Learning about Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013: on demand learning from NAVUG is a fantastic resource!

learnAs my company continues to move down the path to upgrading to NAV 2013, learning about the new version is high on our list of priorities.  Yesterday, we gathered a group of 18 employees to view a webinar that had been recorded by the NAV user group (NAVUG). The live webinar had been done a month ago, but NAVUG records all of its webinars so user group members can view them on demand later.

I took the opportunity to view the webinar first to vet the material for appropriateness for our group. Being able to see the recording first allowed us to tailor the list of who we invited to view the webinar. Based on the content of the webinar, we invited NAV end users from the customer care, purchasing, finance, IT, warehouse, and marketing departments as well as our CFO and CEO. It was hugely convenient to be able to view the recorded webinar as a group because it allowed us to do this at a time that was convenient to us, we all got to consume the same learning experience at the same time, and we got a chance to discuss what we saw in the context of our own upgrade plans.

The webinar we viewed was titled “NAVUG 2013 Webinar Series: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 – A Functional Preview” and we were excited to see some of the new charting and cash flow improvements, as well as to hear about dimension sets, database performance increases, and improved copy and paste.  There were some smiles and ooh and aahs during the discussion of the web client and SharePoint clients for remote access and use of tablet technologies like the iPad and Surface.  There was even a smattering of applause when the presenter showed some improved Excel integration features!  Most importantly, all the people in the room got to pick up on the real world impact that NAV 2013 improvements will have on their jobs.  Our company is still using the Classic Client, so for most of the people attending this was their first exposure to the Role Tailored Client and this webinar really got a lot of them thinking about what the “new” NAV would look like.

I can see already that NAVUG has two more sessions planned in their NAV 2013 Webinar Series.  You can bet I’ll be viewing both of these, whether it is at the scheduled time for the webinar, or later, from the recorded session, and finding a way to share the info with other interested folks at my company.

NAVUG NAV 2013 Series: Introduction to ODATA Web Services: How to easily publish your NAV data  01/30/2013 11:00 AM (ET)  NAV 2013 brings ODATA Web Services as a new way to access your NAV data from outside the system. Attend this session to find out how you can use ODATA to access your data from many other applications like Excel, SQL Reporting Services, Internet Explorer, smartphones and tablets.

NAVUG NAV 2013 Series: New Feature – Cash Flow  02/14/2013 09:30 AM (ET) We will demo how the new Cash Flow Forecast in NAV 2013 gives an efficient way to forecast short-term cash flow, enable better monitoring of cash receipts and cash disbursements and use the information to take preemptive steps.

For the cost of our annual corporate NAVUG membership, we were able to get 18 people at our company exposed to important concepts about the new version of the software that will be coming their way soon. We didn’t need to incur any travel costs or even any seminar registration fees, and we were able to schedule it at a time that worked for us. I know our company will continue to use the NAVUG library of recorded webinars as we continue to learn about NAV 2013.  I hope you find this resource as useful as we have!

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Learning about Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

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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NAVUG at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence – it’s all about the networking

This time of year, you might be thinking about what events you want to attend next year.  There are many reasons we attend conferences:  for professional development, to keep current with upcoming technologies, and to investigate solutions for new business challenges.  For me, attending Convergence is all about the networking.  I go every year to refresh relationships with business contacts I’ve already made and to meet new folks as well.  Check out this quick one minute video clip that talks about the networking value of the NAV user group (NAVUG) at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence.

Not sure if you can get approved to go?  Make sure to include going to Convergence in your annual budgeting process.  Documenting the ROI of attending Convergence should be a part of your process.  For some quick advice on how to do that, see my article Convincing Your Boss You Should go to Convergence.

The 2013 Microsoft Dynamics Convergence event is held in New Orleans from March 18-21.

Ready, get set, network! NAVUG Forum is prime time for making connections.

It’s less than a week before we get to show up in Seattle for NAVUG Forum to connect with other professionals who use NAV in their jobs every day, just like we do!  I’m making my “gettin’ ready to network list” and thought I’d share. These are my networking essentials:

1)  Get that LinkedIn profile updated. Put a new picture up there so folks will know what you look like today. I like to go professional for me, but I don’t mind seeing a casual picture out there of other folks, so long as it’s current and helps me to recognize them. Almost anything is better than a blank photo spot. Make sure your basic info is updated, and you’ve got your top 10 skills and expertise out there. Another good reason to do this is, for the first time ever, the user group will be using Qrious, a phone app that will allow you to scan QR codes on attendee badges to get you to their designated contact information. That could be a company website, a blog, a Twitter or Linked in profile, or whatever they direct you to.

2)  If you’re not a regular Twitter user, brush off that account and make sure you’re ready to use it. A lot of fun things can happen in the NAVUG Twitter-verse during Forum; it’s a great way to know what’s going on, where folks are at, and what the big WOWs of the day have been.

3)  Updated business cards. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the old business cards are racing toward obsolescence, but they’ve got their place, and I still use them. They’re a quick way to get information into someone else’s hands and promote your company.

