Or are you just getting by with the world’s most popular Business Intelligence tool, Microsoft Excel, and maybe fancy enhancing your knowledge?
Did you know you can do this for free, using materials present by Microsoft’s own people?
Well EDX.org has just this, EDX is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) but don’t left the daft label put you off, the content is serious. Basically, this is an online collection of courses from different sources, founded by Harvard and MIT, so it’s got some substance to it.
The courses are offered by a range of providers, one of which is Microsoft. This is not just any old trainer, these are often the product managers at Microsoft, so again, it’s the real deal. There is even a full program in Data Science (Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science) that can be followed that includes modules on Excel and Power BI which are relevant to most business users.
All of the courses are free to ‘audit’, you can use the learning resources and take the tests but if you wish to get a certificate for your efforts then you need to pay a fee. Of course, some people struggle to find the time to do this kind of self-paced on line study and many prefer working with someone face to face, if that’s the case then why not check out our Dynamics Learning courses for Excel or Power BI, and I’ll see you soon!
Our Dynamics Learning course – Using Jet Professional - is a one day, hands-on course that will equip you to create your own tailored reports.
It’s a chance to explore all the options this great reporting tool has, from the four basic functions, NL, NF, NP and GL, through to all the visual tools that are available to speed things up, all mixed in with plenty of tips and tricks for the software. We will guide you from starting up the software right the way through to the final stage of scheduling your reports for distribution via email, so you can ensure you get the most out of the data in your ERP system.
Our course is the full package. A full days learning supported by a 100-page training manual, (so you don’t need to worry about making notes on the day), a video playlist to watch back and over 50 example reports to take away. You will be fully equipped to put things into practice as soon as you get back to your desk!
All delivered in our dedicated training facility, in our demonstration environment, working with the latest versions of both Jet and Microsoft Dynamics NAV – with the support of our in-house professional trainer.
Ah yes, “The Cloud”. It’s such a ubiquitous concept, mentioned in just about every IT context you can think of. However, it’s often pretty vague and can leave you wondering what on earth people are actually talking about and why you should listen.
Here’s a small but hopefully mildly interesting example of why cloud computing might be useful for you.
You may have noticed that there was a fairly substantial update to Windows 10 this week. I made the mistake of trying to install it during the day, meaning I couldn’t work on my laptop for around an hour and a half.
Fortunately, I spend most of my day working in Google Chrome or a remote desktop session to one of our servers in Microsoft Azure. The below covers most of what I need to do day to day:
Email – Outlook on Office 365. I prefer the online version to the traditional desktop client these days.
Writing requirements for my developers to work on – Visual Studio Online, accessed via the online portal.
NAV development and testing – all done on a server in Azure which I connect to via an RDP session.
Working on shared documents – SharePoint on Office 365, using the online versions of Office apps to edit them.
Other document storage – I use a combination of OneDrive and Google Drive, both have the capability of editing your documents in the browser.
Note taking – Evernote, which has a lovely online interface for reading and editing.
Tecman’s internal Microsoft Dynamics NAV – hosted in Azure, access via the web client.
Tecman’s internal Microsoft Dynamics CRM – also accessed through the browser.
I use Skype and Skype for Business to keep in touch with colleagues – both via desktop clients but both have online alternatives (albeit with limited functionality).
While my laptop was out of action I was able to jump onto a different machine and carry on working – without installing any software or even logging on as myself. I can’t pretend that working entirely in the cloud is a flawless experience (yet), but it is possible – at least for the kinds of tasks that I need to do.
At the very least it is good to know that I can access all the systems and data that I need from any machine, anywhere with internet access.
Oooooo….the Clooouuud indeed.
How quickly could you be up and running on a different machine? What can you not do working from home that you can from the office?
Find more information at https://www.tecman.co.uk/Software/Applications/Office-365
20 years ago Windows 95 was released, it became the standard operating system that businesses ran their IT systems on. Since that release Windows has continued to evolve with a couple of versions performing extremely well (XP, Windows 7) and couple less so! (ME/Vista)
The previous release Windows 8 was a brave move for Microsoft and took a massive step away from its tried and tested user interface, the Start menu was no more and the interface was geared for the new world of touch screens. Great for those folk who were using tablets and touch screens, but not appealing to the millions of windows users that still spent there working life at a desktop machine with a keyboard and mouse as the primary input. An update added an element of the start menu back, but it was a step too far for many businesses.
