How Microsoft Navision Can Help
J. Carlton Collins, CPA
As the deadline for compliance with the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley
Act of 2002 quickly approaches, companies are now
scrambling to ensure they are doing everything possible to meet the
new requirements. Industry expert J. Carlton Collins, CPA, explains
how you can use Microsoft Dynamics–Navision to help abide
by these tough government regulations.
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The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was signed into law in response to
a series of corporate financial scandals involving companies such as
WorldCom, Global Crossing, and Enron. These companies and others
admitted to misrepresenting their financial statements by billions
of dollars. As a result, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
launched investigations into these frauds, and the U.S. Senate
created new regulations in an attempt to prevent history from
To better understand the mayhem that led to this Act, consider
that in 2001, Houston, Texas-based Enron was ranked as the seventh
largest company in the United States. Likewise, WorldCom was ranked
as the second largest long-distance phone company in the country.
However, both of these rankings were based on fraudulent accounting
practices that when discovered, resulted in the two largest
corporate failures in history. In addition, Enron’s CPA firm, Arthur
Andersen LLP, lost its U.S. auditing license in 2002 and ultimately
To help combat these blatantly fraudulent activities,
Senator Paul S. Sarbanes and Representative Michael G. Oxley drafted
a bill to establish new standards for public companies. The
Sarbanes-Oxley bill, or SOX, was signed into law on July 30,
In addition, Sarbanes-Oxley added 200 more law enforcement agents
to the U.S. federal payroll to enforce the Act’s provisions. The
U.S. Public Accounting Oversight Board has been given authority to
compel the production of records or to require the continued
retention of a public accounting firm's records, beyond what the law
the 15 major provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of
Note: Sarbanes-Oxley applies to public companies only. But
as a rule, many private companies strive to comply with such laws to
show the corporate world that they maintain high standards.
Creating a Comprehensive Audit Trail
From an accounting system standpoint, a key to compliance with
Sarbanes-Oxley is the presence of an extensive audit trail, complete
with drill-down and drill-around functionality. The idea is to
provide the ability to trace source documents through the accounting
systems to the final financial statements, and back to the original
source documents. This is where Microsoft Navision can help.
The following figures offer an example of a Microsoft Navision
audit trail and its drill-down and drill-around capabilities. As
this series of screens shows, you can drill from the customer setup
screen, to all customer transactions, to the posted sales journal,
to a posted sales invoice, to an item on that invoice, to the
inventory listing, to pictures and statistics for that item.
Figure 1: Click the Balance drill-down
icon on the top right of the Customer Card page
Figure 2: The Customer Ledger Entries page
will display, letting you see all transactions for that
Figure 3: Click the Navigate button at the
bottom of the Customer Ledger Entries page to display a summary of
where the selected transaction hit the books
Figure 4: Click the Show button on the
Navigate page to display a summary of the posted invoice
Figure 5: Use the Invoice button on the
Posted Sales Invoices page to display the completed invoice
Figure 6: You can drill down from items on
the invoice to a complete listing of all inventory items
Figure 7: From the Item List, you can use
the Item button to continue drilling down to item photos,
statistics, and more
While this scenario could easily be continued, these screens
should sufficiently convey how versatile Microsoft Navision is. To
users who want to be able to track down transactions and dig for
underlying data, Microsoft Navision offers an impressive
Microsoft Navision also allows you to drill upward. In the next
example, a customer card lists the salesperson code PS, along with
an upward-pointing arrow icon. This arrow enables you to zoom to a
complete listing of all salespeople, including the full name for the
salesperson in question, Peter Saddow.
Figure 8: Drill from the salesperson code
to a complete listing of all salespeople
Exploiting the Microsoft Navision Audit Trail Drilling
Of course an audit trail would be incomplete without an
assortment of drill-down and drill-around tools. For this reason,
Microsoft Navision includes the following drilling tools:
The PowerDrill Tools Navigate detailed transactions
to the various modules and down to the originating documents.
The PowerDrill tools can also be used to build
The PowerSeek Tools Sort the data in any order
The PowerFilter Tools Build specific queries
combining multiple fields of data. For example, you can build
a query that summarizes customers in specific states, cities,
and zip codes. You can also build queries that
summarize assigned territories, salespeople, and other
important data for use in direct mail campaigns.
The NavisionFilter Tools Slice your numbers across
departments, projects, dates, and other parameters important
to your business.
The TrendScape Tools Display trends in your numbers
on an annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.
You can also define your own set of periods to analyze the
results of promotions, special offerings, or the impact of
major economic events. The TrendScape tools can handle many
years of data.
These tools' View -> Field Filter and View ->
Table Filter functions provide a window that can display only
the accounts, customers, entries, or other records that fulfill a
particular condition. For example, with a simple click of a button,
you can have the system display only the customer cards under the
jurisdiction of the London office.
As the following figures show, the user can easily produce a
Customer List that has been filtered to display only the desired
customers (those in London). This type of functionality is provided
throughout Microsoft Navision.
Figure 9: Click the word "London" to
filter the Customer List by this location
Figure 10: Select the Flow Filter icon
(shown left); then click OK in the Field Filter dialog box (shown
Figure 11: The result is a list of all
Field Filters vs. Table Filters
You can set and remove a restriction on any record field. This is
because filters remain in effect until you remove them or replace
them with new ones. To remove a filter, select the function View
-> Show All.
Note: Field and table filters are window dependent.
Therefore, if you see the same table in another window, the filter
is not automatically in effect there. However, the filter will
remain in effect in the window where you entered it until you remove
To place a restriction on one field, you can use what’s known as
a field filter. To filter more than one field at a time, you can use
a table filter function. Field filters and table filters perform
exactly the same function. However, a field filter places a filter
only on the field that contains the cursor.
If you are in the habit of using only field filters, it can be
good to use the table filter feature occasionally to get an overview
of all the filters that have been placed on a window. When you enter
a filter, you can use all the numbers and letters that you can
ordinarily use in the field. In addition, you can use some special
symbols or mathematical expressions.
examples of the various filter formats you can use to drill down on
Microsoft Navision data.
Sarbanes-Oxley has raised the bar for public companies, and
failure to comply can result in harsh penalties. A key to compliance
with this law is to implement an accounting system that offers an
extensive audit trail, including extensive drill-down and drill
around capabilities. As suggested in this article, Microsoft
Navision does a good job of meeting this requirement. Microsoft
Navision users would be wise to embrace these capabilities.
Carlton Collins, CPA, president of ASA Research, LLC, is
an independent author, lecturer, and analyst in the accounting
systems industry. He has installed more than 200 accounting systems
and delivered 1,800 lectures around the world on the subject of
accounting systems and technology. Collins has published extensive
accounting system reviews that can be seen at Accounting