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.

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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.

Weekly Feature: v8.0 Toolbars

Since upgrading to 8.0 I haven’t spent enough time with the new Toolbar feature. Some of the customization options aren’t obviously available so I thought I would a spend a few minutes on toolbars.

Toolbars are the new icon bar at the top of Great Plains 8.0. On the surface, they don’t seem terribly helpful. It’s a basic Financial functions bar. No right click, no obvious way to customize it. BUT, pick View->Toolbars and the toolbar world starts to open up.

You can select to enable multiple tool bars with the mouse. The different tools also seem to be color code by module for easy reference (it’s not perfect but it works). Click View->Toolbars->Customize and you can create your own toolbars or modify existing ones.

Customization options include changing the standard tool bar, adding items, moving locations, representing items by text, icon and both. You can add divider lines, change icon images, all kinds of stuff. Since the toolbars appear to follow the menu tree, third party add-ins are also available for selection on a toolbar.

The Toolbar feature is actually very complete for a first release. Anyone remember the first releast of Dynamics Explorer (now Smartlists)? I think this completeness reflects more of Microsoft’s influence. More people are watching the space and what MS’ apps include. More eyeballs means more scrutiny.

In short, if you’ve upgraded to 8.0 and haven’t used the toolbars yet, give ’em a look. If your still on 7.5 or earlier, here is one reason to upgrade.

New Hot Fixes

There are new hot fixes out for:

  • Field Service 8.0
  • Safe Pay
  • Field Service, eService and eTech 7.5
  • Analytical Accounting 8.0

On a personal note, why doesn’t the Great Plains knowledge base have an RSS feed?
The September items added to the knowledge base are here. Happy hot fixing!

Weekly Gotcha – AP Void Posting Date

This has a been a problem for a long time. Most Great Plains users are aware of it but some folks never quite get it.

When you void an AP payment there are two possible steps:

1) Void the payment (Void Historical Transaction)
2) Void the voucher/invoice (Void Open Transaction) if you don’t want to pay this again.

In both cases the screens look very similar. What’s not clear, is that the VOID DATE and POSTING DATE can be changed by the user.

Many times I’ve seen users try to post voids to closed periods or even worse, post to prior periods that should have been closed but weren’t. Now the financial statements change. YIKES!

So remember, you change the posting and void dates to whatever is appropriate, it’s just not obvious. I wish MS would fix this. It’s a simple fix. I’ve done modifier changes to highlight these fields for clients who just didn’t get it. You shouldn’t have to customize this, how about a UI fix here guys!

Scripts, Downloads and Features – OH MY!

The framework of DynamicAccounting.net is starting to take shape, slowly, but things are happening. Like what? Well, the Forums area now provides the last 10 posts in the MBS Great Plains newsgroups along with subscription options – RSS, email and soon to come, MSN Messenger alerts.

The Downloads section now has a few offerings including self-logout for 6.x and 7.x versions of Great Plains. Some SQL scripts have been added to the Scripts section for our advanced users and the Weekly Features from the blog are all being archived in one place.

To get all this shamelessly self promoted content, all you have to do is go to DynamicAccounting.net and register. Registration is free, painless, and easy. Plus, we’ll never give out your name, sell your info or send you spam.

So what else is coming? Probably this week, I’ll debut a Weekly Gotcha. what’s a Gotcha? A Gotcha is a feature or process in Great Plains that incredibly non-intuitive. It’s not a bug, a bug is unintentional. One can only conclude that Gotchas were created that way on purpose, but with an ugly result. Kind of like the Solomon interface. But I digress. The Gotchas are geared more toward newer users, most long time users have used up their swear word budget on these items a long time ago, but it’s still fun to reminisce.

Look for more tools, features and gotchas over the next several weeks and thanks for visiting.

Weekly Feature: Excel-ing with Smartlists

If you’ve used Great Plains for 5 minutes you’ve figured out how to export a Smartlist to Excel. Great feature, simple interface, push the button. But… there is another dimension to Smartlists and Excel that we’re going to explore.

With a Smartlist open, pick Extras->Smartlist->Export Solutions to see what I’m talking about. Smartlist allows you to export to the SAME Excel spreadsheet time after time. You can also specify Excel macros to run before and/or after the export for formatting, analysis, etc.

Maybe you export data to Excel every month for graphing, analysis, etc. This feature lets you automate the process.

So how does it work?

1) First, save your smartlist as a favorite.
2) With a Smartlist open, pick Extras->Smartlist->Export Solutions.
3) Give the Smartlist a name, add your Excel file name and your before and/or after macro names. In “Visibility” set who can see this favorite and select Excel for the application.
4) In the tree view at the bottom, select your favorite and check the box
5) Click save.

Close the window. Close and Reopen Smartlists.

Pick the favorite you just saved and click Excel. You’ll see two choices now, the saved export solution you just created and Quick Export. Quick Export is the normal “send to Excel with a new sheet” functionality you’re used to. If you click your new favorite, your spreadsheet opens, your before macro runs, the data imports and your after macro runs.

This great for when you want to send data to same Excel file on a monthly basis. You can use a macro to move to the bottom or create a new tab, import the data, and reset a graph with an after macro.

Ideally, you would do a normal export first. Play with your Excel file and macros a couple times to get them where you want, and then setup the export solution. We’ll explore some other Excel /Great Plains links coming up.