By Mark Brummel – Founder of NAV Skills Masterclasses & Microsoft MVP since 2006
There is a(nother) new event in town this year. The NAV User group decided to bring their Focus event to NAV and it was organized in Chicago.
What is Focus
NAVUG Focus is a two day in depth learning event with sessions on Finance, IT and Manufacturing.
The sessions are not 45 but 90 minutes which allows the presenter or teacher to go (way) more in depth on details and spend more time explaining and answering questions.
From this perspective it is quite similar to NAVTechDays which are organized in Antwerp again later this year.
The in depth sessions were well received and I noticed a lot of attendees had a smile on their face and the general atmosphere was very positive.
Together with Marc Allman and Andrew Good I was asked to do a session on Upgrades and since Microsoft advertised upgrades now as oil changes instead of engine overhauls we decided to put together about 20 statements about upgrades and see if they are wrong or right.
My part was obviously the more technical part but I also handled a few questions about testing and training since I recently finished a 2009R2 classic to 2016 upgrade as a project manager.
We did talk about the impact on events and extensions on an upgrade from a customer perspective.
Ask The Experts
Another session I was involved in was general ATE for NAV IT. This is always fun since there is no prep work, only questions from the audience.
We again ended up talking about the future of NAV and where we are headed with cloud, hosting, project “Madeira” and vertical solutions being apps.
Microsoft & Sold Out!
The feedback I heard from the Microsoft sessions was great, but what surprised me what the level of Microsoft involvement. In Europe we often say that you cannot do events without Microsoft. Well this Focus events proves that wrong. There were only five Microsoft reps and the event completely sold out! 225 people enjoyed learning, sharing experience and networking for two great days.
I must honestly admit that I agree that Microsoft sessions are definitely not by definition better than sessions done by people who have implemented a feature in real life and tell you about the limits and possibilities they ran into while doing this. Let me give an example. Both at Directions and NAVTechDays I had attended sessions about workflow, but the way Kerry Rosvold explained them from a real life, functional perspective was just amazing.
The fact that the sessions are 90 minutes also kind of eliminates the bullshit since if you don’t know your stuff people will notice if you deep dive. The presenters who commit to a session like that realize that this is not a 45 minute session where you can spend 15 minutes talking about yourself, 15 minutes briefly touching the subject and then 15 minutes for Q & A which makes it more a personal advertisement.
Architecture Master Class
The NAVUG folks were kind enough to organize a class for me to teach. After NAVUG Focus I had a class of 12 students. This was done at an adjacent hotel and in my class I had 10 end users who do in house development, one NAV partner and one GP partner who wanted to know about project “Madeira”.
Well, needless to say that this GP guy got a crash deep dive into 30 years of NAV history. It is so great to hear real life stories from developers who are at the customer site 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and run into real life issues that have to be solved. Also to hear the stories about how their NAV partners are treating them and how they live with the fact that they do in house development.
We did dinner with almost the entire group and had amazing steak which I had pre-selected the evening before with Andrew and some other friends.
One of the attendees was kind enough to keep me company while waiting at the airport.
Visiting the Studebakers
The reason I spend so much time in the US is being invited to come here 10 years ago by Dave and Karen Studebaker, founders of Liberty Grove Software. After retirement they moved from Chicago to Ellison Bay, Wisconsin and after NAVUG Focus I took a local flight and spend the weekend with them.
We had an amazing time catching up and I always appreciate using Dave’s almost 60 yearlong computer science experience to run new stuff like events and extensions and hear how things we perceive as “new” reflect to challenges he faced during the 70’s or 80’s.
What a life
This trip makes me realise how special it is to turn your hobby into work and share what you know with your peers and learn new things while you do that. I have made some great friends over the years.
Now I am in the train back home. Next on the agenda is a workshop for LS Retail about Extensions for Madeira. First online and onsite in September in Iceland. It is very special to be able to do a workshop about a product which is in development.