So with Windows 10 Microsoft has brought back some of the familiarity of previous versions, but also taken some of touch friendly interface it introduced with Windows 8 and the operating systems attempts to change depending what type of device you are working on.
1) The Start Menu is back (and better)
So everything you loved about the start menu from Windows 7 is back, you can pin favourite apps or shortcuts. You get branched menus, so click on Accessories drops down a further menu with all the accessories icons showing. The menu is in alphabetical order, so click on one of the letters and the alphabet pops up to select another letter that contains the shortcut you’re looking for. All the quick lists are there as well so right click on Windows Explorer and you get the last few files you’ve been working on to get quick access.
One of my favourite features, I loved the touch interface on Windows 8 when I was working on a tablet or touch device. So now when I’m on a touch device as soon as disconnect the keyboard I get the option to have a touch friendly interface. With more devices becoming hybrid this feature is ideal, you just keep on working in the most effective way that your device is set up at that moment. You also get the touch friendly menu alongside the new start menu – so if you prefer that windows 8 look its always with you.
3) Its Free!
If you are on a legit version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 this is a free upgrade for the next 12 months.
4) A new browser – Microsoft Edge
Internet Explorer has been the browser bundled with every copy of Windows since that Win 95 release, its got a little clunky and bloated over the years, Microsoft Edge performs faster than the usual suspects such as Chrome etc, but for me it’s a couple of the other features that have made it a really nice browser. Reading mode, how many times have you found an article online that you wish to read, but the page has loads of junk all over the screen and across the article? Well select the reading mode and the browser strips out all the on screen noise and leaves you with just the text.
It also allows you to have a reading list as well as a favourite’s list, so when you stumble across a page you want to go back to later and read just drop it in the reading list. I used to always be adding links to my favourites that I only wanted to pop back to once, but after reading it I never removed it from my favourites, that meant the list just kept on growing. Of course with the power of the cloud no matter which Windows 10 device I log onto, my favourites and reading list will follow me around, much easier for catching up on some web links on a tablet in the evening rather than a PC or laptop.
Page review. Edge allows you to take a web page then to begin to write all over it (if you have a touch device) then share that page with anyone you want. Fantastic if you’ve found some info you want to share but with notes or highlights on it
5) Action Centre
Swipe in from the right and you get a new information hub that gives you visibility of all the things you need t o know. From Wifi points, battery life, screen brightness through to new emails, app notifications, its nice to have a single place one swipe away to see everything. If you have used windows phone its similar to the experience you get when you swipe down from the top of the hone, just with loads more information points.
Another feature that found life on Windows Phone. Cortana is a digital assistant that is now built into Windows 10. You can search your device or the internet by either typing in your search phrase or just talking to you PC. Begin with “Hey Cortana” and then ask away. As with a lot of voice activated technology it’s not perfect, but it’s getting better.
What I do like about Cortana is the way it learns about your interests and also looks at your location and diary and warns you when you need to leave or if there is traffic issues that may affect you. It’s neat when it suddenly pops up reminding you that a meeting 20 miles away will take around 40 minutes so its time to go – it drops a map of the suggested route up as well. It collects information about items I have said I’m interested in so gives me a personal view when I click on the search input, next to the start menu button. Having been playing on the beta version of Windows 10 since the turn of the year, it’s been great to see Cortana improve and actual be of use in certain situations. It’s still early days for digital assistants but once again its moving in the right direction. With Cortana at the bottom of my screen i just type my query, no more firing up a browser then my search engine of choice. Its just there.
7) Xbox Streaming
Not really a business feature, but it’s cool and who doesn’t like a quick session on the Xbox One. This allows you to connect your Xbox One to your Windows 10 machine and stream your game across to the Windows 10 screen. So you can keep on playing and free up the main TV in the living room. It currently only works if your on the same Wifi access point, so you can only play when you’re in the same house, but its rumoured to be available over the internet in the future.
