Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No more email Christmas Cards

Let me start by saying I love Christmas. I love food, beer, family, sun, beaches, presents, carols and everything that comes with an Aussie Christmas.

BUT - please do not send me any more email Christmas Cards. You know the ones I mean - the email with a pretty picture of snow falling on a house in the woods and an inane message like 'seasons greetings from XXXXXXX Inc'. Take some time to think about this - and then give me one positive outcome, one thing on the upside that may occur from sending out a message like this? Just One. Give me one reason why an organisation would decide this type of bulk email is a good idea?

What are you saying to your customers or suppliers with such a message? The only thing I can see it says is that there is someone in marketing that has the computer know how to upload a list of emails to a website and spam them!! What reaction are you hoping for?
1. The recipient thinks "oh how lovely that XXXXXX company is thinking of me at this time"!
2. The recipient thinks 'oh I forgot about this company - I will give them all my business because they sent me an email Christmas Card'
3. The recipient thinks 'what a kind and caring company'

No. No. No. Stop it. They are annoying. They fill my inbox. Email cards interrupt my busy day. Email cards tell me you don't know me well enough to call. Email Cards tell me you actually had nothing to say. Email cards tell me you believe in spam. Email cards drive me insane. Email cards fill up my deleted items folder .

So I have decided this year to take action. Instead of just deleting these emails instantly - I have decided to keep them. I have made a register of all the companies that truly think email cards are a good idea. I know who you are. I will find a way to seek revenge. I initially was going to publish my list, but I will give everyone a second chance at the same time next year - and then the list goes on this blog.

So we had better discuss the things I would prefer from my customers and suppliers at this time of year.
1. A phone call
2. A physical Christmas card. (but only if it has a personal handwritten message of more than 3 sentences. And that personal message is such that it could not have been written in anyone else's card.)
3. A personal email from the people I deal with every day (not the marketing person).
4. A discount and a special offer just for me?
5. Anything else creative that comes from people - not a company.

So you can call me Scrooge or Grinch but I do feel much better for having got this off my chest.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and take time to put work away and enjoy the important things in life.

Monday, December 20, 2010

SmartView Fact Sheet

I had a theory that with the release of SmartView I would be able to avoid putting together a fact sheet - and I could simply direct customers to our web site and the online videos. I built a short 3 minute intro video together with a full 20 minute video that shows all features. Despite all this information I keep receiving requests for Demos and Fact Sheets. I have clearly been partly right as many customers have already jumped on board and sales have smashed expectations and budgets in the first month.

On the other hand for some Customers/Partners old habits die hard. So I have succumbed to peer pressure and we now have the SmartView fact sheet available for our partners and customers. Partners are able to take this pdf file and save it locally for distribution to all their customers as part of their marketing exercise.

You can download it here if you too need something physical to print and share. SmartView Fact Sheet

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Have Fun at Christmas.

I hate being outdone. I have strung a few Christmas lights on our house this year, but I continually hear 'nice try ... but your neighbor's lights are better'. The fact is it is true they have way more and way better Christmas lights - but I cling to an argument about quality not quantity.

That said I always look for ways to compete, with out competing directly and head on. I have a plan for next year that I have borrowed from this gentleman's story below.

"Well, there is good news and bad news about my Christmas decorations.

The good news is that I truly outdid myself this year. The bad news is that I had to take them down after only two days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.

But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost crashed when they drove by. Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the ladder and almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). She was one of many people who attempted to do that.

My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.

I think I made him too real this time . But it was fun while it lasted."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CRM: Why integrate into Extender

What do you do when there is no where in GP to store the data you are capturing in CRM? What about all those contacts in CRM - where do you put them in GP? What about all those custom entities in CRM - where do you store that data in GP

This is where eXtender is the answer. Customise CRM all you like, capture all the data your business needs and then create matching screens in GP with Extender. Why not create an eXtender contacts screen in GP to store all your contacts? This means you do not need to buy licences for both GP and CRM as users can remain in the application of their choice.

Mapping between CRM and eXtender is as easy as mapping to any other field. Take a look at this example here. This is a simple contacts screen built within GP.

