NAV 2016 Feature Review – OCR Invoice Processing

Now that we’re past year end (almost), I’ve returned to the annual task of reviewing all of the new features in the new releases of software. One of the neat new features in Dynamics NAV 2016 is OCR invoice processing. Basically, Invoices Drawer Labelthe process works as follows:

  • Import a PDF file (or scan it and then import it) as an Incoming document
  • Send it to the OCR service (or let NAV Job Queue do it)
  • Receive it from the OCR service (or schedule it)
  • Review the results (if necessary)
  • Correct the OCR results and send feedback to the Lexmark ICS (Invoice Capture Service) to improve the results next time.
  • Automatically create an invoice or queue it for processing. The OCR recognizes text in the invoice to supply G/L account numbers for the lines on the invoice.

That’s wonderful functionality, but it leaves just a few questions unanswered:

  • You’ll have to have a Lexmark ICS account before you can use the feature. Sign up for the account here:
  • Once you sign up, you’ll get an email with the information you need to enter in OCR Setup in Dynamics NAV (account number, password, and key). The password here is not the same one you used when you set up your account for Lexmark ICS.
  • Workflow is also possible using Incoming Documents (such as invoice approvals, etc.). That will be in another post.
  • Lexmark ICS is available as a free service for up to 75 documents per month. After that you’ll pay per invoice (now $0.89 per document). There are also subscription services available for larger volume users.

Next I’ll record a few videos showing my adventures in using Lexmark ICS.

Why should ERP users care about Microsoft, Skylake, and Windows 10?

Skylake is Intel’s name for their 6th generation of processors. Microsoft has announced that within 18 months, only Windows 10 will be supported on Skylake. In other words, they won’t continue to build the code necessary to run Windows 7 and 8 on the newest processors. Here are a couple of articles: from the Verge and from

Does This Affect You?

So does this really affect you? Afterall, you just bought new computers a week ago. If you go to Dell’s site and navigate to pages where they’re selling new Dell PCs, you’ll see the following or something similar in the text description of the processor: “6th Generation Intel® Core™ i3 processor.” Now if you go to Google, you’ll find that “Skylake is the codename used by Intel for the 6th generation Core processor microarchitecture,” courtesy of Wikipedia. This means–simply put–that if you buy this (low-end) machine from Dell today, you’ll eventually have to upgrade to Windows 10. And when you upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll have to ask: “Is my software compatible?”

An Example: Is my ERP compatible?

Suppose you have an accounting and ERP system that’s 7 years old. Generally, by the time a product is 7 years old, the manufacturer (say Sage, Intuit or Microsoft) has “discontinued support.” This means–in a nutshell–that there will be no further upgrades or fixes to the software. In addition, it means that new updates to existing operating systems won’t be tested with the software; no new compatibility will be announced. So if Windows 10 came out after support stopped, it’s not that it won’t be compatible; you just won’t know (officially) whether it is compatible or not.

Upgrade Upgrading Software Program Icon Symbol On Computer KeyboEnter Google and other consultants. So let’s suppose you Google a product that’s long out of support and add “Windows 10” to your search. You’ll likely find (as we do) that there are some consultant blogs out there (like this one) that claim, “we tried it and it worked!” Problem: where and how did they try it? If they tried it in-house, and not in production situations, I generally don’t trust it. I’ve seen a lot of software in 30 years that seemed to run on the new operating system. Later I found out that it didn’t work 100%; usually I found out before there was data corruption.

In the best of cases, if you’re running an unsupported program version on a new version of Windows, you’ll find yourself hearing, “I’m sorry, we don’t support that version any longer,” when you have a problem. You will never know whether the problem is the software, incompatibility, or something else.

Our Observation

In brief, our observation is that businesses that stay relatively current have fewer problems, are more satisfied with the product and are better able to compete. Businesses that don’t upgrade on a regular basis have increasingly more issues as the software gets older.

Bottom line: If you use a computer, you need to keep your software up to date!

Businesses Still Integrating Legacy Systems – Sage ERP Study

Sage recently conducted a study of top priorities for ERP customers. Sixty-five percent (65%) rated integration of legacy systems into financial systems for a single view of  their data as a top area for new investments.

Data Integration on Metal Gears.This also lines up with many of the projects we are doing today. Businesses that have data in various best-in-class systems increasingly want the data in one place. Salesforce provides their CRM, but they need key customer data like invoices, statements, shipment dates, and warranty claims available  in Salesforce. At the same time, many of these businesses are re-keying order data when they close deals in Salesforce.

Salesforce provides an API that programmers can use to pull data from Salesforce and push data to Salesforce. Programming for this interface makes data flow seamlessly from Salesforce to your other products such as shipping, ERP, and invoicing applications.

But our work isn’t just with Salesforce. Product descriptions, pictures, information from websites, and data collected in Excel, ACCESS, legacy systems, and SQL can also be easily integrated using today’s tools.

Give us a ring for more information on the integration we’ve done lately.

Computer Lockups and Troubleshooting

In the last few days, my computer system decided to lock up several times. I just installed a couple of trial versions of software, and I had purchased Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12. I’d also installed the upgrade to 12.5.

When the lockup started, I assumed that it was one of two things (A) the software I just installed, or (B) something new Windows Update had installed automatically. I Googled the problem and the names of the software, and discovered that Dragon was being blamed for several lockups similar to the ones I had experienced. I followed the instructions, turning off many features of Dragon that I really like. Lockups continued.

I uninstalled software. I reinstalled Microsoft Office. Lockups continued.

I finally remembered that I had installed Microsoft virtualization technology in Windows 8. This also required me to turn on Hyper V support on my motherboard. When I turned off virtualization support on my motherboard, the lockups went away.

