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2, 4, 6, 8… What Does Dynamics GP Integrate?

July 27th, 2009 Tod Heath 1 comment

OK, so I can’t believe I’m running with my wife’s idea of bending an old high school cheer leader football chant into a compelling blog title about data integration.  But really, this question is quite simple.  It’s exciting to know that Microsoft Dynamics GP will integrate with the vast majority of third party and legacy systems so that information can be collaborated and shared effectively. Though GP offers a wide array of integrating modules and third party solutions, there are times when you will definitely gain advantages by creating a custom integration with one of your important systems that may not currently talk to GP. An example is a client of mine that wanted to integrate GP to a warehouse management system (WMS).  The client wanted to turn off the Multi-Bin functionality in GP and let the WMS system do the heavy lifting of managing warehouse movements, tracking and managing of inventory, staging, and fulfillment. Therefore a decision was made to leverage Microsoft’s Developer Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics GP to create this integration.  Now don’t get me wrong, performing an integration of this magnitude was not easy, but once we finished it, it was well worth it. We utilized these tools to accomplish this integration:

  • eConnect – Lets you automate the integration of fields and data and adds data validation specific to GP.
  • XML files – This is a universal convention for passing data between two different systems.
  • Web Services – A web interface for third party integration applications.  It provides different methods for transmitting different XML payloads between the two systems.
  • Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ) – Provides guaranteed message delivery, efficient routing, security, and priority-based messaging.
  • SQL Stored Procedures – There were a small number of data integration points that were not supported by eConnect so we created stored procedures to update the data.

Steps taken to successfully achieve this integration were as follows:

  1. Reviewed the requirements and agreed upon a design.
  2. Mapped required data between the two systems via Excel mapping tables.
  3. Agreed upon the XML file formats.
  4. Created the Web Services.
  5. Set up MSMQ to facilitate the transfer of data.
  6. Configured the different eConnect integrations.
  7. Worked closely with a couple of developers on the WMS side so that they could accept GP data and GP could accept their data in acceptable XML payload format.

Information passed from GP to the WMS:

  • Sales orders
  • RMA’s – These were sent over to the WMS as a special type of Purchase Order to facilitate receiving of returned parts into the WMS.
  • Purchase Orders
  • Inventory Transfers – Created a PO in the WMS if parts were being transferred into the WMS location and created sales orders if parts were being shipped out to a different location.
  • Items – GP was the owner of the item database and passed new items and updates to the WMS.
  • Vendors

Information passed back from the WMS to GP:

  • Sales Order Fulfillment – Once an order was shipped then the WMS would send back to GP the fulfillment notification and it would automatically update the Quantity Fulfilled on the sales order line item as well as updating the tracking number.  Once a line on a sales order was fulfilled it would then automatically invoice, speeding up revenue recognition.
  • Inventory movements – Though there are several different WMS movement types, we only integrated movements in/out of quarantine locations (unsellable locations).
  • Inventory Adjustments – WMS Cycle counts and standard adjustments updated GP.
  • Purchase Order Receipts – Parts received in the warehouse would automatically create PO Receipts in GP.
  • RMA Receipts – When returned parts were received in the WMS it would create RMA Receipts in GP.

Benefits of the integration:

  • Two separate systems now talk to each other efficiently.
  • The WMS is a real time extension of GP to help manage fulfillment, inventory management and purchasing.
  • Items, vendors and item quantities are synced up between the two systems.
  • Revenue recognition is enhanced.
  • Produced a happy client (most important of all).

Sometimes the thought of integrating GP to another system of yours might seem out of reach, but really it’s not.  It just requires planning, coordination, and possibly some assistance.  Contact Ignify – an Inner Circle 2009 Microsoft Dynamics Partner – as we have real life experience assisting customers with simple and complex integrations.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Crosses 1 Million Users

July 27th, 2009 Sandeep Walia No comments

In a showing of the hyper-growth that Microsoft Dynamics CRM - the defacto recommended CRM software for the Microsoft Dynamics ERP - has had, Microsoft announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 in New Orleans that the product has crossed the 1 million user mark.

Customers worldwide are taking advantage of the power of choice, and deploying fast, flexible and affordable CRM and xRM solutions across on-premise, partner-hosted and CRM Online deployment models.

In addition, Microsoft Corp. today unveiled new sales and marketing programs for xRM, the new development platform for building sophisticated relationship-tracking applications. With new platform licensing options and close alignment with Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint technologies and other Microsoft solutions, organizations can now leverage xRM to create mission-critical applications that run on-premise or on-demand, reducing application development time and cost.

“Our fast path to more than 1 million users illustrates our strong market momentum, and shows how our CRM and xRM offerings are driving worldwide customer and partner success,” said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “Today, hundreds of Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers are building thousands of xRM applications. We’ve built significant alliances within and across Microsoft to capitalize on these high-growth opportunities, and we’re ready to drive value for our next million customers.”

Organizations such as the Leicester City Football Club, a professional sports organization based in the United Kingdom, have used xRM to develop its Player Management application, a solution for managing players, training schedules, diet and wellness programs, and injury prevention analysis.

“One big area of concern for a football club is the players, and people come to matches because they want to see good football,” said Lee Hoos, chief executive of the Leicester City Football Club. “In the interest of our fans and our players, we’ve used the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform platform to build applications that help flag warning signs by player to help them avoid preventable injuries. The flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been invaluable to our business in many ways.”

In an innnovative use of CRM or rather XRM, Ignify deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM for contract management for contracts with thousands of vendors for AVID Center – a nation-wide non-profit headquartered in San Diego, CA. AVID Center is also a user of Dynamics GP and showcases the convergence that customers are looking for between their ERP and CRM systems. By sticking with a single product family such as Microsoft Dynamics, customers can ensure they get seamless integration between their back office accounting/ inventory systems and front-office customer service and sales force automation systems.

