Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Var's who do not care about making money!!

I have a grump I need to get off my chest. I often hear VAR's complain that business 'is just so hard to find' and making a living is impossible!

As an ISV I get an insight into the relationship of VAR's and their customers. One common email conversation that I see goes like this:

EONE: Hi VAR - your customer XXXXX is due for Annual Maintenance
VAR:  It turns out customer XXXXXX will not be renewing AEP
EONE: Oh thats too bad, can you tell me why that is  - as the feedback is really important to us.
VAR: We do not know, they just said they do not use it.
EONE: Did you ask them why they made this decision?
VAR: No we did not
EONE: Did you ask them how they would perform this task now without that software?
VAR: Nope
EONE: Do you not see this as a valuable learning opportunity, or potentially a chance for you to get involved with their new process or new software?
VAR: That's not really my job!!

How is it possible that VAR can have such a bad relationship with a customer that they have no idea what their customers are doing, what software they use and why? How do they not know why a customer has stopped using certain software? How do they sell consulting services if they do not intimately know what is happening at their customer? What is worse is that there is someone that works inside a VAR that really does not care about making money and keeping customers happy!! When I was a VAR, and if I ever was again - every single person within the organization was required to watch for opportunities with each customer. Admin staff,  Accounts Staff, consultants, project managers, account managers and Sales people were all required to always identify changes in a customers business, and opportunities to improve their business.

The term VAR (Value Added Reseller) is used for a reason.  The VAR is engaged to Add Value. If the VAR is not Adding Value then they are simply a middle man that causes extra Admin for everyone concerned.  I can live without Middle Men. 

When a VAR is unable to demonstrate an ISV's solution on their own, and come to me to perform a demo - exactly what value is a VAR adding? The VAR should be helping to hang the entire solution together for a customer and showing them how it works. A VAR that simply says 'go and look at SmartConnect for your CRM to GP integration' is providing no more value than a google search!  That's not Value Add.   A VAR that says - "I have the perfect solution for you. What you need to do is XXXXX, but the things to keep in mind are XXXXXX as it can get tricky if you do not have clearly identified business processes. Let me get my guru John in next week to show you how it hangs together and fits in with you current process. It is going to cost you $20,000 if you include the services - but the benefit is going to be massive and make you so much more efficient."  This is a VAR that is adding Value.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine last week that is the IT manager at a company that uses Dynamics GP.  He had a consultant from a VAR come out to install eRequest (or a similar requisition management tool). eRequest was not something this VAR installed too regularly.  The consultant who is charging $200p/hr turned up for the install and proceeded to open the install guide and work his way through step by step. When he got stuck around IE security and configuration, he asked the IT manager for help. So now the IT guy was teaching the $200p/hr resource how to do the job he was being paid for!! is that Value Add?  He finished the conversation with me by saying 'next time I will just do the installs myself'.

My message to VAR's is to start adding value, real value. At eOne we are passionate that our software is presented by our partners brilliantly. This requires our partners to deliver top shelf demos, rapid and accurate installations, clever analysis and configuration and ongoing support.  Watch out over the next few months on details of the eOne certification programme, and associated trainings that will help put all our partners onto the top shelf of Value Adding VAR's.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tech Tuesday - Rolling Columns

Our Senior Technical Consultant, Chris Hanson, gives us some hints and tricks for SmartConnect in this weeks Tech Tuesday blog.

There is an additional column option in SmartConnect that allow you to use rolling columns in your maps. All the term Rolling Column means is that it is a next number generator that will increment your document numbers for you when importing transactions through SmartConnect.

There are actually two types of rolling columns that are accessible: GP Rolling Columns and Custom Rolling Columns. These can be accessed under the Additional Columns button in the node mapping window inside of SmartConnect.

The GP Rolling Column will let you grab the next number from GP for any of these modules: GL, Inventory, Payables, POP, SOP, or Receivables. You can then choose the specific options under each option (ie. If you choose SOP then you get to pick the document type and id).

The Custom Rolling Column will let you set up a custom number that the map will save between runs, so every time you run the map it will pick up where it left off in the number. You will want to set this number up with room to expand though, so a good number would be SC000001 while SC01 would not since it would only work up to SC99.

The GP column will only work when GP is the destination while the custom column will work with any destination. Each of these are designed to increment for every document or record you send through the map, so as long as the grouping and key fields on the map are correct these columns will help save time and ensure you have the correct numbers for your transactions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Delivery Date

For the past 12 years eOne has prided itself on always releasing our ISV products to co-incide with all major Microsoft releases. For the first time ever with the release of 2013 we are late.

We have done everything we can to release on time but this year things have been out of our control.

Extender Standard and eXtender Enterprise: With a late decision for eXtender to be removed from the existing OEM arrangements with Microsoft - we had a very late start on development for eXtender. Not only did we have to upgrade our products as per normal we also had to, debrand and rebrand, consolidate to a single dictionary, merge 2 sets of code, include new functionality that now makes sense, ensure upgrades work form multiple code sets to a single install. This is proving to be a massive effort from our dev team. eXtender expected release date will be Early to Mid February.

Extender web Client: Not before SP1 at the earliest. There remain a number of Dex based functions that do not work with the web client. We are working closely with Microsoft to have these resolved, but are entirely reliant on their progress.

SmartConnect: As you know SmartConnect is independent to GP and installs as its own application. That said, we still have real time triggers in GP which rely on dex code. The other reliance is on eConnect which we must support within our code. So for those using SmartConnect with GP you will need to wait for the 2013 release. SmartConnect release date will be Early to Mid February.

SmartView: SmartView will be available by 31st Jan 2013.

