Navision's future and the role of the community in this.

I think most regular members here and on MiBuSo are aware that I am getting exceedingly frustrated at the direction the Navision community is heading. today we finally had a new member asking the right questions (Timescale of learning Dynamics NAV) and wanting to do the right thing, and follow the rules set down. The question being “are those rules the right rules”.

Virtually all major software products are heading down the “Throw Bodies At It” path see my blog If it takes one person 10 days to dig a ditch, how long does it take 10 people to dig the same ditch? for my thoughts on that. In addition, we have developers out there trying to be consultants, but since they can’t consult they simple do what ever the customer asks them to do and I wrote about that in my blog, The most powerful tool that a Dynamics NAV consultant can use… And of course once they start down that track, the consultant wants to make the customer happy so builds a monster, much like the Homer Mobile What if Homer Simpson became a Navision consultant?. What I try to show people is that Navision is different. There is no product really like Navision where the expectation from day one is that “configuring” the system involves programming rather than parameter setting. The major difference between Navision and other systems as I have seen, is that to have a successful implementation you need one person, a Navision guru; on each project that knows every feature and trick of Navision and knows how to match that to the needs of the client, and when to say no to the client and match their process to what is in Navision. Some systems (such as SAP) require that the customer selects a model that closely resembles their business, and then the business shifts to work with the system and SAP can do this. Some systems (Axapta for example) meet closer in the middle, where the system does most of what you want, but fine tuning can be done through development. But both those systems were designed from the start to be implemented by a team and that team can work without knowing 100% what other modules do.

Of course we are now losing those Navision Gurus for various reasons. The most obvious one is Off Shore development. Navision has an “agile” development environment, where prototyping is a part of development and changes are tested and worked on with the client in an interactive iterative process. Once you bundle up the specs in an email and send them to a team of 20 developers each of which have 6 months Navision experience, and none of which have ever used Navision in a live environment, there is no way you can efficiently or effectively complete an implementation. On top of that, ERP customers are very attentive to hourly rates rather than total cost of ownership, and bizarrely most clients seem happier to pay for 1,000 hours at $50 per hour than to pay 100 hours at $250 per hour.

We all know what happens. Since we see these questions posted on the forums everyday that clearly are from developers with no significant experience with Navision, and no contact to the customer, so they don’t know what to do, and they can’t interact with the client, and unfortunately they don’t even have senior people they can go to for advise.

Other reasons we are losing these gurus, is because of natural attrition. We have many more Navision sales, but there is no new source of gurus. People are required to be billable ASAP, so they never develop the skills that once were considered as a basic requirement. And the newbies can simply ask on forums rather than thinking for themselves. Worse is that many of the new breed of Navision people have Navision as a part time job. They get certified in 5 different products, and then work for 3 years in a company, and at the end their resume shows 3 years on each product, i.e. 15 years of experience, where if they only had Navision they would only have 3 years experience. So in reality that person is the equivalent of someone with 4 months experience but looks like 15 years.

This whole concept of Certifications and Sales as the core of being a partner is wrong.

For some time now most of the people I speak with about this, fall back on the old argument “But this means more work for us”, and that used to be true. But not any more. Customers are finally waking up and realizing that they deserve what they paid for and demanding it. So the partner has no budget to fix things, and the bad implementations just pile up, and eventually it just becomes one huge “Ah well at least its working now”. Navision is a great product but it needs skilled people to implement, and this fact needs to be a prime driver in becoming Navision certified, and the drive needs to come from the top.

If this does not happen, Navision will start to get a bad name not because the product is bad, but because it is being implemented badly. Today we probably have the same number of good Navision partners as we had 5 years ago, yet we have many more partners. So percentage wise it’s not looking good. And since the cost of entry to Navision is now quite low, there is no concern for these companies that if it doesn’t work, they can just drop Navision and move on. Remember when being a Navision partner meant that Navision was 90-100% of your business? Drop Navision and you are out of business.

So the question is “as The Navision Community do we have any responsibility to Navision and to our selves, and to our future lively hood to do something?” and of course that leads to the question “Can we actually do something”.

(or just tell me that its all in my imagination and that things are great as they are).

