Read my article on MSDynamicsWorld.com – How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Microsoft PartnerPosted: December 13, 2012
I’ve got an article out on MSDynamicsWorld.com. Here’s an excerpt:
When is the last time you, as a Microsoft customer, spent time thinking about your relationship with your Microsoft partner? Individually, we spend time investing in our relationships with our personal partners; children, friends, and family. As businesses, we also need to expend energy in tending relationships with our business partners. I’ll venture to guess that as a business with a Microsoft Dynamics ERP system, one of your most important relationships is the one you have with your Microsoft partner. Whether your bond is just beginning, having a little bit a trouble, or ongoing, there is always something that can be done to maintain the health of that relationship.
Head on over to MSDynamicsWorld.com to get the rest of the article.
My company has started seriously discussing what we’re going to do about upgrading our NAV ERP system. With NAV 2013 released to market in October, we’ve got plenty to talk about. Of course, just like you and your companies, we’re nailing down exactly what the benefit of upgrading will be to our company specifically. We’ve talked about performance improvements and greater ability to get to data needed for reporting, but some of those concepts can get pretty intangible in these beginning discussions.
We’ve already talked about the big concepts, but what people really want to know about right now are the real concepts: exactly how will an upgrade in the software increase our productivity, make us more efficient in our jobs, and ultimately, help us to drive revenue, decrease costs, or increase cash?
So, I’m beginning to gather ways to start to show people at my company, in a tangible way, what the upgraded version can do for them. Here’s where I’m at so far:
1) Get groups of stakeholders to start to attend webinars about NAV 2013. I’ve had to chance to attend Microsoft Convergence and see all this stuff, they haven’t. I need to get them exposed to seeing this incredibly different version and what it can do for them. One way I’ll do this is to have them attend webinars sponsored by the NAV user group, NAVUG. They’ve got one scheduled called “A Guided Tour of NAV 2013”, and I’ve got a group organized to attend already. I’m betting we’ll see quite a bit of material about NAV 2013 from the user group in the next year. One of the best things about the user group webinars is that they’re recorded, so if we want to review the webinar later, anyone in my company has that option.
2) Learn as much as I can about the nitty-gritty details so I can promote them in a real way. I’m constantly searching the web (seriously, I “Bing” everything) for new information about just about anything. Right now, I’m focusing on NAV 2013. I just found a great YouTube video, “What’s New Dynamics NAV 2013 – User Productivity Enhancements“. In six quick minutes I got about five takeaways that I can start to use. My favorite? NAV 2013 has improved error messages to help end users resolve problems. I’m going to take this info back to work with me and make sure people know we could have less help desk traffic because the new NAV version makes it a lot easier for end users to solve their own errors on the spot.
3) Get a test copy of NAV 2013 installed so I can start to play around with it myself. I’ve done this with previous versions, so now it’s time. I can get a demo copy installed and start touring the menus, trying things out, and teaching myself how to use the new version. What’ll I try out first? I can’t wait to get my hands on the cash flow forecast! Once I’ve got some level of mastery of the new version, I can start showing folks what improvements will apply to them personally, in their jobs.
I’ll keep posting here as I find useful things to share with you. Hopefully, as you begin your process to discuss the upgrade plan for your company, you’ll find some ideas on things that’ll work for you and your companies.
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Attending NAVUG Forum is exciting for many reasons: getting to see the future of the ERP package we have chosen for our companies, meeting and networking with other people who use that same solution for their organizations, and learning new ways to leverage those tools are just a few. How do you share this experience with the people at your company when you get back home to ensure you are able to return next year? By making sure to measure the return on investment you got for your company while you were there!
Start by making a list of what you want to accomplish while you are at the conference. Planning out what you want to accomplish in the three short days you are here is key.
- Who do you want to meet?
- What do you want to learn?
- What problems do you want to solve?
Make sure to involve others at your company when putting together your list. Are there things you could solve for them? Find out what the big picture is at your company. What is your organization planning to do in the next 3-5 years? What are their challenges technologically in order to meet those goals?
When you arrive at the conference, start to work the list. Take advantage of as many sessions as you can attend in your tracks, and pick and choose some sessions from other tracks that may be outside of your comfort zone. Get involved in networking activities. Bring plenty of business cards and be ready to use your smart phone to exchange information for the first time using QR code scanning! Make sure to stop by the help desk to get advice on more advanced challenges from partners who are volunteering their services during the conference as well as from Microsoft experts. Stop by the vendor hall to check out solutions you know you need and find some that you didn’t know you needed.
