Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SmartConnect Versions

There seems to be a little bit of confusion in the market about which version of SmartConnect you should be installing.

It is really simple - all new SmartConnect installations should be SmartConnect 2012 .  SmartConnect 2012 works with CRM, and Dynamics GP.

If you are upgrading you should go to SmartConnect 2012.  For those that are still on SmartConnect versions prior to the 9.51 and 10.51 builds - you need to first upgrade to the relevant 51 build, before upgrading to 2012.  All existing customers should move to 2012 to take advantage of the improved functionality and product enhancements.

SmartConnect 2012 works independantly of all data sources and destinations. You can use SmartConnect with one or many of the available destinations.  You may not even use GP, CRM or Salesforce and can use SmartConnect for XML, SQL, CSV,  Stored Proc, export or whatever need you have.   There is no connection between the version of GP or CRM you might be running and the version of SmartConnect you need.  Always install the latest version of SmartConnect. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tech Tuesday - External SmartView

This week we have another SmartView video from Jamie Otte. We have just recently released our external version of SmartView and this video shows off how to setup and begin using the external version.

Again, make sure you flip the resolution to 720p for the best resolution possible:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cloud Bemused

Let me start by saying I love clouds in general. I even love 'the cloud'.  And yes like everyone else we are packing up house, calling the removalists and moving to the cloud.

Something in the integration space that I am bemused and amused about is the way companies and integration providers are actively trying to 'decloud the cloud'. There are number of providers and in particularly I have seen our friends at Scribe offering a service that replicates your cloud database locally.  This is advertised as their big venture into the cloud!! To me this is entirely anti-cloud.

My understanding is that the great advantage of cloud is that it reduces the need to maintain and manager IT tools like databases locally on premise. I can only guess that there are big problems with cloud functionality that make people want to de-cloud part of their solutions.

Is reporting on cloud data so difficult you need to locally?
Is the undo function so bad in the cloud that you need to manage data locally?
Do backup and restore functions work badly enough to not trust them?

If anyone feels the need  to take their CRM database or sales force database or even GP database and replicate it locally - we can certainly help with SmartConnect - but I for one think if you have chosen to go cloud  then this is not something to be spending you time.  If there are issues with your cloud application then i would strongly recommend putting pressure on the developers of that solution to fix it rather than trying replicate your entire database locally.

If you find yourself trying to make your cloud more like on premise - perhaps you were not ready to go cloud with that application.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tech Tuesday - SmartView Videos

For this week of Tech Tuesday, I have a post that should make up for missing the last couple of weeks.

I have a collection of SmartView videos put together by Jamie Otte, our lead SmartView consultant, that cover a wide range of different features within our product. Make sure that you switch the resolution to 720p when you are watching them for the best experience possible:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Do what you say you will do?

Three weeks ago my internal accountant came to me and asked me to look at an issue she was having with Dynamics GP and multi currency. Something about the originating currency appearing as the functional currency and the exchange rate being around the wrong way.  I said 'sure' I will look at it tomorrow.  

I lied. Plain and simple. I had no intention to look at it.  I did not want to look at it. Multi currency had worked for 5 years and if it was broke it was going to be messy. So I smiled and said 'sure I'll look at it'. I hoped I would. I actually had time to do it. But I knew I would not!! I secretly hoped it would go away.

Why do I do that?  Why do Others do it?  I know Chris Dew does it. I know Simon Butler does it. Sometimes the eOne developers do it.  I know my wife rarely if ever does it. I know Abbey rarely does it.  Sadly I suspect the people to whom I am making the promise also know I am lying to their face.

So why?  I actually fully intend to follow through on my promise. But I take no steps to ensure that I do.  I make it optional - which should not be the case if my word means anything. I have degrees of promise somewhere in my subconscious. If I tell my 6 yr old son I will make it to his soccer practice - that is a promise I'll keep.  If I tell someone at work that I will find those missing XML files from the deep recesses of our network file structure - it is  just optional!!

I think part of the issue is the desire to please. Nice guys want to help everyone even when they do not have time. 'Tomorrow' is so far away, and 'by the end of the week' is even further away and 'next week' is like forever. Of course I'll do it.  The problem is I do nothing to ensure I'll remember and follow through.

So why is this a problem?  I quote here form a writer Danielle LaPorte who said  'Letting it slide is a slippery slope that leads to sleepless nights and eroded integrity which all adds up to a whole lot of yuck.'

Lack of Integrity. Lack of integrity is a serious issue. No one wants to attain a lower level of integrity. A reduction in integrity is exactly what we achieve when we fail to do what we say we will do. So it is simple - everyone must stop telling little fibs.

How do you break a bad habbit of blatant lies? In fact we lie so much often we don;t even know we are making a committment.

1. Don't say you will do something, don't write it in an email.
Today I wrote in an email the words 'I will get back to you today with my findings'.  The problem is there is every chance I will know nothing more on the issue today - so I simply will not be able to fulfill my promise. I set an expectation I may not be able to fulfil - and it was a promise I actually did not need to make.

What about conversation enders or fillers?  Do you say 'I'll call you tomorrow' or 'I'll look you up when next in down' or 'let's do lunch next week' or 'I'll get back to you' or 'I'll speak to John about that'.  Stop it unless you mean it. Do you really plan on having lunch next week with them - or are you hoping they are too busy or just forget?

