Dear all

 I was facinated in reading the following blog post View article... in which Alex Chow claims that Dynamics NAV can solve all your business pains!

Its a pretty bold statement, but got me to wondering about other pains that this fantastic piece of kit could help us all with. And then my mind turned to Christmas Dinner.

Now, in my household Christmas dinner is very much my domain. The kitchen door  is closed firmly while I attempt to deliver a feast fit for a king, a queen, one princess and one prince (assuming the Queen mother-in-law and other relatives are not around).  My production environment includes all the usual machines (though not necessarily enough points to plug them all in),  a limited supply of tools (mustn't stir the cranberry sauce with the gravy spoon), and the usual capacity bottlenecks (smallish oven, only 3 large suacepans, one kettle and so forth). Labour resources are limited to one (me) and time off has to be allowed for waste management, lubrication (red, white or fizzy) and occasional medical emergencies such as when I brand my wrist on the grill element;  suddenly remember there is a hole in my oven gloves round about the right thumb; or try to show off chopping root vegetables too quickly with a very sharp knife.

The bill of materials is, of course, daunting - all the usual roast dinner fair plus bread saunce, cranberry sauce, 2 types of stuffing, chipolatas, back bacon, Christmas pud and sauce plus a cold starter. All this has to reach the table at an agreeable temperature, cooked to perfection and in a timescale reasonable to the grumbling stomachs of children too young to understand that the production process may encounter delays (JIT?). Still, some lubrication of the work force will enliven the spirits, methinks.

Assuming my stock management is up to scratch and no emergency trips need to be made in order to procure sprouts (by the way, I estimate 3 pounds of sprouts for a family of four - really makes Christmas go off with a... well, just "go off" really), then we are all ready for the great cook off. I usually prepare a paper production schedule based on the elapsed time to cook and rest a giant bird. Let's say the flightless, hapless avian goes in at 10 am and that's T-3 hours - now everything else is prepped for that. Roasties at T-45 mins, carrots at T-10, Yorkshire puddings at T-5 (yes I cheat and use the frozen ones). Feeling a little smug at my organisational skills I feel that a little more lubrication is needed - a well oiled workforce!

Now, in the absence of a great production scheduling tool I kinda make up on the spot which thing gets cooked where or in which saucepan. This is where the problems start - T-30 and there's no room in the oven for the parsnips. T-15 and I have no ring on which to cook the sprouts (that's 15 minutes mother, not hours). T-10 and there isn't a clean pot, spoon or spatula in the house and I still have to do broccoli, carrots, sauce and green beans. Additional lunbrication (hic!) makes things feel a little better and deadens the pain from burns and cuts inflicted in the elapsed time.

At T+10 I realise that water needs to be boiled before the cooking times for veg even come into play. At T+15 the gravy is starting to congeal and the bird is getting goose-bumps. The roasties have had to be taken out of the oven to make room and covered with foil - they are sweating and losing all crispiness. My production schedule is now covered with spots of grease and various sauces and "T-20 Lay the Table" is rendered illegible and therefore undone. At T+20 the prince and princess start hammering on the door demanding a snack to tide them over while I attempt to extinguish my 5 minute yorkies that have now had 35 minutes at 220 degrees. The flames are pretty impressive and I try to keep them off the large one I've just poured. I open the door to the children and this lets the smoke spread to the hall and the Fire Alarm: children start crying as they just HATE THAT NOISE. 

After the alarm has been switched off, windows opened to assist the expulsion of smoke (also further cooling my overcooked food), and a sense of mental wellbeing has been restored to the younger members of the family, we finally sit down to dine. Its now T+45 and we'll have to bolt down our food as Shrek II starts in 15 minutes and Sky+ is already busy with The Great Escape.

And my conclusions? Mere amateurs should never be entrusted with such a complex manufacturing task. Years of training may help, but I'm never going to be Gordon Ramsay (my vocabulary is far too varied, for a start). No, what we need is a decent computer system - one that can handle scheduling, complex materials and processes and not least one that will integrate with Tesco Online to make sure we have enough sprouts to sink a battleship. Can you help Mr Chow?

Christmas Greetings to all in the the Wonderful World of NAV!

Steve