5 reasons you need to use NAV dimensions (part 2 of 15)

dimensions gridStill not convinced that leaving your old multi-segmented chart of accounts behind is a good idea? Don’t know exactly what in the world that crazy grid illustration with a number in only one box and words in the rest has to do with accounting, at all? Here are my five reasons for why you should be using dimensions.

1)  Your chart of accounts is shorter. Seriously now, my company was the one with the 4,000 accounts in the chart of accounts before we installed NAV. We used project codes heavily, and had three to four segments to each base general ledger account number. Every member of the accounting team had this gigantic dog-eared book on their desk they would reference as they went through their day. Not only was it impossible to remember all that detail, it took a long time to type those numbers into the system, and with so many manually entered numbers, it was very easy to make a mistake. We spent a full two days every month during the close investigating and researching whether things went into the right place and then constructing reclassifying entries to correct the errors. My chart of accounts is less than 200 accounts now, and we eliminate a few more every year.

2)  Account coding becomes intuitive.  We still use project codes heavily, but now we’re able to give them a name as well as a number, which makes the coding process much more intuitive, less prone to error, and allows people outside the accounting department to enter data into the system. We work with a lot of non-numbers people at our company, and just talking about money has become easier since we started using dimensions. Nobody needs to get out the big dog-eared book to “determine the coding for your recent T&E”. We can use actual English and say things like, “Code that expense report to the Marketing team for the recent children’s sunday school event in Ohio” and everyone knows where that will be coded when the invoice gets entered to NAV.

3) Better control and accuracy.  Certainly with having more intuitive coding and a shorter chart of accounts, we should all see some improvement in control and accuracy of postings. But wait, there’s more! NAV does a fantastic job of layering in more features for dimensions like allowing automatically populated default values, adding warning messages to make sure you get the right kind of dimension in the right place, allowing control at the level of your master data as well as your chart of accounts, and allowing restrictions on what dimensions can be combined with other dimensions and with what priority. All of these features combine to make sure the computer does the work instead of your employees and does it more accurately. Remember those two days my company used to spend to review and correct entries with reclassifications? Last year, I was able to send out an email out for three month end closes letting my team know they had a perfect posting month – no errors – not a single reclassification.

4)  Greater flexibility in your reporting.  Even with this shorter chart of accounts, we actually have more detail than we had before, because getting more detail through use of dimensions makes it possible. The idea of adding another segment in the old system to support a changing reporting need was heinously prohibitive. With dimensions, we gain that flexibility without adding another 400 pages to our chart of accounts. We produce more reports with more valuable information now than ever before, and we have the ability to combine the data we’ve gathered in more flexible combinations to assist us in making business decisions.

5)  You’ll continue to have more options, even after go-live. I think a lot of people believe the only time they can make decisions about dimensions is when they are initially implementing. While this is a very important time to lay the foundation for your NAV system, you do have the option to add or change dimensions as you go along. We’ve actually added about one new dimension annually, as our business needs have changed, and as we’ve determined we need to report on different priorities.

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


Looking for a how to guide on running the year end close in NAV? Here are 3!

All your journal entries are done, all of your modules balance to the general ledger, and your inventory period is closed. You are ready to get that income statement rolled up and close the year. Now where were those instructions? It’s not unusual to be a little unsure about the year end close process – we only get to do it annually, so no one will blame you if you can’t remember exactly what you did last year, and in what order. Here are a couple of resources to help you out.

ABC Computers, Inc. has a nice entry on their technology blog, “How to Close a Fiscal Year in Microsoft Dynamics NAV:  Instructions for Annual Closing Operations“. This goes through a quick top level summary and then a deep dive into the closing process with field by field instructions.

If video learning is more your style, Archerpoint has a short 3-4 minute video out there, “Closing the Fiscal Year in NAV” that shows the annual closing process screen by screen.

customer sourceFinally, you can always get the full manual on the year end closing process straight from Customer Source.  Log in and type in 80041 into the search box. This will get you directly to the “Finance in Microsoft Dynamics 2009” Microsoft course. Download the course and go straight to the file for Chapter 10 – Year End Closing Processes.

Remember, you can always make entries after you’ve gone through your initial income statement rollup. You don’t need to wait for that very last entry to get this process going.


Where can I learn more about NAV analysis reports and analysis by dimensions?

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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