Friday, July 30, 2010

It's all in the presentation

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. If something is worth doing it must be presented properly.

I recently went to see some new bands play live. There were 3 acts that night and I would like to briefly review them here.

The first was dreadful. Bad Music, disorganised, poor lyrics (if you could understand them), the singer took a cup of tea up on stage and ate dinner between songs. A complete write off with no hope.

The second act was very good musically. Had some great songs, with moving lyrics and a haunting delivery. Musically I thought the group was very good, and if we just judged on musical ability I thought had massive potential. The core of what they did, making music, was very good and they were very talented musicians. BUT the presentation was atrocious. The lead forgot her lines on a number of occasions, and started songs over! The lead singer was potty mouthed and threw expletives into the middle of a moving song about her grandfather. The band thought it acceptable to banter with friends of theirs in the audience.

The third group, was the headline for the night, had got it together and were great to listen to. They presented well, smiled, were organised as well as having plenty of musical talent (and as a result are now getting some radio play and interest from record labels).

With this in mind I saw some new software this week, that was technically brilliant. Good complex technical functionality. But the developer had spent very little time on formatting and presentation which meant that the solution had significantly less appeal. Just like the singer who was technically very good, the overall package is poor if not finished off.

I have heard excuses used like "I am just a musician I am not a presenter" or "I am the developer, I'm not worried what it looks like". You must be concerned about the entire delivery of whatever you are delivering. An extremely talented musician may never be listened to. A brilliantly technical piece of code may never go to market.

Point being - if something is worth doing it is worth doing properly and finishing off with great presentation and delivery.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Importing into eXtender

There really is only one sensible way to populate eXtender with data, and that is using SmartConnect. This is the same answer for both Microsoft Dynamics GP Extender or Extender Enterprise.

Natively both versions of Extender contain a simple txt file import that works just like the table import in standard GP. There is no data validation with this method and the import requires a user to define the field links and run the import manually. It works well for one off imports. For anything more complex I would always recommend SmartConnect.

I have had a number of requests form people saying "we recently saw some demos where data was imported into eXtender, how is that done?". The answer is, eOne developed a set of eConnect nodes that support all eXtender objects inluding windows, detail windows, forms and detail forms. These nodes are available out of the box to anyone that purchases SmartConnect. When you install SmartConnect the eXtender nodes are installed automatically for you and are available for immediate mapping. You can map source data to eXtender fields just like they were any other field in GP, and SmartConnect takes care of the rest.

So whether you are importing 2 extra fields to an eXtender window, bringing in 10,000 records into an eXtender form or populting all your fixed asset records and 4 associated eXtender windows at the same time - SmartConnect is your easy answer. So avoid those complex eXtender tables completely - use SmartConnect to get the data in and then use eXtender views and SmartList Builder's eXtender resources to get the data out. It does not get easier than that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hot Stuff

I am not sure how many people got to go to WPC this year. For those like me that didn't get to go I was looking for some online content to catch up on what I missed.

I found a great session presented by Errol which I watched in its entirety, and I recommend you do so also. What I thought was super good was the demonstration by Andy Westby from the Microsoft Dynamics GP marketing team. You will find it between minutes 8 and minutes 20 of this recording.

This is what the introduction of every GP demo in the world should look like. In less than ten minutes Andy shows of:
1. Powerful Dashboard, BI and share point
2. Total Flexibility, Build your own screens.
3. Ease of integration - web integration
4. Search and Find functionality
5. Drill through to get around
6. Office integration through export (for GP users)
7. Office integration through data connections (for non GP users)
8. Power of Excel and pivot tables.
9. Drill back from Office to GP

And he did all of that in 10 minutes - which shows that GP can handle just about every scenario you can throw at it. The 'Microsoft Story' is very strong and you can be sure that none of your competitors can match the ease of functionality shown. I am not saying you should show the wellness scenario - but take all of the components of this demo (and more) and apply it to the hot topic for this prospect.

Accelerate Your Business with Microsoft Dynamics GP

Great job Andy and Errol.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Excel Templates

I discoverd this week that one of our very best resellers had never implemented the Excel data entry Templates for SmartConnect. This reseller sells SmartConnect on every deal, but had never had time to get around the templates.

