Sunday, October 31, 2010

SmartConnect and Active Directory

SmartConnect 2010 uses Active Directory-based security instead of SQL security. This has caused some confusion among partners who are used to the 'sa' user being able to access everything. We have received calls from partners who are frustrated because the 'sa' user cannot get into SmartConnect Setup or SmartConnect security.

During the initial installation of SmartConnect, one of the last steps after launching Great Plains should be to go into Tools – SmartConnect – Security. If there are no users configured, a window will pop open informing the user that there are no users setup, and asks if you would like to setup the current user as an administrator. When the user clicks OK, it adds the users Windows login as an administrator and not their SQL or Great Plains login.

This user will then be able to access SmartConnect security setup, and should add the additional domain users to SmartConnect security. The user lookup is actually looking for Active Directory domain users and not SQL users.

If no users are unable to access SmartConnect setup or security, you need to find out who the SmartConnect administrator is by: logging into SQL Server Management Studio and running a select query on Users table in the SmartConnect database. Any domain user listed there that has the “IsAdmin” checkbox marked is an Administrator in SmartConnect. If you log out of Windows, and log back in as that user, you then will be able to access SmartConnect security and add additional users.

There are a number of reasons why SmartConnect is configured to work with AD. The primary reason being that many of the users that will execute a map (especially via Excel or other remote applications) may not have any login access to GP. In order to control access for these users the security needs to be based on something other than traditional GP security.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SmartView is just Days Away

I have decided that if you read this blog then you are familiar with Dynamics GP and know a great enhancement when you see one. So rather than writing a marketing blurb about SmartView I thought I would let you make up your own mind. Below are links to two videos demonstrations. The first is for those with short attentions spans and limited time (will only take 3 minutes) and the second is for the more thoughtful individual with 17 minutes to spare.

SmartView 3 Minute Overview.

17 Minute Full Feature Demonstration

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Hiring

We recently saw the need to expand our support desk and went for a global search for the best support people. We handed our exhaustive list of requirements to a recruitment consultant, and blindly accepted their candidate. While we will persist with little Tobes for a few more weeks I am not sure he will work out long term. If you have any comments about the quality of the support provided from our newest team member then please address it to him personally as he does not take instruction well. On more than one occasion he has burst into tears for no apparent reason.

Little Tobes takes the first call of the day - note the casual office attire at eOne. This looks like a seriously tough call.

It looks like this could be a tough call to crack - Tobes is going to have to do some research. "Could you please hold the line a moment".

"Too easy. This guy had not even read the new SmartConnect manual. I pointed him to page 68 and he was golden. This support stuff is a piece of pie - what's next." .

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back to Business

Apologies for going missing in action over the past few weeks. I was fortunate to have a holiday during which I got to completely 'switch off', and then spent a week travelling for work - during which time I did not really 'switch on' beyond the sessions I was presenting.

I spent last week with our UK partners in London and had a great time - thanks to all for their hospitality. On the 22hr flight home, with a little time to reflect in between the beef or chicken preheated meals - there was a single thought that kept coming to me. "The future of GP is entirely in the hands of GP Partners". Let me explore this thought below.

You all know that I firmly believe that Microsoft Dynamics GP is the most powerful, most flexible, most configurable and best value for money mid market ERP available. If you want to challenge this statement then please let me know which product you think is better.

What I have found this year on my visits to both the USA and UK is that GP resellers are getting lazy (and I include myself in this category also). Yes - there I have said it. Before you take offense please hear me out.

A couple of questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you demo Dynamics GP in much the same way you did 2, 3, or 5 years ago?
2. Do you really understand the Business Portal Dashboards and Home Page Metrics?
3. Are you as familiar with SRS reports as you were with Report Writer and Crystal?
4. Do you show your customers Excel Reports, and Excel Report builder? For how many customers have you implemented Navigation Lists?
5. Did you ever get beyond that fact that eXtender simply adds a few extra fields?
6. Can you clearly explain what a web service is, and where and when they are used in GP. Can you give three great customer examples of why web services change the ERP world?
7. Do you go to market with a web store for GP?
8. Do you know all about the new features that are available in V10 and V2010 GP?
9. Can you demo power pivot?
10. Do you still take advice from the back room dex guy who is still living in the 90's.

GP has been top of the pile for a long time, and over 15 years we saw the growth of best reseller channel in mid market ERP which is the envy of all our competitors. My question is are we making sure we stay ahead of the pack.

Our competitors have had plenty of time to aim up, work hard and come to compete hard with us. Take a product such as NetSuite which has come a huge way in the last few years. They get the chance to take GP, pull it apart and copy all the best bits into their product - and they are doing it. If we sit still they will catch up, copy our product features and pass us by, leaving us wondering what happened.

Alternately, we can keep moving forward, improving our offering and making sure that they never get to catch up. From where I sit, Microsoft are continuing to improve and enhance GP with every new release. Now I am sure we all have wish lists for features and changes, and we will never get all the things we want but I believe we have more than enough to work with.

There are a few things that I believe we as partners can do to ensure we stay well ahead of any competitor.

1. Voice your high demands on Microsoft: Keep talking and telling Microsoft what your customers needs. Get passionate and demanding when it comes to ensuring what GP looks like next year and the year after. If you do not ask, if you do not hit up executives, if you do not swamp the help desk then you will not get the things you need. I sense there is a feeling that we are now dealing with Microsoft and individual partners do not have the swing and power they once had - which is simply not true. There are great people in Fargo who will listen and learn from everything you have to share.
2. Sell up a bomb: there is no better activity than selling lots of GP. Take advantage of the 3 for a $1 and 3 for a £1 and all other promotions. If you want Microsoft to listen to you than knock on their door with really big sales number and a full pipeline.
3. Get creative with your solutions and embrace the Microsoft story. Do not show GP the same way you did 5 years ago. Learn all the new features that have been added into GP in the last 3-4 years. Leverage the Microsoft Office story with Office, ERB, Communicator, SRS and all the other good links to all things Microsoft. Get deeply familiar with CRM and stop talking about it like it is all a little scary. Tell customers that CRM is the integrated CRM solution for GP - and show it as one product. Use the term Dynamics and get on board with the 'Dynamics' marketing. Use Extender, build what your customer needs - but call it GP. Never mention the word eXtender - but say this is what GP does for you.
4. Pitch GP as the best integration product on the market (as with SmartConnect/eConnect it is). Embrace your prospects existing point software solutions and show how easy it is to make all their systems one single 'system' through the power of integration and reporting.
5. Love your existing customers. Love them by taking them the best solutions, and advising them on the best way to do business. Do not let a few slip away to the competitors just because they never called in, or never spent money. If you let a few customers go, then expect a case study to appear from NetSuite on the problems you get with GP. Bring your customers to convergence and support all the Microsoft customer event initiatives. There is nothing better to create that warm and fuzzy feeling for a customer than having them feel part of the 50-60,000 customers that use GP everyday to run their business.

We are the users and implementers of the best mid market ERP product in the market. FACT. But unless we want this to remain the case 2 years form now, we had better get excited, get active, get passionate and sell up a storm.