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Sql Server 2008 (Katmai) is coming...

SQL Server 2008, together with Visual Studio 2008 and Windows Server 2008, will be launched on the 27th of February.

This new version of SQL Server 2008 will provide a solution that organizations can use to store and manage many types of data, including XML, e-mail, time/calendar, file, document, geospatial, and so on, while providing a rich set of services to interact with the data: search, query, data analysis, reporting, data integration, and robust synchronization. Users can access information from creation to archiving on any device, from the desktop to a mobile device.

Katmai

Here in this document you can find some more information about what's new in Sql Server 2008: Download SQL2008_ProductOverview.doc

Some new features will enable you to improve performance of applications running on Sql Server 2008 and also enable to scale up the hardware while running (hot adding of CPU), automatic page repair, additional performance counters and dynamic management views, ...

In the area of Business Intelligence some big improvements are expected like for example: Enterprise Reporting Engine to simplify the deployment and configuration of reports, a new Report Designer enabling business users to edit or update existing reports within an environment optimized for Microsoft Office, regardless of where the report was initially designed, more visualisation objects in reports like for example: maps, gauges, charts, better rendering of reports in Word & Excel and a deep integration with Sharepoint Server 2007.

In short, Sql Server 2008 promises to be a revolution with many new and interesting features. How and when the integration between Katmai and Dynamics-NAV will work is unknown to us at the moment, but as soon as we find out more we will certainly keep you informed.

Live from Convergence 2007 – Use the stack!

For many years Navision was always very much integrated into Microsoft products, especially Office. Now that Navision was acquired by Microsoft 5 years ago, this integration has only but grown. Especially the latest technologies like Sharepoint and PerformancePoint can be completely integrated with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

Calling Sharepoint something like a file-server is absolutely an understatement. Sharepoint is a Document Workspace, where you can indeed post documents, but – even more – use for sharing information within teams, or build your personal information dashboard – completely with data populated from NAV.

With the functionality of Employee Portal you can create within NAV specific “Web Parts”. These Web Parts show for instance a Customer Card or a Sales Order. Also in NAV, you can set the necessary parameters to identify which group of users can use which web part, and whether they can edit the data or not. In Sharepoint, the user can then select these web parts and build his role-based portal. Employee Portal is an additional granule that you can buy with an Advanced Management license type. Each user only needs an Employee Portal User, which is significantly cheaper than a full NAV-user.

But even if you don’t use Employee Portal, it is really easy to use NAV-data in Sharepoint. For example, you can create a simple Excel pivot table and pivot graph that fetches data from NAV using an ODBC-link. From within Excel you can publish this data straight onto Sharepoint as a web part. In this way, the user will always have the most up-to-date report in his portal. The most difficult part of this is to be creative which kind of webparts you need, because everything is really easy to implement.

Recently Microsoft has launched PerformancePoint Server, which consists of several combined products like ProClarity and Business Scorecard Manager. This is again one of the killer-applications that can save users from lots of frustration. You can use PerformancePoint for analyzing historical data that is exported from NAV, create fantastic scorecards and integrate this into Sharepoint. Next to this, you can also use this data for forecasting your stocklevels and other business planning. It can easily be filtered on Geographies, users, departments, so that everyone only sees his specific data to do the forecasting. We will definitely talk about this a lot more in the near future, when more information becomes available.

Live from Convergence 2007: Item Tracking in Dynamics NAV 5.0

 

One of the major improvements in Dynamics NAV 5.0 is Item Tracking. As a NAV trainer I'm pretty well familiar with Item Tracking and the new functionalities in 5.0. Nevertheless, I took the occasion to attend a Chalk & Talk session with the tempting title "Planning your Supply Chain with the new Item Tracking in Dynamics NAV 5.0". For me a chance to hear it from the Microsoft product specialists themselves.

They showed us an example in which they used lot numbers and serial numbers throughout different modules in NAV (Purchase, Sales, Warehousing, Manufacturing). As expected, not much new for me, however, during the Q&A after the session, some interesting issues came to attention, which are definitely worth mentioning here.

One of the new functionalities in Item Tracking in NAV 5.0 is that you can now activate FEFO (First Expired First Out) in warehouse management (only if you use Directed Put-away and Pick). This means that NAV automatically will propose the oldest lots or serial numbers in the Warehouse Pick. This is a very useful feature.