Using Microsoft Word for report layouts in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 is a very useful addition to the reporting stack in Dynamics NAV 2015. Unlike RDLC it offers a simple layout design, is not visually complex and does not require specialized knowledge for even the most simple of changes. It should be remembered though due to limitations such as Trans Headers and Trans Footers not being possible, the word report should not be used to replace RDLC as a reporting tool but to offer a different layout option for creating documents.
Rather than starting a report from scratch, or using an online template, simply exporting a standard report such as report 1304 out to word and then using this as a template is a good basis for the start of your report. Word layouts can be imported into a report and once part of the report we can edit them and import them back into Dynamics NAV.
By installing Jet Express for Word, we have quick access to the dataset of the report and can quickly and easily drop content controls that map to the fields of the dataset.
All data in your report should sit in a table. We can create as many tables as we want for different parts of the report. This technique makes it easy to line up the report information and also makes it easier should you be required later to add more information into the report. The gridlines for the table can be viewed by going to layout tab then "View Gridlines". Below is a customised remittance report with the gridlines showing. We can see here how easy it would be to add header information or another column in the details of the report simply by creating a new row or column in the table.
Using this as a template we could also to create a different document such as a custom specific invoice. The invoice header details could be placed in the top table and columns could be added or removed as appropriate in the second table.
Once you are happy with the report the gridlines can simply be hidden giving the report the look the customer wants.
In most reports we need to have a line that repeats what is in the dataset to provide line details. To get a line to repeat in a word layout we need to specify the data item that we will be repeating. We do this by finding the data item in the dataset for the report, right clicking and choosing Insert Repeating. Any controls added from this data item will now repeat.
With these quick tips hopefully you can see that creating simple, easily customised reports in Dynamics NAV is actually possible.
With recent releases of NAV, Microsoft have improved integration with Microsoft Office. You can:
Save any report to Word or Excel (as well as PDF)
Send the data from any page to Word or Excel
Link pages or individual records to notes stored in OneNote notebooks (more info here)
Synchronise data with Outlook
This wealth of integration points with your local Office installation is great, but what if you don’t have a local Office installation? Given the rate at which the online offerings of Outlook, Word and Excel are improving, unless you are a power user you have less inclination to install the offline version at all.
Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 has introduced support for Office 365 / SharePoint Online. Allow me to demonstrate.
Search in the menu for “Online Document Storage Configuration”
Enter the URL of your SharePoint Online site in the ‘Location’ field.
Enter the name of a folder in which to store NAV documents in the ‘Folder’ and “Document Repository” fields.
Enter some credentials to authenticate with the service.
Use the “Test Connection” action to confirm that your settings are correct and that NAV can connect to the Document Storage. For the purposes of this post I’ve connected to my personal SharePoint site on our Office 365 environment.
Now for the magic.
When I open the Posted Sales Invoices list and hit “Open in Excel” the spread sheet is saved in Office 365 and opened in Excel Online in the browser.
Under the “Edit Workbook” menu you can choose whether the edit with your local Excel or edit the workbook with Excel Online.
Perhaps we are looking at the future of your business software here.
Hosted Dynamics NAV + Office 365 with your documents stored in SharePoint Online – all accessed through your browser. Access your data from wherever you want, with whatever device you want.
Each new release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV has brought tighter integration with the Microsoft Office and NAV 2013 is no exception. This is a list of some of the integration points between the two. Some were introduced in previous versions of NAV and have been improved, some are new to 2013.
Outlook Part on Role Centre
Virtually all of the standard role centres which are provided in 2013 include the Outlook part. It provides at a glance information from your inbox (and subfolders that you have selected), calendar and task list.
Strictly speaking this is “default mail client integration” – but if you use Office, most likely your default mail client is Outlook. You can send the data behind any page as an HTML attachment to an email using the Dynamics button, Print & Send, Email as Attachment. This attachment includes a clickable link to the page that your colleagues can follow to look at the same data in NAV.
All email address fields have an email icon next to them which opens a new mail message to that email address.
In addition, an add-in for Outlook is available which allows you to synchronise data from Outlook with NAV & visa versa. Contact details, calendar appointments and tasks can all be synchronised in either direction or directionally.
