Archive for July, 2008

Searching PartnerSource and CustomerSource

Handling tech support is more of an art than a science. Most of the time you handle 3 different issues at once that cover a wide range of products such as core GP, unheard of GP modules, FRx, obscure 3rd party products, Report Writer, Crystall Reports, etc. On issues that stem from bugs to user training (lovingly refered to as the ID-10-T cases).

After 4 years in the grind on our customer support help desk my number one skill is the ability to effectly use PartnerSource/CustomerSource as a tool. In fact I often joke that the number one bullet point on my resume is – effectivly utilized Partnersource to resolve issues. (most people are really impressed by that). The tech docs on this site is the same for both partners and customers so customers can save time and money by searching for resolutions on their own.

Here are some tips to overcome the blessed CS/PS site:

  1. Make sure you have a CustomerSource/PartnerSource login. Site access is available if you are current with your enhancement plan with MBS. But you need to be added by your partner as a professional assigned to your company on MBS’s voice system.
  2. Select the product you are using (Microsoft Dynamics GP for Great Plains users)
  3. Do not select a module. Just leave the module as All Modules
  4. In the Search For area use one or 2 key words, such as “test” if you want to know how to set up a test company in GP
  5. Leave all other options as defaulted
  6. Save articles you use often to your workstation so you don’t have to go back and find them again
  7. Book mark the knowledge base website
  8. When searching error messages use error message number to search for resolution
  9. If you have an issue someone has seen it before. Turn to the KB first before entering a case with MBS. They’ll often refer you to a tech doc anyways
  10. A lot of tech docs don’t exactly match what your issue may be. Browse docs that may relate to a different module as the steps are often the same across modules

Happy searching.

Mariano Explains Landed Cost

Mariano Gomez in his blog explains the ramifications of the various options available to users when using the Landed Cost functionality in GP.

Drowning in Spreadsheets

I met with a Quickbooks user today. They have at least three business functions that are being maintained exclusively in Excel. Periodically they analyze the spreadsheets and enter the information into Quickbooks. I continually meet people that maintain critical business functions in spreadsheets. They have hundreds of them. I have met people that don’t know what to do because they’ve reached the 65,000 row limit! So what’s wrong with this?

This is what’s wrong:

No enforcement of essential business rules.

No audit trail of changes.

Suboptimal security access and control.

Huge likelihood of data corruption and data loss.

Unwieldy calculations, links, and macros that render spreadsheets impossible to maintain.

Excel is a wonderful tool for analysis; not great for business transaction processing. These are common business functions that are often maintained in Excel, but more effectively performed in Dynamics GP:

Function: Revenue Deferral
GP Solution: Revenue and Expense Deferral, Project Accounting, Contract Administration

Function: Timesheets
GP Solution: Project Time and Expense

Function: Fixed Assets
GP Solution: Fixed Assets module

Automatically log into Great Plains

I’ve set up my GP system to launch from a shortcut on my keyboard. Saves me from clicking 10 times and entering my password each time. Here’s the instructions on how to do this.

Tech doc#: 855677

1. Copy the following macro code into a text editor. This will be the basis for the automatic login.

Logging file ‘none.txt’
CheckActiveWin dictionary ‘default’ form Login window Login
TypeTo field ‘User ID’ , ‘lessonuser1
MoveTo field Password
TypeTo field Password , ‘pwd
CheckActiveWin dictionary ‘default’ form Login window Login
MoveTo field ‘OK Button’
ClickHit field ‘OK Button’
NewActiveWin dictionary ‘default’ form ‘Switch Company’ window ‘Switch Company’
ClickHit field ‘(L) Company Names’ item 1 # ‘The World Online, Inc.
MoveTo field ‘OK Button’
ClickHit field ‘OK Button’

2. Make the following changes to the macro code text file:
a. Change lessonuser1 to the user that wants to be automatically logged in.
b. Change pwd to the user’s password.
c. Change The World Online, Inc. to the company that you want to be logged into. Note The World Online, Inc. is named Fabrikam, Inc. in Release 8.0.
d. Save the changes to a file named Login.mac. Save the file in the Great Plains client folder. This would be C:\GreatPlains if the defaults were used during the installation.

