Monday, May 31, 2010

Excel Report Builder - why bother?

I was recently asked the question "Why would I use Microsoft Dynamics GP Excel Report builder, when I could just export a SmartList to Excel? ". This question is huge? Not huge in that it is a deeply mind troubling question, but huge in the number of Dynamics GP customers that do not know the answer.

I am going to work through the importance of this question with some wild stabs at numbers and facts.
1. SmartList is everyone's favourite tool
2. Whenever users look at a good list they tend to export it to Excel
3. Every Business using GP has 20 regularly used SmartLists
4. If these 20 get looked at everyday, perhaps 5 of them are exported to Excel (I think that is very conservative).
5 . I once saw a powerpoint suggesting there were 45,000 GP customers. with say an average of 10 users at each site.
6. So if each customer exports 5 lists per day, we are at 225,000 Smartlist to Excel exports everyday.
7. We know the export is not rocket quick, so lets guess 10 seconds per export. GP users therefore spend 37,500 minutes (625hrs) every day exporting smartlists.
8. This equates to 162,500 hours every year. (assuming 5 days a week and 52 weeks per year).
9. That is more than 9,750,000 minutes per year.
10. I'm getting dizzy here - but that equates to 78 consulting man years spent watching exports to excel every year!!

Back to the main question at hand, what are differences between the SmartList export and Excel Report Builder.

Great things about Excel reports and Excel Report builder:
1. Both solutions (SmartList Exports and Excel Report Builder) are very easy to use. There are out of the box Excel Reports to match almost every SmartList, and you can use Excel Report Builder to create new reports. (identical interface to SmartList Builder).
2. The data in an Excel Report is always real time: Whenever you open the spreadsheet
the data in an Excel Report is updated real time. You are never looking at out of date data.
3. You never spend time waiting for a SmartList to return all the data.
4. You never spend time waiting for a report to export. Reports are re
5. You can format your excel report with pivot tables, pretty colours and graphs that never get overridden.
6. You do not have to be a GP user to see the data: There are many people in an organisation who will never do data entry or be given a login to GP. But they do need to see data within GP - so give it to them real time inside Excel.
7. You can link Excel Reports with SC to push data updates back into GP

Why you may want to stick with SmartList Exports:
1. The Excel reports do not have on the fly parameters. Once the report has been defined - that is the data it will always contain. Of course you can set it to give 'this months sales' or 'todays orders' as default. Adhoc data restrictions need to be done within excel and excel filters.
2. You are still on 9 or below: Excel Reports alone are enough reason to upgrade.
3. Your GP partners has not told you about Excel Report Builder: Then it is time to find a new Partner. (Harsh but true).

Here are some links for those that need to find out more information on these tools:
SmartList Builder (with Excel Report Builder) User Guide
SmartList Builder Fact Sheet

Saturday, May 29, 2010

All things Virtual

I have long been skeptical of all things Virtual. Virtual Reality, Virtual Hair, Virtual Golf, Virtual PC's, Virtual Servers, Virtual Wife, Virtual Schools and the list goes on. I am not sure when the pretend got better than the actual. My son has his 6th birthday next week and the top of the list was a Wii so he could play virtual sports. I have bucked the trend and purchased a real Ping Pong table - so he can learn to hit a real ball! (His birthday is not until next week so I trust he does not read my blog!)

Microsoft launched Virtual Convergence this week! It is really very good. So if you want a refresher of the things you saw, or missed some sessions and want to catch up - this is a great tool. I was not an early riser in Atanta this year, but have been able to catch up on those keynote and general sessions that were at completely inappropriate times of the day.

Virtual convergence is no substitute for the real thing, but it is a great resource for those that did and did not attend. If your boss has asked you to report on what went on in Atlanta and what you learnt (and your staying out in pubs until 3am is not a good answer) - here is your chance to watch some sessions and find out what really happened.

I have linked below some of my favorite sessions, and am arrogant enough to include those ones that featured the eOne team.

GP General Session: This is a must watch to remember that GP is the best ERP in the market with a really positive future.

