Thursday, July 30, 2009

Making it Easy for Partners

At eOne, we strive to provide our partners all the tools possible to make managing their eOne customers simple and efficient. As our partner, you have access to the partner section of our website where you can view your customers’ renewal dates, amounts, and reg keys. You can also quote or pay for a customer renewal, as well as order products and professional service hours online with a credit card. I’ve listed directions below on how to do each mentioned task, putting the tools for success in your hands. If you need login information or further assistance, please feel free to email abbey.heesch@eonesolutions or give me a call at 888.319.3663 ext 717.

How to view, quote, or pay for a customer renewal
1. Login to the partner section of our website, with your username and password.
2. Enable pop-ups in order for step 3 to work properly.
3. Click on Customer Central.
4. Click on the plus sign to the left of the customer name to expand details on the account and view renewal dates and amounts.
5. Select the checkbox to the right of the customer name and click Pay to continue and make a credit card payment or click Quote to email a quote to the email address you used at login.

How to access customer reg keys

1. Login to the partner section of our website, with your username and password.
2. Enable pop-ups in order for step 3 to work properly.
3. Click on Customer Central.
4. Click on the plus sign to the left of the customer name to expand details on the account to view the reg keys.
5. Use the drop-down box in the top left-hand corner of the customer central screen to view keys for another version of GP.

How to Order Products Online
1. Login to the partner section of our website, with your username and password.
2. Select Sales Orders.
3. If the customer is purchasing an eOne product for the first time, complete the information under the “Create New Customer” section and click Submit. If the customer already exists, select their name from the drop down list and click Submit.
4. Check the box that corresponds with the products you’d like to order and click Order Products. (Please note: maintenance is automatically added onto the total when purchasing SmartConnect, eXtender Enterprise, Flexicoder, or NavigationList Builder.)
5. Click Order Now.
6. Select your credit card type.
7. Fill out your card information and click Make Payment.

How to add users for customers
1. Login to the partner section of our website, with your username and password.
2. Enable pop-ups in order for step 3 to work properly.
3. Click on Customer Central.
4. Click on the Add Users link to the right of the customer name.
5. Enter the number of users you wish to add in the middle Add Users:* box and tab through to display the new Total System Manager Users count.
(Please note: this total must match GP exactly in order for the reg keys to work properly.)
6. Click Next.
7. Continue to pay for the additional user(s) with a credit card.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

eXtender Views

FACT: eXtender views have been a core part of all versions of eXtender since January 2003.

FACT: eXtender views are critical to most successful eXtender implementations.

FACT: eXtender views are the best kept secret since the location of the Holy Grail.

I am including below an extract from an email exchange I had with an eXtender customer earlier this week:
GP Customer: "The current extender architecture makes it difficult to collect data from them and use them in other systems".

Martin: "First off the data in eXtender is NOT hard to get at. Use the eXtender view function which will create a SQL view for you – and you would reference all the data direct from the view. It is really easy.

GP Customer: "Wow, the views are great, thanks for pointing them out! That greatly simplified the data retrieval and has revived our faith in extender."

This scenario above and the frustration of a GP customer need never have occurred. This blog post is not going to be a detailed training session but I want to address a few related topics here:

1. Why consultants have missed the view functionality: Dynamics GP has an amazing group of consultants who are really great at what they do. Since about V4 of GP when a customer asked for a report to be written these consultants would open Resource Descriptions within GP and take a look direct into SQL to identify which tables and fields they needed to pull onto a report. This is the correct thing to do and consultants do it well. Unfortunately this process does not work with eXtender as a result of the 'unlimited field' structure of eXtender.

2. Why does eXtender have such whacky tables: eXtender is great in that you can create an unlimited number of user defined fields and have them located on windows, forms, detailed forms, linked forms etc without any thought about the backend table structure. That is right unlimited. So this means that there is not a big empty table waiting for you to create some fields or that eXtender creates new tables for each of your creations. If we did either of these you would wither not have unlimited fields or you would really struggle to upgrade to the next version of GP

So what eXtender does is write all the data you capture into a series of eXtender tables. A separate table is used for strings, numbers, dates, and time. In each table eXtender stores the window or form name, the field position and the field value. This table has only a few columns but plenty of rows over time.

3: Is it possible to write reports direct from the eXtender tables? Yes it is but it is way too hard. All power to those that have achieved it but you are both much smarter than I am and much more patient.

4: To access eXtender data what should we do? Create an eXtender view

5: So what is an eXtender view? We have done all the hard work for you. An eXtender view creates a real SQL view, which extracts all the data from the table structure described above and presents it neatly to you for reporting and other data access needs. You can then read this data, report on it with any reporting tool, use it for integrations etc.