Send-to Excel functionality has been around for a few versions now, but has seen some improvement in 2013. Any page can be sent to Excel by clicking the Dynamics button, Print & Send, Microsoft Excel.
The new Dynamics NAV Add-in for Excel add a Refresh button to the Excel ribbon. If you send the data behind a page to Excel and the data changes you can pull the changes to your existing spread sheet rather than re-exporting the data.
As for Excel, the data behind any page can be sent to Word using the Dynamics button, Print & Send, Microsoft Word.
This is a feature that became available in a later build of 2009 R2, but is now standard in 2013. From the request page of any report there are some additional options from the Print button.
As well as printing to your printer, you can also save the report directly to PDF, Word or Excel. Saving reports to PDF and Excel, in particular, have always been popular development requests, so it’s a great feature to have out of the box now.
Microsoft have shown a lot of love to this area of NAV over recent releases and we can expect them to continue improving in the future. If you are both a NAV and an Office user chances are those are the two software packages that you use the most over the course of the working day. They play nicely together.
So over the last thirty years we’ve all got used to the idea that our personal computers (PCs) double in power every couple of years and so replacing them on a regular basis drives up productivity. But is that still true these days? Where should we be spending our IT hardware budgets to get the best returns?
For years the mantra, in relation to hardware, was buy a decent machine and it will last a few years. £1,000 used to be the standard figure to spend on a laptop/PC as that got you an up-to-date processor, a decent amount of memory, a fast network adaptor and a larger screen with good graphics. Now £400 gets you that same good package but it just doesn’t seem that much faster than one from three years ago.
Why is that? Well there are two factors. Firstly Intel, who make the processors, has failed to keep innovating at the same rate of progress as previously.
However the bigger factor is that the software is no longer pushing the boundaries of power as it did in the early days. Running Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, which is the majority of work most machines process these days, does not test its speed any more.
That doesn’t mean you don’t ever wait for your computer! It’s rare your machine operates on its own any more, it’s just the interface to a whole network of machines that the information is passing through – and that’s what often slows things down.
Even if you are operating just locally, look closely and you’ll see that it’s not the processing of calculations that holds things up. The little hard drive light flickers on while the programs and data are retrieved.
So what is our advice now most machines have fast processors and plenty of memory (4Gb+)? Where should you spend your hardware money?
Here’s Technology Management’s top 3 hardware investments tips to help make you more productive;
Solid State Disks or SSDs. Instead of spinning up a mechanical hard drive, spinning up a drive made of chips is much faster – reducing start-up and programme load times to just a few seconds. And it removes the flickering hard drive light wait described above.
It gives the processor the information it needs to process much faster. We’ve already seen clients fitting these and seen dramatic speed improvements – like we were used to in the nineties. From just £125 to purchase they are typically smaller in capacity than traditional drives but don’t let that worry you – when was the last time you ran out of space on your local PC?
Multiple, large & high resolution screens. So we all have a complex about being seen as NASA mission control but the about of time we waste scrolling across screens, or flicking from our email back to our order processing and then back to our email, need to be measured to be believed.
A study at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the US (not sponsored by a screen manufacturer either, I’m just as cynical as you are!) showed that productivity increases are 50% of the increase in the screen size.
So that means that going from a 17” screen to 22” which is a 30% increase in size gives a 15% increase in productivity. Adding a second 22” screen gives a 25% increase in productivity over a single 22” screen. However it’s not just the pure size that’s the secret, it’s the resolution i.e. the amount of information that can be fitted on a screen at once and seen without any mouse movement.
So buy the biggest, highest resolution screens you can and as many as you can. Remember screens have a typical 10 year life, much longer than the rest of the PC, so it’s a much more cost-effective payback over the long term.
Faster connectivity – link your machine to a fast network. Install intelligent gigabit network switches to connect to the local network. Then get the fastest internet connection you can possibly justify – as once it’s implemented you’ll find so many uses for it that you’ll never question it again.
Look to see if fibre is available and, if it is, get it. And make sure you have great upload speed as well as download speed (unlike normal broadband) because with more and more services going online you’ll need to upload a lot more data going forward.