In his latest podcast episode, Martin was super excited to have one of the North American Business Central manufacturing rockstars with him. Steve Chinsky is the Manager Dynamics Practice with Accelerynt. He has over 23 years of experience consulting, implementing, and managing Dynamics NAV and Business Central projects. His over 180 NAV and BC implementations were done in manufacturing, supply chain (aka WMS(, food and beverage, jewelry, retail, service, oil and gas, chemical, industrial equipment, and home goods industries. In addition to this, he worked over 16 years as an Accountant (CMA) in a variety of positions (Director of Finance, Controller, and Director of Operations).
Steve is, among others, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Most Valued Professional (MVP), a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), and a Certified Navision Manufacturing Specialist. He is a Board Member and Program Committee Chair of the NAVUG (the NAV user group), Summit Program Committee Co-Chair, and he is on the Program Committee for DynamicsCON Live and the Content Committee for Directions North America.
With this impressive background, the question naturally arose what is so special about NAV and Business Central that it qualifies for such a level of commitment.
Steve related that having worked for 16 years in accounting, it finally became somewhat repetitive and rudimentary, and due to lots of recommendations, he started to look at ERP and a "company called Navision." He was really fascinated because it was so easy and simple, and over time, he knew that he wanted to get involved with the community that was building itself in the early days. Moreover, he has always loved helping people, so when he started to work with different partners, he supported anybody new and wanted to know how the software worked. From there, it was a small step to organizing conferences and being part of advisor boards or committees. And this is what he really loves doing.
Being asked what piqued his interest in manufacturing, Steve said that, originally, he mostly worked in the supply chain environment. But when he met a customer who produced the glue for the United States postal stamps, he was intrigued by being involved with manufacturing literally, as he put it, "from soup to nuts." He likes to mold different companies that are coming to NAV and Business Central into the software and to accompany every step, and that's what kept him there.
Steve was happy to share some of the best implementation practices and tips he has ready for manufacturers in the NAV and Business Central environment:
Include some of the people from the shop floor who do the actual work in the defining and design processes. Everybody should have a voice because this is your new ERP system.
Don't ever second guess a process - have it explained loudly in the room.
Don't stick to processes because you have always done them that way - people change, steps change, equipment changes.
Evaluate every routing from its beginning to the end - consider the time elements associated with a routing, and don't forget the crap.
Let the people on the shopfloor test the system throughout the whole implementation process.
Talking about evaluating and setting up a BOM or a routing, the two agreed that this could lead to tension within the company. On the one hand, people are looking at the cost side of things; then there are the planners who just see what is needed to get an item produced, and third, the people who manage the operations want to have the routings as granular as possible. However, according to Steve, it is most important to draw the routings first thing, sometimes even literally so, to make people realize how the processes in their company work. The arguments of controllers and accountants should take a back seat because only the people working on the shop floor really know what's going on.
As Steve outlined, implementing an ERP is always also a business process reengineering task because, if you want to move from an old system to a new one, you can't do this without analyzing all your processes and, most likely, subsequently also changing some things. He illustrated his point by saying that you can't change your favorite ice cream flavor from a chocolate chip to another one but want to keep the chips, the color, and the flavor. As Steve said, "Everything is on the table with a new ERP system."
In this context, the two pondered whether moving from NAV to Business Central could be seen as updating an existing system or bringing in a totally new one. In Steve's opinion and based on his experience, you could see it as a reimplementation because a) some of the NAV versions being in use are really old and a lot has changed since, say, 2009, and b) Business Central comes with significantly more powerful features and lots more of apps and extensions than were available back then. It doesn't really matter which system you come from. The basis of a solid implementation of a new ERP system is a thorough analysis of your processes.
The last minutes of the webinar were dedicated to the question of whether, with the recently increasingly frequent disruptions in the supply chains, many customers switch from the backward planning approach just in time to building safety stock again. Steve stated that more and more customers would start doing this and, hence, have to deal with planning parameters like safety, stock, and reorder points. Some of the companies have even never worked with these parameters, and now all the tools on the item card and stock-keeping unit card need to be implemented and explained.
This, of course, makes implementing Business Central more complicated because it takes more time: people need to understand the items on the cards and what each planning parameter means to them, how it impacts the system, etc. According to Steve, these processes take a lot of time, sometimes even months. But on the other hand, this teaching process often means that people have a more efficient start with their ERP system.
After Martin recommended Steve's three days of teaching classes, the two parted with the promise to meet again in November and then talk about all the questions they have not covered during their talk or in the upcoming training, which will be attended by one of our colleagues.
You can tune in below 👇 or anywhere you get your podcasts.
📢 What to listen for
[1:53] What is so special about NAV and Business Central
[5:01] What piqued Steve's interest in manufacturing
[7:45] Best implementation practices and tips for manufacturers working with Business Central
[13:59] Different aspects of setting up routings for the different divisions in a company
[17:43] Is implementing an ERP system also a business process reengineering task?
[20:43] Does shifting from NAV to Business Central means implementing a completely new system?
[25:53] Is there a trend away from jit planning towards building safety stock, making introducing Business Central more complex?