One of the most underrated features of Microsoft Dynamics NAV is it’s beautiful integration with OneNote (and by association, all of OneNote’s other integrations).
We all know about the more commonly celebrated NAV integration points. For example, the ability to paste transaction lines and lists from Excel straight into NAV, and more recently, the ability to create your NAV invoice templates straight in Word using Jet Express. However, in my mind, the introduction of this purple unoffending icon in NAV 2013 has been seriously overlooked.
The fact is that the integration between Dynamics NAV and OneNote is so useful that it has helped OneNote quickly climb the ranks in my list of favourite Microsoft products (right up there with Solitaire and Excel, of course).
One game-changing icon makes all the difference!
What is OneNote?
In its simplest form, OneNote is note-taking software. Think of it as the lovechild of Microsoft Word and your high school Hilroy 3-subject lined paper notebook, sans the excessive doodles (though you can still do those using the ‘Draw’ feature).
You have your standard word processing functionality of text formatting, tables, highlighting, inserting photos, and so on, but you also have tabs, drawing capabilities, audio/video recording ability, and robust options for sharing or syncing across devices and users. That last point is what makes it a great option for document collaboration and edit-merging.
Why Dynamics NAV and OneNote?
Let’s be honest. Microsoft Dynamics NAV is an ERP and not a CRM or a document management system (DMS). In other words, it’s great at doing what it’s designed to do – manage your enterprise resources – but lacks robust note-taking or anecdotal capabilities.
If you’re running a manufacturing business, that might be mighty fine by you. But if you’re in the service industry, this might be an issue. You might not have a CRM or you might have one to manage your relationships, but you can’t necessarily justify the price of paying for extra licenses for your accounting team.
Enter OneNote. It just so happens that as of NAV 2013, Microsoft included a OneNote integration in the ribbon for virtually any record in NAV. And the options are super-simple to set up:
As you can see, you can specify which Roles can access either Page or Record Notes and even set them up to access entirely different Notebooks. What this means is that your Management team can have access to entirely different notes on records/pages than your Support team, if necessary. Note that while my Notebook is set up locally (on my C-drive), this can also be put on a network drive/SharePoint site.
Once it’s set up, the OneNote button stops being greyed out on pages or records where it is available.
So – let’s walk through some examples of how to best leverage the Dynamics NAV and OneNote integration!
Example 1 – Notes on a Pending Purchase Invoice
Let’s say I’m an A/P superstar and am processing an expense claim mailed in with all the receipts and documentation. I’ve entered the payable into a Purchase Invoice, however notice that I’ve been given a copy of the signed credit card chit, but not the detailed receipt that shows taxes and what was purchased.
Let’s also say it’s company policy for them to submit that.
Taking it one step further…let’s also say there’s a global shortage of sticky notes (due to meteors striking several Post-It production plants) and I need to document the deficiencies with this payable.
I click on the OneNote icon and it, by default, opens up a side-pane kind-of like this:
And now I begin typing in that right-hand panel all the related information.
Below shows some of the possibilities with this feature – you can see an image of the deficient item (which can be restored to full-size and isn’t permanently scaled down); an embedded audio file/commentary; and an attached e-mail:
I can listen to the audio file within this window (see below) and double-click the e-mail to view it in Outlook.
You can also mark-up / annotate the content by using the Draw functionality in OneNote, such as with my sad attempt at circling text below:
What’s that you say? That’s pretty awesome, but you’d like to know how you can create some follow-up? I’m glad you asked. I can type in a task to perform and right-click it as a Task in my Outlook:
When I do that, I can see it immediately in your Outlook Tasks:
But today is my last day before I’m on vacation and I won’t be able to follow-up tomorrow. Well, that’s pretty simple to accommodate, I just need to Assign that Task to my backup:
And when that poor sucker colleague is done that Task, he/she can enter a note in and timestamp it with a simple click:
Example 2 – Company Org Chart
Perhaps you’re the type who wants your entire company to live and breathe in NAV, in which case you want to make sure that NAV has all the necessary company information within it. Well, you can even have OneNote notes on your own company (vis-à-vis the Company Information page).
Because OneNote has Microsoft Visio integration, you can insert your org chart into your Company Information OneNote:
While not strictly a OneNote-feature, your Visio document can auto-generate an org chart based on your Exchange Server Directory, Excel spreadsheet, SharePoint List, or a database, using refreshable External Data sources:
I know, right?
Dynamics NAV and OneNote: In Closing
Savvy users might already be taking full advantage of Dynamics NAV and OneNote together. However, for the rest of us who struggle with record keeping in NAV using the very limited built-in Comments and Notes functions, this is more than a game-changer, it’s a business-changer.