Column layouts in NAV account schedules are what you build to add more flexibility to your financial statements. You can have an unlimited number of column layouts to match together with your already existing row setups. In general, most basic row setups contain general ledger numbers and column layouts contain dates. As an example, when I produce my income statement, I will have one row setup that reflects a summarized income statement and at least four different column layouts that reflect different configurations of month to date, year to date, comparisons against budget, and twelve month trended views.
Just like with row setups, there are many available options in the column layouts. This large variety of options can sometimes be overwhelming to the new account schedule user. I’ll show you which columns to choose in the column layouts for account schedules as a beginning point, and go through some simple explanations of how they are used.
Fields to start with:
Column No. – The column number is completely optional, but highly recommended. This simple element of the column layout will eventually be one of the key features of your account schedule, allowing you to calculate and organize with ease.
Column Header – This is where you’ll define, in words, what you’re showing in each column of your report. Keep it short; there is a 30 character limit.
Column Type: Net Change, Balance at Date, or Formula – There are actually seven options to choose from here, but I recommend that you limit yourself to these three when you’re just getting started. The key here is knowing what type of accounts you’re reporting on. If you’re using income statement accounts (Revenue/Expense), then you need to use net change. If you’re using balance sheet accounts (Assets/Liabilities), then you need to use Balance at Date. Formula allows you to perform calculations in a column.
Ledger Entry Type – This column will allow you to define what type of ledger entries you will show. This is where you can choose actual general ledger entries or budgeted general ledger entries.
Formula – If you’ve chosen Formula as the Column Type, this is where you’ll put the formula.
Comparison Period Formula – This column allows you to define date formulas that are used to calculate the amounts shown. I generally recommend that beginning account schedule users start out using the comparison period formula field instead of the comparison date formula field. The comparison period formula field references the accounting periods set up in the fiscal year, so this option seems the most consistent, and is especially necessary for companies that may not follow a calendar fiscal year. Common data labels used in this field are CP for current period or -1CP for previous period and FY for fiscal year or -1FY for prior year.
Shown below are both the design view and the user view of a column layout for a summarized income statement showing year to date and prior year to date information in the columns to demonstrate the use of these six basic options in an account schedule.
Role Tailored Client
For more information on row setups, please see these posts: Basic row setup options for NAV Account Schedules and Complete row setup options for NAV account schedules.
If you’re just beginning to use account schedules, see Getting started with a new account schedule.
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I was merrily finalizing my financial statements last week, and got this error when running my consolidation. I had successfully run my consolidation error free for over a year, so in disbelief, I immediately reran it, expecting a change in result. Same error. I began to run the mental check list. What was different? What had changed?
Of course! I had added a new account at the end of the year, and this month was the first month there was activity in the account. Not remembering exactly what I did six months ago, I rechecked my work.
- I had added the new account on my main company
- I had added the new account on my consolidation company
I reran the consolidation; still the same error. What was I missing? The culprit was the Consolidation tab on the on the G/L Account Card. I only had it set up correctly in the consolidation company and had missed filling out these same fields on the main company. I needed for this to be filled out exactly the same on both cards in order for this to work. I fixed the two fields, and voila!, my consolidation was back to its usual, reliable old self and finished up like a champ.
Just for good measure, I took a quick tour through my account schedules to make sure I had incorporated this new account either through ranges or individually so this new activity would also be properly captured in the financial statements.
This error can occur in other places, and in plain English is basically telling you that you’ve missed some setup where a general ledger account must be defined. That nifty little double apostrophe means “blank” to NAV. I put “NAV G/L Account No. ” does not exist” into BING looking for someone who may have answered this question before, so if you’re looking for a solution for this error in other areas, try these links.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2274642 Microsoft hotfix available when error is generated when you run the export to excel function on the analysis by dimensions reporting in the Spanish version
http://www.mibuso.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=52338 when posting a sales credit note
http://dynamicsuser.net/forums/p/279520/279520.aspx when posting an invoice
Analysis reports and analysis by dimensions are the native reporting options that extend NAV reporting to the item ledger entries generated from the sales, purchasing, and inventory areas of the application. I find that many users don’t know that this reporting option exists and think it is one of the more underutilized areas by NAV financial users.
These reporting options can be found on the general ledger, sales & marketing, purchasing, and inventory menus.
The main advantage this reporting tool has over account schedules is that it reaches a further level of detail that just isn’t recorded on the general ledger. Being able to get to quantity information at the item or location level in addition to the dollar values posted makes these tools great as a way to get operational reporting.