2. Record it
You have to record your promises. Write them on paper, in a notebook, in your outlook calendar, on your hand, write yourself an email. Record it somewhere every time? If you do not record it how can you make sure you follow through.

3. Review it
I am good at writing stuff down, but really bad at reviewing it. Make a rule to review ALL your to do promises before you get out of the car at the end of the day. Before Lunch. Before Breakfast. Before you go for a run.  I don't care when just make yourself a rule and follow it.  Make sure everything is off your list.

4. Undo your lie
If by chance you are simply unable to fulfil your promise - call and let everyone know.  Don't email, don't text, Do Call.  You made a promise - so own it. If you have to say 'sorry I decided to play golf instead' - at least have the integrity to tell it how it is.  Always let someone know if you are not going to be able to deliver and set a new time frame if appropriate.  Do not Cancel twice.

100%. Aim for 100%. Imagine doing every single thing you promised you would do. You would sleep better. You would be respected more. You would get more done. You become someone people can rely on.

Quoting again from Danielle.
Aim for impeccable. There’s a great scene in Jerry McGuire, where one of the Zig Ziglar-like “mentor guys” in a polyester suit says in his heavy southern accent, “If I don’t return yer call in 24 hours, well, you can rest assured that I am dead.” I want that guy on my team.

So I am going to try and make the change. Feel free to call me out - if I am not upholding my side of the bargain. I have to finish now and go and check out a multi currency issue in my internal GP system.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Case Study - Customer moves off Scribe, uses SmartConnect for integrations

I love my job for a number of reasons. Some of the top being that I get to work with not only incredibly talented and creative people, but with products that help our customers save time and money. Take a look at the case study below which talks about our customer, Industrial Air Centers, and their use of SmartConnect. We were able to save them tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees and ongoing product costs. They moved over from Scribe and haven't looked back since...

Industrial Air Centers (IAC) is a provider of industrial compressed air equipment, maintenance services, and energy management systems. With an enormous amount of data needing to move off multiple legacy systems into Microsoft Dynamics GP, along with a need to integrate with Wennsoft, eXtender Enterprise, Excel and CRM, IAC needed a powerful solution that was also easy to use on their own. Their need led them on a journey to discover that not all solutions are created equal.

At the outset, IAC invested “tens of thousands” in a solution from Scribe Software. Upon installing the product, IAC realized that a very specialized skillset was required and a dedicated Scribe consultant would need to be hired to complete the project on their behalf. After reaching out for an estimate on the work, they were told that it would be a minimum of “tens of thousands” more. The price tag gave IAC the fuel they needed to look elsewhere. “It’s not that Scribe couldn’t do it; it was simply that the cost was unexpected and enormous and we knew that would continue for the duration of our use of the product. We did not want that level of custom work and were not prepared for the increase in total cost of ownership,” commented Adam Robinson, Director of Information Technology at IAC.

Robinson began searching to find the solution that would integrate from multiple data sources to multiple destinations and would be the best fit for his team. As a user of eXtender Enterprise from eOne Solutions, he was excited to learn that eOne also had an integration tool that would solve his dilemma. “I was on the eOne site looking at eXtender information when I noticed SmartConnect. It seemed like a no brainer to me to go with a team who’s been in the channel as long as they have and is that closely linked to Microsoft.”

Two days of classroom training with eOne’s consulting team gave Robinson the skills he needed to successfully implement and develop his own integrations with SmartConnect. “Training was excellent. I felt like I actually got my money’s worth out of it. It wasn’t like most of the sessions I’ve attended where you barely skim the surface of the product. We went deep and technical right away. I walked away confident that my projects would be successful.”

Rather than pay thousands for high-priced consultants, Robinson was able to go back to work and set up his own integrations. “In less than 30 minutes I had an Excel integration map up and running and was on to my next project. About 99.9% of the maps I completed myself. For the remaining 0.1%, I was able to reference eOne’s support team.”

IAC began creating maps for all their needs. They started with existing Excel sheets as a data source and utilized the Excel Add-In tool to call SmartConnect web services and integrate the data. Robinson shared, “I had users who absolutely refused to use anything but Excel. Rather than fight it, we embraced Excel as the data source for that integration and updated GP with our valuable information right from Excel. We eliminated duplicate data entry and kept unneeded users out of GP.”

Beyond utilizing SmartConnect with Excel, IAC began mapping integrations that wrote to their Wennsoft and eXtender fields, which is not available through any other integration tool, updated GP and CRM, wrote to their custom entities in CRM, and more. “We’re using SmartConnect for everything – we have bulk data sources, real-time data sources, changes only data sources and we’re hitting nearly every destination.” Robinson continued, sharing: “One cool thing we do with SmartConnect is synchronize from our fleet GPS vendor to our service management system. Since SmartConnect allows XML files as data sources, it’s pretty trivial to do a call out to get where our trucks are, run the SmartConnect map, and have that move the data real-time into our service system. Doing it without SmartConnect is a whole lot of pain.”

When asked to quantify the benefit of using SmartConnect, Robinson laughed “I attempted to do that at one point, but the number I came up with people wouldn’t believe. The amount of stuff that would have been done with individuals simply data-entering…it’s years worth of time we’ve saved.”

Robinson concluded, “We have two or three things we recommend to anyone we talk to…SmartConnect is one of them. Integrations are by nature complex, but with SmartConnect I did not need to write code to tie all our systems together. Even if SmartConnect were more expensive than Scribe – I would still choose SmartConnect every time.”