SQL Server 2005 Released to Manufacturing

SQL Server 2005 has been released to manufacturing today. The public launch date is November 7. My understanding is that Great Plains SP4 will support SQL Server 2005. Do you want a free copy of SQL Sever 2005? Visit a launch event and get a free copy of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005.

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Weekly Feature:Excel Subtotals

I’m going to digress slightly with this week’s feature. This is actually an Excel feature, not a Great Plains feature per se but it has huge implications for Smartlist exports, so I’m going to cover it as a feature.

If you’ve never used Subtotals in Excel before, you need to know that I get more jaw dropping looks from people over this feature than for anything else I’ve shown them. Often I get slapped as well because they’ve just finished some long, tedious subtotalling by hand.

So what do subtotals do? When you export Smartlists that are detail lines such as GL transaction, Purchase Transaction Lines Lines, Sales Line Items, Inventory Transactions, etc., you get the details of transaction but often you also need the subtotal of all those lines to trace back to the transaction total. This is where Excel subtotals come in. Figuring out where all those transactions break and subtotaling with a formula is really slow.

I’ll use Purchase Transaction Lines in this example and start by exporting a large number of lines (1000) to Excel. Sort the list by PO Number either in Smartlist before exporting or in Excel after the export. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP. You would actually sort by whatever you want to subtotal on. It could be open vs. closed PO’s, date created, etc. We’ll use PO Number for our example.

In Excel select Data->Subtotals. This pops up a box that you follow through like a wizard.

At each change in: Check PO Number
Use Function: Select SUM
Add Subtotal to: Check only Extended Cost
Click OK

In English: “At each change in PO number, sum the extended cost. Replace any current subtotals and put the summary below the data.”

Your PO’s now have the extended cost for each line subtotaled by PO number. There are little numbers 1,2 & 3 to the left of cell A1. Clicking on these expands and contracts the amount of detail you see. You can see a grand total, a subtotal by PO or the full detail.

Depending on how you sort and filter the Smartlist data you can get different results, for example separating open and closed PO lines from the PO. If you uncheck the Replace Current Subtotals box you can actually create nested heirarchies of subtotals. But that hurts my brain.

Excel’s subtotals overcome one of the few shortcomings of Smartlists. You can’t total stuff in Smartlists, but now you know more about totalling than you ever wanted.

New Toys Coming From Microsoft’s Office Business Applications Group

Via Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft’s Office Business Applications (OBA) group is working on new end-to-end business intelligence strategy. Expect to see the upcoming Office 12 start to really take shape as the BI front end for MBS and other non-MBS ERP solutions.

Also mentioned is Biz#, some type of financial management server, whose specifics are currently under wraps. Plus, due Nov. 1, is Microsoft’s Business Scorecard Accelerator. Another Office family accelerator.

You can read the whole article here: http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1876647,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535

Website access may be spotty this weekend

I’m thinking of doing some server work on the box that hosts www.dynamicaccounting.net this weekend. Access to the site may be iffy during the weekend and then of course we expect Wilma to visit just south of us on Monday. If the website is down, you can always check the blog at msdynamicsgp.blogspot.com for info.

MBS Scuttles Business Framework

Via Mary Jo Foley and her Microsoft Watch site, Microsoft Business Solutions is scuttling their separate business framework designed to lay over the .Net framework.

In my mind, this is probably a good thing. We haven’t seen great success when the MBS folks stray too far from the mothership. If you remember Business Portal 1.0 before they moved to a Sharepoint framework, it was pretty bad. Yeah, it was a 1.0 product but it was also a technology silo.

Great Plains’ strength in particular is built around developers. 3rd party add ons are available for just about everything. It’s weakness is the underlying Dexterity chasis. Specialized developers can build great apps but the learning curve limits the raw number of developers willing to jump in. Also, you have to maintain and grow the language as well as the app.

From the story, most of the pieces will end up in other MS apps, the new workflow engine, LINQ, etc. The only sad part is the time and energy spent here that could have been used elsewhere, but hey, that’s business.

In case you missed the link up above, the full story is also here – http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1875024,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535.

Weekly Gotcha – Batch Transactions

In most of the batches in Great Plains, when you are working with a batch there is a big transaction button in the lower right. The logical conclusion most people come to is that this brings you to the first transation in the batch you have listed.

Nope. Wong. Nada. Nyet. Fooled you again.

I don’t know WHY they didn’t make it work this way, but they didn’t. The actual behavior is that is takes you to a new record, at the END of the batch you have listed. But, this can get you where your want to go. You can:

1) Click the Transaction button and work your way backward through a batch of transactions.

2) Select the batch right BEFORE the batch you want, click the Transaction button. Click the forward arrow and move forward through the batch. The batch will change you the next batch (the batch you want) and you are off and running.

All of this assumes your sort type at the bottom is set to Batch ID. Sometimes it just helps to know you’re not crazy and they didn’t design they way you would have.

Privacy Policy update

I’ve updated the Privacy Statement for DynamicAccounting.net to better reflect the site’s policies. The previous statement was the default DotNetNuke statement (the underlying portal). I’ve updated the Privacy Statement to indicate that we WON’T sell, rent or transfer your information to third parties. Nor will we use your information to send you offers from third parties.

In reality, we want you to be in control. That’s why we want you to subscribe via RSS or the FeedBlitz powered email. That puts you in control. You can unsubscribe at any time. If the content here is useful, stay subscribed, but it’s your choice.

Weekly Feature: Setup users without being SA

In v8.0 you can add users to Great Plains without being logged in as SA. Unlike previous versions, there is an option to create Non-SA administrators and get some separation between database and application security.

From page 27 of the MBS Planning for Security in Great Plains guide:

2. Assign the specific Great Plains administrator(s) SQL login account to the SysAdmin fixed serverrole using SQL Server Enterprise Manager.

So by assigning and existing GP user to the System Admin role in Enterprise Manager they can add users without being SA.

The full document can be found at https://mbs.microsoft.com/downloads/customer/GreatPlainsSecurity.pdf if you’re a customersource member.

Is this perfect, no. It requires a SQL security and most likely, the help of your resident DBA. Also, the user would still have elevated access to the underlying SQL tables. BUT they wouldn’t have access to non-GP databases on the same server. So the control is at least restricted to within Great Plains, whereas giving SA access, gives System Administrator access to any databases on that server installation.

Great Plains Reporting Roundup

Knowledgeable Army has a great post covering the reporting options in Great Plains. If you are new to Great Plains, take a look here to see all the various reporting options.

I’d just like to add one more, SQL Reporting Services. Reporting Services is poised to steal a lot of pieces from Crystal Reports due to inclusion with SQL Server, Visual Studio interface and generous licensing access. Also, Great Plains is starting to provide reporting packs for Reporting Services. Something they never did with Crystal.