So to conclude, Is it hard to report on eXtender data? No it is easy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Better than TV

For those of you that missed the recent online webinars and have some spare time, take a look at these recent webinar recordings:

1: Review of the functionaity in the eOne CRM and GP integration templates. (22 mins)

2: Review the hottest thing in GP land SmartConnect and eXtender better together (39mins)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Migration Headache

When I saw this I thought of David and the team who look after all our SmartConnect support.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Microsoft CRM Lifts Off

Gartners latest survey shows Microsoft CRM out growing all comers. . This is great news for all the partners and ISV's that have backed the Dynamics range for many years.

Microsoft CRM is a great tool for the right customer, and from my experience wins deals for a few key reasons:
1. Integration with Outlook (ease of understandability)
2. Ease of configuration/customization
3. Microsoft Brand (despite those that believe Microsoft is bad)
4. A large and experienced reseller channel. (Both Classic and Dynamics)

The existing Dynamics GP, SL, NAV and AX customer bases are a fantastic opportunity for Dynamics resellers to leverage the work Microsoft have done in the past few years and actively take CRM to market. I am not suggesting ground breaking work trying to build new markets. VAR's need to focus on their existing customers, existing relationships, their existing expertise and existing consulting teams.

There are more than 45,000 annual maintenance paying GP customers. Lets pretend for a minute that GP VAR's were able to sell CRM into 25% of this base. That is 11,250 CRM implementations and integrations. Doing some quick maths, lets guess an average 15 day CRM implementation start of finish, at $1,300 per day. There are $219,375,000 in services waiting to be collected. I repeat these conservative numbers, $219 million just for GP VAR's. If we bumped the penetration to 40%, implementation to 25 days and day rates to $1600 we are talking $720 million!

The above is based on the assumption that ERP customers (specifically GP) need a CRM system. Here is a couple of reasons why:
1. The analytical data that should drive sales comes from GP
2. Existing customer activity and trends come from GP
3. All business can treat their customers better. Truly leverage Customer Relationship Management.
4. Users need he right tool. Let them work in CRM, Outlook, Excel or wherever they should be
5. CRM is easily customisable and is web delivered. If you need a custom module - build it in CRM and integrate back to GP. Better delivery and easy integration.

So with up to $700 million o the table (excluding the software margin) so more like well over a $1 billion, on the table it is time to go and collect it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WPC loses its Dynamics

All those GP Var's that have travelled to New Orleans this week are in for a real treat. You will have plenty of time to get intimate with New Orleans as there will be very little of interest for you inside the convention centre.

Do not moan about it, just accept that this event is targeted at the greater Microsoft Community rather than Dynamics. It became clear when both Convergence and WPC were being held in the same city that they had very different target audiences. While I always have a great time in New Orleans I am not sure that I or my liver can tolerate more than one annual visit.

So where should the GP community put its energy:
1. Convergence: Convergence is the king of events and everyone should get there to make it bigger and better. A really strong Dynamics focus means a great event for both business and learning.

2. GPUG: This growing user group provides a much more intimate environment which is growing in popularity To spend valuable and long periods of time with other users and solution providers this is the place to be.

3. Partner Event: this is another much smaller event held in Fargo. (everyone must take the pilgrimage to Fargo once a year so time it around the event). This is a partner only event that is well supported by Microsoft.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Extender Myth Busters

Calling all GP consultants to get involved in training on Microsoft Dynamics GP Extender. There are significant changes coming to GP Extender on August 1st - in conjunction with SP4 for GP. Your customers pay you because you are an expert, so it is important that you get up to speed on not only the new features of Extender but also the features that have been there since the first release of SC.

There are a number of consultants that have never been given the time to learn GP Extender in depth. There a a few myths about Extender that resulted from the lack of training and I want to address a couple of these below.

1. Extender is difficult to report on: Oh my, this could not be further from the truth. If you tried to go direct to Extender tables then yes - reports would be almost impossible! The standard consultant response is to try and look right into a modules tables to write a report. Extender is different to all other GP modules - so DO NOT try and write reports direct off the tables.

In training you would learn all about Extender views which eliminates any difficulty in writing reports in your tool of choice (SRS, Crystal, SmartLists, Excel, BI etc). This one function eliminates the complexity of the tables and returns a simple SQL view upon which you can base your reports. You would also learn how easy it is to add Extender data to Report Writer reports.

2. Extender data does not transfer in SOP: Another big myth is that if you create anExtender window against SOP, the data does not move with the order when it is transferred to an invoice.

This would logically be true as all data is linked to a key field. During a SOP transfer the key field (SOP number changes). There is a SOP exception written into Extender which ensures that if your key field is SOP number (header) or SOP Number+Line Item Sequence (lines) that the data will follow the master number for this transaction.

