Why Build Community?Posted: June 18, 2013
Back when I first recommended Microsoft Dynamics NAV to my company as an ERP solution, I was a lone voice in my universe. I had run the whole gauntlet of the request for proposal, partner screening, requirements planning, and final selection, and ultimately I was the person in charge and therefore responsible for where our company ended up because of my choice.
The first few years of using Microsoft Dynamics NAV were a little rough and I did many of the following things to solve problems:
- Spent hours on the internet searching for terms that might get me some results. Many of the searches ended up in programming and development forums that would show me the code behind what was happening, but wouldn’t help me, as an end user, figure out what steps I should take.
- Read the manuals I had gotten from my partner. I spend hours going through the manuals I had been given and trying to piece together how I could do more advanced tasks by cobbling together the simple examples I had.
- Brainstormed with my boss and my staff. We had quite a few long conversations about how to get things done. Some of these conversations actually solved the problem, many of them ended up with needing to go back to the manuals, or the internet, or to our partner.
- Just tried it in the live system to see if I could figure it out. Sometimes this was successful and sometimes it created more problems than where I had started. I was an inexperienced end user who didn’t even know having a test system was possible. When pressed, I took the risk (in small steps) to see if I could get it figured out.
- Called our partner for help. When all of the above failed, I would reach out to our partner for assistance and pay them to help us out.
What an incredible waste of time! I had spent hours and hours of time trying to solve simple problems. Why? Because I thought I was alone. Because I thought I was the only person who could solve what we had. Because I hadn’t built a network.
Eventually, I got smarter. I started to ask our partner, “Surely you have other customers who have this same problem. What do they do?”, and in return I got silence and an invoice for services. I went back to the internet and looked again, and this time, I learned about user groups and began to look for a user group for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and I found one! I started small, lurking in webinars and listening and learning and applying all the things I learned back at the office.
Since then, I’ve gotten the opportunity to regularly attend the annual user group conference, and have built a robust network with other NAV users. While I do still go to the internet for answers, I know where to go and where not to go to get my answers. I know where to get the right manuals for what I really need. I don’t mess things up in my live system because I have an effective test system. I still pay my partner for help, but I get to pay them for things that really make a difference in improving things at my company instead of paying them to help with things I should be able to do myself. Most importantly, I have a whole network of Controllers and CFOs and other professionals from other companies who I can email or call to help solve a problem.
I’m no longer a lone voice, but a single voice in an entire chorus of knowledgeable NAV users who are making a difference at their companies because we’ve all chosen to build a community together.
If you haven’t found your community yet, find it here at www.navug.com .