PS Note that I have cross posted this on both sites http://www.mibuso.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=42705&p=209290#p209290

Hi David,

You are absolutely right in what you say about the future of Navision. But what I’m really missing here is a statement from Microsoft on this. Because basically then I don’t think that the community as such can do much without Microsoft is starting to acknowledge and taking this problem serious.

But right now with their recent changes to the Partner Network requirements then I actually think that the above will escalate in the wrong direction, even when their intentions might have been the opposite. The fact is that they are pushing their partners into selling more software and focusing lesser on delivering quality service. They want bigger and stronger partners on the cost of the smaller partners. Yes, they are requiring more certifications and people, but not in a way that it will actually benefit quality work. And the same time they try to force everyone to use their Sure Step implementation methodology. A methodology which is fine, but not really fitting to most post-implementation projects. With bigger partners comes higher costs per employee which typically also means a higher hourly rate. And that in the end will mean that they are pushing even more towards off shore development.

The real question here is what could Microsoft do about it?

As a community I don’t think that we can change the way things are. We can choose either to ignore these “please do my work for me” posts or we can actually try to educate them. The problem in the later is that even if we educate one person, then the next day there are 5 new members, who are asking almost the exact same question. So personally I simply ignores most of the questions from the newbies, otherwise I would be just as annoyed as you.

We could also start by only allowing new members to post to the newbies forum, and only after 5 posts allow them to post to the other forums. But would that actually help?

my imagination is;

there should be A SOFTWARE that is like just an original navision like we know as version 4 upto 5 - that is preserved, not added by many techie buzzie wuzzie things that create tens alternative to get things done.

i’m dreaming you all seniors and seasoned consultants / project managers / developers / system engineers / etc. , who knows navision since version 1 or 2, who were having close relation to former Navision a.g., Denmark, who were in the inner circle of genuine authentic original navision attain upto MBS Navision . . . . . . can announce your collaboration in developing new ERP system, some kind like Navision.

i’m dreaming those people teamed up to a group, and build the old Navision. a new company, a new business model . . . when arrive to a matter of brand trade-mark, just name it as ‘avision’ or ‘Avisio’ or ‘Avis’ or ‘Ision’ whatever.

i prefer to have Navision college to cook up new consultants. I prefer to have diversification of Navision Consultant companies - that only do consulting and implementation - BUT no development ; then another, we have Navision Development companies - that only do development / customization / and such as, BUT deliver the result to Navision Consultant companies - NOT to end-customer. there might be other arrangement, where the point is customization is initiated by consultant after assessing business needs, and not as what end-customer wants.

then, this community can serve as discussion for navision college member, independent opinion for end-customers, second opinion of business cases, discussing how the customization to be made, and also … communication board, or job / pros market for the world.

that … only what’s called … imagination … and now, my time to wake up.

thanx all

i completely agree with this…

Hi Eric…

They do often say…with Experience we get WISE and Patient…i would say you are one fine living example of that…I RESPECT you more for that.

We “6 months experienced newbies” dont pressure others to attend or reply to us…we ask questions and if you can, please answer or else as eric says IGNORE…BUT DISCOUAGING AND INSULTING ISNT A WAY!..Please DONT FORGET everyone was once a newbies…i would just say some were lucky enough to get someone to teach them…and we are hope we get that one too…

So i just want to say that we are all trying our best to be the Best! A little help from the ones willing will be highly apprepiated [:)]

THANKYOU ALL…

And i personally Dont post until i have tried very way i can to achieve what i want…And is just asking to help out a bit and definitely not DO OUR JOBS…

Well its my personal view…

I am sorry to say that From this post I can say one thing you all are Born Genius and you know Navision and ERP since you Born and we[newbies] are not …

In everybody life there is an occasion which is new for that person and it is case with us[newbies] also. We are not asking here how to spell “Navision” and “Microsoft” because we know how to spell it and we know it because we learned it in School. Same thing here we are new to it so we dont know how to develop or work with it? Once we are gain enough experience in this you wont get that type of Question. In Some Post on DUG I have read that “No Question is silly and simple question.”

I thinks you also have to add here “Newbies Excuse”.

One more thing I am trying too much hard to solve my problem in different way and if I am not able to solve or answer myself after that I am posting my problems or questions here.

So all experts I am requesting you don’t ignore our questions. We are trying hard to learn this new different Product. Please help us. Thanks all for your support and contribution.A little help and contribution will help us and it will be appreciated.