4)  Spend some time reviewing contacts you’ve made in the past. I had an old dog-eared stack of business cards that graduated to a box because I couldn’t hold them all anymore. Once I got to that point, I got organized with CardMunch, an app that allows you to scan the card with your phone and then uses Mechanical Turk to transcribe the card into a contact record and locate the person’s LinkedIn profile, if they have one set up. You can even add notes to the record, just like writing on the back of a business card. I can flip through images of the actual cards, or the profiles I’ve gathered, when I’ve got a few extra minutes. Highly recommended.

5)  Charging Cords! There’s no bigger bummer than to have your phone go dead in the middle of all the action.

6)  A pack of your favorite breath mints. For real now, none of us are getting enough water, we’re eating stuff we don’t normally eat, probably not getting enough sleep, and we’re in close quarters all day. A mint never hurts, and it’s nice to be able to offer one to someone else.

7)  The list of people you want to meet, even if you don’t know who they are yet. Every conference I make a list. Sometimes, I’ve got a person’s name on the list with a note “follow-up about the comment on ACH procedures with Lee”. Other times, I’ve got a note “find someone who knows about managing VAT with mixed standard and zero-rated items on consignment”. I’ll even throw in some “stop by the help desk and brainstorm that new idea on managing dimensions” or “informally poll finance users to see if they’d be interested in webinars on AP best practices”.

8)  Adjust your attitude to be ready to interact. Lots of the folks who attend Forum are IT and Finance professionals. You’ve gotta admit, we don’t always have the best reputation for extroversion. Make it a part of your mindset to mentally get out from behind your computer (or your phone). Meal times and break times are prime time to get discussions going with a few people at a time. Take note of someone in a session who asked an interesting question, or who looked puzzled, or maybe who looked like they didn’t know anyone yet. Make eye contact, smile, and ask questions.

7)  Comfy shoes. What do shoes have to do with networking? When I’m having my last conversation after talking with folks all day, I don’t want to be shifting around because my feet hurt and I’m sure not going to let sore feet get in the way of making it across the Expo hall one more time because there is one more person on my list I need to find.

8)  Prepare to follow-up later. Don’t let all this prep go to waste! Even as you’re meeting new folks, remember that you’ll want to follow-up with people once you get back home. It’s always nice to hear from someone you met, and to establish a connection with someone who really understands what you do professionally. You never know now how you might be able to help them, or how they might be able to help you. The opportunity we all have to build an engaged community of NAV users who help each other exists because we all show up ready to connect, learn, and share.

See you in Seattle!

Business Intelligence and Reporting Track helps solve user challenges at NAVUG Forum.

Jason Chance, Senior Programmer/Analyst at Seventh Generation and Business Intelligence and Reporting Track Leader for NAVUG Forum, guest blogs today on what the BI and Reporting Track has to offer end users at NAVUG Forum, the annual NAV end-user conference held in Seattle, October 15-18 2012.

Without fail, whenever I lead a NAV roundtable discussion or training class, people talk about the reporting. I’ve only met a handful of people who are completely happy with their business reporting and most of them have spent significant resources developing reporting solutions outside of NAV. But before you throw in the towel on reporting in NAV, and spend a lot of time and money, you owe it yourself and your organization to understand what’s available in NAV. This is where NAVUG Forum 2012 comes in.

NAVUG Forum is an excellent event led by NAV users and professionals. It’s not a sales pitch. It’s not a glossy brochure full of fluff. It’s real NAV users sharing their experience and insight gained through years working with NAV. In the reporting and BI track we’ll focus how you can get the most out of the existing tools in NAV. With sessions like Reporting 101 and Reporting 102, you’ll learn how to create and modify NAV reports. Sessions on the Role Tailored Client will show you how to use the RTC to customize the data that you see in NAV. The Analysis Views and Jet Reports session will highlight two often under utilized reporting tools in NAV. The NAV 2013 sessions will give you a preview of what to expect in the newest version of NAV.

If you have issues and concerns with your reporting capabilities, chances are someone else has the same concerns, who knows, maybe they’ve already solved their problems. Come to NAVUG Forum, learn from your peers, build a network of colleagues that can help you get the most out of NAV.

See you in Seattle.

NAVUG FORUM 2012 Overview and IT Track – Keyword: WOW!

Lewis Rosenberg, Information Technology Manager at Mars Fishcare, Information Technology Track Leader, and Programming Committee Chairperson for NAVUG Forum, guest blogs today on what the IT Track has to offer end users at NAVUG Forum, the annual NAV end-user conference held in Seattle, October 15-18 2012.

All I can say after reviewing the list of offerings for this years’ NAVUG Forum in Seattle is WOW! If you have never attended a NAVUG Forum before, this is a “must-attend, must-participate,  WOW!” event! There will be so much quality information available from so many quality Dynamics NAV professionals. This is the best opportunity to link up with, meet, and network with so many people that do what you do every day using Dynamics NAV.

The conference begins with an optional day or half-day of training. There are ten different classes to choose from for a small additional fee. The classes being offered span a wide range of subject areas including finance, manufacturing, information technology, and reporting.