3. You should open up access to Extender design to all end users: This is less a myth than is it just bad practice. Just because it is easy to use, does not mean anyone can or should use it.

Extender is a really powerful development environment, that does not require code. You should only open it up to those that you want changing the way your GP works. We always reccommend following normal development processes - just because it takes 5 minutes to build does not mean you can skip all the normal development process. You must still:
  1. Write a spec
  2. Get sign off on spec
  3. Build solutions
  4. Configure Security
  5. Write reports
  6. Hold acceptance testing
  7. Hold formal training
  8. Document the solution
4. If you delete a window it deletes the data: This ties back to point 3 above about who has access to the Extender functionality.If you delete a SQL table you would not be surprised the data is gone - same witheXtender.

Extender does not create tables, but you create front end screens instead. The screen design is the table design - they are not separate entities. If you understand this concept, then you would not delete a window unless you wanted to remove the data along with it. Understand

5. Extender is not as powerful and VBA or Dex: This is not a myth, Extender is very different to VBA and Dex.

That is what is great about Extender, it has some great advantages to traditional development:
  1. Much reduced time to develop and deploy
  2. Reduced cost of ownership
  3. Independence from developers
  4. GP functionality you expect (drill down, required fields, menus, SmartList integration etc)
  5. Easy and cheap upgrades
That said there are many occasions and needs where you will want to use the traditional solutions:
  1. Want to modify the existing GP screens (extender does not do this to ensure you maintain an easy upgrade path)
  2. Need to change the logic of a process (changing the SOP posting or FA depreciation rules is not something Extender will do)

Extender is a terrible tool if you use it for the wrong purpose. Just like a screwdriver is not much good for cutting the lawn. I urge you all to learn more about Extender so you can use this really powerful tool to help your customers.

Extender will help you to sell more Dynamics GP, deliver complex solutions on a budget, differentiate GP from other ERP products (and you from other VAR's that have not learnt the Extender) and provide you with happy customers with a flexible ERP solution.

Microsoft are offering online training courses on Extender, and you can also access Extender training both in a classroom and online from eOne. Now is the time to insist that your VAR give you time to learn Extender in depth.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Great News - Mouse Works

I have today had confirmation that a Dex Bug (mouse stops working) will be fixed in GPv10 SP4. SP4 will be released on August 1st, so if this has been frustrating you then please take this chance to get up to GP SP4.

It has been one of the weirdest issues I have seen in a long time, where if you have VBA files in your client install of GP, then every time you open a .net toolkit window (e.g. Data source screen in SmartConnect) then your mouse stops working!!!!

The Workaround has been to rename or move the VBA files temporarily, but this is not an ideal solution.

Thanks to Microsoft for getting this sorted.

I will blog more about other great reasons to get up to SP4 shortly.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Online meetings

It was not that long ago that the eOne business model would not have been possible. A software company based in Sydney, selling primarily to the USA market. I still look after the bulk of our sales activity, and conduct endless numbers of online demonstrations from the comfort of my home Gym/Study. (Unfortunately when I look in the mirror it is clear I use it more as a workspace than as a gym).

The online meeting tools that are available are fantastic, and have meant I can live in Sydney rather than North Dakota, until they fail you just once. There is no worse scenario than gathering a room full of busy people, and then having to spend 20 minutes connecting to the online meeting, or worse failing to connect and having to cancel or postpone. Often you only get one chance to impress a prospect or customer and you cannot afford to have this messed up by technology.

More and more of our partners are also relying on this technology for support and consulting activities. I have always gone out of my way to stick with all things Microsoft, for all the right reasons, and hence have used Live Meeting (and still do for what it’s worth). I know many partners have chosen GoTo meeting (from Citrix) based upon user friendliness and speed. I recently did a review and found a great little summary website that covered the main features of each of the mainstream tools. Use this to help you decide how you are going to connect with your customers.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Scheduled Maps

I have promised to include tips and tricks and useful hints in this blog. One of the hot support topics recentlyhas been regarding the scheduling of SC maps. Below is a brief overview of the schedules tasks and the potential security issues that surround them.

When a map is scheduled the resultant windows scheduled task runs under the account entered in the username and password fields on the Schedule map window. This windows\ad account must have access to the GP SQL databases as part of the DYNGRP and be setup with the correct permissions in the SmartConnect security window.

This account can also be viewed by right clicking on the Scheduled task in Strart à Control Panel à Scheduled tasks and selecting properties.

By default the scheduled task is created on the local computer that the GP client is running on but can be created on one central server by specifying server in the setup. If these options are blank the scheduled task is created locally for workstations.

SmartConnect must be installed and configured on the server for the scheduled tasks to run successfully.