Blogiversary Top 20 (#15) Why NAV users should be using dual monitors

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!

My company began using dual monitors a few years ago for power users, and have been putting them into place for all users this year. Does this change make a real difference in user productivity?

Some real world examples of what my team uses dual monitors for:

    • More than one NAV session at a time. As long as you have the licenses for it, you can have more than one NAV session open at a time. This is great for when you need to run a report that ties up your session for a while like the AR aging or AP aging or inventory valuations. Use one session to run these reporting hogs in, and another session to look up information for something else you’re working on.
    • Answering email questions. Open up that email on one screen, and reference the information you need on another.
    • Spreadsheet stretch.  Sometimes when you have a ton of data to deal with, it sure helps to see it all in one place.
    • Remote access. If you’re in more than one computer at a time, perhaps your laptop and also a computer back at the office via remote access, being able to see one on each screen is a big help instead of hitting Alt-Tab all day.
    • Using the help menu or other documentation. Are you trying to figure out how to use something new? Put up the application on one screen and the help menu (or user guide) up on the other screen.
    • Comparison. Whether you’re looking up more than one option on the internet or comparing what you have in your production versus development databases, using dual monitors is a great way to see what you options you have without having to switch between screens to remember what you saw.
    • Connecting with your customer. When on the phone with a customer, our customer care team has NAV on one screen and a view of what our customer is looking at on our website on the other. This allows them to better answer the customer’s question about the product, and also make suggestions later as to how we can improve on the customer experience.
    • Entry to NAV on one screen, information on another screen. If your work is transactional, and you need to enter invoices on one screen, but reference a document on another screen, this is a great way to use dual monitors. Don’t print out that document, just put it up on your second monitor.
    • Paperless processing. Ultimately, dual monitors make paperless processing possible for my company. We’re working on a paperless initiative in our accounts payable area right now which couldn’t have happened without dual monitors. Getting users to reference documents on-screen has been an easy, natural transition and while we’re saving a tree or two, the better argument has been the time saved in not printing, organizing, and filing those documents.

Return on investment of dual monitors

If you’re not convinced yet, take a look at the ROI of dual monitors. Let’s say a second monitor costs $200. Estimates of productivity gains range anywhere from 10% – 50%. If you have an employee who generates $200,000 of revenue annually, at a conservative estimate of 10% productivity gain, this could equate to a $20,000 increase in revenue; a one hundred-fold payout on your initial investment.


Blogiversary Top 20 (#16) Tips and tricks for a flawless budget load in NAV

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!

Hopefully, you’ve completed your budget work for 2013 and all you need to do to finish is to load all that information to NAV so you can begin to report against your actual financial numbers. If you’ve done this before, you might already know that NAV’s budget tool can be a bit fussy and also a bit cryptic about why it won’t accept your carefully prepared data. Here are four quick tips to help you with getting that data into NAV quickly, correctly, and in one try.

1.  Export first, then import. This is the single most important detail about getting budget data loaded into NAV. You can choose to export an existing budget or even choose to export a blank new budget. Exporting a budget as your first step establishes a working template you can populate your data into, including dimensions. As long as you start with this template, you are already most of the way there to a successful NAV budget load.

budgetload

2.  If you’re using dimensions, validate your data against the provided drop downs. Make sure all budget lines that use dimensions are only using valid dimension names. Any deviation from the allowable values that already exist in NAV can cause your budget load to error out or load without balancing.

budgetload2

3.  Clear the formats from your numbers. Once you’ve copied and pasted or typed your numbers into your Excel template, use the Excel “Clear Formats” function on all cells that contain a numeric value to make sure they are all returned to a formatted status of general. NAV does not accept any other format than the one in the template, and use of other formats, including use of commas in the numbers, will cause the budget tool to give an error and keep you from loading your budget successfully.

budgetload3

4.  Use the “Add Entries” option for a brand new budget load and the “Replace Entries” option for a subsequent version. The add entries option should only be used for a brand new budget load, otherwise the entries will be added on top of the already existing entries, doubling or tripling them. If you need to load a second or third version or some type of correction, always use the replace entries option instead of the add entries option. If you really get stuck with a bunch of errors, the best thing you can do is delete your budget and reload from scratch.

budgetload4

Take one last look through your data to make sure it’s accurate and exactly what you expected. You can use the budget tool to do this, or even better, put together a quick account schedule that shows your entries using “G/L Budget Entries” instead of “G/L Entries”. Make sure to look at your total balances, balances by fiscal period, and balances with dimension filters applied. Once you’re satisfied that all your budgeted data has loaded correctly and completely, you’re ready to produce financial reporting showing actual versus budgeted numbers!


