Viewing NAV dimensions on postings: where can you see them? (part 5 of 15)

Inevitably, once you’ve dipped your toe into the world of dimensions, the next thing you’re going to want to know about is the difference between global and shortcut dimensions.

dims1Global dimensions are the two most important dimensions you can choose because global dimensions are the most accessible from anywhere in NAV. They are posted with every transaction you have attached them to, right along side the data, and you can see them on every form as an available choice without having to do anything special. You can see them right along with all your other data in forms (like a sales order or purchase invoice), in journals, in posted history, and global dimensions are even available for selection in every canned NAV report.


A common misconception about global dimensions is that they must be department and project. This simply isn’t so, and in my opinion, is an old holdover from thousands and thousands of NAV demos that use the CRONUS database, where the globals they have used as their demo example are department and project.

The global dimensions your company chooses should be the two most important things your company needs to report on when looking at your financial data. If your company is very customer-centric, maybe one of those globals should be customer related. As an example, if your company groups their customers by wholesale or retail, and uses this designation as a major reporting category when looking at your sales each month (or each day!), you may want to choose this “customergroup” as one of your global dimensions.

If your company is very inventory-centric, maybe one of those globals should be item related. My company has a large number of SKUS, so we find it absolutely essential to relate our global dimensions to our inventory items in order to make sense out of our sales data. We’ve designated a global dimension called PGC or product group category to allow us to group our large list of items into smaller groupings that are easier to digest when we produce reports. In addition, we also use a global dimension called edition that has a one to one relationship with each item we sell. With these two global dimensions, we can look at our sales by large group of items as well as item by item. This comes in mighty handy when it’s time to evaluate gross margin. We can get a macro and a micro view of what’s going on with our gross margin without having to do a lot of digging into the data.

You may have an even different emphasis on what your company needs to monitor. I’ve seen lots of companies who depend heavily on their dimension reporting to allow them to monitor what is going on per salesperson or territory or region. Spend a good amount of time talking this over with your company stakeholders. What really matters? What should you be looking at? Remember too, that just because you are reporting on one measure right now doesn’t mean it’s the right measure to be reporting on in the future. Figure out what those two most important things are, and designate them as your global dimensions.

Shortcut dimensions are what you’ll begin to use once you realize that two dimensions simply aren’t enough! The single largest limitation to shortcut dimensions is that they are not as readily available as global dimensions. They do not have those two designated always there fields that the globals hold. Technically, you can have an unlimited number of dimensions in total, but shortcut dimensions are special because they are more reachable. By designating a dimension as a shortcut dimension, you are making that dimension available as a choice on your forms ((like a sales order or purchase invoice), in journals, in posted history, and in every canned NAV report. The trick is that they don’t show up automatically, and you’ll need to go to the show column area on your forms and purposefully choose them for use the first time.

When you’re looking at posted history, you’ll need to use a new trick to see shortcut dimensions. As an example, choose some transactions from your chart of accounts. You’ll be on the general ledger entry table. Now choose entry and g/l dimension overview. You’ll now get a view that looks like what I’ve pasted below, showing all your shortcut dimensions as well as the global dimensions.


Another perspective on shortcut dimensions is one of efficiency. You will always want to set up a dimension as a shortcut if your end users need to access the field in order to enter or change data on a regular basis. An example of this from my company is our shortcut dimension, team. For all expense accounts, we designate a team in order to track who incurred that expense. My accounts payable person must enter that information for every expense related invoice because the computer simply can’t be trained to make all the decisions she must make in order to determine whose team gets the expense. Team is a shortcut dimension for us because she can set that field up on every form she uses so it is available for her to use for data entry right on the form, keeping her from having to go anywhere else to enter that information.

Keep reading this month as we continue our series, 15 Days of NAV Dimensions.

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