Last Direct Cost for an Item

I got tripped up by the Item card today. In NAV 2017 there is a field called “Last Purchase Cost”. This is actually the “Last Direct Cost” on the Item table. In NAV 2015 it was called “Last Direct Cost” on the Item Card. I’m not sure why it was changed. The new caption implies it us updated by a purchase ie a posted purchase invoice. But actually item journals can also update this field.

Reaping the benefits of ERP: Before or after

The most satisfying way for a firm to increase profits is to increase sales – either by increasing market share in its industry, or diversifying into other industries.

But that isn’t always possible. Sometimes sales are static. In those circumstances, increasing profits comes from reducing costs, and one of the biggest costs for a firm is payroll. This means reducing headcount.

One of the ways to reduce headcount is to increase productivity. If 100 people can do the work of 150, the extra 50 become surplus. ERP systems can facilitate this via automation and business intelligence.

Many firms try and implement new ERP systems, or try and otherwise improve automation, by running a project first, with a view to reducing the resulting surplus labour after the project is complete. This rarely succeeds because by asking the surplus labour to engage with the project there is an element of asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

Although it can be painful, there is much to be said for reducing the surplus labour first, and implementing new ERP systems second. This can result in a period of anxiety and trauma as the remaining workforce are overwhelmed by their initial increase in workload, but this provides them with a great incentive for the ERP project to be a success.

Sometimes the best way to learn to swim is just to dive in at the deep end.


Finding SetData in NAV report

As a newbie to NAV reporting, I always struggled to find the “hidden” field on the report that contains the function to load SetData.

I now found what I think is the easiest, quickest method. Select any field, then tab through all fields on the report. As you do this, you will see the Properties changing. Now, the SetData field is always in red. So if you absentmindedly keep an eye on Font : Color you will quickly see when red appears. Then you know that that is probably the field you are looking for. Click on the Text Box Properties > Visibility > Show or hide based on an expression.

It’s also worth knowing that the field is very often BuyFromAddr or ShipToAddr.


E-mailing Customer Statements in Dynamics NAV 2017

The ability to e-mail customer statements directly to customers is a new (and long overdue) feature of the new 2017 version of NAV. But it’s a little quirky.

When I first ran it, by selecting E-mail as “Report Output” in the Customer Statements screen, it did, well, absolutely nothing! No error message, nothing.

I discovered that it only works if you specify an e-mail address for the customer under “Documents Layouts”, which you can get to via the customer card. Fill it in as below:

Offline install of .NET Framework 3.5

This old version of .NET is often required to be installed prior to installing some piece of software or other. I’ve found that even if I download the installation file from, it still requires an internet connection during the installation, which isn’t always available (e.g. if I’m installing in a non-internet connected lab environment).

The framework is on the Windows 10 media, so you can install it from there by running the following command from a command line (as administrator):

dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3 /All /Source:F:\sources\sxs /LimitAccess

Where source is the location of the sxs sub-directory on your attached Windows 10 media (in the case above, mounted to the F: drive).

This will install the framework.

Quote of the day

So, there are cynics and there are sceptics. The literal definition for a cynics is that not only do they not believe a good thing is happening and they’re cynical, they don’t believe good is possible. A sceptic is sceptical but they will, it’s like “oh, I’m kind of sceptical about this decision”, but the reason they’re expressing their scepticism is because they have the hope that it will get better and that’s why they’re sharing it. Cynics are different. Jerks are similar.

Dharmesh Shah

source: youtube

I’m more of sceptic than a cynic. Though I can be both, depending on the circumstances.

My emotions will asymptotically trend towards zero over time

I’m reading Disrupted by Dan Lyons at the moment. A blistering critique of the tech startup industry and specifically a company called HubSpot. The founders of HubSpot addressed some of the issues in the book in a LinkedIn post. I chuckled a bit when they wrote “But negative emotions have a relatively short half-life with us. Our emotions have been dissipating quickly and we think they’ll asymptotically trend towards zero over time. Besides, life is too short to hold grudges.” Using the word asymptotically is so geeky.

It did remind me of something I’ve noted in the past, and made limited efforts to address. I’m not one to bear grudges, but people do annoy me at work from time to time. This does cause me to feel negative emotions, and these emotions do dissipate quickly – normally over a couple of days.

Now, given that I know my emotions will dissipate, why do I bother feeling angry in the first place. Why not recognise that I’ll be over it in a couple of days and just decide that I’m actually going to get over it in a couple of minutes? Wouldn’t that be more productive? And is it possible to train myself to get over it quicker?

Why progress is not a straight line

Vjekoslav Babić writes here about why “Progress often doesn’t look like progress at all when it first arrives.

He explains that when Carl Benz developed his first car in 1886 it had 0.75 horse power, a top speed of 16km/h, was able to cover 45km on a single tank and could only take two passengers. In almost every single way it was inferior to the horse drawn carriages it would soon replace. People asked “is this progress?”

The answer lies in identifying peak potential. In 1886 the horse drawn carriage had already peaked. Whereas the car was at the very beginning of its development. I see this so often when implementing new IT solutions – users see the new system as a backward step, rather than appreciating the potential the new system creates.

For example, when we rolled out Dynamics NAV as our new ERP system it was replacing a heavily customised, mature ERP system that was end-of-life and no longer being developed. The old system worked fine in most aspects, and users had invested a lot of effort in training and development to reach the point where it was. But as it wasn’t being developed, and used out of date technology, it had reached peak potential. For many users, the new NAV system, straight out of the box, wasn’t as good as the old system. I had to persuade users of the potential the new system offered and get them to think in terms of where they want to be (and where they wanted the company to be) in three, four or even ten year’s time.



Visual Studio Community Edition 2015 not displaying Dynamics NAV report layout

I recently upgraded Visual Studio Community Edition from 2013 to 2015, following a NAV upgrade to 2017 CU3 which now supports 2015.

Opening my first report, it didn’t display. All I saw was a load of XML code. To resolve you need to install “Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools” by re-running the Visual Studio installer (select Change from Programs & Features).

It took ages to install. I was stuck looking at this screen and wondering if it was ever going to complete. Eventually it did.

Adventures of an IT Manager / Dynamics NAV enthusiast