The target audience for Managing Your Supply Chain Using Microsoft Navision consists of those individuals involved with supply chain management in small to midsize manufacturing and/or distribution firms and divisions of large firms. These firms and divisions tend to have fewer than 500 employees . In particular, it is focused on those implementing or considering Microsoft Navision as their ERP system. My involvement with this target audience and Navision provided the impetus for writing this book. There were three motivating factors.
First, I would have liked a guide book when I was learning Navision. Something that explained how it all fit together to manage key business processes in manufacturing and distribution. Something like Cliff s Notes.
Something that gave me a mental framework for putting together the details learned through hands-on experience and training courseware. I wanted to achieve an overall understanding of how to manage a business and its supply chain activities using Navision, and to achieve it as quickly as possible. Many within the target audience are faced with learning Navision and also want an accelerated learning process. Hence, the first motivating factor was to provide a guide to assist others in learning Navision.
The second motivating factor involved a desire to facilitate system implementation and ongoing usage. My efforts to train and consult with firms implementing an ERP system like Navision often involve explanations about effective system usage. These firms want to improve bottom-line results with improved coordination of supply chain activities. They want a vision of how an integrated ERP system could help achieve this. They want recommendations for improved business processes and how these could be modeled in the system. This typically requires an evaluation of fit between their requirements and the system s standardized functionality, and an identification of needed customizations. It often requires outside-of-the-box thinking and case studies from other environments to help stimulate discussion. In particular, these firms are looking for suggested changes that simplify and improve system usage. The suggested changes ideally incorporate the fundamental design factors within their ERP package. The last chapter summarizes these design factors, and explanations for effective system usage are embedded throughout this book along with case studies that highlight usage of standardized and customized functionality.
 Navision is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
The third motivating factor involved a desire to assist those involved in Navision- related services and sales. They are charged with providing knowledgeable service across all interactions with their customers. This book reflects my experience in working alongside those serving the marketplace of small to midsize manufacturers and distributors . Our working relationship typically involved training and joint efforts at selling, consulting, and customer support. The book hopefully assists their efforts at serving the target audience.
The prior research for writing this book involved several different approaches to understanding Navision and the target audience. Starting from an end- user viewpoint, I went through the Navision training courses and hands-on exercises with other end users. My learning process was supplemented by going through the computer-aided instruction materials, reading the online documentation as part of my own hands-on experience, and talking with knowledgeable experts at resellers and Microsoft. These efforts represent the typical end-user learning process. Additional efforts were undertaken to supplement my learning process. These efforts included reading other materials (such as white papers and independent analyses of Navision), attending Navision presentations at various conferences, face-to-face meetings with current users to understand their system usage, and reviewing independently developed applications that extended Navision functionality. Most importantly, my learning process was supplemented by thousands of hands-on simulations to understand how the system really worked and how it solves the business problems of various manufacturing and distribution environments.
In terms of understanding the target audience, the prior research involved gaining an in-depth knowledge of various types of operations and the management team responsible for those operations. In this respect, the prior research built on my experiences as an MIS manager and production scheduler implementing various ERP systems in smaller firms, and face-to-face consulting engagements with over a thousand small to midsize manufacturing and distribution firms. These engagements primarily focused on managing supply chain activities and effective ERP system usage. Each engagement required interviews with the management team to gain an in-depth understanding of how they currently run (and want to run) their business, and facilitative discussions about ways to improve operations and ERP system effectiveness. These engagements covered the spectrum of variations in operations, company size , management background, levels of ERP expertise, terminology, geographies, and cultures across six continents. Each engagement required explanations that accounted for these variations in the target audience.
 A synthesis of my consulting engagements has been published in two previous books. Managing Information: How Information Systems Impact Organizational Strategy (Irwin, 1993, with Gordon B. Davis) was one of the textbooks for the Certificate in Information Resource Management by the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS). Maximizing Your ERP System: A Practical Guide for Managers (McGraw-Hill, 2003) focuses on supply chain management in small to mid-size manufacturing firms.
The more recent opportunities to consult with scores of firms implementing or considering Microsoft Navision have supplemented the foundation of prior research. Each engagement has broadened the ability to provide meaningful explanations about improving business processes and ERP system usage. Other venues have provided opportunities to meet the target audience and attempt to provide meaningful explanations through teaching and written materials. These other venues included teaching several hundred training seminars , software user group presentations, MBA classes, and classes for vocational-technical colleges and APICS certification. Attempts to provide written explanations have included my responses to hundreds of RFPs ( requests for proposals) related to ERP systems, and scholarly articles based on field research and secondary research.
One critical issue in writing this book involved the appropriate level of detail, especially given the objective of explaining how it all fits together to manage supply chain activities. The book attempts to provide a framework for organizing detailed information about how Navision works. This required a focus on key business processes and the key concerns of the target audience. The metric for these key processes and concerns is the frequency distribution of issues covered during face-to-face consulting engagements. The book employs more detailed explanations for these key processes and concerns. In addition, the book segments explanations into basic and advanced considerations, and provides scenarios illustrating different types of operations. This allows the reader to focus on relevant material. It is hoped the explanations provide a balance between too much versus too little detail.
 Examples of relevant articles range from Requirements of Smaller Manufacturers for Computer-Based Systems (published in APICS Quarterly , Winter 1984) to Trends Affecting Manufacturers and ERP (published in TechnologyEvaluation.com, October 2003). More academic-oriented articles include an annual summary of the top MIS doctoral dissertations since 1973 (published in MIS Quarterly ).
A second critical issue in writing this book involved the evolving nature of software package functionality. The standardized functionality covered in this book reflects Release 3.7 (USA version), with partial foreknowledge of Release 4.0 functionality. It is the author s opinion that the fundamental design described here will not significantly change with the new release, thereby ensuring the book s applicability over the near- term horizon.
The book reflects my interpretation of how Microsoft Navision really works. Errors of omission and commission, and any misunderstandings, are hopefully minimized. Corrections and suggestions are welcome; send to ScottHamiltonPhD@aol.com. The intended goal is to provide a totality of understanding so readers can accelerate their learning process about managing their supply chain activities.
Each day of writing was started with the following prayer:
Creator of all things, give me a sharp sense of understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations, and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm . Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion.
Many people helped in completing this book, especially Catherine Dassopolous and Karen Schopp at McGraw-Hill, and Jan Degross and Judy Brown in editing and typesetting. Invaluable feedback was provided by numerous reviewers, and especially from Grant Barkman, Russ Bengtson, Terry Cook, Jerry Fors, Myles Halsband, Greg Hillenbrand, and Fred Holst. Their help deserves a special thank you.
 More detailed explanations are most effective in the context of company-specific issues and/or hands-on usage. The author conducts a separate seminar, with an optional exercise guide and database for hands-on exercises, which facilitates more detailed explanations. Contact the author for more information about this seminar.