Troubleshoot Windows with Task Manager
Task Manager is a Windows system utility that displays thetasks or processes currently running on your computer. Toopen Task Manager, press Ctrl+Alt+Del. The Applcations tablists the applications currently running on your computer.A single application may actually consist of several runningprocesses, and many programs that run in the background arenot listed (you can see icons for some of these programs inthe System Tray).
Microsoft Great Plains Upgrade ? Version 8.0 Overview for IT Director/Controller
If you have Microsoft Great Plains as main accounting and ERP system you need to know some technical details on Great Plains version upgrade and what is going on behind the scenes, which options do you have in case of Dexterity, VBA, SQL customizations, ctree/Pervasive migration to MS SQL/MSDE. As of right now it is reasonable to upgrade to Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 Is upgrade required? Not actually, but you have to consider these factors ? Technical Support discontinuation - the old version may not be supported - currently if you are on version 6.0 - support is already discontinued. You can not have Microsoft Business Solutions help you, but obviously you have MBS partners who can still help you. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL, then your support expires December, 31 2004. ? Tax Updates/Magnetic media expiration - if you have US Payroll module and depend on it with W2 and other forms - you must stay with the version, which is supported and has tax updates. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL - then you will not have tax updates for these platforms at the end of 2004 and your W2s maybe inaccurate. If you have a lot of employees - you may have issues with government.? Following the Technology and Microsoft rules - Microsoft wants you to be on the newest platform and provides you the best support when you follow this rule? If you do have heavy customization - we recommend you to skip one version, for example if you are on version 7.5 - do not upgrade to 8.0 and wait for the next version What is upgrade in the language of technology? Upgrade has server and client sides. ? Server side - upgrade converts tables from old format to the new one. In general words - Microsoft Business Solutions developers may change table structure, append additional fields to add new functionality, things like that. Upgrade copies the table with changes to temporary table, then drops original table, recreates it with new structure and copies all the data from temp table to the newly created one. ? Workstation side - workstation is written in Great Plains Dexterity and has Dynamics.exe - engine and DYNAMICS.DIC - dictionary. These two plus all the additional files will be replaced with the new ones. Other dictionaries, such us REPORTS.DIC and FORMS.DIC should be also upgraded and upgrade will try to deal with them automatically. In some cases modified reports (in REPORTS.DIC) could not be upgraded and need to be recreated in the new version. What is customization upgrade? You should consider different types of customizations: Dexterity, VBA/Modifier, SQL, ReportWriter, Crystal Reports? Dexterity Customization - being very short - Dexterity may have so called Custom Forms - these do not need upgrade - they should work as is. Then Dexterity may alter existing Great Plains forms (so-called Alternate Great Plains forms) - in this case Dexterity customization should be redone for these forms/screens. Plus additional consideration should be given to Dexterity triggers, shadow tables, etc. ? VBA/Modifier customization - Modifier allows you to modify existing Great Plains windows - it creates so called modified Great Plains windows, stored in FORMS.DIC. Usually modification is placing new buttons or fields, which in turn will be given VBA scripts (stored in DYNAMICS.VBA). VBA scripts may call something nice, like Crystal Report, or have some data access logic. Usually the old version of DYNAMICS.VBA workds with the new version. You may need to rearrange buttons on the modified form.? SQL - you may have some stored procs for data integration, EDI or the like - if the addressed tables will be changed in the new version then you need to analyze your SQL code. The good news is - Microsoft Business Solution doesn't make a lot of changes since version 7.0, because Microsoft is now trying to merge the products it owns: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta - and so has different priorities? ReportWriter - MBS doesn't change tables, but it keeps changing Dexterity formulas used in ReportWriter original reports - this is the problem in so-called Modified Reports upgrade - usually you have these reports modified: SOP Blank Invoice form, SOP Blank Picking ticket, etc. If report can not be upgraded - it should be redone in the new version with some exceptions.? Crystal Reports - the nice thing about Crystal Report - id doesn't need to be upgraded (if the fields in the tables exist in the new version - which is usually