Dear Alok,

The problem is not all those who ask regular questions after first having tried to figure out how things works, by searching for similar questions both here on this website and on other websites.

The problems is all those who basically are posting their full project assignment here and just ask “Please help me!”. Questions coming from someone who might be a good programmer, but obvious never have been working with Navision before. I’m really not blaming the members asking the questions, instead it’s their managers who are to blame. Those managers who hires people with no Navision background and expect that they can start deliver work to their clients without even giving them as much as an introduction course into Navision. And I’m sorry to say it, but 9 out of 10 of these members comes from India. So it might be a part of the business culture there, that we simply don’t understand.

But here in Denmark there is a saying that goes “Du får svar som du spørger”, which translated is “You get the answers you are asking”. It means something like if you ask a “stupid” question, then you will get a “stupid” answer, but if you ask a question where you have been doing your homework and really been thinking about your question, then you will also get answers where the person answer will think about it.

Basically it all comes down to the fact that those asking the questions needs to respect the community for what it is, otherwise you cannot expect to be respected yourself.

And as a long time member of this community, then I must say that a lot of the newbies asking questions here, does not respect the community members.

When I started working with Navision, I downloaded all the manuals and read and studied them. It is a lot of work, but it gets you started a lot faster than starting with a minimum of knowledge.

I have come across people who have worked in Navision over 5 years who did not fully understand flowfields and their relationship to the database; who did not really understand dimensions, and so on.

The manuals give you a base knowledge you can build on. The older study program required people to learn the basics in a lot of detail. It is a pity they got away from that.

I am not a NAV developer / implimentor, but a user.

We went through 2 full installations. 1st one in 2003. Total disaster. The one selling point of NAV, being the fact that it can be customised, meant that our version was soooo customised, that it turned into it’s own version. So many things stopped working, because there was no project manager that told us to rather change business processes, i.s.o. change Navision. We couldn’t even run the Inventory batch job. Sometimes I had “manually” complete posting routines, by going into the tables and ticjing here, deleting there, copying this etc. DISASTER)

After 2 years we had to scrap it, and start from scratch. (Partner’s staff were onsite for 13 months and we ended up not paying them either.) The new partner, funnily enough, had employed some of the previous partner’s staff.

The implimentation was a breeze because we had a strong project manager, and a good consultant. Somebody that knew Navision well enough to show the pitfalls if somehting was changed, thus we customised very little. We are now planning to move to NAV2009, and are going to try and stay as vanilla as possible. We are lucky though. The developer on our partner’s team, has been there for 5 years, thus know our business inside out.

THAT makes a difference. She still has to consult the “experts” about certain things, but at least she knows the business.

I have been operating in NAV for 7 years now, and still find stuff that I never knew before, and trust me, I WORK in it.

From Financials to Manufacturing, Sales, Procurement the lot. I know how the tables fit into one another, can run ODBC reports to build pivot tables etc.

I believe the future in NAV lies in the experts, helping the newbies. I agree that it is easier to go onto the forums and “ask” the stupid questions, but I as a customer would rather have that, than a newbie, floundering around by themselves, not finding the answer / divising the wrong answer, thus causing me, as a customer, harm.

Should the answer not be" what is best for the customer? I sometimes get very frustrated with “the youngsters” of today. They have grown up in an age, where all you have to do is ask. We had to earn our wisdom by backbreaking hard work. But why re-invent the wheel. If it will benefit the customer, why not give the newbie the answer? In the end, we are the future of Navision. If we stay, or if we go, and it is in the hands of the “experts” to equip the newbies with wisdom, and in the hands of the newbies to retain that info, integrate it into their own knowledge to, in the end, be of service to us, the customer, the reason for your jobs

no no no it is most certainly NOT about whether we are willing to help the newbies or not, I can assure you that EVERYONE here wants to help anyone, as long as they put in their own work.

The biggest problem is that a lot of these new NAV partners are in it only for the license sales, and then after the sale they realize that implementing is a whole other piece of work. They employ newbies without giving them proper guidance, no senior, no training, no support, nothing. All they do is “here you have a computer, and mibuso and DUG as favorite websites, go ask them to support you”. As a result, we are flooded with people who have absolutely no clue at all.

