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Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Business Intelligence

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Many small to mid-sized companies usually struggle to take advantage of the right Business Intelligence due to lack of resources, proper tools, and systems that are often too expensive and complicated to deploy and maintain. With powerful inherent BI capabilities, robust cross-product integration, and advanced technology improvements Dynamics NAV 2009 provides a single-point and comprehensive business management solution with broad Business Intelligence options, which are easy to deploy, flexible to personalize and customize, and easy to maintain.

Inherent BI capabilities in NAV

Inherent BI capabilities in NAV include standard reports that take advantage of strong SQL reporting services, flexible views of data that allow various options for filtering, flexible search, flexible data view options for different people, and easy-to-use ad hoc reporting tools and charts. Record links tie together structured and unstructured information, and transactional insight can help people find documents related to specific transactions—for example, a scanned copy of a customer PO can be attached as a link to the sales order. Built-in features such as drilldowns, lookups, and flow fields among others allow real-time data in pages and provide options to navigate into details of transactions, customer and supplier records, histories, and more. The use of dimensions allows us to define and assign characteristics to the information in our daily work such as product groups, market segments, geographic regions, and time period. We can define hierarchies that reflect reporting, analysis, and accounting needs.

Business insight through the Role Center

The Role Center serves as a pivotal area for our role and provides an important insight to our business through various parts personalized according to our function in the company.

Activities section

The Activities section consists of Cues and Action items specific to the user's profile. The Cues provide a pictorial representation of an activity or task such as the number of sales orders, and the Actions provide links to triggers for particular actions such as creating orders or quotes.

My Customers/Items/Vendors

The My Customers section provides quick links to our top customer pages and high-level details such as Customer No., Phone No., and so on. This applies to the My Vendors and My Items sections as well.

My Notifications

The My Notifications section provides a space for instant notifications between peers and colleagues. We can also attach links to actual items and other entities in our communication.

With the ability to add external objects in the NAV RoleTailored client, the users can create visual objects, KPIs, graphs, and other Business Intelligence objects and add them in different sections of pages.

Graphical charts and ad hoc analysis

NAV 2009 introduced a feature to create ad hoc charts in list pages. The user can create a two-or three-dimensional chart in any page, which displays the data relevant for the user in a graphical representation.

Let's see an example of creating a chart to analyze the status of inventory in terms of demand and supply:

  1. 1. From the Role Center, open the Items page. The page lists all the items in the system. To make the data relevant, let's apply some filters on this list. We can use the expand option to see the full list of filters.

  1. 2. Select the No. range using the No. filter. We can use the Add Filter function if we need to add multiple filters to view the data.

  1. 3. From the Customize page option on the top-right corner, select the Chart Pane option.

  1. 4. This should bring up a blank chart at the bottom. The first step is to select Measures from the top-left corner of the chart. You can select as many measures as you want at the same time. For this example, we will select three measures: Qty. on Sales Orders, Qty. on Purchase Orders, and Qty. on Hand.

  2. 5. Select the Description dimension from the bottom-right corner of the chart. Once selected, the analysis should be like the following screenshot:

Creating charts for the Role Center home page

Another type of charts are the ones that are available in the Role Center for users to get quick analysis. The charts are predefined in the system and can be visible using the customize option in the Role Center.

In this section, we will see how to create custom charts and make them available on the home page:

  1. 1. To create a chart, open a text editor such as Notepad to write the XML code for the chart. In this example, we will design a chart for the number of customers per posting group.

  2. 2. Add the following XML code:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
    <ChartDefinition xmlns:xsi=http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
    <Text ID="ENU">Customers per CustomerPosting Group</Text>
    <Text ID="ENU">Customers per CustomerPosting Group</Text>
    <Table ID="18">
    <Field Name="No."/>
    <XAxis ShowTitle="false">
    <Field Name="Customer Posting Group"/>
    <Measure Operator="Count">
    <Text ID="ENU">Count</Text>
    <Text ID="ENU">Count</Text>

  3. 3. Save the chart as a<Name>.xml file&mdash;for example Test.XML.

  4. 4. Once the chart is saved as an XML file, it has to be added to NAV. Open the Classic client and point to Charts under Administration | Application Setup | RoleTailored Client.

  1. 5. On the right-hand side, we can see the menu of charts available in the system:

  1. 6. Select Functions| Import Chart….

  2. 7. Point to the chart we just created in the earlier step. Once the chart is imported, start the RoleTailored client and customize page to add the newly added chart. The chart we just added should look like the following:

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