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Subject: Working Together on Common Problems

1.  Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 21 days ago
I have been involved with NAV since 5.0 and have noticed that multiple companies pay for the same gaps over and over again because there is no viable third party solution.

An example would be MRO purchasing (Maintenance - Repair - and Operations Purchases). We want to setup a non-inventory item card and ledger for those items that are purchased repetitively, but are not inventory items. It would make Purchase Order creation easier and we would build better histories for analysis purposes.

Something we have already customized is outside processing so we can track material movements in the subcontract purchase order (the outs and back ins), print labels, print ship lists, and print bill of ladings.

These are just some of the common gaps in NAV.

My idea is that we setup a special interest group for identifying shared needs and work with developers to create solutions that we could all share. This would reduce the cost of improvements to NAV.

What do others think of this idea?

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Gregory Alford
ERP Manager
Tri Star Metals LLC
Carol Stream IL
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2.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 21 days ago
Yes.

I think this would be timely as well since NAV development is increasingly in the direction of extensions and external integrations. It may be possible through combining the variables required for different industries to come up with a configurable process that would fit everyone (or almost everyone).

A semi-related example I can think of is "Microsoft Bookings." I have been playing with configuring this recently to input to Dynamics 365 and would note it seems to work for any type of booking I can come up with. Too often, code customizations to NAV are only targeted to a specific workflow which is unfortunate for the rest of us.

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Ian Ray
Cypress Grove
Arcata CA
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3.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 18 days ago
Perhaps we could meet up during Summit and form an exploratory committee.

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Gregory Alford
ERP Manager
Tri Star Metals LLC
Carol Stream IL
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4.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 18 days ago
​HI Gregory;

While I condone your idea to help the NAV user groups, I would like to caution you about one thing; many time the user community does not know of existing NAV functionality, and that as a group modification would be created that aren't needed, and would actually make upgrades more challenging.

For Example; the MRO items you discussed actually has standard NAV features that support this activity. NAV has two features that would allow you to setup items that would allow you to purchase MRO items using an item number. Those two features are:
  • Item Type - Service (located on the Item card)
  • Inventory Value Zero - True/False field on the item card.

I won't belabor how to use those two fields on the item card as there are blogs that you can use to learn about them. My point is that as solid as the community is regarding knowledge of how NAV works, I can't tell you how many time I am onsite with companies that have made modifications that standard NAV actually supports, but that they are completely unaware that it already exists.

I think a more affective way to influence this type of change is to work together to influence Microsoft to include these changes in the product. Doing so will make NAV a better product, but will do so in a way that does not affect users ability to upgrade.

One last thing to keep in mind, if you poll the user base, you will find people that are in a vast range of versions with varying degrees of modifications. The fix in many scenarios depends on the version of the product that you are on. While these versions can be accommodated, it might not be as simple as having one person create code that can be shared across all NAV implementations.

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Rick Dill
Consultant
ArcherPoint Inc.
Waupaca WI
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5.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 18 days ago
@Rick Dill as a consultant and a NAVUG Academy Instructor of classes on core application setup, I couldn't agree more.

Horizontal solutions requested are often already addressed by base NAV, if not in the current version then one available for upgrade. I also find that it is hard to get consensus across organizations to a "standard" solution. ​For example, there is sub-contract PO abilities already in NAV. Maybe you didn't know, it's not in your version or it doesn't meet your version of the requirements.

A knowledgeable partner should be able to guide you to the solution options. The dollars not spent programming functionality that already exists can be applied to when a customization is really needed.

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Cynthia Priebe, MCTS, DCP
Senior Business Analyst and Project Manager
Liberty Grove Software
Oakbrook Terrace IL
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6.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 18 days ago
I would agree that customizations are implemented more often than I'd like without exploring stock functionality to accomplish the same thing. I assume the customization of non-inventory items was implemented prior to item type "service" being available, but this may even be an example where "cleaning" customizations that are no longer needed would help in functional upgrade speed.

I have also had the displeasure of witnessing stock NAV functionality used in a way that could be accomplished better through other stock functionality. A common example is using item type service when the process would function better using an item charge. I have already seen this in D365 as item charge was rolled out to customers months after item type service.

However, I still think a discussion group about generic customizations could be beneficial if stock NAV functionality was also kept in mind. I would agree advocating to Microsoft to include commonly-used functions would be an effective use of such a group.



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Ian Ray
Cypress Grove
Arcata CA
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7.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 17 days ago
There are some valid points here.

However, this points out the failing of Microsoft to provide adequate documentation and training materials. I was aware of the Service Item Type, but thanks for pointing out the Inventory Value of Zero field. I can include that feature in my MRO project (with or without group participation). I have to do something to make life easier for our MRO buyer.

There are also times when standard functionality is not user friendly. For example, I have never seen the Inventory Value Zero field on any item card in the last 12 years.

