NAV users just “get” it

conversationDon’t you love it when you’re talking to someone about something and you can immediately tell they “get” what you’re talking about? There’s that magical click in your conversation when you can both relax into the discussion and really geek out about the topic.  That topic might be baseball, or marathon running, or gardening, or maybe even Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

If you ever wished there was someone out there who would really like to talk about inventory costing, or C/AL coding, or dimensions or other things, the NAV user group (NAVUG) is the place where you can find those people.

This amazing group of people have formed one big network of NAV users who are eager to connect with you, welcome you to the community, and help you solve business problems for your company.

There are a wealth of opportunities to connect with the members of NAVUG.  There is not only the annual user conference, NAVUG Forum, held in October each year, but also many chances to engage with other users in webinars throughout the year, and now, last week, we’ve seen the launch of Collaborate.  This online tool was built to give NAV users a virtual environment where we can gather regularly to have those kind of discussions and to keep up with all the things that are going within the community.

If you’ve been looking for more people who just “get” it, you’re here. Check out the new Collaborate site and get into a discussion today!


Why Build Community?

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 .


Ready, get set, network! NAVUG Forum is prime time for making connections.

It’s less than a week before we get to show up in Seattle for NAVUG Forum to connect with other professionals who use NAV in their jobs every day, just like we do!  I’m making my “gettin’ ready to network list” and thought I’d share. These are my networking essentials:

1)  Get that LinkedIn profile updated. Put a new picture up there so folks will know what you look like today. I like to go professional for me, but I don’t mind seeing a casual picture out there of other folks, so long as it’s current and helps me to recognize them. Almost anything is better than a blank photo spot. Make sure your basic info is updated, and you’ve got your top 10 skills and expertise out there. Another good reason to do this is, for the first time ever, the user group will be using Qrious, a phone app that will allow you to scan QR codes on attendee badges to get you to their designated contact information. That could be a company website, a blog, a Twitter or Linked in profile, or whatever they direct you to.

2)  If you’re not a regular Twitter user, brush off that account and make sure you’re ready to use it. A lot of fun things can happen in the NAVUG Twitter-verse during Forum; it’s a great way to know what’s going on, where folks are at, and what the big WOWs of the day have been.

3)  Updated business cards. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the old business cards are racing toward obsolescence, but they’ve got their place, and I still use them. They’re a quick way to get information into someone else’s hands and promote your company.

4)  Spend some time reviewing contacts you’ve made in the past. I had an old dog-eared stack of business cards that graduated to a box because I couldn’t hold them all anymore. Once I got to that point, I got organized with CardMunch, an app that allows you to scan the card with your phone and then uses Mechanical Turk to transcribe the card into a contact record and locate the person’s LinkedIn profile, if they have one set up. You can even add notes to the record, just like writing on the back of a business card. I can flip through images of the actual cards, or the profiles I’ve gathered, when I’ve got a few extra minutes. Highly recommended.

5)  Charging Cords! There’s no bigger bummer than to have your phone go dead in the middle of all the action.

6)  A pack of your favorite breath mints. For real now, none of us are getting enough water, we’re eating stuff we don’t normally eat, probably not getting enough sleep, and we’re in close quarters all day. A mint never hurts, and it’s nice to be able to offer one to someone else.

7)  The list of people you want to meet, even if you don’t know who they are yet. Every conference I make a list. Sometimes, I’ve got a person’s name on the list with a note “follow-up about the comment on ACH procedures with Lee”. Other times, I’ve got a note “find someone who knows about managing VAT with mixed standard and zero-rated items on consignment”. I’ll even throw in some “stop by the help desk and brainstorm that new idea on managing dimensions” or “informally poll finance users to see if they’d be interested in webinars on AP best practices”.

8)  Adjust your attitude to be ready to interact. Lots of the folks who attend Forum are IT and Finance professionals. You’ve gotta admit, we don’t always have the best reputation for extroversion. Make it a part of your mindset to mentally get out from behind your computer (or your phone). Meal times and break times are prime time to get discussions going with a few people at a time. Take note of someone in a session who asked an interesting question, or who looked puzzled, or maybe who looked like they didn’t know anyone yet. Make eye contact, smile, and ask questions.

7)  Comfy shoes. What do shoes have to do with networking? When I’m having my last conversation after talking with folks all day, I don’t want to be shifting around because my feet hurt and I’m sure not going to let sore feet get in the way of making it across the Expo hall one more time because there is one more person on my list I need to find.

8)  Prepare to follow-up later. Don’t let all this prep go to waste! Even as you’re meeting new folks, remember that you’ll want to follow-up with people once you get back home. It’s always nice to hear from someone you met, and to establish a connection with someone who really understands what you do professionally. You never know now how you might be able to help them, or how they might be able to help you. The opportunity we all have to build an engaged community of NAV users who help each other exists because we all show up ready to connect, learn, and share.

See you in Seattle!