What is the difference between the two?
Analysis by dimensions is a query tool. The key to using this tool effectively is to use aggressive filtering, especially if you have a large number of items. It can be a very quick way to get information about what may be going on with a single or small group of items. You can also export to Excel and it shows up in a pivot table.
Analysis Reports allow you to configure and save row setups and column layouts for later use, which makes it a reporting tool. These reports work a lot like account schedules, with some added features to accommodate the additional data you can reach because you’re reporting against the item ledger entry tables instead of the general ledger.
A few hints on analysis reports and analysis by dimensions:
- Skip the analysis report on the general ledger menu and use accounts schedules; you’re not going to get any added value here.
- When posting sales or purchase orders, you must be fully utilizing the sub module, i.e. do not allow any posting of lines to general ledger accounts on the sales or purchase order documents. Any posting that goes “around” these modules will cause your analysis report to show a lower number than what is on your general ledger. Avoid the argument of reporting credibility by understanding this, and either being able to explain the variance, or prevent it from happening altogether.
- Know that analysis reports will not automatically update if you add new items. You’ll need to go in and do this manually to each report every time you add new items.
For those of you who are looking for more resources on Analysis by Dimension and Analysis Views, reference the documents below, found on Customer Source:
Documentation => User Guides => Overview of Training Manuals and Hands-On Labs for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009
- Trade in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 – Chapter 9
- Business Intelligence for Information Workers in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 – Chapter 5
Documentation => User Guides => Overview of Training Manuals for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0
- Trade in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 – Chapter 10
- Business Intelligence for Information Workers in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 – Chapter 6
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You’re diving into using account schedules – you’ve figured out where they are, created a brand new one, given it an easy short name and a longer descriptive name and now you’re ready to get started. Now what? You need to begin with the row setup; the foundation of all account schedules.
The row setup defines what you’ll see on the lines of your report. Generally you’ll want to define general ledger accounts, or groups of general ledger accounts, in the row setup when you’re just getting started. Later, you’ll want to add some column layouts but let’s focus on getting that foundation built first.
The easiest way to get going with a new row setup is to put together a trial balance. Your trial balance should be a listing of all your general ledger accounts, one line each, which will show the balance of each account on a particular date, generally a month or period end. If you add them all up, all the accounts should balance to zero, which is one way to prove that your books are in balance.
Role Tailored Client Instructions
If you’re using the role-tailored client (RTC), choose Edit Account Schedule from the action pane.
You’ll get a new screen with many blank rows ready to be used. From this screen, choose Actions=>Functions=>Insert Accounts.
This opens up your G/L Account List. Use your mouse to select all the rows you want to add to your row setup.
Once you’ve highlighted them all (they should turn light blue), hit OK, and all the accounts you’ve selected will be added to your row setup, one row per account.
At this point, don’t make any changes to the row setup. Let’s see if it matches the canned trial balance that you can print directly out of NAV. Choose the Overview button (shown in the above screenshot). Select a column layout. If you don’t have one yet, hang in there, we’ll cover that in an upcoming post. For now, I’m going to choose a simple one that shows balance only. Select Show Matrix from the action pane.
This will show all the accounts you selected in your row setup, now in your account schedule.
To prove out the balance, dump the account schedule into Excel. Do this by choosing Actions=>Functions=>Export to Excel. On the next window choose the option to Create a New Workbook. Hit OK, and your schedule will export to Excel. Watch out: If you’ve used Begin or End-Total lines in your chart of accounts, you’ll need to remove these lines. These are calculated fields, and should not be a part of your trial balance.
Let’s run the canned trial balance from NAV as a comparison to see if we’ve done this right. Follow this trail to get to the report: Departments=>Financial Management=>General Ledger=>Reports=>Financial Statement=>Trial Balance. Select Actual Balances as your report column and make sure the date filter is set to the same date you used when running the account schedule. Compare the report to the account schedule. Each line should match between the two reports and the total should be zero on both, proving your trial balance is indeed in balance.
Classic Client Instructions
For those who use the classic client, let’s run through the same steps. Starting from Financial Management=>General Ledger=>Analysis & Reporting=>Account Schedules, choose your new account schedule from the list.
Hit OK, and you’ll get a new screen with many blank rows ready to be used. From the Functions button on the bottom right, choose Insert Accounts.