Flexicoder: Flexicoder will be available by 31st Jan 2013.

SmartPost: Mid February.

Node Builder: Mid February (will be OK with current build if your Dynamics Database is still called Dynamics).

Again - we are not happy with the delays, but we are doing the very best we can. If you have any questions or urgent needs - please let us know.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Opt In eXtender Customers

Some of our dedicated partners have been left a little confused by recent message from Microsoft describing the Extender Opt in process.  I want to clarify a few things for everyone here in this blog regarding the transition process.

Why do we have to Opt In?
As part of the move of Extender back to eOne - Microsoft Lawyers decided that it would be a breach of privacy laws if they passed the relevant information across to eOne without specific approval. The Opt in process simply is your message to Microsoft to please tell eOne that you (or your customers) own Extender and would like that to be registered with eOne.

What Does it Mean to Opt In?
Opting in means that Microsoft will tell us that you own Extender. Microsoft will also tell us your paid up date for AEP in Extender. If you do not Opt In then you will not receive your renewal notices, will not have access to new product releases, service packs and hot fixes.

How Do we Opt In?
There are two ways to opt in.
  1.  Customers: click this link to opt in if you are a customer. You will need to know you Microsoft Account Number.
  2. Partners can opt in for an individual customer with the same link.
  3. Partner can Opt In on behalf of all their customers by sending an email to stating "please Opt in all my customers. 

Whats the Best Option?  Partners Opting in on behalf of all their customers.
Option 3 - is by far the most efficient. If you are a partner you can Complete the whole process with one simple email.

What if we do not Opt-In?
Things will not be smooth and you will be creating unnecessary admin for yourself down the track. The only way you can ensure you and your customers are current on Extender is by Opting In. If you have not opted  in and your customers falls due for maintenance - then you are in the middle of an upgrade and need new Extender reg keys - you will not have access to them  unless the customers is current.  So avoid the hassle and Opt In today.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Reboot Yourself Not Your Computer

A word from our Product Director, Martin Olsen:
Lessons in life from Microsoft. What you can learn from the software you use and how to re boot yourself. Spend 14 primitive days in the sun.   
How many times have you had to reboot your computer to make it work properly? For some reason my laptop from time to time get overloaded, confused, inefficient and generally sluggish. The only resolution is a reboot. Turn everything off, give it a rest and try again later.

Summer holidays in Australia are the human equivalent of that same reboot. It may seem strange to my northern hemisphere friends but there is nothing better than Christmas in blazing sun by the beach.

We have developed an extended family tradition for the past 17 years, of having a major reboot over this Christmas period. This year I really did not feel like taking the break. I had  so much work to do (new team members, new products, product releases, extender transition, new websites and much more). I suggested to my wife that we should just give it a miss this year.  Under the pressure from my two boys I finally gave in and agreed to head to the beach.

When we go to the beach we camp. We camp in a tent, with no power, and communal bathrooms and showers. Sounds primitive, and it is - but that is what we do.  We sleep on blow up beds that go flat by morning, cook only on a camp stove, keep things cold with ice in an esky (you might need to look that one up).

There are a number secrets to the perfect summer camping reboot:

  1. Absolutely no television.
  2. No newspapers and no news if you can avoid them
  3. No email
  4. By day two you will have no idea what the day of the week is.
  5. Phone goes flat by day two - no phone chargers.
  6. Early morning wake ups - when the sun rises.
  7. Walk to the beach for early morning swim
  8. Late breakfast
  9. Eat loads of fresh fruit
  10. Requirement to read whatever book you received as a gift for Christmas. It must be a novel and completely non educational. Minimum 2 hours reading a day and preferably stretched to 4-5 hrs.
  11. Kids disappear on their bikes to play cricket with all the other kids. (to support the reading requirement)
  12. Play board games with your kids, over and over. Kids love it and does not require any thinking.
  13. Go to the beach again - minimum twice a day regardless of weather.
  14. Swim in the pool with 300 small kids who you strongly suspect of peeing in the water.  
  15. Go fishing. Do not try to catch anything. Just enjoy standing on your own for a few hours. If by accident you do catch something - stop putting bait on the hook.  
  16. Have an occasional beer or glass of champagne before lunch. (once before breakfast).  
  17. Take a sneaky Nana nap. Wow they are great.
  18. Eat communal meals with your friends, in laws (who camp next door) and people camping next door that you never met before.
  19. Find a high Jetty and jump off. (or something else silly)
  20. After sundown, sit around and tell stories or play the kids board games with adults
  21. Enjoy some good wine.  Nothing like wine drunk outdoors.
  22. Avoid shops at all costs. Send someone else for fresh ice, beer top ups and food if necessary.
  23. Get sunburnt
  24. Endure your neighbors snoring.
  25. This routine must continue for a minimum of 14 days to get full value
I guarantee that at the end of this process you will be 100% refreshed, rebooted and ready to go again. Look out 2013 I am ready to give you a fair old shake.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

eOne Case Study: AccentCare, Inc.

We take great pride in our products and services and are always on the lookout for a new story about our partners' or customers' experiences. Hearing how our products help others by saving time, money and other resources encourages us to continue providing creative solutions that have a positive, lasting effect on our customers.
Our latest product testimony was from AccentCare, Inc., one of the nation's leaders in home healthcare. Their Senior Business Analyst for Dynamics GP, Gil Escobar, raved about their heavy reliance on SmartConnect so we set up an interview with him so we could hear all the details!
This story shares how AccentCare made the decision to use SmartConnect for 300+ integrations and shares details on an AmEx integration that formerly took 5 to 6 days and now takes minutes with SmartConnect!

Curious to read the full testimony? Follow this link to our website!