Rumors

A couple of items emerged from the MS Dynamics Compliance webcast today. I’m going to call them rumors for now because I’m not sure that I understood correctly. So, I may be wrong but here goes.

1) SP2 for Dynamics GP 9 is due out in October of 2006. That timing seems about right. It is expected to include improved electronic signature capability in the Electronic Signature module. Things like email notification and approval from a different machine. I suspect the functionality will be similar to electronic timesheet or requisition approvals. (We were talking about compliance so I don’t have any idea what else is in there.)

2) If you are running GP 9 + SQL 2005 + Windows 2003 Server you can get Active Directory authentication and single sign on. We haven’t upgraded to SQL 2005 yet so if anyone is running in this configuration, please go to user setup, play with the additional settings and let me know. If this is true, MS should be screaming this at every installed user. That is a compelling reason to upgrade!

3) Client Update will add CNK files. Here’s the deal. At Convergence, the MS folks were adamant that client update wouldn’t push CNK files. My VAR was certain, client update couldn’t push CNK files. I’ve been contacted by some folks who thought it would push CNK files. Most of the documentation is vague, but I did find a document that clearly says CNK files can be pushed to clients via client update. So which is it? I did a quick test and the CNK file did NOT go down. But I’m open to being wrong. Has anyone pushed a CNK file down via GP client update? If you have, send me an email and let me know.

Weekly Dynamic: Auto Complete

One of the newer GP features is Auto Complete. Like many other MS apps, when you start to type, you get a suggestion of possible words to fill in without having to type the whole word. But what if you mistype a word, is it there forever? Are you stuck with the word Flugelthorpe, even though you sold that division last year?

You actually have a fair amount of control over Auto Complete. The settings are found in Tools-Setup-User Preferences-Auto Complete. Here you have the power to turn Auto Complete on and off. You can set unused entries to be removed after so many days. You can limit the total number of auto entry words stored per field and you can remove all the auto entries and start over.

As for deleting an entry you don’t want, when you start typing in a field, the auto entries for that field pop up. Simply find an entry you want to get rid and right click with the mouse. Pick “Remove from list” and that entry is gone.

Compliance and Dynamics GP Webcast

Microsoft has an upcoming webcast on August 8th covering Compliance and Dynamics GP. You can register here.

I’m registered and hoping to make it. It’s a level 100 in MS lingo which means it may not delve deep enough for my needs but it’s worth shot. The beauty of a webcast is that no one looks at you funny if you leave early.

Tune Up Tools

Alan R. Earls has a nice article titled Tune Up Tools on CustomerSource, covering some under utilized features of Dynamics GP.

I have to take issue with one item though. In GP, you CAN setup data entry to use the Enter button to move between fields. DON’T. RESIST THE URGE!

Why?

  1. It’s a Windows world, using Enter in GP only prolongs your inevitable move to the Tab key.
  2. It trashes productivity. You can’t use Enter any more to save and move to the next record so you’ll end up using the mouse a lot more. Every productivity expert will tell you that the keyboard is faster than the mouse. Let’s face, if you want to use the Enter key to move between fields, you’re coming off of a mainframe or mini-computer system. This means you’re not using mouse in those systems at all. Using the mouse more in GP won’t make you more productive.
  3. You get inconsistent behavior. Sometimes Enter works like a tab, sometimes it doesn’t. Simple example, open Cards-Sales-Customer. The Enter key will move you around the form and won’t activate anything until you get to Write Letters. If you use the arrow key to move down to a selection and press enter, suddenly you’re ready to write letters. Tab however, has no effect. This means that there will be times when you activate something with the Enter key that you didn’t mean to and you’ll always be wondering if Enter will do what you want.

I’m not beating up on Alan, he was just making sure people were aware of their options. But for me just because I CAN go home late at night, using the shortcut down the dark alley full of gang members, while openly counting my paycheck in cash, doesn’t mean I should.

Weekly Dynamic: Rolling Down Service Packs in 9.0

Dynamics GP 9.0 introduced a new installation process and along with that, the ability to push installations out to the clients. There are a number of shortcomings with this version but I know that most of those have been loudly expressed to the GP team. Most notably, most if not all 3rd parties can’t currently be updated via this methods. This means you still end up touching every client for third party installs and 3rd party updates or service packs.

Having said that though, the push parts that work, work pretty well. Given all that, I’m going to keep this topic pretty narrow and just look at rolling down service packs and hot fixes via Client Updates.

Before you start, the applicable update needs to be downloaded from CustomerSource and placed on a shared drive accessible to all the users.

We’ll start with Tools-Setup-System-Client updates.

  • Start by giving the update a name, like Service Pack 1.
  • Check the box to Update Clients at Next Use. This turns a particular update on or off. You can have multiple active updates like a hot fix and a service pack. However, you’ll want to turn off an update if a new, comprehensive update is going to be used. (Turn off SP1, when SP2 is available)
  • Lookup and select the location where you stored the update. Again, this needs to be on a shared drive accessible to the users.

Now, when a user logs on, GP will check to see if the update is installed. If not, it informs the user and gives them the option to apply the update. When they say yes, the update installs. You’ll still want to warn your users with an email, especially since some of these updates are quite large. You’ll also want to manage this a little bit. Nothing like accouting coming to a screeching halt during month end because everyone is updating GP at once.
We used this to push out SP1 as part of our upgrade to 9.0 and it really worked well. Very seamless for the service pack. Of course, we still had third parties to add on but hey, nothing is perfect. Speaking of not perfect, Blogger is not letting me add a screen shot so I’ll try to add it later.

Our Upgrade to 9.0 is Done

We’ve completed the upgrade to GP 9.0 Professional from 8.0 Standard here at work. We used our VAR to do the upgrade because I’ve got too many other things going on. All in all though, it was very smooth. Not having to upgrade FRx this time was big help as well. That’s where the the last upgrade got hung up.

This will give me an opportunity to blog more on Business Portal items and to find some new 9.0 features via day to day use. I’ve again confirmed from folks that there is tighter Business Portal integration coming with 10 and that 10 will be the last big release for a while. Something like 6 month service packs and 2-3 year release cycles timed to better coincide with Office. We’ll see if that happens but we may finally get a chance to absorb a release before the next one is out.

Weekly Dynamic: Map Functionality

A feature that we often forget about is map functionality in Dynamics GP and later versions of Great Plains. (8.0 for sure, 7.5? I can’t remember)

On a variety of forms you’ll see a small yellow and green push pin icon next to an address ID. Clicking this takes you to Windows Live local maps powered by Virtual Earth. In most cases you get a map, and ariel view and often the ability to see the location just above street level.

It’s one thing to give your delivery guys a map. It’s a whole new twist when you can give them ariel photos with landmarks around their destination!

June Knowledge Base Articles

The June knowledge base articles for Dynamics GP and Great Plains are here. At a quick glance, there seems to be quite a few Analytical Accounting items. In the How To section, there are a lot of items relating to v 9.0 upgrading, features and issues. Also there are a number of FRx items this month. If you’re having issues, check out the knowledge base or the newsgroup.