Most of the entries on this Blog will be directly about Dynamics NAV (Navision) but also there will be stuff about community in general.
Earlier this year I gave and MVP presentation, the topic was discussing the journey from Navision to NAV from the perspective of me as an MVP. It was fun, but there wasn't enough time, so I now plan to expand on that as a blog series.In fact most of my community work over the past few years has been presentations and live events, which is definitely more fun, but has much less reach. So it's time to focus more back to community activities that more people can benefit from.
So you are planning to become a Navision consultant. You are going to show people how to use Navision, how to run their business, and more importantly how to make their business run better.
Of course you already know that NAV application from start to end. You can post any Sales Order, and know exactly how it will affect the G/L. You know exactly which tables will be hit and what the entries will be. You understand Business Process Re-engineering. You are able to perform an ROI on any request that a client gives you. You have studied the clients business model, sought out its weaknesses and strengths, found where those strengths best work with which Navision functionality, and how to best utilize Navision to circumvent the weaknesses. You will be able to guide the client not how to mould Navision to fit their business, but how to best tune their business process, and tune Navision to an ideal balance.
But still we have not gotten to that most powerful tool that you have in your Navision Tool box. That tool is of course.
The word NO! Ne! Nein! Non! Nej! Nyet! Nie! Nem!
There is nothing else that will make the implementation more success full, nor give you a happier client than the proper use of the word no.
Generally one of the golden rules of sales is "The Customer Is Always Right". Well in the ERP world, that just isn't true. Of course as Dynamics NAV Consultant, you arrive on the scene after the sales process. So you have some work to do. When you get assigned to a Navision project, the first thing you must do, is go through all the paperwork, and review all the promises that the sales person made, and then get out a big NO from your tool box, and start using it.
All too often, one or two yes's sneak through the early project phases, and yes's are like rabbits, they bread like crazy. At first it all sounds great and happy, but a month or two down the line when you are trying to work around all these promises, you will realize that it would have been better to have been up front at the beginning. You will read some humorous statements like "We want to use pop-up to speed up data entry and make it more accurate". As a consultant you know that pop-ups make data entry much slower, and reduce accuracy, so say NO now, don't wait till the customer is live six months and then finds all the data errors.
Clients respect honesty.
This seems to have been lost somewhere, but if a customer makes a suggestion, that is just wrong, then … Just … Say … NO … ! it won't hurt you. When you tell the client why their suggestion is wrong they may react with disbelief, but give it time and that disbelief will grow to respect. It is very important to understand that your client most likely does not know Navision very well. That is why they engaged your services. They need you to tell them the best way to use the system. And sometimes that means just saying "No that just is not the right way to do this". Suggest to them the proper way.
I don't know.
Also don't be scared to say "I don't know", just make sure to follow-up with a "I will discuss it with the team back at the office and get back to you on ..." Just be sure that there is a team back at the office, and at your weekly team meeting don't forget to throw the issue around for ideas.
Anyway I just wanted to have this little rant, because I believe that if you are not capable of saying "NO" sometimes, then you are absolutely not capable of working with Navision, and you should leave and go to a different industry.
At first look, this sounds like a rather bizarre proposition that Homer would be a Navision consultant, yet in reality most new consultants that join the world of Dynamics NAV think exactly like Homer. ;)
Take a look at the episode Oh Brother Where Art Thou? Homer finds that as a child he was separated from his brother. His brother as it turns out is very wealthy, and "owns" a large automobile manufacturer; Powell Motors.
The most common trait that most new consultants have when they first work with just about any product is to make a comment something like "But XXX should be standard, YYY product has that feature". This is not just a Navision trait.
So in reality what should be standard, and what should be left out. This balance is a very complex line and very hard to determine. Let's say you add every possible feature as standard, this implies that the client wanting simple accounting must carry the dead weight of all the functionality they don't need. On the other hand if the functionality is not there then the market for the product becomes limited.
