Dimensions in Microsoft Dynamics NAV

This article and video define the terms “Dimension” and “Dimension Value” in Dynamics NAV and outlines the different types of Dimensions.

What is a Dimension?

A Dimension is the term used in Microsoft Dynamics NAV to define an analysis category. Dimensions are used to group, or categorize, data for the purpose of analysis. Dimensions consist of Dimension Values. A Dimension Value is a “subcategory” or a “tag” attached to data to conduct meaningful analysis (think of them like article tags on a blog). A Dimension can consist of any amount of Dimension Values.

Dimensions and Dimension Values Examples

The basic structure of Dimensions and Dimension Values is like this:

  • Dimension 1
    • Dimension Value A
    • Dimension Value B
    • Dimension Value C
  • Dimension 2
    • Dimension Value D
    • Dimension Value E
    • Dimension Value F
    • Dimension Value G
  • Dimension 3
    • Dimension Value H
    • Dimension Value I
  • …etc

If a company sells products to different countries, an example of a Dimension would be “Area” and the Dimension Values could be “Canada”, “Cuba”, “France”, etc. Another example of a Dimension would be “Product” and its Dimension Values could be “Fresh vegetables”, “Frozen vegetables”, “Fresh fruits”, “Frozen fruits”, “Dried fruits” and so on.

Dimensions in Dynamics NAV Screenshot

Types of Dimensions in Dynamics NAV

There are two principle types of Dimensions in NAV: Shortcut and Global. Each of these Dimension types are explained below.

Note: Sometimes a third Dimension type is delineated – Budget Dimension. However, any Global or Shortcut Dimension can be used with a Budget and therefore, it makes little sense to consider Budget Dimensions as a separate Dimension category.

Shortcut Dimensions in Dynamics NAV

Shortcut Dimensions are analysis categories which facilitate financial, inventory, production, and other analyses. Shortcut Dimensions can be assigned directly to journal, sales, or purchase lines; they can also be assigned to master data (e.g. a Customer, a Vendor, an Item, etc.). A company can create an unlimited quantity of Shortcut Dimensions. Certain areas of Dynamics NAV, however, will only allow a limited number of Dimensions at the same time (for example, only 4 Shortcut Dimensions can be used per Analysis View – to use other Dimensions another Analysis View must be created).

Example of a Shortcut Dimension

If a company sells fruits and vegetables, and they are interested in running financial reports based on what categories of products are sold and where they were sold, the following Shortcut Dimensions can be created: Product and Area (as above).

Global Dimensions in Dynamics NAV

Global Dimensions are the most important Dynamics NAV Dimensions for a company. The maximum amount of Global Dimensions is 2. Global Dimensions can be used in the same way as Shortcut Dimensions. But unlike Shortcut Dimensions, Global Dimensions are located in the same database table as your master records. This means that besides the possibility of using Global Dimensions as a filter on all Account Schedules, Batch Jobs, and reports, Global Dimensions can also be used as a filter on G/L entries. Another unique feature of Global Dimensions is that they can be used as additional fields on purchase and sales document headers.

Example of a Global Dimension

If a company is a charitable organisation dedicated to promoting higher education, an example of two Global Dimensions could be:

  1. Project (e.g. for what project/program donations are provided) and
  2. Donor (e.g. is this a private donor or an organisation, a local donor or foreign, etc.).

These Global Dimensions would allow using a quick filter on the Chart of Accounts to break down an amount by Project and/or by Donor.

Note: It is possible to break down an amount on a G/L Account by using Shortcut Dimensions, too. For this purpose, however, it would be necessary to create an Analysis View or Account Schedule report.

Dimensions are Flexible

It is important to note that Dimensions are flexible. How many Shortcut Dimensions to create, what they should be, and which Dimensions to assign as Global are up to each individual company. It is possible to create new Shortcut Dimensions at any time and to add more (or remove/block existing) Dimension Values. Global Dimensions can be changed too; however, depending on the size of a database, this operation can take a long time to complete and will slow down the system while the change is being done.

The rules regarding when to create and use Dimensions and Dimension Values are set by individual companies depending on their business needs.

In summary, this post has defined the terms “Dimension” and “Dimension Value” in Dynamics NAV and discussed different types of Dimensions and explained the functions of each type.

At Encore, our Solution Specialists help companies set up and use Dimensions and Dimension Values in the most efficient and effective way. This article contributes to this objective. The team of Solution Specialists at Encore is happy to answer your questions and help you and your company to reach your ERP goals – phone Encore for a consultation: 1-888-898-4330 or contact us through the contact form on our website.

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This post was written by Iaroslav Pankovskyi, PhD

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