Tip of the Week #134 – The Change Log is (Usually) Your Friend

Tip Of the Week #134 –  The Change Log is (Usually) Your Friend

Consultant Doug Wiley makes his first appearance in our Print Software Blog with this insightful tip of the week.

One of the things that makes PrintVis such a strong solution is that all of its print-specific functionality is built on top of Dynamics NAV, which by itself boasts an impressive set of business features. There are far more examples of how these two work together than I can name in one article, so for now I’ll focus on one: The Change Log.

NOTE: For this article, all screenshots are from PrintVis 2017.

The Change Log has been around for what feels like forever, but in my years of working with clients, I see it almost always under – or over-utilized.

In essence, the Change Log is exactly what it sounds like: A log of changes that are made in your database. Essentially, there are two types of “audit trails” in PrintVis; The ones that track transactional data (like inventory movements or changes to the G/L), and the ones which track changes to things like master records.

The first type is always on, and can’t be shut off. The second type is the Change Log, and that needs to be configured and turned on manually.

Turning it on is easy. You just search for “Change Log Setup” and open the window. There is a single check box which turns on the Change Log (in red):

The more complex setup is in the background, which can be reached by clicking “Tables” in the ribbon in the window above (in green). When you do that, you’ll see the following screen:

This is where you will determine which tables, and which fields within those tables, you would like to track. Notice above that you have the option to track “Insertion” (adding a record), “Modification” and “Deletion” by table.

Also notice for that each of these you have the option to turn it off “blank” (even if the change log itself is turned on), track all fields, or track some fields. If you select “Some Fields”, clicking the ellipsis (highlighted in green above) will show you a list of all fields from which you can select the ones that you’d like to track.

The interface to this functionality is relatively simple, but the way in which it’s configured is where the nuance and decision-making come in. In the past, it was always recommended that the Change Log be used sparingly, to prevent the size of the database increasing too much when people altered records. Now that disk space has gotten more abundant, and cheaper, you can err more on the side of using it, but there is still a good reason to plan well:

If you want to find who made a change, to what, and when, you will still need to sort through all of the changes that have been logged.

Now, that statement may sound scary, but it’s not. PrintVis has excellent filtering and sorting tools which will get you what you want – but still there’s no need to capture a bunch of changes which don’t really matter that much from an operational standpoint.

Picking which fields in which tables you’d like to track is step one of this process. For example, you probably want to know if a customer’s payment terms change, but not so much if their main contact phone number or email address does. You may want to track if someone changes your posting group setup (which drives all your accounting and financial reporting), but not if someone changes the name of a journal batch. Your consultant will help walk you through this process and give examples of best practices.

The next step is choosing when you want to track these changes. Obviously turning this on when setting up a new database would be madness, since every change made by every new record imported would generate an unnecessary entry. Generally, it’s recommended to only turn it on once final setups and master data have been approved and put into the database.

The third and final step is maintaining which changes are tracked. For example, if for some reason there needs to be a mass update to your cost centers, you probably want to turn this off while that happens to avoid generating a bunch of data (and remember to turn it back on!).

For such a simple-looking interface, there are a lot of good ways that this feature can be used. We’ll walk you through the process to make sure you’re making the most of it.

Thank you Doug!

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