Thursday, July 26, 2012

Did you Know: SmartConnect Went Stand Alone

Did you know that SmartConnect is entirely independent to Microsoft Dynamics GP. While we still love and support our GP customers and resellers - there is no dependency on GP to run SmartConnect. What this means is that:

1. The version of GP you are running is no longer relevant to whether you can run SmartConnect (as long as you are on GP 10 or above)
2. The service pack of GP is not relevant to SmartConnect.
3. Every new site should be installing SmartConnect 2012. SmartConenct 2012 is the latest code with all the latest functions, features and fixes.
4. You can use SmartConnect directly with CRM, SalesForce, SQL etc even when there is no GP involved.
5. There is absolutely no functionality loss in the new version. There are more and better features for all customers.
6. The look and feel has changed and is much sexier than before.

Sales Wise
1. You have many more prospects you can introduce SmartConnect to. 
2. SC is your one stop integration tool for all your customers and projects.
3. SmartConnect AX is coming.

Sharing a SmartConnect Message

I was meeting last week with a salesperson form one of eOne's most successful resellers of SmartConnect. I assumed that he would know all there was to know about SmartConnect as he was very successful at selling it to his customers.

BUT I almost fell off my chair when he said "if only you could use SmartConnect on its own with Microsoft CRM without needing GP it would be much better".  The fact that SmartConnect has installed and operates completely external to Microsoft Dynamics GP for more than 12 months had been completely lost on him.

This raised two major concerns for me:
1. What are the things that customers and partners don't know about eOne products?
2. How to communicate better to our customers and partners.?

As a result of the first point  - I am going to start a series of 'Did you Know'  blog entries that will appear here in the eOne blog. This gives you another reason to subscribe to the blog and in your spare moments read not only the tech Tuesday articles but to also read the the 'did you know' articles.

Communication is a complex issue to resolve.  There are many ways to communicate, but which of these are truly successful way to connect with resellers and customers? Lets take a look at a few.

Email:  No one reads email. Life is too short to read all the emails you receive. If you receive an email that looks like a generic message  - then you delete it. I delete them. First thing every day I hold down the CTRL button and select all the generic emails (anything form sales@ or anything with HTML look and feel etc).  I hit delete - they never get a chance to share their message with me.

Blogs: Just like this blog - it is a bit hit and miss. People will read it every now and then. They read it when they are looking for specific information and google leads them here. Useful for our dedicated readers and thanks for taking the time, but not great for connecting with the wider community.

Newsletters: See email above. Not sure anyone has time or interest to read them.

FaceBook: our target is not 14 yr old girls?

Twitter: Schmitter.

Website Updates:  Only good if people come looking, and know what to look for.

Release notes: As popular as leprosy

Manual: Less popular than release notes.

Google: Google works very well if you have something to ask that is specific.  Does SmartConnect work with AA (analytical Accounting)? or Does SC work with CRM online?  But no one thinks to ask 'has the install for SC changed so you no longer need a GP install'. No one asks 'if I build an eXtender form in Microsoft eXtender, can I use that data as a datasource'.

Bing: Are you kidding me?

Forums: A new eOne Forum will be available Shortly, and i think this is an important medium.

Case Studies: These are critical at a high level to share concepts of what can be achieved. We will be preparing many more case studies - and if you would like to be involved in a case study for your organisation then please let me know.

So the question remains - how should we get out the key messages about changes and enhancements eOne products? How should I let sales teams know that SC is not reliant on GP anymore? How can I let customers know that SC will now work with

I am very open to hear suggestions - but for the moment please get used to reading my 'did you know' blog articles, jump on our upcoming forums, and stay tuned more ways of learning about eOne.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tech Tuesday - GP File Destination

This week I have a quick tip written up by David Youngquist on how and when to use the GP - File destination in your SmartConnect maps:

Sending a map to file is an excellent way to troubleshoot a SmartConnect map. This is very useful if you need to see the result of any calculated fields or SQL lookups you have created. Here are the steps needed to run a map to file.

Steps to accomplish this:

  1. Open up the SmartConnect map in the Map Setup Window.
  2. Change the Destination drop down from "Microsoft Dynamics GP" to "Microsoft Dynamics GP - File".
  3. In the Path field that becomes enabled, browse out to a location on the local machine where you can save the files. Typically I create a new folder on the desktop, but the location can be anywhere as long as you can find it after running the map.
  4. Run the map like you normally would. Typically the map will say all documents are successful.
  5. Open the folder where you sent the output of the map and open up one of the XML files. Typically I use Internet Explorer to open the files since it formats them nicely.
  6. Normally if you scan through the data in the file, you can determine what is causing the error. You may have a field mapped wrong, or your calculated fields might not be generating the result you expect.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tech Tuesday - GP and Phone Numbers

Hey all, recently I've had a lot of questions revolving around what to do with phone numbers when importing data into GP as well as taking data out. GP stores phone numbers without any formatting characters and then adds them later in the interface, however your source data may have formatting already in it.

