01 March 2010

Leveraging Navigation Lists in GP v10.0

My transition from Dynamics GP customer back into the GP partner world with Tribridge occurred just after Dynamics GP v10.0 emerged on the scene in the summer of 2007, and since my previous employer was running GP v9.0 and not upgrading anytime soon, I had a lot of catching up to do in order to get up to speed on all things new. In the process of doing so, I found the new Navigation Lists within Dynamics GP v10. My initial thoughts centered on how they could possibly co-exist with SmartList, the reputable and trustworthy query tool most everyone already utilized.

Three years later while at GPUG Summit 2009 just outside Chicago, I stumbled across more users than expected that had either never used the no-longer-new Navigation Lists or hadn’t even heard of them! I had time during presentations or in discussion groups at the Summit to elaborate a little about what I liked/disliked about them, but still believe the pros far outweigh the cons here and more time and energy is certainly warranted for this area of Dynamics GP v10...so here goes.

SmartList isn’t headed to an early grave by any means, but Navigation Lists in Dynamics GP v10 are useful, easy to learn, and even have their own, third party-friendly Builder available. They’re not perfect yet, but my thought process has always been that if a positive spotlight was placed on them and more GP users knew about the power they possess, Microsoft (and others) would continue to build upon them and make Navigation Lists in Dynamics GP even better in the future. Here are a couple of functions I admire most that SmartList simply cannot compete with:

1) As long as SmartList (introduced originally as ‘Explorer’) has been in the box, the ‘Search’ button has never offered more than four data filters per query. Most of the time this is sufficient, but anyone who has used SmartList before has encountered a time when a fifth or even sixth filter would have been handy. With Navigation Lists, if you require more than four filters, you can have more than four, which means filtering in Excel doesn’t have to be your primary fall-back plan. An example of six data field filters against the ‘Customers’ primary list and saved as my own, modified list is shown:

2) SmartList queries can be shared with other GP users across all companies, within a specific company, or within a specific User Class if the author so chooses, but that opens the door to potentially uninvited edits, which are never fun to discover. Navigation List queries don’t have this issue, however, allowing for authors to not only decide which GP users can see their creation but also determine which of these users can write to a saved Navigation List and which ones can simply read.

a) A Navigation List can be ‘Private’ (author only) or ‘Public’ (shared) within the ‘Sharing Details’ window
b) If Public, Users can be added - ‘bmcadam’ and ‘sa’ have permission to make edits as the ‘Write’ box adjacent to their respective User ID is checked, but ‘malstott’ and ‘dbrooks’ only have read permissions as the ‘Write’ box adjacent to their respective User ID is not checked
c) The ‘Everyone’ option is always available for Public list distribution
d) If Public, Roles can be added, too - users tied to the ‘Accounts Payable’ Role only have read permissions as the ‘Write’ box is not checked. Roles, a hard-coded, validated list within Dynamics GP v10, are not user-defined as User Class IDs are and have been over the years, thus they’re easier for all to manage

These functions, additional search filters and more robust sharing capabilities, are just a couple of items within Dynamics GP v10 Navigation Lists that make them worthwhile to learn more about and utilize. While I’m optimistic that more improvements can and will be made in this area, I’m still somewhat perplexed with the number of users I’ve encountered that haven’t discovered the power and simplicity of this superb functionality. Perhaps pieces like this, accompanied by some enthusiastic knowledge sharing, will help get the word out to users while also informing Microsoft that new, exciting functionality is always welcome, not to mention highly encouraged!

Bob McAdam is a Manager at Tribridge in Tampa, spending the majority of his time working in the GP delivery area with existing customers. He is also an active contributor to the Dynamics GP User Group (GPUG). Bob has been fortunate enough to be involved with Dynamics GP as both partner and customer since 1998. One sincere 'hat tip' goes out to friend & former colleague Mark Polino for all his blogging encouragement.