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Dynamics GP Integration: Great Plains Technology Partner Notes

If you have Microsoft Dynamics GP implemented in your organization and you plan to integrate GP ERP and MRP modules with your other IT systems: ecommerce, Sales Ordering, CRM, EDI Purchasing, Supply Chain Management, you should get initial introduction to Dynamics GP Integration Tools: Integration Manager, eConnect, Dexterity, Import Utility, direct SQL Scripting

In this article we will not be covering Dynamics GP ISV third party add-ons.  It might look a bit technical to IT director, and at the same time you, as programmer may expect more technical details, as we are trying to keep balance:

 

1.       Integration Manager.  This tool is very friendly to GP User, and if this is your role, plus you are familiar with GP master documents and transactions types, you should try to build simple integration, use existing sample integrations as a reference and study materials.  If you are on GP version 10.0, IM has two types of Connectors: traditional OLE based (require login to the GP workstation as OLE Server and launching IM from there - integration works with the current company) and eConnect (they are built upon eConnect technology stack, should be a way faster, do not require GP workstation, however you will need special procedure to install eConnect connectors, especially Admin domain account or your GP local server Admin account; if by whatever reason you change eConnect Account Password, please change it in also in Administrative Tools -> Component Services -> COM+ Applications - > Properties - > Identity - this is one of the most asked questions).  If you think about IM as very simple and pretty restricted tool, we would like to give you advanced scenario.  Consider the situation, when you have legacy Sales Order Management System in Oracle, and you need to move Sales Orders and New Customers to GP SOP module.  In this case, consider to create MS SQL Server Linked Server to Oracle, and SQL Heterogeneous View, which will pull data from Oracle and will check the Invoice existence in SOP10100 (Work SOP Docs) or SOP30200 (Historical SOP Docs).  This view should allow you to create ongoing integration of Customer Orders to GP. You can schedule integration with Windows Scheduling custom applications, available for moderate fee on Software market, or simply have GP IM user to launch integration every day or every few hours.  Please, check with your Dynamics GP VAR on IM module license

 

2.       eConnect.  This tool is open for Microsoft Visual Studio C#, VB or other .Net programming language software developer.  Initially it was dedicated to ecommerce programmers to open Great Plains as back office accounting.  We recommend you to look at eConnect if your current GP version is 10.0 or 9.0.  If you are on earlier version: 8.0, 7.5, 7.0, 6.0, 5.5, 5.0, 4.0, 3.2, Great Plains Accounting for DOS, Windows or Mac, please consider upgrade to version 10.0 or if you are on Great Plains Dynamics, consider deploying either Integration Manager, Import Utility, Dexterity or direct SQL Insert.  eConnect is simple in inclusion into MS Visual Studio project as Library, and then you should be able to program by examples, provided in eConnect SDK.  In fact in Integration Manager 10.0 most of the objects are available in eConnect connector version, so you can try IM, however eConnect allows you to have more control over integration, and especially important feature is real time integration option, where you could call eConnect methods upon ecommerce invoice and payment placement event

 

3.       Dexterity.  It is native Great Plains development environment, and it has access to all the GP Objects, including master records, work, open and historical transactions, plus custom Dexterity add-ons created tables, fields, forms and windows.  You should not immediately consider to drop IM and eConnect as no longer feasible integration options, as Dex has some drawbacks - it is not open source programming language, it requires relatively long programming learning curve.  You may consider to get Dynamics GP Dexterity training for your IT programmers, if you are facing huge Great Plains implementation with numerous customizations and existing logic modifications, especially when you work for large organization with challenging ecommerce, logistics, warehouse management.  For the rest of us, we recommend outsourcing Dexterity integration programming to Dynamics GP ISV with Dex software development factories.  One of the good examples of Dex custom add-ons is Alba Spectrum Posting Server or Autopost, allowing you to break through eConnect limitations on inability to post Batches and individual transactions

 

4.       Import Utility.  This tool is in our opinion rather archaic and useful if you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL 2000.  Since Dynamics GP 8.0 the only supported DB Platform is Microsoft SQL Server: MS SQL 2000 for 8.0, 9.0 and 10.0, MS SQL 2005 for 9.0, 10.0, MS SQL 2008 for 10.0.  We recommend you direct SQL insert for SQL Server based installations.  IU doesn't validate GP business logic and such is similar in its potential harm to business logic inconsistency as direct SQL insert statement

 

5.       Direct SQL Scripting.  Please, try not to be too enthusiastic about feeding data into Great Plains via SQL Query Analyzer.  Consider the fact that eConnect is written in SQL Server encrypted stored procedures and likely the intended SQL feeding is already covered in one of its Procedures.  Consider to invest some time in eConnect training, as if you do integration in eConnect libraries, versus custom SQL scripting - business logic validation should not be an issue, as eConnect is replicating Dexterity business logic.  If these advises are not applicable to you, please go ahead with SQL scripting.  Dynamics GP Tables structure could be found in GP SDK (install from CD#2), plus here: Dynamics GP -> Setup-> Resource Description -> Tables.  We strongly recommend to be very conservative and try your integration first in the test company or in Fabrikam Lesson Company - here try to enter similar transactions in GP user interface and then review how records were recorded in the tables and finally then begin your coding

 

6.       Dynamics GP Integration in International environment.  Please note that GP is generally localized and supported in English speaking countries: USA, Canada (including French Quebec version), UK, Australia, South Africa, Oceania, New Zealand, India, Pakistan or English Business Specking South East Asia, plus it is translated and partially localized for Spanish specking Latin America.  GP has potential to be translated to non-Unicode compliant languages: Russian, Lithuanian, German, Polish, Czech, Serbian, Turkish, etc.  However we recommend you to consider ERP tax code compliance question.  In some international situations SAP Business One with GL or transactions integrations to Dynamics GP might be better option, especially if SB1 is localized for your country

 

7.       Alternatives to Dynamics GP Great Plains.  If you feel that GP is too expensive, consider Microsoft Small Business Accounting or if this is too simple, consider SAP Business One.  If you believe that GP is too poor in its functionality, consider switching to next level in Microsoft Dynamics ERP products hierarchy - AX, formerly known as Axapta

 

8.       If you need additional help, please call us: 1-866-528-0577, internationally 1-630-961-5918, help@albaspectrum.com or skype: albaspectrum.  We would be happy to give you your industry case from Great Plains customization and integration perspective, as well as to give you second opinionFeature Articles, if you are not happy with your current Dynamics GP Partner support level

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Andrew Karasev, Alba Spectrum, help@albaspectrum.com 1-866-528-0577, http://www.albaspectrum.com  Serving ERP and MRP community since 1994, local service in Chicago, Houston, San Diego, Atlanta. Information portal: http://www.pegasplanet.com We serve you USA and Canada nationwide from our Dynamics GP call center: California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Ontario, Quebec, Washington, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Oregon, New York, New England. International clients welcome from Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, South Africa, UK, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America



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