Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Have you heard about Node Builder

eOne has spent the last 10 years writing tools that turn development activities into consulting and end user activities.

In April we will release yet another great tool that reduces development time significantly, a new product called Node Builder. There are two questions we have been asked hundreds of times over the last few years
1. "How do we integrate into modules and objects in GP that are not supported by eConnect?".
2. "We love SmartConnect but need to be able to map to our own destination tables that have nothing to do with GP or CRM. Can I do that with SmartConnect?"

Up until now the answer has been "... can certainly be done with custom development. You need to write a custom node (which is really a fancy stored procedure) and then you can sit this behind SmartConnect. Contact your dev team or engage eOne to help". By the end of April the answer will be "just use node Builder".

Node Builder provides you with a very simple interface that lets you do a couple of keys things:
1. Choose the tables/fields you need to populate (may be within GP or outside of GP)
2. Identify the business rules that must be followed
3. Define your own error messages

When you are done Node Builder will produce a Stored Procedure or eConnect node (your choice) and link this up with SmartConnect for you. You can then build a map to your new destination just like it had always been a standard destination within SmartConnect. All of this without a single line of code.

What this means is that there is nothing inside GP that SmartConnnect is unable to integrate with. It also means that SmartConnect can integrate to any external SQL table with all the business rules and validation you require.

It is perhaps best summed up by a message I received this week from one of our top resellers TGO up in Cananda.

Node Builder is fantastic. It will change the way Microsoft Dynamics GP partners and customers use Dynamics GP. The combination of Node Builder, SmartConnect and Dynamics GP give customers and partners the long awaited feature of integrating transactions into any field or window in GP. Node Builder and SmartConnect together drive up the business value of Microsoft Dynamics GP, by allowing you to integrate into any field while driving down the cost building new integration point into Dynamics GP.
Blair Hicken
CIO TGO Consulting

I will update the blog shortly with specific release dates, introduction pricing and more details about Node Builder. If you would liek to join the beta program for node Builder please contact me directly.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thanks for the feedback

I just wanted to share a message I recived this today that made me smile for the whole afternoon. Thanks to the guys at AccessTek for taking the time to send us a positive message - it really does lift the entire team.

Hey Martin!
How are things “down under”?

Kristi and I wanted to send a quick email thanking you and your team for all your support over the past several months.
As you know, we’ve been using eOne products for at least 10 years – we love eXtender!

About 18 months ago we started implementing SmartConnect for our customers – with great results.
Once again eOne has delivered a great product that has changed the way we sell and implement GP.
We have so many more options for our clients when SmartConnect is part of the solution.

And, we have to thank your consulting team.
David, Chris and yourself have been instrumental in helping us deliver some of our more complex solutions.
The initial training was very thorough and we seldom meet trainers that know so much about their product and are so passionate about it.
There is so much to know about SmartConnect and it can be used in so many situations. Good training is essential.
If we hadn’t been trained and didn’t have ongoing assistance from your Support folks then we wouldn’t be able to realize the power of SmartConnect with our clients.

It is so great to be able to rely on your “gurus” when we need them. Your Support team is always responsive and patient and friendly.
On occasion we have run into complex issues with client environments that involve web services, Active Directory, Domain Admin’s, Excel Addins or massive volumes of data and the eOne team is always ready to help us troubleshoot any issue.
Best of all, they always provide a resolution.

Please thank your team for us as they are really an integral extension of our consulting team.
They help us deliver creative solutions that work for our clients.

Thank you, again, to you and your team!
And, thanks for the awesome products!!

Shaun and Kristi
AccessTek, Inc.

Ever Forgotten you wrote something?

I was searching on Partnersource today for some GP fact sheets - and could not find what I was after. But I did stumble across an eXtender whitepaper that grabbed my attention. I read it for a while thinking how good it was and I hoped every consultant had read it. I mentioned it to one of my team who then pointed out that I had been the author!

While written in 2009 this is a great start for anyone wanting to build an Extender solution with Microsoft Dynamics GP Extender.