true statement)What is upgrade for third-party modules? Your Great Plains may have so-called third party modules: Mekorma, Kampdata, Horyzon, Wennsoft, Avalara, Truepay, Trinity, Intellisol to name a fewThird party modules may have their own utility for upgrade. You just need to know that your third-party is ready for the new Great Plains version - if not - you just wait and stay on the old version. What is migration from Ctree/Pervasive.SQL 2000 to MS SQL/MSDE? MBS has migration tool. You need first to install Great Plains on SQL Server with exactly the same account/segments structure and then install migration tool (it is Dexterity chunk) on your ctree/Pervasive workstation - then, when you integrate the chunk - you will map it to target SQL-based Great Plains Company, select all system and company tables, click the button and it will move all your tables one-by-one. In the case when your Great Plains ctree/Pervasive has third parties - you need to check if the vendor has migration tool - otherwise you have to do manual move, use SQL Linked server to your legacy data Do I need consultant? It is probably good idea to have consultant to do the upgrade. We strongly recommend you to use consultant in the following cases? You have Dexterity customization? You are doing migration from Pervasive/Ctree to Microsoft SQL Server/MSDE, especially when you have third-parties without migration tools? You have a lot or ReportWriter Modified Great Plains Reports? You have old version of Great Plains: Dynamics or eEnterprise 6.0 or prior - in this case you can not appeal to Microsoft Technical Support - it is discontinued ? Your Great Plains has more than 20 users and you have to have upgrade done over the weekend - if it fails - you have business problems? You don't have support - in this case you have to select your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner and pay for the annual support/enhancement plan - you will get new registration key and will be ready for the upgrade Good luck with upgrade and if you have issues or concerns ? we are here to help! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! email@example.com
Instant Messaging is a Sweet Way to Communicate
MSN messenger is a pretty cool invention. I mean I?m not really into serious discussions on the email, answers to questions can often take a few days to arrive because people are so busy these days. I?ve just been ?hooked up? into Messenger and it?s really a different kind of communication, quick, simplistic and even humorous with the capability to express your feelings with ?emotion? cartoons.
With Messenger you can communicate with a group of close friends or business partners instantly whenever they are at their computer. When a message is received you are informed instantly on your desktop, you don?t have to be at an email site. A little box appears flashing the name of the sender, you read the message and send a reply when you?ve got a second free.
There?s a contact list and when you go on-line, it automatically tells you who of your connections are on and off-line at that moment. If someone goes on-line after you?ve already been at your computer, a small box appears on your screen to tell you who are now also instantly message able. It?s like the spontaneity of a telephone call but you don?t even have to dial any numbers! Just log in your password and you?re connected.
The huge array of smiley faces and other ?emotional? icons add another dimension to the conversations. Some of the smiley faces actually move (sticking their tongues out etc.) and there are many other symbols to express the moment. E.g.: Show a little sun when it?s sunny in your neighborhood, flash a wilted rose when your love life isn?t going to well, put up a black sheep when you?re feeling disconnected from society. How about expressing your dream of a holiday by flashing up the tropical island icon when you?re stuck in dreary office working hard on a cloudy day. They say a picture speaks a thousand words?
Well I certainly don?t work for Microsoft but I guess Bill Gates and his buddies have made a few bucks because they?ve had a couple of good ideas. They?re helping the world with their knowledge, and I reckon their MSN Messenger is another step forward in bringing the Earth together into one world. Besides the normal email format you can also have web cam and audio conversations, as well as sending files and photos instantly. It?s as sweet as that first time you kissed your honey bunny, well maybe not that sweet.
Reduce TCO: The Java Database Way
TCO (Total Cost Ownership) is the buzzword in today?s business world. This metric helps enterprise managers assess direct and indirect costs and benefits derived from their investment on IT components and services. A vital component of overall TCO is database management. All information-centric applications need databases for data storage. Also, the storage demands of small and mid-sized companies are growing rapidly, as more emphasis is given on data backup and long-term archival of data disaster recovery.