Before you get back home, review your time at the conference and what you accomplished. When you return to life back at the office, you’ll quickly forget, so write these things down. Once you’ve got your list together of what you’ve accomplished, both big and small, start to assign value to these things. Were you planning to take a class to learn that new thing? How much would the class have cost? Did you solve a problem at the help desk? What would that have cost you? How about that exchange of information you had with another user? They were able to help you think through a solution for something that would have taken you a few weeks or months to get to. How much time, and money, did having a solution now, instead of later, save you? How much is it worth to you that you can call them up three months from now to ask a clarifying question? Add up the numbers – I guarantee you’ve just justified the cost of attending NAVUG Forum.
Make sure to share what problems you solved, what things you learned, and how much money you saved your company by attending NAVUG Forum when you get back home. Set aside some time to discuss the vision for the future that inspired you with your executive team. Share your involvement with the user group by taking advantage of the free learning and networking opportunities they have and by showing your co-workers how they can also get involved throughout the year. Follow up with the contacts you made while you were at the conference. You will find this network of professionals invaluable in the future.
Hang on to that list. If you question the value of NAVUG Forum, or if someone else does, get out your list and look at the bottom line.
If you need a little more help in getting approval from your company for your NAVUG Forum attendance, the user group provides a great template to help you get started. Find it here: http://navugforum.com/justify-my-trip/
As one added incentive, just by reading this blog, you can get an extra $100 off your NAVUG Forum registration by using this promo code: NAVFIN04. This code can’t be used in combination with other offers.
I’ve attended NAVUG Forum for the last four years. I’ll be attending again in October 2012, and I’m bringing three coworkers with me this year. I’m looking forward to the conference already and I hope that you Meet Me There!
If you’re a Microsoft Dynamics NAV user, like I am, there are a whole ton of choices to make regarding financial reporting.
- Account Schedules, the native financial reporting package that reports on general ledger transactions.
- Analysis Reports, also a native NAV reporting option, that extends reporting to item ledger entries from the sales and purchasing tables.
- Object Designer, the native C/SIDE development tool used for the NAV application, which includes a report writer.
- SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services), a Microsoft reporting tool package that uses the SQL programming language.
- PowerPivot, the free Microsoft Excel add-on that became available with Microsoft Office 2010, allowing data to load from NAV (and other data sources) through a direct connection to Excel.
- JET Express, a former ISV (Independent Software Vendor) reporting solution, released for NAV 2009 in September 2011 as available for NAV users, and included with the Microsoft BREP (Business Ready Enhancement Plan), instead of as a separately purchased add-on solution.
- Management Reporter, recently released by Microsoft on March 31, 2012 as a free add-on for all Microsoft Dynamics ERPs with the caveat that, for NAV users, it is only available if you already had the licensing for FRx.
- Any large number of additional ISV solutions, sold as separately purchased add-ons to NAV.
As the Controller for my company, it’s my job to stay informed on what’s available and determine which choices are the best possible given the available skills sets of the employees who use them and the overall cost. It’s also my job to make sure I know what the future direction of the ERP software is, so I can advise on decisions we make as a company with that knowledge in hand.
Take note, that from the list above, two major options have been launched in the last seven months. My feeling, as a NAV end-user, is that Microsoft has not delivered a clear direction for their financial reporting strategy for the NAV product, and has left the onus of choice on the user.
I have to admit, I’m the kind of person who likes choices, and I’ve sampled every single option on the list above in one way or another. The reporting strategy for my company is based on three principles: 1) the report must balance to the general ledger, 2) it must be consistently replicated in future periods, 3) it must be able to be maintained by someone in the company with the right skill set.
So yeah, we’ve got a lot to talk about.
I’ve used account schedules as my primary financial reporting solution, at two different companies, since 2004. I have the opportunity to teach about this reporting tool through NAVUG, doing webinars throughout the year, speaking at the annual conference, and even teaching classes for NAVUG Academy. For a while, I’m going to talk about account schedules here, but you’ll occasionally come across other topics as we learn more about the NAV financial reporting landscape, and where it will take us next.
There are lots of folks out there who want to sell you something. There are endless solutions, for a price, for the problem you or your business may have. All of these solutions have merit for one reason or another, or they wouldn’t exist in a competitive capitalist society.
But I’ll tell you a secret. The best solutions I have gotten have been from other people who do the same type of thing I do every day.
I have the great privilege to belong to an amazing tribe of professionals who use Microsoft Dynamics NAV as the ERP software of choice for their businesses. These folks come together at conferences and during webinars throughout the year and even reach out to each other informally through emails and quick phone calls. And do you know what they’re doing? They’re helping each other solve problems.
I’ve learned a lot from Microsoft training sessions, from reading the manual, and from plain old experimentation. But the best learning I continue to get comes from my tribe at NAVUG (NAV User Group).
I’m a Controller at a small company. There is one other person there who has an accounting degree, and two people in the IT department. Without reaching out through NAVUG, it’s easy to get out of date, out of practice, out of touch, and out of synch with what best practices are out there in the rest of the world.
I’ve found that by sharing what I know, I build new relationships through my network who share what they know with me, and you know what? We all win.