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 www.navug.com .

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Learning about NAV2013: CustomerSource guide to resources

customer source searchIf you are already a Microsoft Dynamics NAV customer and you’re current on your maintenance plan you need to go to CustomerSource to get access to NAV2013 training manuals that are just waiting for you to find them.

For versions prior to NAV2013, CustomerSource has published an Overview of Training Manuals as well as a Learning Plan for each version which made it easy to find all of the resources available for that version. For some reason, they have chosen not to do that with NAV2013 which does make the manuals a good deal more difficult to locate. I’ve found if you know the Course Number for the training materials you want to find you can get to them quickly by using the search box on the left hand navigation bar.  Simply type in the course number, for example, 80534, and you’ll be taken directly to those training materials which you can immediately download.

Custsourceexample

Look up the following courses using the search box to get to more information about NAV2013:

Installation and Configuration

80438: Installation and Configuration in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

80433: Reporting in Microsoft Dynamics NAV2013

80549: Data Upgrade and Code Upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics NAV2013

Finance Related

80434: Fixed Assets in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

80435: Application Setup in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

80439: Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

80534: Finance Essentials in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

80535: Finance Advanced in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

Trade & Inventory

80257: Inventory Management in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 *

80440: Trade in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

Warehouse Management

80259: Warehouse Management in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 *

Service Management

50224: Service Management in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 *

Relationship Management

50223: Relationship Management in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 *

Manufacturing

80550: Manufacturing in Microsoft Dynamics NAV2013

C/SIDE

80436: C/SIDE Introduction in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

80437: C/SIDE Solution Development in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

* not updated for NAV2013, only available in prior versions


Blogiversary Top 20 (#2) NAV keyboard shortcuts – Classic to RTC

We’re celebrating our one year blogiversary by reposting the Top 20 Most Viewed in the last year, as determined by you, our readers! Follow this link to see the entire list. Enjoy!

Who knew that keyboard shortcuts could be so darn controversial?

I recently got the chance to present a NAV tips and tricks session at the NAVUG Midwest Regional Chapter meeting, and one topic that came up again and again was what keyboard shortcuts were changing in the transition from the classic client to the role-tailored client (RTC).

The first discussion started as a rumor during the social hour the night prior. “Did you hear they’re getting rid of F8?” “No, they can’t get rid of F8!”  “What’ll we do without F8?”  “Oh my inventory accountant is going to hate that” “Well I heard they’re changing everything.”

Well lucky for us we had quite a few folks there who have already been using the RTC who were able to quite handily put that vicious rumor to rest. F8 is firmly available to copy the field above in the new client, just has it has been in the classic client.

There are quite a few other things that are just simply changing, and I think the changes make a whole lot of sense.

Take F3. F3 has been the constant companion of the NAV user, utilized whenever we needed to designate a new record, a new line, a new document, or a new card. Anything new has been F3. This has been replaced with four new commands in the RTC. Complicated?  No, I think that Microsoft has made a concerted effort to simplify by making keyboard shortcuts more consistent with other Microsoft Office products. Even though four new commands are replacing one, I think that Ctrl+N will come quite naturally to someone wanting to create a new record. Ctrl+Insert likewise makes sense for inserting a new line. Ctrl+Shift+C for opening a new card and Ctrl-F2 for creating a new document may be a little taxing, but I’m betting we’ll all get used to it. Frankly, I’m glad to see Microsoft making it easier and more consistent for new users to adopt.

I’m sure I may utter an oath or two when I hit F3 in the RTC and instead of getting a new record, get bumped into a field filter. But I sure will appreciate many of the brand new keyboard shortcuts that support RTC features that we’ve never had before like Alt+Tab to switch among open windows and F5 which now acts as a refresh command, just like it does in other programs.

Check out the link below which goes to a Microsoft .pdf listing out a nice comparative list of keyboard shortcuts between the classic client and the RTC. This will be the first document I give to my end users when we start working on our transition to the RTC. There will always be fear of change, even with small things like keyboard shortcuts.

Encourage folks to look for the consistencies and efficiencies gained with the new ones and remind them; at least they didn’t get rid of F8.