This is the map setup where we have mapped to to an eXtender form. The data source is simply the contacts entity in CRM and maps neatly to eXtender. Extender forms appear as an available node which can be mapped like any other.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cash For Clunker - why trade in a Clunker

The eOne Cash for Clunkers program gives Dynamics GP customers the opportunity to trade in the old, slow and clunky way of doing things, and adopt the SmartConnect way of working in Dynamics GP. $1,500 dollars off the price is a massive saving, and this promotion expires on the 31st of December 2010.

There are a number of generic integration solutions that are usually expensive to maintain and that do not provide even half of the functionality that SmartConnect delivers. This includes the solutions provided via Integration manager, Scribe, Pervasive, eBridge, DTS, custom eConnect or the free Microsoft connector for CRM. When it comes to Microsoft Dynamics GP and CRM integration and automation there is only one product that does it all. If you have invested in one or more of these tools (not limited to just those listed) and need a low cost switch to a single stop solution – then the SmartConnect Cash for Clunkers will give you the answer.

By far the majority of SmartConnect customers that have made the switch have traded in integration manager. Partners are always asking for a list or reasons to upgrade and we will take a look here at the main reasons why they made the move from IM to SmartConnect:

Things SmartConnect does better, faster and more easily:
1. Speed: First and foremost SmartConnect is much, much faster. Integration manger types the data in the front end via a macro, while SmartConnect applies all the Business rules of GP in the background and runs up to 50 times faster.

2. Scheduling: Set the SmartConnect schedule to run, close GP and go home. The schedule service will run in the background, will not break if GP is closed and will run every 5 minutes, 10 minutes, every hour, every day or just once a month. Once it is set it will run.

3. Breadth of Modules: SmartConnect provides a wider range of integration points.

4. Scripting: SmartConnect allows for pre and post integration Tasks to be written in c# and as opposed to VB script

5. Pre Map SQL validation: SmartConnect allows you to check that your source data is correct before running. SmartConnect will go and lookup to GP and ensure the data you are passing in is valid, before it attempts the integration.

6. Data Sources: SmartConnect allow you to connect to any data source you need without coding. SmartConnect can use data in Excel or CSV files, but also connect to SQL ,Oracle, SmartList, Extender, GP tables, XML, InfoPath.

Things SmartConnect does that Integration Manager just does not do:
1. Extender: Import data into Extender windows, forms, detail forms all during the same runs as importing to core GP.

2. Web Service: Developers can call the SmartConnect Web Service from to trigger a map to run from a website, another application or any custom code.

3. Integrate Dynamics GP with Dynamics CRM: Completely flexible, two way, real time integration of data between GP and CRM.

4. Integrate to CRM: Import data from Excel or any other application direct into Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

5. Real Time Automation: Automate almost any task within Dynamics GP as you move around the screens in GP. Real time triggers will kick in when your criteria are met, to create records in GP based upon data you enter into GP. If you have any rule based processes in your business, where if one thing happens you always enter a follow up transaction these can be automated. For Example: Whenever you add a new employee within Payroll and they are a manager SmartConnect will create a vendor record to allow you to accept expense claims.

6. Use Extender better: Build screens to capture unique business specific data in GP, then use this data to generate transactions in GP via SmartConnect.

7. Enter data in Excel: Do your data entry right into an Excel template, hit a button in Excel and SmartConnect writes that data straight to GP.

8. Use SmartList as a data source: let your end users filter data to be integrated through the easy interface of SmartList. Set restrictions, choose your data and then run a map against this data. It does not matter where this data originated from.

9. Custom Nodes and Connectors: Ability to write and include completely custom integration points within the SmartConnect framework. Ability for ISV’s to build a custom connector to provide a flexible integration point for their application.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

CRM: CRM Query Datasource

What is so cool about a CRM query data source? The query Data source is one of the things that make SmartConnect stand up above other tools when it comes to integrations between GP and CRM. SmartConnect does not require you to do all the hard work - much of that has been done by the eOne dev team. With many generic integration tools you will be directed to go and select the tables you want in your data source - but not with SmartConnect.

