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Linux eCommerce Integration to Dynamics GP Scenario

First of all we have to say, that it is not about Magento shopping cart.  This publication is about real implementation of Microsoft Dynamics GP version 10.0, integrated in quasi real time with custom PHP/MySQL ecommerce website.

Ecommerce application itself was coded in PHP by in-house programmers.  In initial discussions developers were interested to know Dynamics GP table structure and how master records (customers, items) and transactions (SOP Order with customer deposit) could be pushed down to Great Plains tables.  We also discussed such integration methods as eConnect.  And finally we ended up with Dynamics GP Integration Manager.  Let’s review integration functionalities and technologies:
1. eCommerce B2B Shopping Cart as SOP Invoice with Customer Payment or open invoice (if sale of account).  In Dynamics GP Integration Manager version 10.0, as you may be aware, you can use so-called sConnect connectors (not traditional IM OLE integration method, where GP Workstation should be running on the computer and play the role of the OLE Server).  eConnect is more efficient from the performance perspective and you can integrate virtually several hundred ecommerce shopping carts per minute.  However, we have to mention one of the drawbacks, that we discovered for GP IM eConnect – it doesn’t handle returns (we’ll need to check if this issue is resolved for Dynamics GP 2010/11.0).  So, in order to handle lesser number of ecommerce returns we still had to have Dynamics GP Workstation and one user license to be assigned to Integration Manager with old SOP Transaction integration (OLE Server)
2. Integration Text File.  First suggestion was to deploy elegant ODBC connection from Windows Server to Linux based MySQL database, or even Linked Server Construction in MS SQL Server 2005.  However developers indicated that it is much easier for them just to export CSV text file and place it into the directory for processing.  As you may know – Integration Manager is very friendly to text files
3. Calling Integration Manager in quasi real time.  Developer from customer IT department suggested to call IM with command line parameters through freeware windows utility which was schedule to call executable small application (exe file) every five minutes.  This small application also moves text file with processes records and if any exception occurred – reports to the administrator
4. Taking care of new customers and items.  This is known method for Dynamics GP Integration Manager consultants – you can call first customers, inventory items update integration and only then the one for SOP transactions.  If you do it in this order – all new customers and items will be added to the system, prior to integrating their Shopping Carts
5. Emailing processed SOP Invoices back to the customers.  This was realized in SQL mail (in SQL 2008 we would also recommend SQL DBMail – new functionality), where invoices were printed from the batch with intercepting the ones, marked for emailing to be printed to PDF file (we recommend you to schedule PDF printing interval to be at least one second, otherwise PDF printer may print blank papers).  We also discussed Electronic Document Delivery module in Dynamics GP Business Portal, but they decided that BP implementation just for this one module is too much.  This specific customer had concerns about long list of serial numbers – in Dynamics GP SOP Invoice forms serial numbers are printed automatically, but when the list is really long, Invoice form is a bit restricted in formatting.  So, in the phase two local developer simply was calling out invoices from SOP10100 and SOP10200 tables and printing them into PDF directly from PHP application
6. Other Dynamics GP Routines and User training.  These were typical for Great Plains implementation.  Need to mention that the controller was happy about nice AP graphical check form (letters were in italic)
7. Some comments or what could have been done better.  As general observation, large ecommerce retailers typically do not deploy standard ecommerce shopping carts, such as Magento/PHP or ASP.Net Storefront – they tend to program the whole ecommerce website from scratch.  And this fact is probably justifiable, they have business processes so unique to deploy standard element and plus they need complete control over the web application.  For smaller ecommerce retailers or wholesalers we would rather recommend deploy shopping cart plug-ins available on the software market.  If you follow the advise- we do have Dynamics GP eCommerce extension module, which allows you to avoid complex programming and Integration Manager deployment, as we described above.  Instead you simply follow ecommerce setup wizard steps to have your Magento or other popular shopping cart integrated in quasi real time (via our SQL Stored Procedure based Order Connector technology) to SOP Invoice.  For full ecommerce order automation and fulfillment we recommend you to consider combining Dynamics GP ecommerce module with Warehouse Management System, where ecommerce orders are scheduled for automatic fulfillment via barcoding on the warehouse floor
8. Dynamics GP eCommerce case study.  As we already mentioned this publication is based on real new Dynamics GP customer, who implemented this mid-market Corporate ERP package in the fall of 2008 and earlier months of 2009 on GP version 10.0.  In our opinion new version Dynamics GP 11.0 or as it was later renamed into 2010, is even more powerful and flexible to be chosen for large Distributor or Wholesaler with ecommerce presence
9. Last flint – Dynamics GP ecommerce implementation on the international market or for the multinational corporation with overseas presence.  We specially addressed the question if Dynamics GP will be supporting in the future such features as Unicode (hieroglyph based alphabets, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean) – the answer was – probably not, as it requires too much programming hours to have Microsoft Dexterity to be recoded to support 16 bit characters; and to make this subject less actual – there is Microsoft Dynamics AX Axapta, which already supports Unicode and is localized for majority of the World regions, including China, Russia, Europe, Brazil
10. How to contact us.  Please call us 1-866-528-0577, or email us help@albaspectrum.com  How we support you?  Preferred way is remote support via web session and phone or skype conference – this way we serve you USA, Canada, Mexico nationwide and internationally.  Some customers prefer local walk in Dynamics GP consulting service, and we are ready to kick your door in Chicago, Western Michigan, Southern CaliforniaFree Articles, Houston area of Texas

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Andrew Karasev, Great Plains Dynamics GP and eEnterprise Certified Master, Microsoft MVP and consultant with 10 years and plus experience and expertise.  Alba Spectrum, 1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com http://www.albaspectrum.com   If you are thinking to implement Dynamics GP in challenging environment, we recommend you to give us a call.  Our information portal is Pegas Planet http://www.pegasplanet.com 



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