I'm not used to putting my thoughts down in this manner, so it may well be fragmented while I become more proficent at it.
I thought that if I did not blog again i might lose the momentum, so what better way than to blog about NAV2009 and the sales cycle.
Obviously NAV2009 RTC is a huge change compared to the Classic client, and what I have found so far is that it is standing up to the test. Whilst not nessacarily as seamlessly integrated to the rest of Microsoft Stack as some of the other MS product, it is getting better and thats not really anyones fault, some of us remember that the product came from the A/S background.
However the exporting of forms to Word and excel is a great little tiggler for the customers. They love that you can filter a G/L Entry list and export it fo excel.
Just recently we were working on a sales cycle for a distribustion company. They had a lot of values on their Item records that could be modified by any number of users. What perfect way than to export the records to Excel, edit in the sheet and then save them back to the database. Would that not be great? Wait...... Freddy did this already (See Freddy's Blog here). We worked and got this up and running. I added some fields to the item record, modified the page, deployed the .Net Solution and Bob's your uncle. Well it was a little harder than that, but we did it.
The sales team got to the site and started the usual. Aran got to the point where he was going to show the "Edit in Excel", the room goes silent. "Can you do that again please". So Aran opligies "WOW", they say "Just wait I need to go get some people" so off the owner goes and comes back in with a load of other employee's.... Eventually 2 hours later all Aran had demo'd was the "Edit in Excel" - This has pretty much wrapped our deal up. Its not concrete yet, but I think we're well in the lead to get the deal and the prospect are just amazed at what you can do.
I suppose what i am saying here, is that its not just what NAV2009 gives you out of the box that is going to help sell NAV, its what you can do with it. How there are new features a facets that you can use to real get to a business needs and fix their pain points.
Another example of the using the new RTC is the "My Notifications". During one sales cycle we were ahead, and out of no where SAP B1 comes from behind and leads the race. So the team head down to the prospect and ask whats changed. There are a few things, one was that the manufactuing in our first demo was a little too deep. The other was that B1 will notify you a user modifies a record. We engaged our TS to come in a help out on the manufacturing side (And he did an awesome job).
Not to be out done by the B1 notifications I piggy-backed the Change Log setup, added code to OnGlobalModify/Delete/Insert/Rename and ChangeLogMgt and made notifications appear when another user modifys a record type of your chosing in the system. It was not perfect, and I think in a production enviroment would be a gigantic pain in the backside. But again its showing that you can take the base Nav and make it compete with pretty much any product out there.
There was no way in hell I was going to let B1 win a deal based on notifications. We showed 2 things in the sales cycle
1. We can do notifications
2. We can tailor Nav to do anything your business needs, quickily, proffessionally and to a high standard.
Well, not too much has happened on my NAV2009 implementations. But
I thought I would blog on something that might be of interest, NAV2009 and
Seems that every time I open a serious computer related magazine
there is at least one or another article discussing virtualization.
Pre the release of RTC (NAV2009) we had already adopted a policy
of implementing the virtualization of our servers using the VMWare product.
This has not been without its issues for sure, but all in all this strategy has
been great in allowing scalability, growth, and efficiency. The development
team have been able to request and have delivered a fresh “Server” to work with
in short order and without an investment in new hardware and serious tech time.
As I am writing this I am in the middle of building a Dynamics Mobile server, without
virtualization this is all hardware based and has cost issues hanging over its neck.
I’m sure there is a way you can link this back to lowering your carbon
footprint by saying you are running substantially less machines, perhaps you
could even sell you carbon credits to China or India who are bellowing out
As for RTC and virtualization for the VAR they seem to complement
each other. We get a new customer and we simply deploy out a template VMWare
image that has Server 2003/2008, SQL2005/2008, NAV2009 Preinstalled on it.
Rename the machine to the customer name, add it to the domain, adjust the
correct NAV related config file and Bob’s your uncle. With very little effort
at all I have an up and running customer environment with which to work. No
messing around with multiple Nav Service Layer services, each machine has its
own service running and all the local employee machines can access the customer
database with both RTC and Classic. Substantially less man hours needed to get
up and running, and great reliability.
So far I am failing to find any downfalls with the use of Virtualization.
We have had no performance issues, but we are not in a production 35 user
setup, so not sure of the ramifications of Virtualization on a live client
site. Our technical team have advised me they see no issues with the database
performance, and we have implemented a turnkey solution to one customer which
included a complete Domain on virtualization. I trust my guys and their
knowledge, but then I always think back to how many times I have come across
very smart, intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced guys who setup the
Database in a RADI5 configuration and how you can’t convince them that RAD1+0
is the way ahead. I guess time will tell on the virtualization, I am not
worried as I think we have a talented enough team here to quickly respond to
issues should they ever occur.
The other type of virtualization that I have running is Virtual
Server 2005 R2 on a Windows Server 2008 box. With this I am using the MS virtualization
method of VPC. The images that MS give us to work with our great, however you
cannot add them to your domain, and thus, you cannot get more than one person
logged in at a time, they also have a lot of things installed on the machines.
Very Swiss Army Knife, but not so great when showing the product and its
running in slow motion.
The VPC server (We have affectionately named “The Hoff”) is again
a place where I maintain a template (base) Nav VPC build when a new requirement
to go to a site and “show” something occurs I copy the template, rename it, add
it to the domain and TS license it. This opens my whole team to log in and work
on this machine, and also they can work with it locally on their machines by running
RTC or Classic. Come time to go to the site to demo what we have done I
simply copy the VPC image to a External HDD (I recommend you plug the USB
directly into the Server and not use the network) and we can then run the image
on the Virtual PC. This makes the process truly mobile and exceptionally efficient.
Once completed we can then archive the Vmc and VHD files onto a DAT or burn it
to a DVD and store for later use. Freeing up space on the server.
The benefits here over the VPC’s the Microsoft gives you is that you
have a lot more control and can add and take away what you want from the
machine, freeing up precious resources. If you opt to run VPC on laptops I recommend
you do some research into config settings, and best practices. Get this wrong
and you will have a dog on your hands.
So I was just chatting with Erik, and he was asking what I think
is probably the hot question on most people in the Dynamics NAV communities
lips right now: "What do you think of NAV 2009?"
We have 3 implementations starting up right now, and Erik asked if
I would start a blog and share my experiences with the community, so I agreed.
I did however decline his suggestion of titling my blog “Mystic
Mr. T NAV Adventures”; I felt my tan was
a little lacking to fit the mental image.
I take my customer confidentially extremely seriously, so if I
talk in generics sometimes please forgive me, but I don't want to break the
trust bond I build with my customers in the "Trusted Advisor" role
that I pride myself on providing my customers.
So, that’s the purpose of this blog.
Hopefully I can get some details up soon.