Traceability in Dynamics NAV – quality verses productivity?

More and more customers say they need traceability, that’s the ability to take a reference from a customer and quickly get details of what the product is and when it was supplied. Dynamics NAV supports traceability very which way you need but you have important decisions and choices to make right from day one of setting up your system if you are not to cost yourselves lots of expensive time and effort.

Implementing full traceability is very time consuming on every inventory transaction. Not only do you have to select an item number and enter a quantity (as a minimum, location and bin are others you may optionally need depending on your setup) but you have to enter a serial or lot (lot is Dynamics NAV  term for batch) number as well. If it’s a lot number you have to confirm the quantity for the lot, selecting different lots and quantities until it matches the overall quantity. If its serial number tracked then you have to enter as many serial numbers as the quantity!

All of which takes serious time, and to do that for every inventory transaction should not be underestimated, even with barcode technology implemented it’s going to have serious cost implications.

Just think every physical inventory you will have to record, not just the quantity by bin and location, but also by serial or lots number as well. How much time will that will take.

Then factor in that once an item has traceability turned on your cannot change it, at least as standard. Even as a developer it’s a complicated process of making sure there is no inventory and no pending transactions (goods received that are not invoiced for example) before I can force a change in the tracking code on the item.

So it’s worth considering

  • Do you need it all the way through the process – can you just record it on outbound sales and do your goods receipt or production records give you enough information to identify the source of the faulty component?
  • How often and quickly do you need to trace – is it better spending a few hours a year doing the one trace request you need, or a few second on every receipt, movement and production transaction recording it as you go along?

You can set a tracking policy so the lot or serial number is only needed on the sales shipment. If your need is only to know that you sold the item and when for warranty purposes, for instance, that’s enough. It will take you time to log these on the outbound shipment but it’s a lot less than you need to do otherwise.


Many sectors such as food, pharmaceuticals or aerospace for example will mandate full component to finished product traceability (thank goodness), but if you only need it for warranty purposes then only use it on outbound sales. Don’t make yourself uncompetitive by doing a level of traceability that your competitors don’t.