The moral: Troubleshooting is frustrating even for an IT professional. The problem isn’t always obvious, and the solution often involves retracing your steps. It’s something like finding lost keys.

I hope you’re not troubleshooting anything now, and I hope it’s easy to find if you are.

Productivity Improvement and ERP Software

Productivity and software go together for me. I’m not sure exactly why that is. Recently, I noticed that I was using the voice recognition of my iPhone more and more.  So I decided to try out Windows voice recognition.  Actually, I am using Windows voice recognition to create this blog post.

The last voice recognition software I used was Dragon Dictate.  I had to update my computer to make it fast enough to work with Dragon Dictate. Unfortunately, the 97% plus recognition the software promised turned out to mean that I had to correct virtually every phrase in every sentence. If you have a headset, it’s worth turning on the feature just to see how it works for you.

The process of learning to use voice recognition, like any new technology, is somewhat painful.  I am having to learn to pronounce my words distinctly.  It seems often slower than simply typing.  However, it also offers a vision of the future.

Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, is the same way.  It does require effort, and that often means pain.  The benefit in productivity to the organization can be substantial. If you’re still using a system just to perform accounting tasks, consider evaluating your business processes.  Software is often necessary to support efficient process.  In a similar way, voice recognition software forces me to consider the way I write.  In particular, it forces me to consider whether typing is the best way to accomplish my result.

Based on what I see from this test, I think I may have found a new best friend.  Microsoft’s version of the solution might not be the one I ultimately land on, but it gives me a no cost alternative to try.

Improving business productivity should be the primary goal of the implementing technology.  It is our primary goal in building software for our customers.

Business Platitudes, Technology, ERP, and the Answer to Everything

Ok, so this is not exactly a post about ERP or business software, and we do focus on those items. This is a post about an Inc. magazine article on business platitudes that ought to retire. This article is no hat-tip to buzz word bingo. It’s actually an article that hits home a bit in the technology industry.

One of the platitudes in the article is “Work smarter, not harder.” It’s an old saw that this is what technology helps businesses do: “We can install this techno-widget and cut your effort by 50 person-days.” Well, maybe. All of the other platitudes are things that I’ve heard recently, and I’ve actually said some of them. What comes out of the article for me Stairway of computers drawingis that we need to quit batting around platitudes and start doing some real work on one of the central issues in business today: the world is changing and many who have business expertise are ignoring the developments in business that are changing the world. We are extremely vulnerable to the new and different.

Many businesses, for example, are clinging to old ways of marketing and selling their product. Moving from the “join the Rotary Club” world to the “have an online social presence” world is difficult for many business people. But maybe it’s not an either/or maybe it’s a both/and. My friend Dave Barger over at LunaWeb is trying to get the word out, but it’s a difficult slog. The problem–from my business perspective–is that too many businesspeople are working in their businesses, not on it (kudos to E-Myth guru Michael Gerber).

These days it isn’t or shouldn’t be just about the web or just about ERP or just about eMarketing. It should be about building a foundation of technology that supports business. Ignore this, and you imperil the whole structure. Focus on just one element, and the foundation doesn’t have integrity. Like all foundations without integrity, the problem won’t show up instantly; it will be a few years. Then it may be too late.

So go on and “work smarter, not harder” and “don’t reinvent the wheel,” but while you’re working on it, reinvent your business. If I can help, I will. Contact me at DGG.

Oh, and while I’m at it, the answer is 42.

Windows 7 64-bit: The change to 64-bit is here…watch your business software

I was reminded again today about the reason we’ve been recommending that clients continue to ask for Windows 7 32 bit. We were helping a client install PFW for Windows 5.9 when we got a “Runtime error 449” (I think that was it). A Google of the error returned the information that 5.9 client was evidently not compatible with Win 7 x64.

Until all your software is up to date, and all your printers are new, we still recommend that you order 32 bit. Yep, it’ll be older, but it might just work with your software and printer drivers.

Will it work with Windows 7 64bit? ERP and Accounting Software Compatibility

We seem to be getting a lot of questions lately about installing software on new computers. Computer vendors like Dell and HP install Windows 7 64 bit on most machines they ship these days. If the machine is capable of 64 bit, they ship it with 64 bit. Once the machines come in, clients call us and want to install their accounting software.

“Is it compatible?” they want to know.

Generally, if they’re on a top 20 software product like Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, etc., the answer is “Yes,” as long as they’re on a recent version. Lately, however, we’re running into another issue: databases. Sometimes the accounting or ERP software is compatible, but the database isn’t.

To make things more complex, many vendors don’t support products more than one version old. So if the current version is 11 and you have version 9, there may not be any information at all (except for rumor on the web) to tell us whether the products are compatible. Rumor on the web isn’t something that we can rely on, particularly when it means that if something goes wrong, we’re on our own.

Bottom line: call someone who can research compatibility for you before you buy that new machine. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, and while you’re at it, be sure they check the compatibility of your printers as well. Some old printers don’t have drivers for Windows 7 32bit or 64bit.

Rule # 6 – Redesign Process to Get More From Software

I was reviewing some CRM software today. I started to put the name in this post, but that would cloud the issue. What I’m thinking about applies to any CRM software. In reality, it applies to all software, but that’s a different issue.
Here’s what I see in the software: it has tremendous capability to automate the process of dealing with prospects and the sales cycle. In fact, I’m not at all sure that it isn’t TOO powerful for most businesses. But it needs a sales cycle to make it work. Someone has to think out the process by which leads are qualified, converted to prospects, discovery done, quotations prepared, and deals closed. The software can then drive just about any combination of communications from email to letters to internal notifications that you would want to send.
It can do it all automatically.
But it can’t think like a salesperson. Emphasis on the PERSON!
Someone has to decide what the software needs to do before the company will get any benefit.