Great Plains Technical Self Support, or How to Resolve the Issue without Paying Consultant

Dec 6 08:18 2010 Andrew Karasev Print This Article

Each Mid-market Corporate ERP, MRP or Accounting application might require moderate level of technical support, including such delicate topics as data recovery.

With multiple years of Dynamics GP and former Great Plains Dynamics and even archaic versions of Great Plains Accounting for DOS and Windows,Guest Posting we can share with you our expression on the technical support calls.  Good portion (maybe not 50% but probably a quarter at least) of support calls could be resolved in-house.  Let’s review the popular issues with Dynamics GP, Great Plains and GPA and how you should deal with them, prior to calling your Great Plains Consultant:

1. Login Customer Source and search Knowledge Base.  This might sound like very natural and even banal recommendation, however more than fifty percent of Dynamics GP customers with active annual enhancement contract with Microsoft Business Solutions do not do that and instead call their Dynamics GP Partner (and by doing so incur billable hours with high cost rates).  Knowledge Base search is free for you (assuming that you have active support contract with MBS – it is always the case, when you just purchased and implemented the software, enhancement plan is required for the following year from the date of the Dynamics GP licenses purchase).  All mentioned above in this paragraph might look very good for somebody who has active contract with Microsoft, but the chances are high that you are reading these lines, because you do not have the contract and your Customer Source access is blocked.  Well, if something “is blocked” it may sound as very negative, but the life is going on, keep reading the next paragraph

2. Typical issues with Great Plains Dynamics and Microsoft Dynamics GP.  The champion is probably batch posting limbo, where you tried to post the batch and it didn’t come through all the way and now the batch is marked as in posting status and you cannot open it for editing and reposting.  Here you need to identify your Great Plains version, in GP 7.5 (and more recent versions: 8.0, 9.0, 10.0 and 2010) you have batch recovery mechanism, and assuming that you will login with the same user credentials, you will get the prompt, recommending you to go directly to batch recovery screen (it will reset batch posting status in SY0500 table, as you would have to do it being on older Great Plains Dynamics versions). The magic might work, but in certain scenarios it is not a rescue, especially when you print batch edit list and see the message: transaction(s) edition is required. If transaction editing is needed, you simply open each documents in the batch in question and verify its GL distribution (I would bet that you will find that some of the distribution GL accounts are not specified and Great Plains doesn’t have the way to post the batch through General Ledger)

3. Great Plains Accounting for DOS and Windows Support puzzle.  GPA was known to depend on Btrieve settings, where you cannot simply install DBA application out of the  floppy disks, changes are required, otherwise you will be getting strange error messages about non-sufficient memory.  If you inherited GPA and have to support it, try to familiarize yourself with file rebuild utilities, plus it is helpful to export GPA table/file into text document, then review it and possibly find corrupt records (computer might be too optimistic, but human eye is probably ready to recognize and face the problem).  Great Plains Accounting for Windows seems to be more vulnerable to Btrieve performance related issues.  Here we recommend you to look at GPAWIN.INI file located in C:\Windows directory.  Having this settings file open, go to the bottom line and compare the current Btrieve settings with the ones recommended for your version of Great Plains Accounting (should take into consideration the number of active GPA users and typical Great Plains Accounting documents editing activity)

4. Great Plains Dynamics on Pervasive SQL 2000, Btrieve of Ctree DB platform.  Just a short excurse to the Corporate ERP history.  The data repair – we recommend you Microsoft Access as ODBC linking tool (similar results could be achieved in MS SQL Server Linked Server or even in MS Excel, but in our opinion MS Access is the most advanced tool, especially when you are not a programmer (Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> ODBC Administrator -> System DSN…).  And if you need help with understanding Great Plains table structure, find it here: Tools -> Resource Descriptions -> Tables

5. Check Links – if something happens with your data, you should try first Check Links – there is the chance, that this magic Utility might fix the problem (and you may avoid the data repair via MS SQL Server Query designer or Microsoft Access – when you are on Pervasive SQL 2000/Btrieve)

6. Installing Great Plains client interface.  For new versions, such as 9.0, 10.0 and 2010/11.0 – the installation process will require you to apply the same service pack, you have in production environment.  However for older versions Great Plains Utilities didn’t check the service pack compatibility and you have to be on the same service pack as all the others colleagues.  Very reliable and simple way to “apply” the appropriate service pack is to copy user workstation (which is working with production database) to the server and then copy it back to the new computer (before doing the copy, please install Great Plains from CD, but do not run the GP Utilities – this procedure will update the Windows Registry).  We also recommend you to look at Dynamics.set file on the good user workstation, especially on the location of the Reports.dic and other dictionaries – as often you may have reports deployed on the server in central location.  In older versions of Great Plains you also had to manually create ODBC DSN (for MS SQL Server based versions only), please look at it Control Panel  -> System -> ODBC Administrator.  If you are trying to install on newer 64 bit Operating System, such as Windows7 or Vista, please be sure to call 32 bit version of ODBC Admin (C:\Windows\System32\ODBCAd32.exe) as well as disable User Account Control (in Control Panel -> User Accounts -> Change User Account Control Setting, otherwise you will be getting strange error messages about BCP utility)

