I was thinking about buying a new car. I went along and looked at a few and, to the salesman’s obvious excitement, even took a test drive. All was going well until I told my wife. “And exactly why are you considering a new car?” asks she-who-knows-me-too-well. And that’s when it clicked. Why? No REAL reason.
I could argue that new cars offer fantastic fuel economy and that will be a terrific saving. But would it compensate for suddenly paying out a few hundred pounds a month on a rapidly depreciating asset? No, no way, no chance. Is there something wrong with my current car? Again, the answer is no. It does everything I want it to do and shows no sign of not doing everything I want anytime soon. Maybe I could have argued there might be a big repair coming down the line, so better get something new now. But again, since I’m not actually paying anything other than the usual – tax, fuel, insurance and servicing – I could legitimately say I’m saving for that possible rainy day. So, no new car.. yet!
And that’s the same issue facing software companies as they try and persuade the users that it’s time to change their software. Whether that’s to upgrade what they have to the latest and greatest or to switch allegiance altogether. For the majority out there, there’s no real incentive.
When was the last time we decided that the double entry bookkeeping system was outmoded and needed a refresh? Nope, I can’t recall. The fundamentals of accounting software have remained unchanged since Luca Pacioli came up with the concept in the 15th century.
So, today’s updates to accounting software are all focussed around the ‘interface’ – how you connect with the system and how it connects with your operating environment. Microsoft have a huge advantage here when it comes to developing their Dynamics ERP range since they ‘own’ the desktop, the server, the database and slew of office products that most of us use (with apologies to the many ‘open source’ fans out there).
Hence, when Dynamics NAV2013 came out last year, Microsoft made a few announcements around the functionality changes – things like integrating purchases to projects, assemblies and purchases integrating to jobs, adding subcontracts into manufacturing – but the real focus was elsewhere.
Suddenly, we really did have a product that worked the same whether in-house, on the web or deployed through SharePoint. The interface to MS Office included the ability to easily open up your data in Excel and then refresh it. The role-tailored client is fast and incorporates a range of really nice charts including cash flow linked directly to your open sales and purchase invoices. What’s not to like?
See the video here – http://turnkey-group.com/business-software/
Is it enough? Time will tell. Recent presentations have had normally jaded audiences sit up and take notice. This is something different. These are changes that are worth upgrading to or switching allegiance for.
Now, all I need to do is persuade the motor industry to achieve such a step change in technology and I might be persuaded. Who knows, a whole new driver interface that lets me navigate while asleep and wakes me up on arrival… with a nice cup of tea?
Somehow though I think I’m stuck with my current car for the foreseeable future..
I’m grateful to Mike Glue at JustFood ERP who put together a handy summary of what’s available in NAV2013 so far as reporting is concerned. There are changes from the ‘classic’ environment but partners and users shouldn’t be too worried. Microsoft NAV 2013 will have hundreds of reports available out of the box.
Here are some common questions and answers.
Are There Any Built-In Reports?
Yes. There are built-in “native” reports that can be modified as required. These reports can be manually printed and/or be utilized within business logic. The types of reports included:
- Documents (invoice, pick sheet, cheques, etc.)
- Analysis (sales by customer, inventory valuation, trial balance, etc.) reports
- Processing report – one that provides functionality but is not necessarily printable.
Is the report structure different?
No, it is unchanged. A typical report requires two pieces to be developed:
- The data model – where you define the tables, fields, and business logic required for getting the data out of the database for the report to use.
- The layout – responsible for the visual display that the report shows on screen/paper. (Processing reports do not require the layout piece to be developed as there is no visual output.)
Do I need to choose Classic or Role Tailored Client (RTC) report layout?
No. The Classic Client has been removed with NAV 2013, so when developing the layout for a report in NAV 2013, the only option is to create a Role Tailored Client (RTC) layout.
Is Visual Studio used to develop a report?
Yes. Visual Studio 2010 is required in order to create the layout for a report in NAV 2013. You can use the free version of Visual Studio 2010, but you must use the web developer edition (Visual Web Developer 2010 Express). Visual Studio 2010 is the only version supported currently by NAV 2013.
I’ve been creating RTC reports for a while; is there anything new for me to learn?
Yes. While the data model is still defined in the Object Designer, the way that data model is defined has been completely changed. The interface for defining the tables and fields that the report will use is an all new structure. From my own observations, though, it appears that the learning curve is not too steep for someone already familiar with building reports in Microsoft NAV.
Can I upgrade all of my existing reports to the new reports?
Maybe. If your existing reports were created with a RTC layout, then there is an upgrade process that can be performed on the report to upgrade the data model and layout to the new platform. Due to changes in the Visual Studio version, however, you may be required to perform minimal cosmetic changes to the layout after upgrade. If your existing reports were created with only a Classic layout, then the data model can be upgraded; however, the layout cannot be upgraded, and that must be further developed on the NAV 2013 platform.
What do the reporting changes mean to me as a TURNKEY customer?