3. Modify the Great Plains icon on your desktop.
a. Right-click the icon and then select Properties from the drop-down menu.
b. Find the target to Great Plains. (The example that follows assumes that the defaults were used during the client installation. The client will be assumed to be found in C:\GreatPlains).
c. Modify the Target line to look like the following:
C:\GreatPlains\Dynamics.exe C:\GreatPlains\Dynamics.set C:\GreatPlains\login.mac

4. Save the changes to the icon and then close the window.

5. Test the change by double-clicking the icon. You should now be automatically logged into Great Plains and into the company that was set up.

I have a keyboard that has favorite buttons and I’ve set one of the buttons to launch the GP icon. So I can launch and login to GP with one push of the button.

One caveat is to remember your password is saved in the macro so think about it before setting this up. I work out of my home in NW Montana so security is not that big of an issue for me.

Who Changed that setting?

I frequently have clients call and ask “How can I tell who changed that setting”. One answer is to to turn on activity tracking in system settings (Tools>>setup>>system>>activity tracking). You have some simple functions you can track such as login failures, changes to setup files, changes to card maintenance files etc.

After turning on the fuction you can then generate reports to see the activities you are tracking under Reports>>system>>general>>activity detail.

This is not a very robust tool but can give you information such as user who made changes, date and time, workstation ID, etc. A good start and doesn’t cost any money to implement.

For more comprehensive tools you would have to purchase the MBS Auditor module or a third party product such as Rocktons Auditor.

So, I would suggest starting with Activity Tracking as a nice and simple first step.

Start With GP

Many accounting system users with small organizations face this decision when starting up: Should I start with Quickbooks, and then migrate to a better accounting system in the future; or should I start with the better system. Half of our new Dynamics GP clients went with the first option. This makes sense if you really are not sure of the viability of your endeavor, and just want to try things out; perhaps.

But refugees from Quickbooks have a variety of reasons they are migrating to Dynamics GP. See my post.

The Business Ready Licensing model from Microsoft makes investing in Dynamics GP an easy thing to do, and you immediately have access to a robust mid-range accounting system. The advantages of starting with GP are:

  • You have full transaction, data storage, security functionality from the start.
  • You have rich reporting out-of-the-box.
  • You don’ t have to migrate from Quickbooks; which means:

You don’t have to learn a new system again, and re-train your employees.
You avoid discontinuity in regards to transaction processing and reporting.
You don’t have to migrate data.

So my advice is if you know you’re going to be using a mid-range accounting system in the near future, start now. You will only have to do one system implementation and the return on your investment will be higher.

Dynamics Technical Support Help

This is the first of many blogs regarding technical support for the Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains. As a technical support specialist (I think that’s my official title) I will hope to make the world a better place by giving tips and tricks, outlining technical trouble shooting methods, and reviewing common GP procedures.

My first tips and tricks shows you how to copy a format in Report Writer so you don’t have to start from scratch. Eg. SOP blank invoice form can be copied to SOP Blank Return form. (Hint: you can do this for all similiar forms but need to Find and Replace tables if you want to copy Blank invoice to Historical invoice).

Copying The Layout From a Modified Invoice to an Unmodified Invoice
Article ID:856003

Question:I have modified an invoice in Report Writer. I’d like these same changes to appear for a different invoice. How can I copy the modified layout from one invoice to another?

Answer:
1. Make sure both the reports are in the Modified Reports column in Report Writer.
2. Go back into Dynamics/eEnterprise to Customization Maintenance (Tools – Customize – Customization Maintenance). Export both the modified and unmodified invoice to package files. 3. Once exported, open up the unmodified Invoice using Notepad or Word and remove all the text except for the report name at the top.
4. Open up the modified report and copy all of the text, except for the report name at the top and then paste it into the unmodified invoice.
5. After all the changes have been made and saved, you can then go back to the Customization Maintenance window (Tools – Customize – Customization Maintenance) and import the reports back in.
6. Go to Security Setup (Setup – System – Security) and grant security to the newly modified report.

Hope that saves you consulting dollars or painful hours using the blessed GP Report Writing tools.

Cheers,

Doug Pitcher

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