This opens up your G/L Account List. Simply click on the blank cell immediately to the left of the No. field to select all accounts quickly.
Once you’ve highlighted them all (they should turn dark blue), hit OK, and all the accounts you’ve selected will be added to your row setup, one row per account.
At this point, don’t make any changes to the row setup. Let’s see if it matches the canned trial balance that you can print directly out of NAV. Hit OK, and then choose Overview from the Account Schedules button found on the bottom right.
Select a column layout from the Column Layout Name field. If you don’t have one yet, hang in there, we’ll cover that in an upcoming post. For now, I’m going to choose a simple one that shows balance only.
This will show all the accounts you selected in your row setup, now in your account schedule.
To prove out the balance, dump the account schedule into Excel. Do this by choosing Export to Excel from the Functions button on the bottom right.
On the next window choose the option to Create a New Workbook. Hit OK and your schedule will export to Excel. Watch out: If you’ve used Begin or End-Total lines in your chart of accounts, you’ll need to remove these lines. These are calculated fields, and should not be a part of your trial balance.
Let’s run the canned trial balance from NAV as a comparison to see if we’ve done this right. Follow this trail to get to the report: Financial Management=>General Ledger=>Reports=>Financial Statement=>Trial Balance. On the Options tab, select Actual Balances as your report column and make sure the date filter is set to the same date you used when running the account schedule. Compare the report to the account schedule. Each line should match between the two reports and the total should be zero on both, proving your trial balance is indeed in balance.
I use account schedules as the primary source of financial reporting at my company. With all the available choices out there, why do I use account schedules? I’ve got a whole list of reasons.
1) I can custom build all of my financial statements, exactly how I want to see them.
Especially when I talk with prospective NAV customers, I hear a lot of objections as to why NAV doesn’t come with “out of the box” financial statements. If you think about this for a bit, what part of your company’s financials might fit the definition of “out of the box”? Is your chart of accounts the same as someone else’s? What about the name of your accounts? Your numbering convention? Is the way you present your financial statements just like anyone else’s? If you built your financial statements using an out of the box solution, how long would it be before you began to customize them?
Why not build them the way you want them the first time and be able to customize them as your company changes?
2) Account schedules tie directly to the general ledger.
Someone told me once that reporting from the general ledger was the best way to get to the truth. Since my financial statements have got to be accurate and consistent above all else, I like this idea. I know, that without a doubt, my account schedules tie back to my trial balance and my detailed transactional postings. I can prove it out over and over. I can use my account schedules to debunk some of the untruths that come out of some of our other reporting sources. Knowing I can get to the truth makes me trust the results I get from account schedules and gives me confidence in deeming them as the place to get exactly the right answer.
3) Budgets integrate really well with account schedules.
I use the budgets area of NAV extensively. However, I only actually touch the budgets area once a year, when I populate them with our next years’ data. Budgets integrate to account schedules so fluidly that I have no reason to go back and forth between the two during the year as I track how we’re doing in comparison to budget or even as I look ahead to remind myself of what the plan was. I can get this information from account schedules and get all my financial information from one place.
4) Dimensions along with account schedules are a powerful combination.
Account schedules without dimensions are like James Bond without Q. James Bond can certainly hold his own without all the gadgets, but come on, the things that Q adds are really cool! Adding dimensions in almost as many combinations as you can think of gives you added power in your account schedules and lets you stretch beyond mere financial reporting and expand into operational reporting.
5) They export easily to Excel.
My monthly financial statement package is 18 pages, all produced out of account schedules. Each month, I export directly to Excel and produce reports that are consistently formatted and look the same every month. I’ve got good control over the process while still having the flexibility I need when we decide we want to make a change. All of this gets loaded up to SharePoint for the end users who use them, and no tree products are harmed in the production of our financials.
6) Account schedules can be built and maintained by finance folks without IT help.
This is, and always has been, the big seller for me. I’m a DIY kind of person. I do my own landscaping, I bake my own bread (not all the time), I can build a fire while camping, and I’m painting my own living room this spring. These same principles flow through to my business. I want to be able to do it myself. I love my IT colleagues, but goodness knows they have enough to do without having to produce my financials. Account schedules are easy enough to use that I don’t need to know a programming language, or how to accomplish a table join, in order to build them. All I need is knowledge of my chart of accounts, what the structure of my dimensions and budgets are, what the differences are between balance sheet and income statement accounts, and some simple formulas.
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.