7. Moving Great Plains DB Server.   If you are moving old Pervasive SQL based versions, please note, that you will have to deploy it on 32bit Windows Server, as old Pervasive SQL 2000 is not compatible with Windows 64.  If you are moving MS SQL Server based version, the best results could be achieved by obtaining moving instructions (including SQL scripts) from your Dynamics GP VAR (or directly from Microsoft Business Solutions).  If you are experienced SQL DBA – you can move Dynamics GP user security on your own (as you probably know that simply backup and restore on the new server do not create SQL Logins in the Master database)

8. Deleting the User.  This is probably trivial routine, but just in case.  If you are on Pervasive SQL or Ctree, have all the users log off Great Plains and delete Activity.* (BTR or DAT) file from your Dynamics\System folder on the server.  Being on MS SQL Server you have control from Query Analyzer: delete Activity where USERID=JOHN – run this one against Dynamics database, do not forget to change John to the real user ID

9. FRx.  This application is deployed in Financial Reporting: Balance Sheet, P&L.  If you got the issue with FRx, it is likely to be associated with changes in the user profile (mapped drives, for example).  Begin your investigation in reviewing where Sysdata is located: Admin -> Organization -> Sysdata (and compare the path with another FRx workstation).  It is always good idea to have good version of Sysdata folder in your backup (sometimes Catalogs become corrupt).  Also FRx company may use ODBC DSN, which is different to what you use in Great Plains client application (this is often a confuse when you install GP and FRx clients on the new computer: Company -> Information -> System Specific Information tab and verify Data Source name there)

10. Integration Manager.  Typically you need help in new user installation, as you have to change the path to Integration database (Tools -> Options and see the path to Default IM database), plus IM reg key is stored in the local Registry, this is why you have to have it handy when installing

11. eConnect.  It typically works smoothly.  If you change user passwords on the regular base, please be sure to update password for eConnect account as well, here: Control Panel -> Admin Tools -> Component Services -> COM+ Applications -> eConnect, Properties -> Identity and in This User retype the password

12. Version Upgrade.  This is something we would like you to discourage to plan on your own without engaging Great Plains consultant, as there are too many nuances (and “what if” potential situations).  First of all – you need to be current with MBS Annual Enhancement plan (check with your Dynamics GP Reseller or accounting department if you paid for the plan for the recent year) to get new version reg key, so be sure you have it.  If you try to do it on your own, please consider to try it first in Test environment (not just for the test company, as you do not want to update Dynamics system database in your production environment)

13. Custom Programming.  There are several tools: GP Dexterity (too complex for in-house programming, learning curve requires a year or more), VBA with Modifier (VBA event driven scripts – you can try it if you feel comfortable to program Visual Basic for Applications), Extender (also rather for your Dynamics GP external technical consultant), Integration Manager VBA scripts (if your customization doesn’t change the user interface and needs to deal with data import only)

14. Microsoft Visual Studio Programming.  Here we recommend you to create your own user application (preferably web based) and include eConnect libraries to manipulate objects and documents in Dynamics GP – feel free to deploy this scenario for simple ecommerce custom application software development

15. Reporting.  Here feel free to try to apply your reports design skills, as reports only pull data and do not do any harm to the database.  Whatever is your favorite reporting tool: Crystal Reports, SSRS, Microsoft Access, Excel – we have just one recommendation.  Try to abstract reporting base in MS SQL Server View or Stored procedure (and not to go the long way of trying to build report in Wizard driven manner).  This technique should allow you to avoid annoying data duplication issues and plus it helps you to join such cross DB platform queries, where you pull data from MS SQL Server (Dynamics GP databases) and non-Microsoft DBs: Oracle, MySQL/PHP/Linux, IBM DB2, FoxPro, Text File, Pervasive SQL/Btrieve, etc. (there is OPENROWSET construction, as well as Linked Server in MS SQL Server Management Studio – check them out)

16. Our editors believe that small paper format should not include more paragraphs.  If you feel that you would rather check with somebody who is more geared to resolve you Great Plains, Dynamics GP or Great Plains Accounting issue, please call us: 1-866-528-0577, We serve you USA/Canada nationwide via remote support (web sessions and phone/skype conferences).  Local service is available in Western Michigan, Chicagoland, Southern California (LA, Orange County, San Diego), Houston area of the state of Texas

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About Article Author

Andrew Karasev
Andrew Karasev

Andrew Karasev, http://www.albaspectrum.com 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.  If you are thinking to implement Dynamics GP in challenging environment, we recommend you to give us a call.  Our information portal is http://www.pegasplanet.com Pegas Planet

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