Extender White paper

Monday, March 21, 2011

GPUG Day 1 convergence

Over the past few years I have always been surprised to find that there is a sneaky partner Day at convergence - the day before everything officially starts. I have been caught out arriving too late and missing some of the best bits of Convergence.

This year the best bits are going to be on Day 1. The GPUG group are hosting the Convergence 2011 PreGame Show. This is a great event for all those partners and ISV's who are trekking to Atlanta for Dynamics GP. This is a dedicated GP morning that gives you the chance to listen to and then ask the hard questions of the Microsoft executive team. I have a few questions to ask them myself! (Like when are they ging to OEM SmartView and SmartConnect).

•8:00 am – 9:00 am Registration and networking amongst the community
•9:00 am – 9:30 am Keynote kick-off with Doug Kennedy and Anders Spatzek
•9:45 am – 11:00 am ISV & VAR Speed Dating
•11:00 am – 12:00 pm Town Hall Meeting with Key Microsoft Team Executives

The afternoon then continues with a customer focus with a number of fantastic break out sessions that will dig under the cover of some important topics. I will be there with the eOne team to cover two important topics:

1. Which Builder should I use: A great session exploring how to decide which of the builders fits each specific reporting need.

2. eConnect why it is so good: This session looks at why eConnect sets GP apart from all other ERP solutions, where the gaps are and how to fill them.

Check out the agenda here for the details on all the great sessions you can get to on day one. Also don't forget that the Expo hall is open on Day 1 (Sunday) so if you want to spend some quality time before the crowds with our team or any other exhibitor - then get along to the expo Hall 2-5pm.

You will find eOne at booth #1442.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

GP for $195 per month

It is amazing how industries change, and change quickly. I have always held a view that this change is good, and business impacted by this change have to evolve, find new ways of doing things and get creative to fit with the new business environment.

Recently in Australia many of our large bulky goods and electronic retailers have been complaining about online retailers taking large chunks of their market share. I was the first to say "stop complaining, deal with the issues and change your business model!"

It is one thing to have a passionate theory for other businesses, but it is a little different when it happens to me. Software is changing. You can now buy Microsoft Dynamics GP for as little as $135 per user per month. What happened to the $100K, $200K and $300K software and services deals I used to be able to sell?

So what does the SAAS and Hosting models mean for traditional implementers and ISV's? One thing I have always praised about the mature GP reseller community is that we had a good business model. Resellers knew how to make money in this business. There was software with good margins. There was consulting revenue with new deals. There was ongoing consulting and upgrade revenue. There was annual maintenance to collect. There we good chunky ISV products to sell.

The bad news is that right now this business model is changing and will likely disappear over the next few years. There will be no more big chunky software sale margins. Implementations time frames will be significantly reduced. Upgrades will be handled centrally. Aunnual maintenance will disappear as a concept. The relationship between reseller and customer may change dramatically.

For an ISV like eOne the change is also significant. If a customer is paying $30 per month for CRM - how can I justify $4,500 up front for SmartConnect? Are they going to pay $200 per month for integration? How much time can I put into presales if the return is a small monthly payment? How do I pay salaries for the next few years without upfront software revenue?

Lets look at how things may look (hypothetically) in the next 2-5 years. As a customer I go to and sign up for a 5 user GP subscription for $150 per user per month. I run through the rapid deployment wizard and have a new database to log into within 15 minutes. I click on a box called the GP marketplace and see some 500+ ISV solutions that I really do not understand - so I just move on. The next box is a list of services vendors who will help me 'get the most out of my new purchase'. They all profess to provide online config and support, with technicians I see and talk to online - so they need not be in the same geographical location as me. In fact there is a real good deal $65p/hr listed by a Canadian company or $70p/hr from companies in Bermuda, Mexico and New Zealand. We are based in Detroit and the partner there wants $130p/hr so we choose Bermuda.
The sales manager feels left out and says he wants a system too - so we go back online and add MSCRM to our subscription. Back in marketplace we tick the SmartConnect box to integrate these two apps which adds another $50 per month. While in the marketplace we also get the SmartView iPhone app for $4 for the CEO.