Hundreds of out-of-the-box reports are still available in Microsoft NAV 2013. Although some new knowledge will need to be learned, any of these native reports can be customised as desired, just as they have been in the past. For customers who are upgrading from a previous version, you’ll need to investigate to determine the process required for moving any custom reports to NAV 2013. A certain amount of development work will be required to upgrade reports to NAV 2013.
Once again, thanks to Mike for his succinct summary!
A recent bad experience with a service provider set me to wondering about what constitutes great service.
Imagine the scene. It’s a freezing cold morning in December (this Tuesday past actually) and you arrive on the crack of dawn plane into Luton Airport. It’s even colder in Luton than it was when you left Glasgow (well I did say ‘imagine’ the scene).
You arrive at the car hire desk and hand over your email confirmation eager to pick up your car and fight your way on to the M1, off on a cross country journey to a meeting in deepest Oxfordshire. The first words that greet you are “I’m sorry but we have NO cars!” But I have a piece of paper in my hand clearly stating they will provide me with a car so this can’t be. But it is. And the help offered? Well, there’s none actually. This car hire rep clearly has a degree in the bleeding obvious as he kindly asks if I want to cancel my booking. Cheers, mate that should see me on the road then.
There followed a dash from car hire desk to car hire desk, with each declaration of ‘no spare cars here’ increasing my anxiety threshold until at the fourth time of asking I was informed that a car was available. A chirpy young chap dashed out with a scraper and, after much huffing and puffing, my chariot-to-be was slowly revealed. A little Chevy Spark with a close similarity to a shopping trolley.. but at least I would now make my meeting on time.
Where was the great service? Well nowhere in this particular scene. Sure, I was provided by a car but it was of lesser quality than I thought I’d booked and cost me more. So instead, I’ll focus on everything that was so wrong in this situation and how taking the opposite tack constitutes good service.
1. Communication – customers don’t mind bad news so much as long as they are kept informed. This car hire provider had my mobile number and email, yet no attempt was made to warn me that there was a problem.
2. Solutions not problems – again, customers expect that when you identify a problem, you’ve also thought about a solution. In this case, the rep had no solution other than to cancel. No attempt had been made to come up with an alternative arrangement, or even to establish if other providers had vehicles.
3. Follow Up – they screwed up. Yet the one contact I received was an email confirming the cancellation. No ‘sorry’, no discount voucher or M&S gift token to lessen the pain. Nothing, rien, nada, zilch.
And the end result? One car hire company who won’t see my business any time soon, and a hugely negative story that will be re-told and re-told. I heard later that they were 38 cars short of their ‘confirmed’ bookings. Multiply the negative press of that story being told by 38 people over and over. The irony was that as I landed back in Glasgow, the cabin crew encouraged us to use their recommended car hire partner – guess who?
A couple of our consultants attended a local computer show this week and reported back on the lack of software companies exhibiting. Not only that, there were more exhibitionists (you know what I mean!) than punters and the whole thing seemed to be just another opportunity for old computer-industry pals to shoot the breeze and share a skinny latte.
I do miss the big computer shows of days gone by. Who can forget the Which Computer? Show or the Accounting Software Show at the NEC in Birmingham?
Sadly, they disappeared for various reasons: cost – these shows were expensive and after the Year2000 debacle, software companies never really had the money to throw around anymore; business user apathy – most of what you want to find out about systems can be done through a good trawl of the web; and suppliers who decided they could provide the same ‘show’ experience via a webinar (which they can’t).
For me, these computer shows of old, showcasing the latest and greatest in accounting software, business intelligence, CRM, products for vertical markets and so forth served a couple of unique purposes.
They let existing users come along and see how the next release was looking and offered a chance to have a good go at the supplier if he was dragging his feet over release dates. I still recall with amusement sitting in a presentation on the next release of a well-known software product (let’s call it ‘Moon’ Accounts) and having to ease my way out of the room as irate users bombarded the speaker with angry questions because the promised updates were well overdue.
The show was also an opportunity to see what the opposition were up to. Complacency is a terrible thing. We’ve sold Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Navision as it was called back then for more than 16 years and we never gave up thinking it was the best product on the planet. So, a visit to the accounting software show meant you could sign up for all of your rivals’ presentation sessions and see what they had that you didn’t. It could be an eye opener. Shock horror.. sometimes we were behind the curve!
The shows may be gone but they’re not completely dead. We plan to run our own show “Turnkey 2013” early next year. If we can’t go to the show, the show will have to come to us and, who knows, the exhibitionists might be outnumbered!
A recent masterclass by industry guru Guus Krabbenborg issued a “wake-up call” to Microsoft ERP resellers identifying 3 issues that they must get their heads round now, or risk extinction in the long run. Whether or not we agree that ERP solutions are heading to the cloud just as quickly as Microsoft would like us to think, the issues are worth considering by us all, INCLUDING customers:-
Is it just me or is the award dinner industry running away with itself? Open any business magazine these days and you’re faced with page upon page of glossy articles and ‘grip and grin’ pictures of award dinners, ‘awardees’ and their so-called ‘awards’.