of lost customers due to the inability to fulfill customer orders or meet their time demands, often caused by out-of-stock situations.

All these issues and more can be turned around by embracing the benefits of warehouse and inventory automation.  Paper-based systems are error-prone, labor-intensive and time-consuming.  Today’s digital solutions, consisting of software integrated with the company’s inventory, production and sales orders, and coupled with commonly available handheld bar code scanners, can make these mistakes and costly issues a thing of the past.

 

 

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Today we’ll share a few of the features new to the just-released edition of Dynamics NAV 2018 as noted by other prominent bloggers, users and experts.  As NAV keeps evolving its features expand, and following are a few that caused others to say… “Wow.”

With Microsoft’s increasing evolution to cloud-based solutions, even their new product documentation features the web client, a sly tip to its future direction, although the role-tailored client is still well maintained and robust.

User Personalization and the Web Client: Users can now configure the web client individually, treating it like “a desktop or interactive whiteboard” according to one NAV expert.  You can customize almost everything including repositioning the Freeze Panes, Cues and Cue Groups, moving and hiding areas, and using List Parts in Role Centers.

The Business Manager and Accounting Role Center has a new option in the ribbon for Excel Reports. Users may select from a dropdown menu of preconfigured reports ready to print from Excel, including a Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement and Trial Balance.

User Tasks can be configured to create ‘reminders’ of work to be done, for yourself or others.

The Image Analyzer extension uses powerful image analytics provided by the Computer Vision API from Microsoft Cognitive Services to detect attributes in images, like a person’s gender or age, or to identify items by attributes like type and color.  (There is currently a limit of 100 such associations per month, but the application possibilities open up a new vista in functionality, especially for instance when identifying attributes of web items and purchases.)

For technical users and developers Microsoft has provided a whole slew of new capabilities.  There are now two possible installation environments: the standard C/SIDE and C/AL, or the new “Modern Development Environment” usable in both NAV 2018 and the cloud based version called Tenerife.

There is a new set of Extensions dubbed version 2.0, with new controls.

You can now change server settings without a server ‘restart.’

The NAV universal app for remote devices has been expanded, and now includes an ability to project your phone to a large screen (a Windows Ten feature), and to interact with your mouse and keyboard via Bluetooth.

Web server components can now run on ASP.NET Core, allowing NAV to “reach new heights in scalability” as blogger Roberto Stefanetti notes.

With annual upgrade release dates, users can expect to see continued expansion of NAV’s features and capabilities and an increasing movement to the web, even as we expect the on-premise version to be supported for years to come.

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