There are many variations of the above scenario - but the one thing we know for sure is that a customers relationship with software and partners are changing. Software is changing.

There is only one answer and that is we are all going to have to evolve. Resellers and ISV's will hold onto the best parts of the old ways for as long as we can - but we also need to evolve at the same time and rework our business models. Over the next few weeks I will revisit this topic and talk about some of the things that we can all do to start the change, and how we hold onto the best bits of what we have.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SmartView and Large Lists

On of the new features i nsmartview really helps with large volumes of data. I want to dig deep into this really important aspect of SmartView and discuss how it used to work and how it now works in the latest release of SmartView.

SmartView is built for speed. Speed in returning data, speed in filtering data, speed in searching for data, speed in sorting and speed in exporting data. By default SmartView loads the data into a local cache so that when you place a filter or sort on the data the processing happens locally and runs really quickly. This is a great feature. The problem that this causes, in the first release of SmartView, is that when you have the maximum records returned set to say 10,000 - but your list contains 900,000 records only the first 10,000 are returned to screen and into the cache. This means that when you filter the list it is only filtering or searching the 10,000 records that are on the screen.

I am the first person to admit this was a limitation that confused a number of users who were looking for data. The initial workaround was to change the max records to a big number like 10 million - but this then slowed things down by returning all records before allowing you to apply a filter.

With The current release 11.0.9 and 10.0.4 we have introduced the concept of a large list. You are able to flag any given list as a Large List which will change the behaviour of this list. A large list will always re query the database to return records that match your filter criteria. Large Lists ensure that you always get the right data while at the same time ensuring smaller lists run at maximum speed.

FAQ's on this topic: Which lists should be marked as large lists? Any list that is likely to contain more records than your maximum record setting should be flagged as a large list.

Can I mark all my lists as Large Lists? Absolutely you can do this. I would only recommend doing this for lists that will grow rapidly such as transaction lists. The more fixed length lists such as accounts ,customers, items etc will perform better if left as a regular list. Lists such as GL Account Transactions, Sales Transaction, vouchers etc may be best set to be large lists.

How should I use SmartView differently to SmartLists? Something we have found is that many end users select a SmartList list and as soon as it starts returning data they press stop. They then apply their criteria and allow it to run again. This does not work so well with SmartView. One of the big differences between SV and SL is that SV goes and gets all requested records and then displays them at once. SL goes and get record one and displays it, then record 2 and displays and so forth. So if you are asking for 1,000,000 records to be returned SL will return the first record quickly but take a very long time to return all records. SmartView will take a little longer initially but will return all records much faster than SL.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SmartView 10

A quick message to let everyone know that the updated SmartView build for GP 10 was released earlier today. There are a number of fixes/features in this build that customers have been waiting on. Download from the eOne website today.

These include:
1. SmartView is now even faster. Really Fast.
2. SmartView now has a Large List optional setting. Large lists with a maximum record setting will re query the database to apply filter settings, to return all relevant records. Small lists are loaded into local cache so all filtering happens locally on the workstation for extra speed.
3. Fix for the Account Transaction list.
4. Auto Filter Rule providing an individual column by column free text search.
5. Advanced Quick Search - Google (Bing) like searches (only more like Google)

In addition to the above there are a bunch of little fixes that end users will appreciate. If you have not got on board with SmartView yet - there has never been a better time.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

SmartConnect and AD

I had posted on this topic, Security and Active Directory, recently - but wanted to raise it again.

The important concept here is that who you log into GP as - no longer matters. Security is driven by who you log into windows as. I saw a support call today that was based on the following error :

" Could not read the DYNAMICS database. The server may not be accessible or you may not have access". The customer of couse was adamant that they were logged in as 'sa' so should have access. Unfortunately 'sa' is irrelevant in this situation. It is all about the user you have logged into Windows as - having access to the SQL server and database describes.

The full answer to the support call was:

It means that the user you are logged into Windows as does not have rights to the Dynamics database.

Do this in management studio.

Select * from [SmartConnect]..[User]

The user you are logged into windows as - must be one of the people marked as an administrator in the SmartConnect security window.