Top Sage Partner Goes Out of Business – Leaves Hundreds in The Lurch

July 27th, 2009 Sandeep Walia No comments

Reflective of  how Sage ERP is doing in the market, the top Sage Partner goes out of business due to its bad financial state of affairs. Posted in CRN Magazine, Dallas-based MIS Group, formally Management Information Services Inc., suddenly ceased all business operations Monday, leaving a message on its Web site blaming the poor economy, tight credit and other “market circumstances” for its demise. “We were not aware that they were going to be ceasing their operations on July 6,” said Dennis Frahmann, Sage vice president of marketing, when asked in an interview whether the vendor had any warning MIS Group would be closing its doors. He acknowledged Sage had “some insight” into the state of MIS Group’s finances, but declined to say more. Makes me wonder – if this could happen to Sage’s largest partner, what about the many many other partners? (And their customers that have bought Sage ERP or plan to buy!)

 

Microsoft Increases Support for Dynamics ERP for 24 Months

July 27th, 2009 Sandeep Walia No comments

Microsoft is extending the service pack support policy for all Microsoft Dynamics ERP products including Microsoft Dynamics GP as well as Microsoft Dynamics CRM to 24 months of support for a previous service pack, when a new service pack is released. Previously, when a new service pack was released for these products, Microsoft provided 12 months of support for the previous service pack.  This is a fairly big increase in the support committment and one of the many advantages of  working with a software vendor that has big pockets. Other vendors has either cut back on their support staff and support timelines or started charging more for support. Support Extended by 12 Months for Currently Supported Service Packs This update applies to all the service packs that are currently supported (as of June 8, 2009), for the above-listed Microsoft Dynamics products. As per this change, the expiration dates for the currently supported service packs, listed below, will now be extended by another 12 months.

Currently Supported Service Packs Support Retirement Date as per Previously Service Pack Policy Revised Support Retirement Date as per New Service Pack Policy
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Service Pack 0/RTM January 12, 2010 January 11, 2011
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Service Pack 1 Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 Service Pack 2 Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 Service Pack 0/ RTM Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 Service Pack 1 Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.
Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 Service Pack 1 October 13, 2009 October 12, 2010
Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 Service Pack 2 January 12, 2010 January 11, 2011
Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 Service Pack 3 Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.
Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 Service Pack 3 October 13, 2009 October 12, 2010
Microsoft Dynamics SL 7.0 Service Pack 1 January 12, 2010 January 11, 2011
Microsoft Dynamics SL 7.0 Service Pack 2 Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.
Microsoft Dynamics SL 6.5 Service Pack 2 January 12, 2010 January 11, 2011
Microsoft Dynamics SL 6.5 Service Pack 3 Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.
Dynamics CRM 4.0 Service Pack 0/ RTM Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.

Support for Select Out-of-Support Service Packs Now Reactivated Additionally, per the new policy, support will also be reactivated for select service packs for which support has expired under the previous 12-month policy, but for which support would have continued under the new 24-month policy. The retired service packs for which support will now be reactivated, as per this update, are listed below:

Service Packs Support Retirement Date as per Previous Policy Revised Support Retirement Date as per New Service Pack Policy
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5 RTM Service Pack 0/ RTM April 14, 2009 April 13, 2010
Microsoft Dynamics GP 10 RTM Service Pack 0/ RTM January 13, 2009 January 12, 2010
Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 Service Pack 2 October 14, 2008 October 13, 2009
Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 Service Pack 1 October 14, 2008 October 13, 2009
Microsoft Dynamics SL 6.5 Service Pack 1 October 14, 2008 October 13, 2009
Microsoft Dynamics SL 7.0 RTM Service Pack 0/ RTM January 13, 2009 January 11, 2010

No Impact to Mainstream Support and Extended Support Dates This update has no impact on the Mainstream Support and Extended Support dates for these products. Mainstream Support for these products will continue, as per the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy, for five years from the date of general availability of the products, and Extended Support for another five years after the end of Mainstream Support. Note: Both Mainstream Support and Extended Support are available ONLY at the product’s supported service pack level.

Timesheet, Expense Entry and Project Profitability in Dynamics GP – A Wonderful Reality!

July 27th, 2009 Sandeep Walia No comments

Ignify recently took a professional services company in Northern California live on Dynamics GP with time and expense entry.  While Project Accounting in Dynamics GP can be complex – the module carries a lot of options. You have the ability to do Time & Material projects, Fixed Price projects and report time and expense as well as vendor costs to it. In our implementation we were able to provide these 6 specific benefits in an integrated fashion:

  1. Implement Time entry for all employees to log time to client projects
  2. Implement expense entry for actual expense + things like per-diems. This was a multi-currency implementation spanning multiple geographies. Expenses were converted to the base currency – USD in this case
  3. Report to Project managers the project actual cost versus budget of the project at any point of time.
  4. Calculate percent complete on a project so that for fixed price project revenue recognition could be GAAP compliant and not driven by billing. For example, if a project is at 50% complete but billing was at 75% GAAP rules require that the revenue recognized be at 50%.
  5. Allowed the finance team to defer billed revenue to be recognized at later periods.
  6. Measure project profitability by measuring time, expenses and vendor costs on the cost side versus recognized revenue. Be also able to measure unbilled revenue (completed but not billed) and unbilled and unshipped revenue (basically the back log)

The core technologies and applications used were Dynamics GP, Windows SharePoint Services, Business Portal, .NET and of course SQL Server. All on the Microsoft stack. The end result – a powerful integrated time sheet, expense management, revenue recognition and project profitability and management reporting system running from Dynamics GP.