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.

Author: James Crowter

I’m passionate about how businesses can improve their efficiency by getting process optimal more of the time. For the last twenty five years I’ve worked to help organisations of all sizes and types implement the ERP & CRM software that typically they decide they need when things are going wrong. I’ve seen that work unbelievably well and enabled those organisations to rapidly grow but I’ve also had some hard projects over that time where it’s felt more like warfare at times. Since 1996 (and version 1.01) I’ve been working with a small Danish product called Navision that’s now become Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV and I’ve also been using and consulting around Microsoft CRM since 2005. As managing Director of one of the longest established first Navision and now Microsoft Dynamics partners I’ve been involved in the complete history including numerous product councils and system design reviews. It’s my privilege to know many of the key Microsoft executives and product designers and have insight into both where the products are now and their future direction. So colleagues & clients have asked me to start this blog to share some of the insight that both this knowledge (obviously where not restricted by NDA’s or client confidentiality) and experience can help. Specifically I want to concentrate not on the specifics of how (there are some great blogs already for that) but why. If any user helps their business make better decisions or consultant can give better advice then that will be objective achieved. I founded Technology Management in 1992 and have led from the front ever since. Helping clients use technology to grow their business is my passion through explaining technology in terms that everyone can understand. My interest in computing began at the age of eight, long before my school had the equipment to cope. Throughout school and university I developed software commercially. I hold many IT certifications, such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV (for over 17 years), Microsoft Dynamics CRM (for over 10 years), as well as Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange and SQL. In October 2015, I was awarded the title of Most Valuable Professional (MVP), a title given to a select few individuals (31 currently) across the world specifically for Dynamics NAV. After years of working with a range of distribution and manufacturing software for hundreds of organisations, I focus on understanding the business requirements of an organisation, what it will take to deliver the systems required to maximise their potential. Follow me online via my other social channels: - Twitter: @jamescrowter - LinkedIn: Or email me directly at james[.]crowter[@]

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