If you want to move data from CRM to GP - you first need to tell the system where the data is coming from. You could (like most integration tools) go direct to the SQl tables to find the data. As we all know this fraught with danger. The CRM query data source instead shows you graphically all the entities inside CRM, allows you to link them together and select the required fields for the data source.

The beauty here is that you only deal with friendly names, and without writing any code you generate all the code to pull this data together from the CRM web services. The query builder handles all the GUID's automatically so you need not battle these as you would if you went direct to the tables.

To build a CRM Query Data source you:
1. Select the Data source type

2. Then use the query interface to select the entities and fields you need. On the bottom part of the screen you are also able to define restrictions on your data source so only records that meet your criteria are selected.

3. All the hard work is done by SmartConnect by generating the code to collect all the data you need in your data source.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Upgrade Season

Upgrade Season

We are about to enter what I refer to as Upgrade Season. There are a number of events that are all lining up. Firstly SP1 for GP2010 has been released for a while, we are entering the Christmas Holiday period where many businesses slow down, resellers have been talking about planning upgrades for roughly 6 months and businesses are looking to start the New Year with some efficiency improvements.

As an eOne-SmartConnect customer or reseller and you are about to begin an upgrade to SmartConnect 2010 there are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you begin. We wanted to bring these steps to your attention to ensure your upgrades of SmartConnect are smooth and trouble free.

1. You must, Upgrade to SmartConnect v51 before you begin your upgrade of Dynamics GP to GP 2010. This is an essential step. Whether you are upgrading from V9 or V10 of GP you must first upgrade to either 9.0.51 or 10.0.51 for SmartConnect before upgrading to SmartConnect 2010. Please note - Once you have started the upgrade of GP to 2010 it is too late - you need to get to SmartConnect v51 before you start the GP upgrade.

2. You must, take note of the Active directory user you are logged in as during the install. (NB: This is not the GP user, but the Windows user you are logged in as). This is the only user that will have security access to SmartConnect after the upgrade. (NB: the sa user will have no special powers as it is only the AD user that has rights in SC 2010).

3. You must, run the SmartConnect maintenance routine after each SmartConnect upgrade.

4. You Must, Complete the additional setup screens for each connector. See the full description of this in the detailed upgrade instructions.

While here we have highlighted some of the big things to watch for I strongly recommend you follow this link to review the full upgrade instructions.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Microsoft CRM Custom Entities

If you use Microsoft CRM then you almost definitely have custom entities. The ease with which customers are able to customise/configure Microsoft CRM is what makes it such a powerful application. It is easy to configure Microsoft CRM to truly fit your specific business process by developing an changing the screens to suit.

The trick is that if you are developing custom entities, how easy is it to integrate this data with external applications such as Dynamics GP. eOne provides a very simple answer.

Firstly, SmartConnect integrates automatically with all custom attributes and entities in CRM - out of the box. When you build a map in SmartConnect it will check real time for a list of all entities and attributes - and you can map to and from these fields just like any other standard entity in CRM.

Secondly, the next question often raised is 'where in GP can I store this extra data we are capturing in CRM?'. There are a couple of options here:
1. Do not move the data at all but just display it to GP users via Smartlist Builder, Navigation List Builder or SmartView.
2. Use the existing GP user defined fields and push the dato into those.
3. Create matching entities/fields within eXtender and use SmartConnect to write data into Extender. SmartConnect natively contains eConnect nodes to write data into Extender windows, forms or detail forms.

The great part about this story is that you never need speak to a developer. Building an entity in CRM is easy configuration, integrating data into it is through a simple map and writing that data back to GP is as simple as an additional map. All taks that a regular GP or CRM consultant can complete.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Do you understand how SmartConnect works?

I have for a long time wrestled with the best way to explain SmartConnect to end users of an ERP. The best I can come up with is a simple graphical representation which I am linking to here. I hope this helps you understand how SmartConnect hangs together and why it can be so powerful to make GP the best mid market ERP in the world.

SmartConnect Explained