The conecept behind the temapltes is that GP customers can enter transactions into a predefined excel format, and at the click of a button that record ends up in GP. The out of the box templates cover:
General Ledger
Sales Orders
Purchase Orders
Inventory Trasactions and Transfers

Every prospect you meet will love the ability to enter certain transactions in Excel and have it go right to GP. Simply think of the lisence savings. Whether this be letting the warehouse process inventory adjustments or tranfers, the accountants posting accrual journals from excel or project managers entering invoices, I am yet to see a prospect that does not light up at the prospect of this.

Existing customers also need their eyes opened to the possibility. Help them rework their business process and stop doing rework. Why not have the junior accountant enter journals into Excel, and then send that to the senior accountant for review and pushing into GP. Why not let the sales team punch those simple sales orders into an excel format on their laptopn - then have them hit GP next time they are near an internet connection. (no need for massive spend on CRM).

Now our templates are just that, templates. We do not try and cover every scenario, but we do provide you access to all our code and design. Take our temapltes, modify them to fit your need and you are golden. Happy customers, and higher billables is always a good combination.

Take a look at these examples:
General Ledger
Purchase Order Template

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Take time out

Last week I agreed to take 4 days and 3 nights away with my family during school break. My wife booked country accomodation with the requirement that we maintain access to internet for email and had cell reception.

As it turned out, on arrival, the place we were booked into had double booked. We had to find an alternative location, in a small country town, that could accomodate a family of 4 and a dog. After some frantic phone calls we found a fantastic place right on dark, but the new location had no internet and no cell phone coverage.

The result was awesome. I did not answer a phone, or switch on a computer for 4 days. I got to completely switch off knowing that there was nothing I could do about it. It was so much better than choosing not to look at email, or answer your cell phone, as doing that you continually feel a little bit guilty. I got to sit by a fire, read a novel, explore the local forests, take the kids on a wombat hunt and play lawn bowls with the locals.

It was great, and I did not miss email or work at all. In fact I do not think anyone missed me either. So when you need a break, take one. Take a real break and let you grey matter have a rest.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Builder Blog

Sometime you see something, and you think "why did I not do that a long time ago". This happened to me this week when I stumbled across a great new Blog titled Dynamics GP Builders and Reporting. There is some really valuable information here, and the sorts of tips, hints and real life experiences that take years to learn.

This blog by Devon Southall is actually better than anything we at eOne could have done. We see the world through the eyes of developers, while Devon writes as an implementer. What is cool, hard, frustrating, tricky and down right impossible - is very different depending on what experience you have. While we author the Builders for GP - we do not put the same time into implementing the software. I for one, will be a devoted reader of this blog, and I trust we can take this feedback back to Microsoft and incorporate some of the ideas into future builds of the Builder products.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Top Ten list - who cares?

ISV's usually don't go about publishing sales data and releasing lists of top resellers. But when Abbey wanted to post the list last week, I could not think of any good reason as to why not. The feedback from partners who are both on the list and those that did not make it has been very positive.

So I thought I would take this a little further, and share some of our sales numbers with you, and why our top ten partners get excited. Sales of SmartConnect in May set a new world record for eOne. This record did not last long as it was surpassed in June. (a massive effort from the entire eOne team over the past 24 months lead to this achievement)

Well over 80 Smart Connects shipped out during this 2 month period. What is most exciting about this is that our partners made some good money. On top of the software revenue, our partners tend to average 4-10 days of services sales for each deal. So if we go conservative and say 80 implementations X 6 days each X $1,400 per day, then partners have generated $672,000 worth of consulting in just 2 months - based on a single eOne product.

Above and beyond the revenue generation, our partners have also made their customers very happy by, to use an old Great plains phrase. "improving the lives and business success of Customers". What we are finding is that once a customer has been exposed to business improvements and the efficiencies that SmartConnect brings, they are then open to consider additional projects. Suddenly customers expect more from their software and leads to new projects for partners. These projects may take many forms but configuration projects with SmartConnect and eXtender often lead to custom dex projects, share point, web integrations, system automation, reporting or business process review projects. As a result, the flow on consulting revenue can be very significant.