But in two occasions, there is an unbalance between Warehouse Management and Inventory management:

  • Blocking of a lot
  • Using "Strict Expiration Posting"

When blocking a lot using the Lot No. Information Card, it still remains possible to pick a blocked lot. But it will not be possible to ship it. So in NAV there is no risk that you ship a blocked lot, but the fact that it can be picked could mean unnecessary workload in a warehouse.

Furthermore, NAV also doesn't take into account "The Strict Expiration Posting" in warehouse management. "Strict Expiration Posting" means that NAV will prevent to sell items with lot and/or serial numbers that are expired.

But also expired items can be picked in NAV. Even more, if you activate the "Pick According to FEFO" on the Location Card, NAV will propose the oldest lot and/or serial numbers, but also if they are expired. So also in this case you could end up picking items which cannot be shipped (the shipping is blocked NAV).

 

So once again, a lot of very good improvements on Item Tracking in 5.0, but if you're going to implement Item Tracking in combination with Warehouse Management, you might want to take this in consideration.

Live from Convergence 2007 - Microsoft Dynamics Mobile for NAV

Mobile At first, you can be a little bit sceptic about using a small device to enter data in your ERP-system. Then again, when you look at the increasing amount of devices that currently run on Windows Mobile, it is a strategic important element of your way of working.

Today at Convergence 2007 in Copenhagen, Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Dynamics Mobile for NAV. During the demo they've shown us how you can use a smartphone to access and process your data from NAV. And it is quite astonishing...!

The solution comes pre-populated with role-based screens (like Salesperson), where you can for instance create a new sales order. Based on your current promotions, you can select instinctly your different items that your customer wants to buy. Because many smartphones are also using a stylus these days, Microsoft has also included a functionality where you can add your signature to the document.

After you have processed your new sales order, it is immediately available in your NAV-system. The signature that you've added is also included in your sales document. This is again a great integration of functionalities from "classic" Microsoft technologies with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Where I was a disbeliever in the past, I see now plenty of opportunities where you can use this cool functionality!

Live from Convergence 2007: facts & figures on Dynamics NAV

You are a consultant or an account manager who from time to time has to deal with customers questioning the popularity of Dynamics NAV.

Or you are an end-user wandering how big Dynamics NAV really is…

Well, here are some simple facts and figures fresh from the general Dynamics NAV session on Convergence 2007 in Copenhagen:

-          There are more than 3.000 Dynamics NAV partners worldwide

-          There are more than 1.800 Channel Builder Solutions

-          There are more than 60.000 customers worldwide using Dynamics NAV

-          There are more than 1.000.000 users worldwide

-          Dynamics NAV has something more than 40 localized versions

-          Dynamics NAV is implemented in more than 150 countries

It’s of course obvious that these figures are constantly changing (yes, increasing).

So very brief, some figures that you can use to convince your customers. Or that you can use convincing yourself.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV Team Blog

Leadership_3 The Microsoft Dynamics NAV team blog is the blog of the official Microsoft Dynamics Product Team.
They develop the Microsoft Dynamics NAV product as we know it.

These guys/girls have a blog, were you can find intresting information.

Check it out

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV product team is primarily located on a leafy green campus (complete with ponds and big sculptures) in Vedbæk, a coastal town north of Copenhagen in Denmark.  We call our campus MDCC - Microsoft Development Center Copenhagen.

Sure Step Essentials

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is a methodology and a tool for project managers implementing Microsoft Dynamics products.

Project Management? Lots of people think that Project Management is working with a phased based approach and writing documents. Other people know it is more than this but do not seem to get any further then defining phases and writing and delivering a number of documents.
Others confuse project managers with document and backffice administrators.

Project Management is quality and your quality can be only as good as your company culture allows it to be.

A project is: a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product service or product
Temporary and unique: this means lot's of uncertainty and means risks.

That's why we need project management! To manage these risks, to be pro-active, to achieve the project goals.

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requierements(source PMBOK/ PMI).

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is delivering this: knowledge, skills, tools and techniques.
So we are happy to use this.

Sure_step_diagram_2 

If you want to have ultimate result, you need to understand the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology. If you limit yourself to the definition of phases and some document deliverables, you will not be sure stepping!

People would also like to turn project management into a fill-in-the-blank process.
‘Just give me some forms to fill out that will walk me through the entire planning, scheduling, and controlling thing,’ they say.
Unfortunately, it just won’t work.

It’s like the belief that scheduling software will make you an instant project manager.It won’t. 
Unless you understand the principles behind scheduling, the software will only help you document your failures with great precision. 
The software is a tool.” 

- James P. Lewis

Yes, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step defines phases.
Yes, Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step defines document deliverables.

But Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step defines much more, let's have a look at some essential parts out of the methodology:

  1. BREAK IT UP

Breakdown_3 How do you define your scope best? Break your scope up in small manageable components.

For this, use the Work Breakdown Structure technique.
Info by Microsoft about WBS

Info by Hyperhot about WBS

The psychologists say our brains can normally comprehend around 7-9 items simultaneously.  A project with thousands or even dozens of tasks goes way over our ability to grasp all at once.  The solution is to divide and conquer. The WBS helps break thousands of tasks into chunks that we can understand and assimilate.  Preparing and understanding a WBS for your project is a big step towards managing and mastering its inherent complexity. 

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is aligned with other project management methodologies (PMI, Prince2, ..) in advising the WBS technique. Under Project Management/ Disciplines/ Scope Management you will find "create work breakdown structure":

Surestep_scope_mgmtIn the HTML section for this activity you will find Sure Step explaining the essentials of the WBS technique and also in tools and templates you will find predefined WBS'es for your projects. Off course, you will need to make a WBS for your particular project content as well.

Essential for a WBS: think in terms of Deliverables!

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a deliverable oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team. The lowest level components of the WBS are tasks, sometimes called work packages. Do not start or limit yourself with defining"tasks".

The WBS will be as of then an important instrument for your project. It creates a universal project language for all project stakeholders and will be the basis for many other things!

Benefits_of_wbsThe WBS will be input for:

Estimating
Project Schedule
Project control





2. Use Estimating techniques
Estimating techniques can be "top-down" or "bottom-up".
Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step says:

"Estimation techniques include the use of consulting experts, estimates from similar projects, bottom up or parametric estimating. Parametric estimating uses the advantage of similar and repeatable work to estimate it once and calculate the frequency of it. The estimation process for a project is a summary of different estimation approaches. For example, time for project management is often estimated in relation to project indicators, but development estimates are mostly established using a bottom up approach. A top down approach (given budget or timeline) needs the flexibility to adjust the scope for a successful project execution. Iterative estimating helps to adjust the scope in accordance to the constraints."

Use your WBS for the bottom up estimating.

Question yourself: what are our company estimating techniques? Do we use this in a consistent, structural way? Do we use a combination of techniques? If not, then how accurate can/will your estimates be?

3. Develop a project schedule by using PDM and CPM
PDM?:
Precedence Diagramming Method
CPM?: Critical Path Methodology
Sure Step is advising both techniques for the development of your project schedule:

"Develop the project schedule including activities and milestones logically sequenced with precedence relationships as well as leads and lags"

Afbeelding1_2

 





4. Prepare project tracking and reporting
Sure Step recommends "Earned Value Techniques":

Diverting from the defined project baseline should be identified as soon as possible. Depending on the complexity of the project or the project team, it is necessary to make use of methods to measure the project performance. The earned value concept (EV) is a commonly used method that integrates project scope, cost and schedule to help the project management get an overview of how the project keeps the defined baseline and what causes variances to it.

Planned value (PV)

Amount spent on a task between the task's start date and the status date.

Example: Total planned budget for a 4-month task is $400 and it starts in April. If the status date is set to June, the PV is $200.

Actual cost (AC)

Amount spent while performing work on a task during a given period.

Example: If the 4-month task actually incurs a total cost of $125 during the first 2 months, the AC is $250 (but the PV is still $200!!)

Earned value (EV)

Amount that should have been spent for a given percentage of work performed on a task.

Example: If the 4-month task has 25% of the work completed after 2 months, the earned value is $100 (but the PV is still $200!!)

Essential is that your EV followup is aligned with your breaking up of the scope.

Do you master these basic techniques?

Attach dimensions to users in Dynamics NAV

As most of you probably know, default dimensions can be attached to a wide range of accounts in Dynamics NAV (Customers, Vendors, Items, Fixed Assets, …).

In some cases it would be useful to attach default dimensions to users so that the user logged in, defines some of the dimensions to use… but… in standard NAV it is not possible to attach default dimensions directly to a user.

An easy to use workaround are the Responsibility Centers. To a Responsibility Center, default dimensions can be attached in the same way as to for example a customer. So if you create a Responsibility Center to which you attach the “User Dimensions” and you attach the Responsibility Center to the user (User Setup), NAV will use for all the purchase, sales and service documents the Responsibility Center from the user logged in, and in that way also the dimensions attached to the responsibility center… which are the dimensions you would like to be defined by the user…

Pay attention: this works fine for documents with Responsibility Centers, but not for journals.

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