NAV2013 – What’s New in Reporting?

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!

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Support or Die

Microsoft recently posted some stats that broke down the average business software system costs. The most interesting stat was that the actual purchase of the software represented about 5% of the overall system cost and expenditure on hardware was roughly the same. That probably comes as a bit of a surprise to many but, if you examine the figures, it’s actually pretty self-evident.

A business purchasing a new ERP system will expect to get somewhere between 6 and 10 years out of their new software. We have many customers who have been on Navision with us for at least as long as that, and a number who have been with us since the 90’s so we concur with Microsoft’s findings.

Over that period, the majority of the expenditure will be on annual support charges and people costs – installation, training, ongoing development and so forth. So, extrapolate the numbers over the life of the system, and the initial costs of buying the software and hardware quickly drop to a fraction of the total expenditure.

Software companies who understand this should also understand that if they fail to provide good levels of support or be perceived as not providing value for money, then all of the good work done in winning the initial sale will be for nothing. Microsoft also revealed that the average time to win a new software site was 6 months. That could be 6 months hard work wasted if someone else picks up the ongoing revenues.

Looking after customers and constantly monitoring feedback of our services is a fundamental element of our business plan. It has served us well bringing us well over 100 Navision sites and the income from those is set against the cost of a dedicated support department and support systems to ensure we maintain satisfaction levels and customer numbers.

The result is a strong and loyal customer base and a regular stream of defections from competitors. Someone somewhere spent 6 months winning those customers but then passed on the revenue stream to us. Not good business and certainly not sustainable.