Personalizing with eXtender: The session cover GP Extender end to end with plenty of Questions and Answers throughout. A great way to learn what is on the minds of GP customers in regards to Extender.

Excel Report Builder: Nicole Albertson does a great job at educating everyone about how to build Excel Report Builder Reports.

50 tips for GP: Mark Polino teaches you 50 things you may not know.

Happy Watching.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Customer Quotes

We get some great messages from our partners and customers. I thought I would share a few of these with you. I have not made contact with the actual people that sent the messages through so will not expose names and companies. Rest assured that each is quoted verbatim from real eOne customers. We share these messages internally at eOne and it goes a long way to keeping us motivated.

"Thanks so much, David, for your excellent service in helping us eliminate issues with testing and using SmartConnect. All of us at ........ truly appreciate what eOne has given in terms of sales, support, and technology!" GP Consultant

“SmartConnect has more tricks up its little sleeve than we can even begin to imagine.”
GP Developer

"SmartConnect is helping me close a GP deal for a new customer. If I would not have shown them SC, we would have lost the whole GP deal. I have nothing but great things to say about SC and I will show it to every customer." Partner Sales Manager

"If scribe were a person, I would kick it (and then run very fast; I am a girl, after all). Can you please give me a SmartConnect Demo asap." Frustrated CRM consultant.

"Thanks again for all your help. I could not have gotten this far with this project without your excellent support. I have learned a lot, and hopefully be more self sufficient moving forward." GP Consultant

"No actually let Martin know the demo went really well. I think we took a prospect that was actually leaning towards NetSuite and is now strongly considering GP because of this demo we did on Smartconnect and extender" GP Sales Manager

"Many toss in the towel and complain about how difficult the data structure is and how hard it is to write reports against Extender. Poppy Cock!" GP Manual Author

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Inspired by my last post re using Google to get a job, I am going to use my Blog to find an employee. I have had little success with traditional job boards, and so am reaching out to the 4 people that read my Blog!

I am looking for a young energetic developer, that is prepared to learn the ropes by spending 12 months in out QA team. We have big plans for SmartConnect over the next 12 months and need to grow our QA automation team to keep up with the new functionality added by the developers.

This role requires a very technical/development focused person who wants to become a fully fledged developer, but is prepared initially to learn our products by helping to further automate our testing process. The requirements are:
1. You have to be clever
2. You have to be able to clearly explain what SmartConnect is and why companies love to use it.
3. Ability to sing (only required if you should choose Fargo as the location). There is no singing in the Sydney office.
4. Must be passionate
5. Must be able to develop in .net.

What's good about working for eOne: (of course I am biased)
1. Get to choose your location Sydney or Fargo (or have an endless summer and split your time between the two). !
2. Tell your mum you write software for and test software(eXtender and SLB) for Microsoft (without having to work for Microsoft)
3. Wear Jeans whenever you like
4. Work flexible hours. Base you day on either Australian Easter Standard time or USA central time (as long as your team/client is awake).
5. Work for the team that has sold more addon's for GP than any ISV ever.
6. Get to go to Convergence (and work really hard)
7. We will not watch over your shoulder. If you need managing please find a different job.

Now this is where you kick in. I will send $1000 to the person that puts me in contact with a candidate that we choose to employ. Now there are some rules.
1. I am not prospecting within our reseller's consultants and developers and am hoping you are able to recommend someone for the role. That said if you are truly seeking a change of job then we would be happy to hear from you.
2. You cannot win $1000 by nominating yourself
3. I want the $1000 back if the person turns out to be dud!
4. If you already work for eOne you can not apply for the job! (unless you have forgotten to tell me that it is something you really want to do).

How do you use Technology?

I was fascinated when I saw this little video on another blog. While there are questions over the complete accuracy of the story - it is such a good story even if it was complete fiction it is very clever.