NAV2009KeyboardShortcuts


Blogiversary Top 20 (#5) PowerPivot to the People

We’re celebrating our one year blogiversary by reposting the Top 20 Most Viewed in the last year, as determined by you, our readers! Follow this link to see the entire list. Enjoy!

As a Controller at a small to medium-sized business, I struggle with the big BI question:  do I invest in a business intelligence package or do I do it myself?

When I first became aware of PowerPivot, a free Excel add-on that became available with Microsoft Office 2010, I was excited and also a little relieved. While the emergence of PowerPivot didn’t completely solve my dilemma, it sure gave me some significant options for more data accessibility. I didn’t have to depend on my partner or an IT employee with special skills to build me a dataport from NAV, or to piece together an SQL query, or to build a cube I could apply queries to. Because I have PowerPivot, suddenly I can be Super-Controller; accessing tables directly in my NAV database, pulling ginormous amounts of data into a single spreadsheet, and manipulating the data with lightning speed into familiar Excel pivot tables, all without asking for help.  powerpivotcrush

So, when I read in a recent article from MSDynamicsWorld.com that New Office 2013 Licensing May Put PowerPivot, Power View Out of Reach for Some Microsoft Dynamics Users, I was actually pretty alarmed and then pretty upset. How dare Microsoft give us this shiny new Christmas dream and then snatch it away like some kind of horrible data-reneging Grinch!

I went looking for a few more answers about exactly what was going on, and what I found out was that Microsoft has actually taken PowerPivot out of most versions of Office 2013. This is a big deal because it was previously available in all versions of Office 2010, so Microsoft is actually removing functionality. PowerPivot is only available in Office 2013 if you get Office Pro Plus through volume licensing or through Office 365 subscriptions. Basically, this means PowerPivot is not available in any retail Office 2013 packages, so therefore, is only reachable by companies who have enough purchasing power to utilize volume licensing packages. So, a tool that was designed, in my opinion, to give BI power directly to the people by making it simple enough for financial folks to pull their own data, has now been restricted to only business class licensing. If you’re looking for some interesting theories as to why this might be, read Hey, Who Moved My (PowerPivot 2013) Cheese?

Mr. Excel himself (Bill Jelen), the uberist Excel geek of them all, has some great stuff to say about PowerPivot, including “PowerPivot is the best new feature to hit Excel in 20 years” and a few other things here including a great short video explaining why we should care.  I just said in a recent NAVUG Ask the Experts Finance webinar only two weeks ago that as a financial professional who uses NAV, learning to use PowerPivot should be the most important skill finance people should learn in the next year.

Microsoft has missed a huge opportunity to finally settle a score in the BI arena for small to medium businesses by making this move.  There has always been the argument that using Excel spreadsheets is a risky proposition for financial professionals. You can really create some big problems for yourself if you are not careful in how you manage your spreadsheets.  Some companies even go so far as to outlaw them and attempt to go spreadsheet free.  Companies who sell BI packages lean on this pretty hard, trying to remove spreadsheets from the list of available choices.

I say this risk is greatly offset by the benefit of being able to use a tool that can pull, in a safe way, massive amounts of data that can be manipulated by the typical Excel end-user quickly and efficiently.  For me, the benefit PowerPivot brings to my company tips the scale on sinking money into a BI solution, and keeps me firmly in the DIY BI camp, with Excel as my primary tool. Making PowerPivot available in all new versions of Excel seals the deal and makes BI in Excel a revolution of equality, ensuring equilateral Excel adoption in the business world.

I’m glad to see so many people bringing forward a call to action to bring PowerPivot back to all versions of Office, not just Pro Plus and Office365 subscriptions. I’m adding my voice, and will continue to ask Microsoft to bring PowerPivot to the people!


Journal of Accountancy gets excited about Microsoft Office 2013

JoAI love it when accountants get excited about software! JoA just published a pretty enthusiastic article about Microsoft Office 2013 highlighting, among many attributes:

  • Touch screen
  • Cloud
  • Mobility
  • Many functional enhancements

They cover over 40 Office 2013 enhancements, spend a good amount of time highlighting some in detail, and even include a well done sidebar article on whether users who upgrade should consider renting through the Office365 subscription program versus buying. There’s some great information here.

Follow the link for the whole article, found on the Journal of Accountancy site.