So congratulations again to every one of our partners, and thank you for your efforts in the 2009/10 financial year. I am hoping to see some of you chase down our top partner who has just closed in on 100 SmartConnect implementations.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Secret of Our Top 10 Partners

I’ve spent some time in the last few days pouring over our sales numbers from the past fiscal year and can I tell you, I wasn’t shocked by some of what I found, in terms of our partners.

Our top 10 resellers:

1. Eclipse Computing (Australia)
2. The TM Group
3. T3 Information Systems
4. Tribridge
5. Tectura
6. Maner, Costerisan, & Ellis
7. BCG Systems
8. First Tech Direct
9. BDO Dunwoody
10. eTelligent Solutions

Although we truly love all of our partners, it’s interesting to look at the list above and see what they have in common. The number one thing? TRAINING. The resellers above have invested in sending their consultants to training and have benefitted from it. Not only are the partners above experiencing less issues with support, but they are also wildly successful in their implementations. Some of the most creative solutions we hear about come from the 10 teams above.

Additionally, our top resellers are billing an average of 7 to 9 days services with each sale, which means partners that have implemented 25 SmartConnects have generated nearly a full year’s worth of work for their consulting team.

So, want to join the top 10? Come to our next training session:

When: July 21st and July 22nd
Where: Baltimore, MD
Cost: $1400/person*
(*includes two full days of hands-on training, our latest training image, and our training manual)

If you’d like more information on training (or if you want to give me feedback about why you’re not on the top 10 list), please feel free to contact me ( or 888.319.3663 ext 717).

Monday, July 05, 2010

Never, Never Look at the tables

I have blogged, preached, pleaded, begged, trained, demonstrated on the same topic for 7 years. I now declare my job impossible. Without the power of a deity - which I clearly do not possess, I simply can not change consultant and developer instinct.

Instinct says that if you are asked to write a report, go and look in the tables. Instinct says that if you need to reference a field on a web page, go look in the tables. Instinct says that if you need to import data, go an write to the tables. Instinct says ....

Is it possible that natural instinct is wrong? There is a long Darwinian discussion that could follow here. YES - instinct can be wrong. When it comes to Microsoft Dynamics GP eXtender, instinct is wrong.

Just yesterday I had some of our internal team helping to build a demonstration for WWPC which is on later this month. One of the tasks was to have a web page reference some data that was being stored with an eXtender form. Yesterday I heard cursing, muttering and the banging of office stationary coming from one of the developers cubicles. So naturally I approached carefully to determine what the issue might be! What I found was a .net developer searching around the EXT00XXX tables looking for where particular values were being stored.

My first reaction was to drop to the floor and begin wailing and weeping violently.(just instinct). After regathering a small semblance of composure, I was able to ask the question "how long have you been looking through these tables?". The answer was an aggressive "Too XXXXXXX long ....". I calmly took control of the offending mouse, clicked eXtender, eXtender views, mark all and save. Problem solved. The website reference was complete in about 2 minutes. If this can happen 3 foot from where I sit every day, I shudder to think what might be happening around the world every day. Am I the cause of much cursing, stomping and damage to office stationary?


I agree the eXtender tables are a little complex. They should be. How else can we deliver unlimited user defined forms and windows, with unlimited user defined fields within an ERP? At eOne we do not hard code. We let you configure. If you want a new form that has nothing but 100 date fields, then you can build it. The eXtender table structure supports that and most anything else you can dream up. All this without changing source code or making future upgrades more difficult.

Extender views are SQL views. SQL views that take the complex table structure of eXtender and undo it, to present to your report writer or developer, a simple SQL view containing all the data captured within any particular eXtender object. This process takes less than 30 seconds.

So every time that you create a new object within eXtender, take the time to click the views object, and create a view. You can then use this data in any reporting tool you dream up, and can tell your developers or BI experts to pull the data right from that view.

Here are the steps below:
1. click on the eXtender views object within eXtender. (same for Microsoft Dynamics GP Extender and eXtender Enterprise).

2. Select the eXtender objects and or GP tables you want included within your view. Mark the fields you would like included.

3. For the skeptical - take a look in SQL to see all the data that has been entered into this eXtender object.