Integrated WMS for Dynamics GP: Inventory In and Out Flows

Dec 13 11:10 2010 Andrew Karasev Print This Article

Warehouse Management System selection process for your Corporate ERP application is not an easy homework.  You will discover that various WMS providers make their Warehouse automation emphasis on different processes

Some make emphasis on manufacturing parts and finished goods paperless checking and in and out.  Others will be doing more distribution and Supply Chain Management (better fit for Wholesale distribution related businesses).  Other thing to consider – there are WMS standalone applications with rich business functionality available and according to some experts only twenty percent of the processes are implemented in average (think about the fact,Guest Posting that paid for one hundred percent and use only twenty – isn’t it a discouraging fact?).  We would like to recommend you Warehouse Management Extensions, working directly out of GP company database and creating transactions, available instantly via Great Plains user interface:

1. WMS Architecture.  It has WMS Server (Windows dedicated computer, typically placed on the company LAN/Ethernet or connected to the Dynamics GP Server via Wireless network, when transaction level is modest), talking with Dynamics GP SQL Server via ODBC DSN connection.  Second part is WMS Client application, running directly on your Barcode Laser Scanner operating system (usually Windows Mobile)

2. WMS Client Technology in Details.  To respect computing power of the barcode scanner, client application is programmed in Visual Basic to minimize its requirements to computing power and RAM (scanner memory).  It is compatible with Text and Graphical scanners – we personally believe that text mode scanner is good option for the company, as you do not expect your warehouse workers to enjoy high quality graphical pictures, while scanning barcode labels on the warehouse floor – and text only scanners are definitely cheaper.  Scanner talks to the WMS Server via Wireless (Access Points)

3. WMS Server Technology in Details.  It is based on special technology, Order Connector for Dynamics GP, and this technology resolves object and documents creation directly in the Great Plains Company database.  This technology makes it possible to talk to Dynamics GP via ODBC connection

4. WMS Functionality.  Three classical WMS Routines: Sales Order Fulfillment (sometimes referred as Allocation), Merchandise Replenishment/Restocking and Inventory Adjustments and Transfers.  These three features are mapped directly to Sales Order Processing Invoice with manual allocation (allocation happens when you scan the picked and packed items on the warehouse floor), Purchase Order Processing Purchase Receipt and in Inventory Adjustment/Transfer.  In these scenarios you are deploying Dynamics GP business processes by just opening transactions for barcode scanning (you got what you paid for, you do not have to pay for something you will never use or implement)

5. Openness to RFID.  Tag Reader in RFID might be also considered, we need to discuss details with your Warehouse Managers

6. Web based WMS related customer self-service.  If you ever checked FedEx, UPS, USPS order status with the phases: Send to Fulfillment, In Transit, Delivered.  This feature could be enabled via your website.  Plus, customers, who are probably placing their order via EDI (Electronic Document Interchange) could be encouraged to place the order through e-commerce (likely in B2B scenario).  Our ecommerce extension module allows you to integrate ecommerce shopping carts (Magento, ASP.Net Storefront and other popular platforms, as well as custom programmed shopping carts) in quasi real time (every few minutes, Order Connector technology)

7. Beyond the standard Warehouse Management System.  WMS is part of broader concept – Supply Chain Management (often abbreviated as SCM).  Here you may expect such features as optimized truck delivery routes and time, just in time delivery in the various consignment scenarios, or you name it.  It is always good idea to purchase Corporate MRP and ERP system out of the box (precise implementation consulting phase is OK), but sometimes you may realize that the product is not created yet (or your business requirements are too unique and there is no market niche for software developer to create the product and sell it to reasonable number of customers).  Here we are ready to help you with customization on the WMS level as well as directly in Microsoft Dynamics GP Great Plains (Microsoft Dexterity, eConnect, VBA/Modifier, SQL Scripting, Visual Studio SDK would be possible custom programming tools)

8. In-House programmed WMS integration to Dynamics GP.  This situation is often seen in smaller businesses (distributors, wholesalers, franchisors, small manufacturing companies), when they already have Warehouse Management System programmed in such tools as Microsoft Access, PHP/MySQL, Excel, Visual Basic, FoxPro, or even in Oracle database.  You can keep your custom WMS in production and we can help to deploy such tools as Dynamics GP Integration Manager, Dexterity, eConnect to move WMS originated transactions to Dynamics GP SOP, POP, Inventory modules, will need to discuss with you your situation in details

9. WMS for Worldwide company.  If you are multinational company or you plan to expand internationally, you should be aware about Dynamics GP localization status for the targeted country.  Being laconic, Great Plains is localized in Spanish speaking Latin America (not in Spain, however): Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina, etc.  Plus it is available in English speaking countries (in Canada it is also available in Quebec in French Canadian).  Plus it is available in South East Asia where English language is useful as the language of business.  Plus in Arabic speaking countries.  Great Plains could be translated to most of the foreign languages (translation tools exist, including such languages as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, etc.), but please be aware that the compliance to local business legislation may be a problem.  In countries where Dynamics GP is not localized we typically recommend such ERP applications as Microsoft Dynamics AX Axapta (for larger affiliations) and SAP Business One (for small operations)

10. Is your Dynamics GP or Great Plains version ready for Warehouse Management System implementation?  Well, you might think that this topic should be discussed somewhere down the road.  In our opinion, however, WMS software licenses and implementation cost is comparable to your core Dynamics GP or former Great Plains software user licenses.  And having said that we recommend you to be on the current version prior to diving into Warehouse Management System implementation.  As we are writing these sentences (December 2010), Dynamics GP 2010 (often referred as version 11.0) is current, the majority of the customers are probably on version 10.0 (introduced in 2007).  If you are on older version: 9.0, 8.0, 7.5, 7.0, 6.0, 5.5, 5.0, 4.0 (including versions on Pervasive SQL 2000/Btrieve and Ctree), please consider upgrade (Pervasive SQL and Ctree require also migration path to the version on Microsoft SQL Server)

11. WMS Reporting.  In the case of Warehouse Management Extensions for Dynamics GP, the data sits in Microsoft SQL Database (Dynamics or Company databases).  This fact allows you to deploy such popular reporting tools as Crystal Reports, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), MS Access Reports (connected to SQL databases via ODBC), MS Excel.  You can also program web reports in Microsoft .Net Visual Studio project (C#, VB other programming languages are also OK, but you will have hard time to find code snippets and programming should be done directly out of your head)

12. WMS Data Repair.  In the case of Alba Spectrum WMS Extensions for Dynamics GP, all you need to do is to familiarize yourself with Great Plains table structure and data flow.  Sales related WMS transactions could be found in SOP10100 (document header) and SOP10200 (Sales Document lines table) – to give you an example.  Dynamics GP tables structure could be reviewed here: Dynamics GP -> Tools -> Resource Descriptions -> Tables

13. 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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