What do you expect? These companies are undercutting our rates, customers fall for their stories and get in trouble. Then their developers and consultants come on board here, all certified but with no clue. Do you honestly expect me to truly educate a newbie from A to Z? Do you really think that I am going to explain the entire job to anyone, people that work for companies that are competing for the same jobs? Do you really think that I am going to explain to someone how to build an integration from scratch, only to see them build those for the jobs that we lose to offshoring?

Not to mention the demanding attitude from these people insisting that we are obligated to teach them everything they want to know. It’s ridiculous! You come in here with questions, you tell us what you have done so far, and if your question is targeted you will ALWAYS get help. You come in here with no clue, and you demand an a-z explanation of everything? I’m not even going to read your post.

There’s nothing wrong with some newbie coming in and asking targeted questions, I have about 9000 posts to prove that. BUT there is no way that I am going to be the “online senior”.

I’m sorry but this is bugging the crap out of me. To even suggest that customer problems can be attributed to the willingness of forum members to help these spoiled lazy-ass punks is absolutely mindblowingly ludicrous. [:@]

My Two Cents:

I believe in the community as an tremendous resource of knowledge, experiences and opinions. I’m participating for about 10 years now and once the overall credo was “Sharing & Learning”.Once upon a time I was also asking lots of questions, the community helped me to grow with NAV. Meanwhile I’m more on the “answering site” …

But I also feel this community spirit somewhat abused since a couple of months - indeed there are many “newbies” obviously not willing to “share & learn” but just to let us get their job done. I would not necessarily call them “spoiled lazy-ass punks” (I like that one!) but I dare to insinuate parasitic intentions to them …

I absolutely agree that the reasons for this behavior - Erik and Daniel made a point - might have severe impact on the NAV business in general.

But according to David’s question “What can we as community do?” I would say to simply ignore those postings, not wasting a single second to read or reply. We should have enough community-experience to distinguish a real questions (one worth to deal with) from those bloody “I-have-no-clue-about-nothing-but-I-want-YOU-to-get-my-job-done-now-so-I-get-payed-and-f###-up-your-business” questions. This doesn’t make our “job” easier, but I’m still convinced it’s worth the effort, to help those “newbies” who will become some day a new “guru” helping the new “newbies” and so on …
I guess those “parasites” will vanish sooner or later, but who knows which damage is done until then.

Totally agree with what’s being said. The frustration is no way intended at person who are willing to ask to pointed in the right direction, but more the new users that ask for help in developing full blown solutions for them. The intent is not to scare Noob’s off. All of the guys that have been around long enough have full blown jobs as well as trying to support users on here. The frustration no doubt stems from the fact we all worked hard to get where we are, and work hard to deliver quality. That all comes from a deep understanding of how to resolve a problem. Now it seems there is a tendancy to not want to understand the problem to resolve it. Instead its easier to put a post here, and lets go straight from problem to solution without the hard middle “understand” piece.

It then begs the question, that if that is your approach, what level of service, or trusted advisory role are you providing your client base?

Basically more and more people are treating NAV like a commodity (MS is a products company) by NAV is not just an off the shelf product. To get the real benefits you need to apply value add. And that’s what’s lacking. People are getting into selling NAV with as little effort as possible, and that as David rightly points out leads to disasters. The problem for those of us who work at providing a top quality experience is that we do end up getting tarred with the same brush as those who implement NAV based on the answers on forums and not getting a understanding.

The reality is, we are a victim of our own success. NAV has never been sold or implemented directly, Its always been through professionals, and those professionals have done an amazing job over the last 15 odd years. That’s resulted in a great reputation for this product. Without those people doing such a great job the product would not have such a good rep.

Unfortunately, however, I do believe that MS are the only people that can put a stop to this stupidity. As long as they hand out the keys to the product in the way they do, this will never stop.

I for one hope it does.

(Sorry for any typo, tried to jam this reply out quickly, while I am at it, can someone tell me how to extend the description field on the Item Card to 200 characters? (kidding[;)] ) )

I need to reply to this, just not sure what to say.

I feel this is not a new situation - is it in a greater volume than 5 years ago? - probably, I do not have the stats, but didn’t we have this discussion then?

Does the “community” have a responsibility? Can you have responsibility without authority? I am not convinced Microsoft listen to the community to be honest.