I have been attending Convergence and NAVUG meetings for years and I will say that Microsoft is not very responsive. Some examples of suggestions I have made repeatedly for many years include giving us the ability to add our own help. It would be as simple as adding a field in the properties page for fields and pages so we can add a link to a PDF file. As highly customized as most users are, this would be a great addition to the product. When I worked for ROI Systems, our users were able to update the help system very easily and that was in 2002.

Comments are a real pain. Why can't Microsoft develop a simple editor that would parse out the comments. The editor could include word wrap, spell check, bullets, fonts, etc. Again ROI Systems had that capability back in 2002. Unfortunately ROI Systems was bought up by Epicor and was killed off.

I can go on and on ranting about the short falls. Instead I would rather be proactive by forming a group that can investigate what is available, use the best of NAV, and the best of our own designs to improve the product. We might even have enough participation to actually influence Microsoft.

The reality is that extensions have made this possible. Therefore, it would not help those using earlier versions, but it might encourage them to upgrade.

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Gregory Alford
ERP Manager
Tri Star Metals LLC
Carol Stream IL
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8.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 17 days ago
​Microsoft OneNote integrates with NAV so that it can be used for user-defined help.


https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh167484(v=nav.90).aspx

https://community.dynamics.com/nav/b/olofsimrendynamicsnavblog/archive/2014/06/24/microsoft-onenote-integratio





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Lewis Rosenberg
IT Manager
Mars Fishcare
Chalfont PA



NAVUG Board of Advisors, Programming
NAVUG Programming Committee
NAVUG Membership Committee
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9.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 16 days ago
Yes - you are right about one note. However, this is not an elegant solution. If I have a warehouse associate looking for answers, a PDF is easy. One Note would just drive him crazy. Besides, he doesn't even have One Note on his computer.

Maybe your company culture is different than ours. We make NAV user friendly. Our customizations have vastly improved user productivity. We do look at how to work within the system, but will often modify awkward processes into elegant solutions. Lets face it, there are many activities in NAV that are long over due for an overhaul.

So if anyone wants to form a group to explore improvements, fine. If not we will continue to go it alone. With the brain trust we have in NAVUG, a joint effort would be preferred.

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Gregory Alford
ERP Manager
Tri Star Metals LLC
Carol Stream IL
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10.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 16 days ago
I am interested in participating in such a think tank.  I would love to collaborate closely with some of the brilliant minds I've met in this group over the years.  Unfortunately I will not be in Nashville for Summit this time.  I will keep an eye on this forum.

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Paul Turner
Liberty Mountain
Sandy UT
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11.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 7 days ago
We started on NAV 5.0/4.0.  The help system it used was the windows help and of coruse, if we used any 3rd party solution, the help files had to be installed on every computer.  We upgraded to NAV 2015 and now have access to a HTML based help server: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn414548(v=nav.80).aspx
As far as I know, it is fully customizable.  The documentation in the MSDN has also improved from the NAV 5.0 days.  The think tank is  good idea, but isn't that what the NAVUG is about?  Helping each other use NAV to the best that we can?

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Jonathan Delfraisse
Computer Specialist
MANCON
Virginia Beach VA
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12.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 6 days ago
Somehow, I think people are missing the point here.

Yes the help systems can be updated. Not that simple, but it can be done. If a field was added to the properties to link in our own help, much easier. Plus you wouldn't have to buy an HTML editor.

Yes NAV may have the feature currently. Is it easy to use, fully meets the user's needs and intuitive for end users? Not always.

Is there always a third party solution? No.

Is there always a third party solution the works the way it needs to work for your company? No.

Yes we help each other. Let's take it a step further and make NAV better by improving on it and filling in gaps.

Most end users are doing that now. With the advent of extensions, we can now do it together and share the cost (not to mention the brain trust).

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Gregory Alford
ERP Manager
Tri Star Metals LLC
Carol Stream IL
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13.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 4 days ago
Edited by Holly Kutil 4 days ago

I believe we can already have these discussions here on the open forum about pretty much anything.  I do not see a need to form a group for each situation but better a discussion right here in the open forum using the subject and tags to begin a health discussion and collaboration on a need, project or idea.  As you see a simple post in here can generate a lot of discussion, opinions, and ideas.

What is nice the partners, ISV's, MVP's, and Microsoft also have access to the open forum and can jump in and give advice and help out as well.

It is great to collaborate and work on projects together, but at the end of the day, everyone's NAV ecosystem is different.  Different versions, Different updates, Different ISV's, Different modules, Different customizations.

So we can collaborate, brainstorm and help each other on the open forum, but when all is said and done, we need to go back to our partner with the idea and plan and make sure it will work as expected in our companies NAV environment.

Love the communication that goes on in the open forum.  @Gregory Alford give it a try, start a discussion post we can begin a think tank around and see how it goes.

Happy Posting!



