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Corporate ERP Interface Evolution: Microsoft Dynamics GP Scenario

As business owner, who is in the process of your future Corporate ERP, Accounting and MRP system selection, you might already guessing about why all (or most) of the system, coming from different vendors are very different and require special training.  Maybe it is natural to expect that accounting clerk, AP or AR specialist who already have experience with one of the ERP systems in the past should be able to turn around in a few days and begin working with another small or mid-size business accounting

Or, even better - what if we suggest accounting faculties in the colleges to teach "generic" accounting application, which could be applicable to the ERP system of the real world: Microsoft Dynamics (GP, AX, NAV, SL), SAP Business One, QuickBooks, MYOB, Peach Tree, etc.?  This small publication is trying to analyze current trends in Corporate ERP evolution, especially in such product line as Microsoft Dynamics GP, CRM, with some notes on AX Axapta and SAP Business One
1. Intuitive Interface.  Of course, if you see the computer (with Windows7, Vista, Linux or MAC OS) - you will need long accommodation and learning curve (to learn how to operate computer mouse or open multiple windows of the generic computer application).  However, chances are very high that you are experienced computer user (who played computer games, chatted with your peers, seen videos on Youtube, smile), and you likely used such popular applications as Microsoft Office: Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Word, PowerPoint.  It looks like Microsoft Business Solutions in its Microsoft Dynamics Corporate ERP line of product is emphasizing MS Outlook user experience - if you know how to surf MS Outlook interface - you should be ready for self discovery in Microsoft Dynamics GP, AX, CRM and other products.  Formerly around 2003 MBS announced so-called "Project Green", where former Great Plains Software legacy Corporate ERP products: Great Plains Dynamics, Solomon, as well as new additions to Microsoft Great Plains products (coming with the acquisition of Navision Software): Navision and Axapta were supposed to be sort of disassembled into blocks: GL, AR, AP, Payroll, human Resources, Manufacturing, Logistics and prepared to be ready for integration into the Corporate ERP application with required functionality (and probably custom made).  Project Green ideas were and still are very innovative and Microsoft Dynamics product line is a simple step forward toward interface unification
2. Metrics and Messaging, Custom First Page.  If you are VP Finance in your organization, you may try to login Dynamics GP as AP clerk and surprisingly you may discover that AP clerk's front page is very different from what you expected to see.  Difference is in Metrics (usually embedded graphical reports on your first page), new messages from your Outlook, custom shortcuts on the left bar.  It is definitely good idea to have interactive metrics on your Corporate ERP application front page (where you can intuitively click on the bar and go down to the original transaction audit).  We could expect some room for the skepticism on the necessity of the email propagation to your ERP user page (as you can easily check new emails in MS Outlook anyway)
3. Integrated Corporate ERP Reporting.  Historically Great Plains had Report Writer module (which was and still is Microsoft Dexterity programmed application), FRx Financial Reporting, plus open SQL platform for Crystal Reports design.  With Microsoft Dynamics GP versions 9.0, 10.0 and especially with 11.0 we see domination of Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), where the trend is to phase out FRx and provide migration tool from FRx to future reporting tool for Microsoft Dynamics (likely to be something built on the base on SSRS).  By the way - Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services are already near perfection in Microsoft CRM version 4.0, where we recommend you to deploy report wizard (and you can further tweak Report in Microsoft Visual Studio if more complex logic is required)
4. Microsoft Dynamics Business Portal as Sharepoint application.  Here we see the trend to expose Microsoft Dynamics (GP, AX and to some extent other Dynamics ERP products) to the native web interface.  Very natural expectation to see HR and Payroll employee self service (W2, Payroll Checks lookup), Purchasing Management (with approval hierarchy and cycles), Order Management (B2B ecommerce with catalog management), Electronic Document Delivery (with advanced emailing setup for your Sales Invoices and other documents, which you would like to deliver via email)
5. Everything or "almost everything" should be exportable to Excel.  Every computer user is supposed to have experience with MS Excel or another brand of Spread Sheet application.  In Dynamics GP you have intuitive way to export your records to Excel (or Microsoft Word) via Smart List (also referred as Explorer for earlier Great Plains Dynamics and EEnterprise versions)
6. OK, good enough about GP users interface, but how about Great Plains customizations an integrations?  Well, formerly Great Plains Dynamics was exposed to modifications via GP Dexterity (semi proprietary development environment and programming or scripting language Sanscript), Modifier with VBA (even driven scripts).  However with recent versions of Dynamics GP: 11.0, 10.0 (and also with some restrictions for version 9.0) Microsoft Dynamics GP objects are now exposed via new tool, named eConnect.  eConnect is open via Microsoft Visual Studio friendly libraries to .Net programmer (you can theoretically program on any .Net compliant programming language, however sample codes are mostly available in C# and VB).  With eConnect introduction (and especially when eConnect came to its maturity with Dynamics GP version 10.0 in our opinion), GP is now open as Corporate ERP platform for custom integrations with real and quasi real time ecommerce, EDI integrations
7. What is going on across the street?  Well, if you are in Oracle eBusiness Suite World, please read about oracle Fusion project and its advances.  If you are exploring SAP Business One possibilities - please read about SB1 super intuitive interface, Drag and Relate (possibly OLAP imitation), merging SB1 A and B versions with the introduction of SAP Business One version 8.8 (now you can deploy ,most of your international subsidiaries on the same server in the US headquarters: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian, etc)
8. Corporate ERP and Ecommerce.  If you are even a small business, ecommerce automatic web site is sort of required.  We already published multiple articles on eCommerce integration to Dynamics GP and SAP Business One.  For Great Plains we recommend to consider Integration Manager first, second choice should be eConnect (where you can achieve real time ecommerce integration).  In the case of SAP B1 we recommend you first to review SAP B1 Data Transfer Work Bench
9. How to get help?  Please call us: 1-866-528-0577Science Articles, or email us:

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Andrew Karasev, Alba Spectrum 1-866-528-0577,  Informational portal  Andrew is Dynamics GP Certified Master and specializes in challenging customizations, data conversions, integrations, reporting

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