Dynamics GP and Barcode Scanning: How to Enable Cooperation

Jan 5 08:17 2011 Andrew Karasev Print This Article

There are various potential scenarios, where you may need barcode scanner working with Great Plains forms, fields and tables.

The most popular requests are turning Sales Order Processing form into Cash Register POS transaction with barcode scanner attached directly via USB port; and the second is more advanced – implement something,Guest Posting that could be categorized by Warehouse Management System, where Barcode scanners are deployed in the warehouses and scanned documents (usually Inventory site-to-site transfers and adjustments, Sales Order Allocations, Purchase Receipts) need to be uploaded to GP.  We also saw numerous pretty unique requests, such as opening Bill of Material module forms for partial barcode scanning to facilitate assemblies.  Barcode scanner is by its nature similar to computer keyboard, initial idea was probably to break through human brain and hand limitations in typing in characters and digits, as definitely scanner works numerous times faster.  Cheap USB connected barcode scanner could still be considered as keyboard typing accelerator.  But, modern advanced laser scanners have such features as operating system, screen/user interface, memory (where you can scan the whole document or even the whole batch of documents and upload them later on in so-called batch mode).  These improvements open multiple opportunities, but at the same time, they probably make the interaction between classic Corporate ERP application not such straight forward, as it used to be with USB scanner.  Let’s take a look at the details and options:

1. How to upload scanned documents in so-called batch mode?  This is something that is not present in original Great Plains business logic.  You can try Integration Manager, but this solution would be too complex (too many steps, and you do not expect that type of skills from your warehouse worker and even shift manager).  Yes, the natural approach is to program small application, driver, in the case of Great Plains it is typically Dexterity custom programing.  What you need to program here is the following: pull scanned records from the scanner memory and translate them into GP documents.  Dexterity is not the only tool to consider, but it is very powerful and traditionally customizations were done in Dex.  You can also review such integration tool as eConnect.  In the case of eConnect, consider creating special application in C# or VB.Net (other languages probably have less code samples available, but you can try whatever is your language in .Net).  There is another option – Modifier with VBA, where you have to be familiar with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) – you do connection to the database via pre .Net ADO mechanism.  Next tool to take a look at is SDK for Microsoft Visual Studio

2. Doesn’t it look as very complex, whatever was mentioned in the previous paragraph?  It probably does.  And if it does for you, consider picking the product, or often called Add-on to Great Plains.  These add-ons are available through Dynamics GP ISV channel, where you can see the demo for various POS, Warehouse Management, Supply Chain Management, Fixed Asset extensions, supporting Barcoding and even RFID.  Here at Alba Spectrum we are offering the complete solution for WMS, integrated with Great Plains SOP, POP, and Inventory Control modules with options to alter the code to make it fit to your custom unique business requirements

3. USB Scanners and GP.  If you think that all your Great Plains users are at the same time warehouse workers, or maybe POS cashiers, you may consider to connect USB barcode scanner to your Cash Register with GP user interface installed and train your sales force to work in SOP Transaction entry screen and how and when to scan the barcode labels of the checked out merchandise.  For the scanning on the warehouse floor you may consider tiny computers (maybe netbooks, or similar), assuming that you provide reliable wireless network down in the warehouse, as Dynamics GP workstation should have permanent connection to the SQL Server via ODBC by the nature of Great Plains technology

4. Barcode Label printing options.  First of all – Report Writer (directly available in user interface) supports barcode fonts.  You may modify inventory items report (by taking all the fields, out of the scope of the printable area on only print item ID in barcode font).  RW is definitely possible, however you may find some annoying problems, especially with page format, positioning (as you have to spend pretty expensive barcode labels to continue RW printing testing).  For more advanced approach we recommend you to consider such tools as Crystal Reports, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), or even MS Excel or Microsoft Access (pulling data via ODBC directly from GP company database)

5. Couple of words to international customers.  If you are part of the multinational corporation with Dynamics GP implemented in the Headquarters in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, English speaking South East Asia or Spanish speaking Latin America – Great Plains might do wonderful job on the corporate level, but you have to research Corporate ERP localization potential issues: compliance to local taxes, business related legislation and local language support.  Traditionally Great Plains Dexterity doesn’t support hieroglyphs (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), there are some tools (NJ Star for example), enabling Chinese, but the issue remains.  We do not really recommend Great Plains as ERP in such countries, as Russia, Brazil, China, where business legislation is too unique and very strong and where GP is not localized.  Please consider instead either Microsoft Dynamics AX Axapta or if you have small subsidiary – SAP Business One

6. Local and Nationwide Support in USA and Canada.  Service is available nationwide via web sessions and phone (VOIP, Skype) conferences.  We come onsite for the implementation, when required.  So far we were able to implement barcoding related solutions internationally: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Ecuador, Canada, Russia, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, so feel free to share your project with us

7. Second Opinion.  We are mostly involved in second hand Corporate ERP customer support and integration projects market.  If you feel that your WMS, SCM, Barcoding, or any generic integration, customization, reporting project for Dynamics GP, SAP Business One was screwed up by original consulting company, feel free to share your story with us – we have numerous successful ERP, MRP and Accounting application recovery case studies

8. For additional information, please feel free to call us 1-866-528-0577 or 1-630-961-5918 (this number works for international customers) or email us help@albaspectrum.com  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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