View Convergence 2013 session on Microsoft Dynamics NAV dimensions here

If you’ve enjoyed this month’s 15 days of NAV dimensions series, and would like to hear me speaking about dimensions, there is now a recording out on the Convergence website as well as on the Virtual Convergence website.

If you were a registered Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2013 attendee, log in to the Convergence site and bring up the Schedule Builder. From here you can view a recording of any session that was listed as a concurrent or deep dive session, and you can even re watch the keynote and general sessions! You can search by any number of methods for my session, which was called Tips & tricks for working with dimensions in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and ran on Thursday, March 21st at 2:30. Click the link to watch the session video.

virtualconvIf you were not able to attend Convergence this year, there is a Virtual Convergence that is available to the public. You’ll need to log in to register, but once there, you’ll have the same access as Convergence attendees to concurrent, deep dive, keynote, and general sessions. In order to find my session, search under the sessions menu, then Microsoft Dynamics NAV, then scroll down until you see the box that contains Tips & tricks for working with dimensions in Micro . . .dims virtual

There are a lot of great sessions out there available for one year past the close of Convergence 2013, so I bet these will only be out there until the end of February 2014. Take some time to explore what else is out there and share with your coworkers! This is a great way to get information into your company about the ERP you have all chosen to run your businesses.

Enjoy!


Add NAV dimensions as your business changes (part 14 of 15)

compassSetting up dimensions should not be something we exclusively do when we implement NAV for the first time at our businesses. Change is the norm in business, and I would be genuinely surprised to hear from anyone at this point that their business has not changed significantly in the last five years. So for finance and IT professionals, what changes when the business changes? Reporting requirements!

For NAV, that means opportunity for using dimensions differently or to add new dimensions. Hopefully you are happy with your global dimensions, the two most important dimensions for your company, and you’re ready to add some shortcut dimensions so you can expand your reporting capabilities. There are four main things you should keep in mind when adding a shortcut dimension.

1) Keep in mind timing and financial cutoff. If you choose to start collecting data on a new dimension today and today falls in the middle of a fiscal period, you’re going to create a disconnect in your financial data where you have data with the new dimension value and data with the blank dimension value in the same period. Don’t do it. Find out when the end of the fiscal period is, and start gathering the new data starting with the start of the new fiscal period. This doesn’t have to be the year-end, it could be a month, or whatever period you have at your company, but do take the time to plan this out, your finance department will thank you later.

2) Know that collecting a new dimension will not magically attach to your historic data. Assigning dimension data to your item or customer or vendor only begins the collection of that data on any new transactions generated since you assigned the dimension data. There is nothing out there that will magically attach this new requirement to old historic data. There are ways to go back and change the historic data, but this is generally beyond what you want to do manually. Involve someone experienced in SQL or call your partner for some help with this. And for goodness sakes, try this in a test system first. It’s always good to do a practice run on this kind of change, and should be mandatory if you’re planning to change a large amount of data. Remember that in many cases, it is perfectly ok to collect new data without catching up the history. Only you can decide what you need for your reporting.

3) Don’t abandon your pending data. Don’t forget there are things out there you created prior to assigning that new shortcut dimension. Sales orders, purchase orders, transfer orders and any other type of form that may be in process at the time you defined that new dimension will need to be caught up to the new requirements. If you forget this, NAV will remind you by throwing a dimension error when you, or your colleagues, try to post those documents to the system.

4) Consistency is the key. Make sure you set up this new dimension with the same level of consistency you’ve used with your other dimensions. Start with your master data, but follow through by adding the safety net of the chart of accounts, and remember to incorporate your choice of value postings.

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