So in its wisdom many years ago, PC&C decided that Navigator (now Dynamics NAV) would have a core suite of functionality, and that the entire product development environment would be open for partners to develop Add-Ons or custom functionality as required for their clients. This allowed the core Navigator product to be extremely simple, fast and most importantly; reliable.
For about 20 years now, Add-Ons have been the way to get a light product that is customizable to deliver what the customer needs. If we didn't have this ability to modify the core code like we do, we would need to have a base product that contained every legal and business requirement of every country in company that we wanted to sell to. What we would have then is The Homer, a huge ugly product that is; impossible for anyone to use because of its complexity; slow because of all the dead weight it is carrying; unreliable because of all the interactions between mismatched code; and expensive, because every client would be paying for every "feature" even if they didn't need it.
buy the DVD and watch Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
Customer it will save you a lot of money that you will otherwise spend six months down the track when you ask the partner to remove all those mods that you really didn't need. Consultants it will make your life easier, and maybe help you understand The Beauty Of Simplicity
PS I think that watching this episode of the Simpson's should be a mandatory part of Navision consultant training. Maybe Microsoft could buy the rights to the episode and put it on every Dynamics NAV install CD
I got hit by my first 419 scam back in 1990, via fax. In those days it was
still relatively new, so I made an effort to find why someone wanted me to share
25% of their 50 million. Without Google, it was quite a task to find out what it
was all about, but we worked it out eventually. In those days it was much
simpler than it is now, then you just arrived at the airport with $50k, and
either gave it to the thugs, or got shot on the spot. Now a days the killing is
too messy, so they use the internet instead.
Of course these days it seems that Nigerian billionaires die in their hundreds
everyday, and forget to write a will magically leaving $125,000,000 (ONE HUNDRED
AND TWENTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS ONLY). And of course I win countless millions
each week in the Euro Millions lottery. But still I am curious, and if something
comes along with a new twist, then (with Google's help), I make a bit of an
effort to work it out. I guess its my version of Sudoko
So lets get back on topic.
Over the years, I am sure most people know that I offer help to those that want
it, and I don't mind if the knowledge I impart is used for commercial purposes,
since in the end that's what Dynamics NAV is all about. But get rich quick
schemes are just not my thing.
Over the last year of so, just about all the Dynamics related Forums have been
hit by posts asking for answers to exam questions, in fact two new ones started
in the last year or so, that seem to be dedicated to just this. I have been
against these types of posts for some time, and I get a lot of people saying
"but we should help people to learn Dynamics", and in this I agree, and when the
question is something like :
"I just sat the Dynamics NAV xyz test, and
there was a question about Inventory locations, could someone explain the
difference between abc and def"
then I feel that the person had
problems, and wants help to a/ pass the test, but also b/ know what is going on.
We used to get posts like that back in the NOLUG days 10 years ago, and the
discussions lead to a healthy learning environment. But the current generation
is something different. I regularly get IMs and Emails where people just start
generally chatting about Navision, then all of a sudden hit me with a series for
very specific questions, that could only be so exact if they were copied during
the test. ... Well now its getting worse, I am now getting screen shots from the
tests that look like they are taken with a mobile phone.
So the next thing is to figure out "why would someone go to take a test only for
the purpose of copying down the questions?" surely it makes sense with the free
second shot to go home, learn what you didn't know, then go back again. After
all, if you don't know the answer, and you want to be a Dynamics professional,.
then you are going to need to learn it some time. So with some help from Google,
its easy to work out what is going on. So for those of you that are interested
in getting rich quick with Dynamics (or any other product that is certified by
multi choice tests).
Sorry, again I am off topic, so here is one way to get rich quick with Dynamics.
