Introduction: Erik. P. Ernst and the history of the user group

Well I like to go first. I know many of you know me already, but all the new members properly don’t know me or the history of the user group. So here it comes.

Originally I’m worked as a trainee in a small Danish furniture factory. As the youngest employee in the office and the only one who knew a little about computers in the accounting department, I was set to implement the new accounting system we got. It was a Danish developed system, it was good, but it was not very user friendly. But I like working with this new system. And as a young fellow of cause I thought that I could do it much better. So when my two years of being a trainee was over I sought back to school again in 1987.

Here I learned a lot about computers, systems development and standard applications. This was the first time I met PC&C - the original name for Navision Software. I made a special report on the accounting system called PCPlus. This was a wonderful little system which could do almost everything a small company could need. Actually even today, more than 20 years later, a lot of companies are still using it. In fact it’s still being sold in the Danish marked. Navision sold the rights to it a few years ago, and now they sell a lot of systems to small companies who don’t like the Danish Microsoft C5 solution! A few years later I had a basic computer education and I started working as a supporter in a company developing CRM solutions. Actually back then it wasn’t called CRM solutions, but database marketing and sales force management solutions.

I stayed there a year before I got offered to come and work for a company selling IBM-Navigator. Back then IBM-Navigator was the Danish name for Navision, as IBM was the main distributor. Here I was hired as a instructor and project manager. Not doing any development! Not until one of our developers left and I was asked if I could take over. And of cause I could, as I had been developing a lot of smaller and bigger add-ons on the side. Later I changed to another reseller, where I got to work with bigger customers. Sometimes the customers had 30-40 users! That was very big back then.

In 1995 my wife (now ex-wife) was transferred to work for her company in New Jersey in the USA. And of cause I followed her. After a period where I worked as a accounts receivable manager for a Danish company in Hoboken (next to New York City), where I worked with a terrible old version of Solomon (now Dynamics SL) I accepted a job with New Yorks leading Navision reseller Business Management International - BMI. Yes they where the leading, as none of the other resellers had sold anything at this time in 1995. In 1995 we were 2 persons working with Navision with BMI, plus a contractor. Later BMI had almost 50 people working with Navision.

The mailing list and navision.net

It was also here the original user group started. It was a big challange to work in an office where nobody really knew Navision, and where the local support at Navision (back then called Avista in the US) was not really worth so much. They were all very new to Navision, so I don’t blame them. So I started emailing back and forth with my friends back in Denmark. At least the ones who had an email address. Back then the Internet was only taking of. The world wide web was all new. So I also created a home page at www.navision.net - and I had my local ISP sponsor a mailing list. This way all my Navision contacts could subscribe to the email list. And every time someone wrote an email it was automatically sent to all the subscribers.

The first web based debate list

But after a year or two it grew too big. It was like you got 30-50 emails a day from the list. So Instead I build a new site using Microsoft Frontpages build-in debate/forum setup. It was ok, but not very good. But it worked ok for a year or so, but people didn’t really like it so much. The site was hosted by Navision Software, on a server in their internal server room. But every time there was something wrong, it took forever to get fixed, as we were always behind in the line for their own servers. So we moved it when we changed the site again.

The first database driven forum site

In the year 2000 I made the first version of the forum based on a database. I used the famous old ASP Forums. A free and open software with a Access database and ASP coding. It was a good time and the forum was great.

The Snitz 2000 forum site

Later the site was updated again. This time to a forum software called Snitz 2000 Forums. It was based on ASP Forums, but it had a lot of additional features and many developers supporting it with add-ons and enhancements. This site was mostly known as mbsonline.org and until two weeks ago you could still access it (before the posts and members was merged into dynamicsuser.net). In the Snitz time the member database really took of. In the peak period around 50-100 new users every day. But then we started to have performance issues. Access isn’t really build to handle this many users. So with the very bad performance and many errors the members started to shift away from us.

The fifth generation site

That’s when I decided to move on. It was time for changing forum software again. This time I found a system called Community Server, which also was used by Microsoft in many of their own website. And based on SQL Server. After having worked with getting the old site converted for 5-6 months, without success, I decided simply to leave the old site as “read-only” (for search only), and just open the new site. So in June 2006 the new and fifth generation of the Dynamics User Group website was live.

What happened after this, was that I finally two weeks ago was successful in converting all the old members and posts into the database. And we also just upgraded from ASP.NET 1.2 to ASP.NET 2.0 (which gave little push in the performance of the site).

Back to me

But this was the history of the user group and this website. What happened to me after the US? In 1997 I moved back to Denmark again. Here I opened a reseller business together with BMI. It was called BMI Danmark. And although it was good times for the business, then it also meant that it was very difficult to find good people. So in 1999 we closed it down again. I continued working for BMI as a contractor and at the same time for some end-users who used to be my customers in Denmark. After 9.11 the business in the US was good, so I continued working as a freelancer. One of my major contracts was with Microsoft Business Solutions, where I helped them both implementing their own global core in MBS Denmark, and developing it at the MBS HQ in Vedbæk.

In 2003 I was offered a job at a company called GN Netcom. The worlds largest producer of headsets (ex. the brand name Jabra). They were in the process of rolling out a global core solution to their subsidiaries. And although I had always said that I never wanted to work for an end-user (risk ending up doing nothing but support and report development), then I accepted this job as their Navision Architect. I had the responsibility for the continued development of the solution, handling the developers (all external) and the quality of the solution. We were around 12 Navision specialist in our group, plus around 3-5 external developers and on and off additonal external consultants. Later the IT department our company was merged with the IT department of our sister company GN Resound. Now our Navision group grew to around 40 Navision specialists, hereby making it one of the largest pools of Navision specialists in Denmark. It was a great team.

Last year I was offered a job with ISS A/S (http://www.issworld.com). One of the worlds largest companies with almost 400,000 employees world wide. Here I now work as their Global Solution Manager, with focus on our Dynamics Core. And that’s where I am now.

On the private front

I had my first daughter Natascha in the US in 1996. Later in 1998 we had Victoria and in 2002 my daughter Cassandra was born. And finally in 2005 Helena was born. And also in 2005 I got divorced from my wife. Now I’m engaged with a beautiful girl named Poo. She’s from Thailand (where I have worked a lot the last year with ISS). I hope that she soon will be able to permanently move to Denmark, with her two children (aged 4 and 11).

Also after my divorce in 2005 I was sort of looking for “something”. And what I found was Buddhism. Since then I’ve been a Karma Kagyu Buddhist (http://www.diamondway-buddhism.org/). And that means a lot of meditation! And I love it.

So this was my introduction! I don’t expect that everyone will give such a long one, but I hope that everyone will give one.

Dear sir,

I am looking for an introductory course for navision in the NEtherelands or online. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!