Category Archives: Best practices

10 reasons that make design absolutely necessary

Unfinished buildings, by net_efekt (on Flickr)Design is one of a kind. Other phases in Sure Step are understood and accepted as good and necessary. But design, do we really do that? Is it really necessary? Who’s going to pay for it? Does the customer really need all those documents? Instead of writing documents, you could have it developed in the same, or less time. And so on and so forth.

As a matter of fact, if you asked me to pick one single most important phase in a Sure Step project, then it’s the design. No second thoughts here, whatsoever.

Here I list the ten most important reasons that I believe make design absolutely indispensable.

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Setup-dependent requirements

While designing a custom functionality for a customer, there was an issue with posting groups: the way the custom functionality was designed would result in value entries being always posted to a single posting group, resulting in inventory balances always going to the same inventory account.

When I brought this issue to my customer’s attention, they said: “but we only have one single inventory account, and we only use one single posting group, so we don’t need this functionality to be smart about this”.

This was an example of what I like to call setup-dependent requirements.

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Development best practices – the aftermath

image So I would guess that was it. I’m just returning to Kristiansand, my Norwegian base, after delivering the “Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 Development Best Practices” course to a partner, my first custom-developed training ever. My impression is—mission accomplished.

I was not sure at first how this would turn out. Teaching NAV best practices to people some of whom have more experience than I’ll have any time soon, isn’t an easy thing. The challenge for me was—how to deliver something new, really valuable to those people, something they could go home with saying “wow, if only I knew this earlier”.

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Development Best Practices

image “Best practices” is one of those beloved and hated concepts. There are people who just embrace “best” practices for the sake of their bestness. And there are people who just shun them for the very same reason—those know-it-alls who have opinion on everything and know it better before even learning about it. What’s-best-for-you-is-not-best-for-me kind of people. Neither of approaches is actually, well, best.

For a best practice to be the best for you, you need to understand it, and if you find any pitfalls, improve it.

In two days I’m delivering the NAV Development Best Practices training for a service provider in Norway. They approached me two two months ago and asked if could do something like that. This brought to memory some good posts I made years ago, and here I bring the links. If you want me to share my best practices, this would be my starting point:

  • Code of Coding: emphasizes the need for understanding the effects of a change in code, and making others understand your intention
  • Code of coding 2: Documenting changes: about how to document different kind of changes in code, and also about the level of effect a specific type of change has in the long run
  • Code of coding 3: Die, hard(coding)!: about avoiding embedding output text into code
  • Code of coding 4: Die, hard(coding) 2: about avoiding embedding settings into code, with detailed explanation what exactly is wrong with it, and some good guidelines on how to detect less obvious cases of settings hardcoding
  • NeverENDing story: about a very bad example I once encountered, and how to avoid situations such as that
  • Featuritis Cure: now this one is definitely not a “best practice”, it’s about a situation when a developer pulled a prank on a customer so subtly that I just had to share it with the world. A far better cure for Featuritis (a dangerous and ugly disease indeed) is given by Mark Brummel, in his fantastic post Tip #20 – Save Report Usage. If you aren’t yet following Mark’s blog, now would be a good time to start.

If you are interested in development best practices, check these posts, and if you find them useful, then I’m happy. If you don’t, share your thoughts. Best practices develop over time, improving slowly, and gradually until one day they just become the norm.

5th rule of agile ERP: interface where possible

imageOne of the biggest absurdities about ERP systems springs from the very word we use so often when describing ERP: integrated.

ERP is an integrated system: it integrates all data and processes into a single application. Different modules look over different aspects of data and processes, but a change in one module automatically reflects in all others.

A fantastic concept. When it was invented, it streamlined processes, boosted productivity and eliminated overhead and error.

So, whenever a new functionality is needed by a company, it should be integrated into the ERP, to benefit from the integrated system. Right?

Wrong.

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