Step 1/ First you need to start a web site, call it something like
www.pass-without-knowing-anything.com set up the site to say you have a
money back guarantee for passing Dynamics tests, and add a page that lists all
the Dynamics certifications, and link each to a new page. Then set up internal
counters, to see how many unique IPs hit each test. On the exam page that opens,
put a message that says : "This exam is currently being processed, please enter
you email address to be notified when it is available, or check back at the site
regularly" it really does not matter, all you are doing right now is getting
stats to see which Exam people are most interested in.
Step 2/ Now you need a company with a few English speaking
people that have basic internet skills. Now
once you have some stats from your web site, work out which Exam to the test. Give them a cell phone with camera,
or some other method of recording the test. Send them to the test, and have them
return the test questions. Don't have them waste time answering questions, make
sure they just get the list of questions.Step 3/ Use MSN and Google to find all the forums that would have
people involved in these products. a/ Join up in the forums, b/ get a few basic
posts to make it look like you are interested in Dynamics, and c/ get as many
email addresses and IM names as possible. (b/ is optional by the way).
Step 4/ Put together the questions you now have, and post them
on the forums, email them, and IM everyone you can. You will be surprised at how
many people want to help you in your get rich quick scheme, and will post all
the answers for you.
Step 5/ Now that you have the answers, (using your "second test
for free certificate) send the original person back to the test, this time
answering all the questions, so that you can see how accurate the answers are.
You want 80%-90% results, so if the result is low, have someone else do the
process again to make sure you have the correct questions. And remember you are
only guaranteeing a pass, so really you only need to meet the pass mark, though
your clients will always feel better if they get higher marks.
Step 6/ Update your web site to now reflect that this test is
available. People will be skeptical, so allow them to access a sample of the
Exam Questions and Answers. There are two ways, a/ send them a sample by email,
b/ Have them down load a small piece of spy ware that they install, and that
pops up the information. b/ is the preferred method, since people would other
wise use one off email addresses, and you will loose them. The spy ware method
give you better control.
Step 7/ St back and watch the money roll in.
Sadly enough, the above is not my idea, and in fact its been going on for
many years, and is very common these days.
I really don't like having to make this post, but the emails and PMs and IMs I
am getting very angry, to be honest if a person was asking the
questions for themselves I would not mind so much, but getting cheat notes so
you can sell them is just as bad as the Nigerian 419 scams.
Please next time some one emails you 30 abcd questions and just wants the
answers, consider it as a Euro millions email. and add it to your junk folder.
More importantly, please think twice about answering these threads on forums.
As an MVP its very hard for me to to say "don't help help people in the
community", but in this case I think its the correct solution. I do not think
that the community needs this.
One of the very first things that most new developers try to do when they start with Navision development is to increase the lengths of certain fields. Typically Item Description or Customer Name and Address fields.
Those that have been in Navision development for a long time will do everything they can to stop new developers from doing this. But are we really helping people by telling them not to do this.
I am starting to wonder …
I have been very public and verbal in telling people not to increase the length of these fields. But I am starting to think that even though the short term is disastrous, there are long term benefits to increasing field lengths.
I think that no matter how much we try to teach people to do things properly, there are some people that just must learn on their own. So you can tell a child 50 times "Don't touch the stove, its hot" and they might never learn, but let them just once touch the hot stove and they will remember for life.
I would like to know how many of the long term Navision people on this site have increased the length of fields in Navision. I will put my hand up and say it was one of the first major mods I ever did. At the time of the first upgrade, I truly learnt what a disaster that was, and I wonder if I would have learnt this lesson if I had not done it.
At first glance the task looks easy, you just need the developer tool kit, find the places its used and change. But the issue for that one Variable in some buffer code or that table that uses the field indirectly, or most importantly at upgrade time; those issues you learn later.
Maybe its time that we in the community let the beginners burn their fingers a bit. The long term effect it to have a much higher level of skills out there, and I think its obvious to everyone that the general level of Navision skills is the lowest its ever been in the history of Navision, so getting that skill set up is maybe the most important factor right now.