Dimensions in Dynamics NAV are powerful tools. They’re also a little confusing to use. Which isn’t a good combination. With great power comes great responsibility.
In a series of posts, I’ll dive into the topic of NAV dimensions to help you navigate their choppy waters.
In today’s post I’ll show you how to set up NAV dimensions.
You may also want to take a look at our other posts on this topic:
- Dynamics NAV Dimensions: Part 2—Moving Between Systems
- Dynamics NAV Dimensions: Part 3—Dimension Combinations.
Let’s start by defining what NAV dimensions are, exactly. Simply put, we can define dimensions in two ways:
- A dimension is part of the accounting information you can enter when inputting a G/L account on a transaction. By this definition, a dimension can serve any number of functions, including cost centers, lines of business, departments, or projects.
- A dimension provides additional information about a given card (e.g. item, vendor or customer) or header record (e.g. sales or purchase order), even if it doesn’t wind up in your ledger information.
Some issues to consider:
- Dimensions are assigned at multiple levels—and default down
As mentioned above, dimensions provide additional data on G/L entries. Which is good. But you need to remember that when you assign dimensions at the Master Data or Header Transaction levels, the system defaults the data down to individual transaction lines if the dimensions are also specified for G/L posting. This is a common cause of confusion.
- All dimension combinations are valid by default—but you can control them
In NAV’s (somewhat misguided) spirit of trusting end users, all dimension values are valid with all other dimension values. But this may not be what you want. For example, certain projects may only be valid for certain departments. You can control this, but it can get complicated.
- Dimensions reliably handle only one side of the journal entry transaction
When you enter a sales invoice, for example, you control the revenue accounts and therefore the dimension. But the Accounts Receivable account is controlled by the Customer Posting group. When the transaction is applied, the dimension assigned to the revenue side is also automatically assigned to the Receivable. Often, this is useless or incorrect. Consequently, it’s best not to rely on dimensions to offset balance sheet accounts.
- The first two dimensions are the most usable
You can use up to eight dimensions to store with your G/L entries. These eight can be found in almost all your ledger tables. However, the first two dimensions are handled differently in the database, which can affect data analysis in your ledger and when using external tools. For example, Jet Reports GL function only sees the first two dimensions. Save those first two dimensions for what’s really important.
- Almost everyone has something else to learn about dimensions
Just when you think you have dimensions figured out, you’ll bump into some twist you hadn’t anticipated. Therefore, in this series of posts, I’ll cover the basics of NAV dimensions. If you have a dimensions problem I don’t address, let me know. If I can solve it, I’ll write up a new post for it.
But enough with the caveats. Let’s get started with an overview of dimensions setup.
As with all my NAV posts, I’ll use the fictional company Cronus USA to illustrate.
Setting Up Dimensions in NAV
Let’s start by going to the dimensions page:
We see the basic dimensions we have set up:
Make note of the code field. When you enter data in any other part of NAV, you specify the dimension code you want and tell the system what value to assign to that code.
While the dimension codes are displayed alphabetically here, that carries no significance for the system overall.
Now here’s a question: Why would you have SALESPERSON as a dimension when it already exists as a column in many NAV tables? You might do this if you want SALESPERSON to be part of your basic G/L analysis using built in NAV tools. Depending on how you code your transactions, you could do financial analysis by salesperson out of the box.
But in my world, customers ask for a lot of custom reporting. So, I wouldn’t use up a dimension for something that’s already in the database. Your world may be different. But it’s something to think about.
Once you have dimensions, you need to tell the system what values are valid. For example, FRED might be a good value for SALESPERSON but probably not for BUSINESSGROUP.
So let’s start with the values for BUSINESSGROUP. Highlight the lines for BUSINESSGROUP and click on Dimension Values.
We see a very simply list:
The first two fields are fairly self-explanatory. We have the value and a description of the value.
But what is Dimension Value Type? To understand that field, either change the filter to AREA or close the page, highlight AREA and return to the page and click on Dimension Values again. We see the following:
Dimension values work much like our chart of accounts. The values 30, 40, 50, 70, and 80 are standard and are entered on our transactions. Begin-Total and End-Total allow us to see values rolled up when we do our analysis.
Choosing NAV Dimensions for the General Ledger
So now we have dimensions setup. And if we want to add values to customers or items, we can could go and do that. But the power of dimensions lies in financial reporting. And to get into that, we have to tell the G/L which fields we want to store with our G/L Entries.
We start by going to General Ledger Setup:
If we scroll down on the page, we see the dimensions which are used in G/L posting:
Using NAV Dimensions in a Sample Transaction
We’ve chosen the dimensions we want to use with the General Ledger. Now, let’s enter a simple transaction where we enter the values on the invoice line.
Let’s use a purchase invoice to illustrate:
Let’s to select invoice 1002-London Postmaster.
Looking at the line, we see that the G/L Account No.: 65100.
The Department Code isn’t filled in, but we can do that, selecting ADM:
But where are the other dimensions? Like many things in NAV, we have to add them to the screen.
Right click on the line area and select Choose Columns:
On the left side, we see that Area Code, Businessgroup Code, and Customergroup Code are all available, as we would expect.
If we scroll down, we see the other two dimensions that were setup in G/L:
- Two fields called Shortcut Dimension 7 Code and Shortcut Dimension 8 Code. (These are the two dimensions we left blank in G/L.)
Next, move Area Code onto the screen.
NAV prompts you to close and reopen the page.
But wait a minute! The dimension value for Area Code is already there—even though we didn’t enter it. How did that happen?
I’ll cover this in my next post. But for now, let’s just say it defaulted from the Buy-From Vendor No.
You can go ahead and post the invoice if you’d like.