Do I have a responsibility to protect my future livelihood - yes, I am responsible for my future and my family. However is there anything I can do within the community to prevent “Dynamics” become a brand of high cost poorly implemented systems? - no (well apart from my own implementations of course). Personally looking at the posts in the community and its growth I already feel the momentum is there to ensure the brand is tainted in the same way many other ERP systems have been branded in the past - expensive and poorly implemented. This responsibility falls with Microsoft, the partner and the customer. Money talks - the customer wants it cheap, the partner wants cheap overheads for greater profits, and Microsoft only get revenue from licenses, and therefore the poor implementation can be laid at the feet of the partner. Short sighted because the brand is tainted, but with the money behind the brand it is gathering momentum to crush these rumours/facts. 10 years ago you had to fight to get NAV on the ERP shortlist of a customer, now you are fighting to offer a competitive quote against another partner - well at least in the UK (not the rest of the world, but it will get there eventually I am sure). Therefore does a bad reputation in the one country transpose to one on the other side of the world - probably not for a while. By the way I do not believe the brand is currently tainted in the UK, the partners have shrunk and consolidated again and good resource is at a premium, although expansion is steady and therefore there is avaiable “resource”. Still I am not sure the UK will suffer the sell revenue-implement with novices approach - many reasons, but that does not mean it is not practised - it is just not the main stay of the partner here.

So can we do anything? I can obviously. I can answer the posts I want to answer - which is what I have always done. I still give posters a chance, and to be honest I will put a question back as many times as I answer one, and many times there is no response. I am never going to post lines of code because I am not a developer, so my answers are business based, so they are generic and if they relate to the software it is generally a nudge in the (hopefully) right direction because the original poster seems to never give enough details to post a definitive answers. Would I answer a 1000 word scenario question ending in “How do I do this in NAV?” probably not, I do not have the time. [:D] In my time here several posters have annoyed me, but they have either left or the attitude has changed.

If community members are frustrated at what can be perceived as insulting and demeaning requests for URGENT help NOW ASAP full solution please, then there are a few choices; ignore it, answer it or leave the community. I would prefer no one leave the community, and the answers should not be insulting themselves (although many are funny), which leaves us with ignoring them.

However for any newbie reading this please never ASSUME an answer will come. The people in this community are not paid to do this, the time committed is free. If you want the full answer why not employ many of the freelancers in the community? The Dynamics community (across all sites) is a wonderfully rich resource, but there is no RIGHT to an answer - if you do not get one you have to do what everyone else does, and resolve it yourselves. If you cannot - tell the customer.

And there was me thinking I had nothing to say!

Hi everyone.

I am sort of back, after lots of pondering over community and what its all about. Sadly I come back to posts like this Message “You must External Document No…” to be changed (I am sure there are plenty on DUG as well) and realize that not much has changed.

I realize now that things have changed, but I don’t now how we can change with them. Clearly Navision has moved into the “satisfaction now” world. Personally I don;t want to be a part of that, but I also realize that I want to remain an active part of the community. So I have been spending some thinking time taking a look form a different perspective and working out how to help people with out being insulted by them.

I see the solution is more in providing solutions, NOT providing answers. So I will be working more in that direction. I will still be active in the forums, but will concentrate more on WIKI and BLOGs.

Anyway time to catch up and see what I have missed.

Hi David,

Good to see that you’re back. You have been missed.

But I think you’re right, instead of just getting angry and aggravated over the ways things are, then it’s better just to accept the fact. At least to a certain degree. Personally I still believe that it’s better to teach a man how to catch a fish, than actually give him one.

And when that has been said, then I think it is a wise step for you to move more into blogging. This way you can be “providing solutions” - but in a more general way, so that these “solutions” can be helping others. It’s easy to see that the blogs who have “solutions” are also the most popular. I mean the blog posts that talks about “How to do” this or that.

Strangely I have been thinking along these lines myself. It is my DUG birthday today, 10 years, I thought perhaps a nice round number to retire on [:D]

Never a blogger and this site seems to act like a drug (well it is the helping people bit) but I will reassess why I am doing this I feel and see what happens.

I have morphed into an AX person and feel having not opened NAV for 3 years I am in danger of having outdated incorrect views (the VPC’s on MS always have an expired license once downloaded!!). Perhaps I will focus solely on AX.

David if you are planning on blogging on NAV specific solutions let me know, I could offer a sister option in AX [:D]