The remainder of the event spans three days and offers more than 100 sessions organized by eight subject tracks:  BI-Reporting, Finance, Global, IT-Developers, Manufacturing-Supply Chain, NAV 2013, Strategic, Potpourri.  You can attend sessions in multiple tracks to get the most out of the conference.

One of the most exciting things about the sessions offered is that they are all led by Dynamics NAV users and professionals like you. All of the sessions encourage participation, sharing of knowledge and solutions. The power of networking is what NAVUG Forum is all about!

This year’s Information Technology track features thirteen sessions covering topics like Cloud Computing,  Database Optimization, SharePoint, Web Services, NAV 2013, the Role Tailored Client, and Dynamics NAV Security, Permissions, & Roles.

NAVUG Forum 2012 is at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle Washington from October 16 – October 18.  All the information you need is available at http://www.navugforum.com. Connect, Learn, Share! WOW!

Lewis I. Rosenberg
Information Technology Manager, Mars Fishcare
Programming Committee Chairperson, NAVUG

NAVUG Forum: What is being offered in the manufacturing and supply chain track in 2012?

Marc Allman, Executive Vice President of AMS Controls and Manufacturing and Supply Chain Track Leader for NAVUG Forum guest blogs today on what the Supply Chain Track has to offer end users at NAVUG Forum, the annual NAV end-user conference held in Seattle, October 15-18 2012.

The Manufacturing & Supply Chain Track was designed to provide real, hands-on practical knowledge to any users in the manufacturing, purchasing, and warehouse functional areas in NAV.

Whether you’re a manufacturer creating production orders and purchase orders or a distributor just creating purchase orders, the process you use to determine your plans is the same – run MRP. This will be covered in two sessions: Supply Planning 101 and Supply Planning 201.

Once you’ve decided what to make or buy, you must deal the results of your plan. Working with Production Orders and Working with Purchase Orders will provide more insight into these topics.

Several sessions will provide some specific detail into some related topics: Forecasting FunctionalityManufacturing Product DesignSubcontracting, and Warehouse Operations.

Costing is one of the most complex areas within NAV. A two-hour Costing Deep Dive session will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about costing in NAV.

One of the best aspects of an event like NAVUG Forum is the access you get to the experts in the software you use every day. Two roundtable Q&A sessions are your opportunity to get your questions answered: Ask the Experts – Manufacturingand Supply Chain and Ask the Experts – Costing.

Finally, the forthcoming release of NAV 2013 brings with it some significant enhancements to the supply planning area.What’s New is Supply Planning in NAV 2013 will show off the new features.

NAVUG Forum: What is being offered in the finance track in 2012?

This fall, from October 16-18, is the NAVUG Forum annual conference, a user group conference organized and presented by NAV users for NAV users. The conference focuses on educational sessions and networking opportunities for people who use the Microsoft Dynamics NAV product in their businesses.

Educational sessions are offered in eight different tracks, and cover the range of all different levels of experience with NAV, from prospective new users to users who have been using the product for many years. Presentations, round table discussions, how-to sessions, deep dives, and customer showcases all fill the agenda, ensuring there are many options to choose from for the attendees of the conference.

This year, the finance track at the conference offers twelve sessions in just three days. Presentations on account schedules, dimensions, budgeting, and month end close set the stage for covering the basics for new users as well as for experts who are looking for a refresher on best practices. A two-hour deep dive session called Finance 101 covers setup and maintenance of the NAV finance functions, comprehensively walking through the elements of the finance module. New sessions this year include fixed assets, payroll, posting groups, and even a customer showcase highlighting how two customers solved the problem of paying their vendors with ACH electronic payments instead of paper checks. Sessions on multi-company consolidation and managing security and compliance round out the agenda for companies with more complex setups and regulatory environments. A round table session called Ask the Experts fills out the track, giving attendees a chance to ask a panel of peer experts questions regarding business challenges they are trying to solve.

The agenda is chock full of choices for finance folks, and there are just as many sessions planned in other tracks like Business Intelligence and Reporting, IT/Developers, Manufacturing and Supply Chain, and Strategic. A new track in 2012, Global Finance, focuses on the particular needs of our ever-growing international companies with never before offered sessions on VAT, multiple exchange rates, and additional reporting currencies.

I’m excited to see so many sessions being offered on such a wide variety of topics, but even more valuable is the opportunity to network with other finance users between sessions. Getting a chance to network with other professionals who use NAV every day, just like I do, is priceless. NAVUG allows ample time during the conference to meet other attendees, helping by providing job role themed meal tables, and even offering a buddy system that matches new attendees with veterans to assist in getting their questions solved and making sure they can find their way around.

I’ll be presenting some sessions at NAVUG Forum this year, and am bringing three of my colleagues to the conference. We’re looking forward to learning, sharing, networking, and bringing home a whole bunch of new ideas and solutions back to our company. I hope you’ll find as many benefits to this conference as we do. See you at NAVUG Forum!

Measuring the return on investment of attending NAVUG Forum

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!