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Holly Kutil
NAVUG ALL-STAR
American Ring/Dir of Business Intelligence
Solon, OH 44139
**Great Lakes Chapter**
♥♥ Women In Dynamics ♥♥
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14.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 4 days ago
There are two topics here.
1) Awareness of standard features.
2) Standardising common developments.
If you make it easier to find out about standard functionality, you reduce the need for a lot of unnecessary devs.
This type of group is a great way to pose questions and get answers about standard functionality ( as well as nonstandard). The question is, should comprehensive documentation be more readily available so you don't have to join groups like this to access such knowledge?
My first question when trying to design a process is "how does standard NAV do this"? It's not always easy to find out.

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814Guy McKenzie
SPS (Eu) Ltd
Blackpool
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15.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 4 days ago
I know this was not a question in the original post, but training was brought up in responses. For "How to:" and standardized functionality msdn.microsoft.com is another great source of information.

I would also recommend Dynamics Academy. I just taught a day long Core Application Setup Review class prior to Summit and all participants said they learned things they did not know and could go back and apply immediately. These were experienced users with existing implementations, not companies just starting with NAV. Two of the participants became Credentialed in Core Application Setup by taking the certification exam at Summit and indicated the review was helpful in their preparation.

Attendees at my Summit Session later in the week on the same topic said the list we quickly reviewed contained settings they were unaware of. At the end of the session, everyone raised their hand when asked if they learned something new that could be applied when they got home. There were users of all levels including consultants in the group.

In both my class and session, some admitted to having customizations that do what a setup could have done if they would have checked first.


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Cynthia Priebe, MCTS, DCP
Senior Business Analyst and Project Manager
Liberty Grove Software
Oakbrook Terrace IL
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16.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 4 days ago
Naturally, along with the other consultants on here, my first feelings about this about this are mixed. On the flip-side, I have longer experience working for a client than a partner, so I might be biased towards client-side needs a wee bit more.

For myself, I think the great value in this endeavour would be to have, in essence, an open forum where end users can identify, vote on, and rank what - in their view - are "gaps". In essence, this is a global 'requirements gathering' and collective 'design' process. I know some ISVs would love this, just for the free market research!

I do, however, think it's important to have some partners, freelance consultants, and devs in the group to either shed light on what might not be well-known base functionality or share some gotchas/war stories on where we've done similar things for clients in the past. I think this'll also help some end users see what the VAR process is like (which tends to be a bit of a black-box for a lot of clients).

Posts on here tend to be very break-fix focused, whereas a separate 'think tank' would really be an iterative and collaborative process. Almost like 'crowd-consulting'. #NAVbnb


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Ramin Marghi , CPA, CGA
CPA, CGA | ERP Consultant
Catapult ERP
VANCOUVER BC
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17.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 3 days ago
I am curious about what you see a group site offering that an open forum conversation does not offer.

What do you all see being available on the group site?  How would you make members aware of the site?  Who would be invited to join the group site?

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Holly Kutil ~ NAVUG All-Star
American Ring/Business Intelligence Dir.
Solon, OH 44139
**Great Lakes Chapter**
♥♥ Women In Dynamics ♥♥
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18.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 3 days ago
It's possible this is all being thought about too much. Maybe we should just jump in without having any sort of structure.

If we look at appsource for Dynamics 365 as it is currently, there are some extensions that have a wide potential audience.

"User Types" is a good example. I'm not recommending the app or not, but the idea is brilliant, in my opinion.

"Search and Replace" is another interesting idea... extending modern versions to have classic NAV capabilities.

"Phonetic Search" is a another one that has broad usage potential.

At the very least, extension authors could use some more input on what we'd buy. Would anyone buy a peripheral help system extension? Probably. It's just difficult to get that kind of data.

I think one problem with discussing this is each of these ideas is a potential goldmine.

I'll float an idea...

"Where-Used" for resources as an extension. This was just asked a couple of weeks ago. Would people buy this?

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Ian Ray
Cypress Grove
Arcata CA
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19.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 3 days ago
Besides the Open Forum, we also have the "Share My Code" community to share code amongst ourselves.  Also, connect.microsoft.com is available to share and vote on potential enhancements.  I'm concerned about adding yet another site if we're not using the existing sites to their fullest.

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Dave Wiser
Controller
Beckwith & Kuffel
Seattle WA
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20.  RE: Working Together on Common Problems

Posted 3 days ago
Share my code is an interesting SIG. However, I am not a developer, nor do I have a developers license. That is why the advent of extensions is exciting.

I personally believe a SIG to discuss gaps, identify solutions or existing functionality, and share development costs would be of benefit. Like everyone else, I have a budget and this could help stretch the budget.

More importantly, having a group of people design the enhancement could improve the quality of the final product.

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Gregory Alford
ERP Manager
Tri Star Metals LLC
Carol Stream IL
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