If you are reading this blog you are almost definitely employed in the IT/Technology space. My question to myself and in turn to you is "how creative am I/you with the technology we have at our disposal". We are working with new software and devices everyday, we spend our time telling businesses how to get the most out of software solutions we sell them - and yet are we still saying the same things we said 10 years ago? How far have we moved forward?

There is no simpler tool than Google (or Bing for my friends at Microsoft that may stumble across this blog). What does a search engine do? It lets you search. But taking something simple and adding some creativity you get a fantastic result like getting the job you wanted. I think the most creative most people have gotten with Google is to register your competitors name under AdWords (sorry Scribe) which is very lame on a creative scale.

So today set out with a mission 'to not do things the way you did them yesterday'. Creativity is not about the tool or the technology it is how you choose to use it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 arrives

We have been busy at eOne. Over the past few days the following product releases have been made available on our download pages:

1. Extender Enterprise 2010
2. Extender Enterprise V10
3. Flexicoder 2010
4. SmartConnect 2010

You can now go ahead and schedule all those 2010 upgrades knowing that each of these products have been updated and are ready to go. The upgrade process is very simple for Flexicoder and eXtender with no table changes.

For SmartConnect be sure to download the release information that steps you through the upgrade process. There have been a number of changes within the architecture of SmartConnect as well a new features that we will explore in the blog over the next few weeks. A summary list of those features are outlined below.

1. Multiple Rolling Columns
2. Specify MS CRM destination via Script
3. Send to more than one CRM Organization
4. Override MS CRM destination per map
5. All user defined/calculated columns available on all lines
6. Group a line mapping without losing field mappings
7. Order eConnect nodes in Map Setup Screen
8. Update if exits may be set in the mapping for GP destinations
9. SmartConnect resides in its own database
10. Security is Active Directory based

Monday, May 17, 2010

How do I become a Guru on eOne products?

I lost count, while I was at convergence, of the number of people that approached me with the same question. "How do I learn eXtender"? What is most embarrassing is that I did not have a fantastic answer.

So starting this month eOne is offering online training opportunities for learning all there is to learn about Microsoft Dynamics GP Extender, eXtender Enterprise, SmartConnect and SmartList Builder (and all its components).

Option 1:
Event Topic: GP Extender Public training.
Number of Attendees: 5 Attendees maximum
Duration: Training is split into two 2hr sessions.
Session 1: All about building Extender windows, detail windows and notes.
Session 2: All about forms, detail forms and building a mini application.
Cost: $500
Required: Use of a GP test environment with Dynamics GP eXtender installed

Option 2:
Event Topic: Private one on one Extender training.
Number of Attendees: 1 organisation maximum
Duration: Training is split into two 2hr sessions.
Session 1: All about building Extender windows, detail windows and notes.
Session 2: All about forms, detail forms and building a mini application.
Cost: $660
Required: Use of a GP test environment with Dynamics GP eXtender installed.

We will be holding the public training once per month, with the one on one training being scheduled at a time to best suit your schedule. I have highlighted the eXtender training opportunities above, but also check out the training details for other products on our website at eOne training opportunities

See the entire schedule of training opportunities here.

We also now have a training kit available for SmartConnect, designed for self-directed learning, as well as for use with the training sessions partners run for their customers. The kit includes 4 hours of online training from our team to get you started on the right foot. The kit also includes a pdf of our SmartConnect "Deep Dive" training manual, and our training image. The cost for the training kit is $950. For more information on the partner kit please contact

To sign up and register for training please contact Abbey at

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Demo GP 2010

I promised you a month or so back, a video on how to demo GP and in particular GP 2010 and its new features. The attached webinar recording does run a little long but you can scroll through to the best bits. Let me know what you think.


If you think this one is good, wait until I post the 2010 demo that includes SmartConnect.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Trends in ERP

I reference here recent sessions held at convergence as well as a recent article posted on Dynamics World, that the 4 key trends in ERP in the near future are:

Quoted from the Editor at

1. Context-aware computing. Increasingly, Dynamics applications will become better at understanding the context of a user's needs-for example, understanding that an account manager's information needs change based on where the company is in its financial quarter.