To handle that, we can make use of the built-in functions in SmartConnect to remove any unnecessary characters for us so we don't have to write a longer script to handle it. We can create a new calculated field in SmartConnect and then expand the Functions list on the side of the scripting window find the function that we need. In this case, we will use fn.STRIPPHONENUMBER so you can just drag that into the scripting portion of the window and provide the field that has the phone number in it. When you are done, it will look something like this for the calculated field:
Return fn.STRIPPHONENUMBER(_SourcePhone)
Where _SourcePhone is your source field name.

On the opposite side of the issue, sometimes you want to add formatting onto a phone number - whether you are sending the data over to CRM, SQL or a flat file. This can be a bit more complicated since you may have extensions on the number or that GP field might not be populated at all. The script below handles most of the occurrences that you will run across:

'Declare the variable to hold the phone number
Dim myPhone as String = _SourcePhone.ToString.Trim

'If there isn't any data, return an empty string
If String.IsNullOrEmpty(myPhone) Then
     Return ""

'If it is stored as 0's in GP, return an empty string
Else If myPhone.Substring(0,3) = "000" Then
  Return ""

'If the extension is all 0's, return the number without the extension
Else If myPhone.Substring(10,4) = "0000" Then
  Return "(" & myPhone.Substring(0,3) & ")" & myPhone.Substring(3,3) & "-" & myPhone.Substring(6,4)

'Otherwise, return the full phone number
     Return "(" & myPhone.Substring(0,3) & ")" & myPhone.Substring(3,3) & "-" & myPhone.Substring(6,4) & " Ext. " & myPhone.Substring(10, 4)
End If

There is a bit of line wrapping going on, but if you copy it out to your calculated field it should appear correctly. Again, the field _SourcePhone will need to be replaced with your field that has the phone number, but the rest of the script shouldn't need to be modified unless you want to customize it further. This script is built specifically for phone numbers in GP, as there is a check in it that determines whether there is an extension or not by checking if those values have all 0's for the extension - which is how GP stores it if there is no extension entered.

This isn't the only way to handle phone numbers, it is just the latest methods I've used for a couple clients. If anyone else has methods they have used to format phone numbers or other fields let us know in the comments.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

eOne is Now Hiring

I am looking for 3 very specific people to fill some evolving roles.

Job 1
Ever wanted to work with a small, dynamic, flexible, successful and fun company?
Do you know GP and SmartList Builder really well?
Did you get shuffled off and retrained into AX?
Do you know how badly AX needs SmartList functionality?
Do you think Fargo is an awesome place to live?

If you meet this criteria then I would love to have a chat with you.

Job 2
You believe every company on the planet that uses Dynamics GP should be using Extender?

If you meet this criteria then I would love to have a chat with you.

Job 3
You believe SmartConnect kicks Scribes butt, and can demonstrate and sell the differences.
You know the CRM partner channel well and their specific needs.
You can help us build some amazing templates.

If you meet this criteria then I would love to have a chat with you.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Tech Tuesday - New GL Template

Hey guys, this week I'm actually going to highlight something that I have been working on for a couple weeks and should be on our site soon.

We have updated the Excel GL Template with a bunch of new features and tweaks based on feedback from our customers and partners and have come up with something I think you're really going to like. If you have been using the existing one up to this point then you will know what I'm talking about; if you haven't, take a look at the Excel Templates on our download page to get an idea of what I'm referring to.

The GL Template has been our most popular template to this point, so it made sense that it would be the first template to really receive an update on its core features.

The main changes are as follows:

  • Amount of lines in the template are now configurable without coding
  • Accounts can be looked up by number or description
  • Reversing date can be entered for reversing transactions
  • Whether or not archive copies are made when the template is submitted is configurable
  • Re-design of the main sheet to always show the header fields when scrolling through the template

We also have many more minor adjustments and tweaks that have improved almost every part of the template in some way.

The new GL Template will be on our site free to download just like all of our other Excel templates. The only change now is due to the amount of effort that has gone into the coding, the vba section will now be locked down and won't be accessible. However, our services team will still be able to help customize the template as a service if changes or additions are needed for your environment.

Look for the new template to make its way to our site soon!

Chris Hanson