2. The Cloud. While many users are already running cloud-based businesses, Ehrenberg noted its strategic significance relates to "the idea of the power of choice...the same applications delivered in different ways."

3. Sustainability. As consumers become increasingly sensitive to the carbon imprint of different products, "We going to have to start accounting for energy use and emissions," Ehrenberg said.

4. Social networking. This involves adapting Dynamics applications to seamlessly take in information from places like Face book and Twitter.

The question remains - is this what ERP/CRM customers are looking for? I need your input to tell me if you agree that these 4 key areas are where Microsoft should be focused. I am not about to argue with the Microsoft Executives on this.

The 5th thing that I think we really need to add to these 4 key areas is Processing Efficiency. What I mean here is that an ERP must provide the best, fastest and most efficient way of processing the daily business transactions. The sort of things I am looking for in this area are:

1. Simpler/easier data entry and data capture. This can include everything from better use of screen real estate for end users through to document imaging and data capture via document scanning.

2. Ease of integration between all the systems a business chooses to deploy

3. Flexibility of systems to change as each business changes. This relates to both data capture, configurable business process and access to data. System changes must be cost effective.

4. Business Process/Work flow. By work flow I do not mean sales order or purchase order approval. I refer to the ability to use the ERP system to configure and force individual, unique business practice to be followed by end users. This may be the process by which a warehouse location is replenished, the way a service call is escalated or how projects are managed when they exceed project budgets.

Let me know what topics you think should be added to the 4 key areas identified by the Microsoft team during convergence.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Much more than a big X

I must have answered this questions more than 50 times last week. I am attaching here a link to where you can read about the main differences between Microsoft Dynamics GP Extender and eXtender Enterprise.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Atlanta proves GP is still the One

For all of this blog's readers that made it to Atlanta last week - it was great to meet you, hear your feedback and learn from your experiences. I also really appreciate the opportunity to share a Beer, Wine, Gin and Tequila with too many of our partners and customers.

My biggest take away from Convergence 2010 is that Microsoft Dynamics GP is still the best ERP available to mid size companies. In the past few years there have been some nagging questions regarding Microsoft's commitment and the VAR communities commitment to the GP Brand. It was very clear to all attendees that Microsoft is very serious about not only maintaining but also increasing their focus on Dynamics GP. Microsoft is sinking good sums of money into R&D for product enhancements as well as pushing ahead with great marketing and awareness momentum. These are the two things that the reselling partners have been looking forward to for some time.

Over the past few years the message from Microsoft has been less than clear with the introduction of AX and NAV brands to the Dynamics ERP suite. I got the sense this year that while these products are still very important in the mix, Microsoft has realized the strategic (and $) importance of improving and supporting Dynamics GP.

I always get to see convergence from a strange angle. This years I saw it from on stage at 5 different eXtender presentations, as well as from within the eOne Expo booth. What I saw was more people than ever in attendance. What I saw was people deeply experienced with GP wanting to make it work better for their organization. What I saw was 7000-8000 people giving up their weekend to talk software. GP proved again it is a mature product, with broad appeal and wide range of functionality. The attendees I spoke to were really interested in tuning that 5-10% of their solution to get the most out of it. There are a large number of ERP vendors that would do anything to be in a position half as strong as that occupied for Dynamics GP.

It was great to speak with our end user customers. I was blown away by the solutions our customers have put together with both SmartConnect and eXtender. Often times we get hung up during the year on troublesome sites, messed up installs and difficult people. It was so refreshing to hear again that this is a tiny minority of what happens and that so many of our customers are over the moon with their solutions built on eOne software. I must have had 25 people come up and offer to act as a case study due to the positive impact our software has had on their business.

A special thanks needs to go out to the entire team at eOne for their help last week. Those that stayed home and kept things rolling along as well as those that lived off 3hrs sleep per night and worked 15hr days right through the weekend.

I left Atlanta feeling physically exhausted and yet absolutely energized about what the next year will bring. If you have never been to a convergence event, lock Atlanta 2011 into your calendar now.