Embedded databases have arrived in this scenario as a major cost-cutting tool. They help organizations in managing the growing storage requirements by providing a cost-effective and reliable solution for data backup, file storage and archiving, thereby assuring a lower cost of ownership for small to medium sized business organizations. The remainder of this article will focus on the database server that I am most familiar with (Daffodil DB) and how it helps in the reduction of TCO. Though the example has some nuances specific to Daffodil DB, I am sure that readers will be able to extrapolate the theme to better understand the role of a database in TCO reduction.
Let?s begin with Development and Deployment Costs. Gone are the days when applications had to be tested extensively for all underlying platforms. Now, one can shrink the cost and time required to develop and setup solutions on multiple platforms by using a Java database. A separate deployment for different platform implementations of a large application is a major expense that an enterprise can do without.
Administration Costs are a major concern for many-a-company. Logically, database administration costs are a significant component of TCO. When embedded with an application, a compact Java database can be made practically invisible to the user, since it (the database) requires no administration and runs on the same Java virtual machine (JVM) as does the application. Its simple performance tuning process helps in optimizing database performance and vastly reduces database administration costs.
Now let?s move on to Compatibility Cost. Java databases, being platform independent, are compatible with all operating systems and application servers. This feature helps developers in choosing their own range of effective and economical solutions. For example, with Daffodil DB the developer can use Open Source tools like JBOSS application server for reducing overall TCO.
Last, but certainly not the least, let?s get to Licensing Costs. Pardon me if I seem to evangelize Daffodil DB, but that?s one area where I can ?preach? with confidence. As Daffodil DB can be used / embedded with a wide array of applications, flexible licensing policies have been developed to accommodate the diverse needs of the development community without restricting the same to just one standard license. Each application development organization may pick the right combination of licenses that best meets its needs. The organizations may also acquire additional licenses or upgrade their licenses. Do I hear someone shout ?What about Open Source??
Microsoft Great Plains Implementation ? Overview for IT Director/Controller
What is installation in the language of technology? Installation has server and client sides.
Server side - Installation creates security environment (logins) on MS SQL Server or MSDE, creates system database - DYNAMICS and then company databases. All these tasks are performed by Microsoft Great Plains Utilities
Workstation side - workstation installation copies the client side application, installs current version of MDAC (we need SQL ODBC driver - please check documentation on ODBC DSN setup), registers the application. If you plan to run Great Plains Utilities from the workstation to create server side (see above) - you need to check Install Client and Server Components
What is following implementation? Implementation requires combination of technological and accounting skills
System Setup - you should refer to GP documentation. In general setup consists of Company information, General GL/AR/AP/Payroll setup, User classes, Customer/Vendor/Employee classes to name a few
Master Records - you should either use integration tools, such as Integration Manager, SQL queries or have users to type in all your GL Accounts, Customers, Vendors, Employees .
Beginning Balances - this is recommended approach - you place aside the old accounting application for querying the historical data and enter beginning balances in Great Plains GL, AR, AP, SOP, POP, Payroll. When you have balances in the system you are ready to use it in production
Historical Data conversion - this is optional, in order to do historical data conversion you need to know basic Great Plains tables structure (Setup->Tools->Resource Description->Tables Structure). This is similar to surgery - so you probably need outside consultant to help you. If the volume of historical data is small - you can deploy Great Plains Integration Manager and then post the records in the modules.
User Training - we are just listing this item - it is up to you to decide on the way to train your users
Using Two Systems in Parallel - this is recommended. You should print the reports from both systems during this test period and compare the results
Customization - typical areas of customizations: Invoice form, Crystal Reports, pulling info from multiple databases, including Great Plains database, Great Plains forms modification with Modifier/VBA, Great Plains Dexterity forms and logic customization, integration with CRM, RMS and other business systems, web publishing from Great Plains tables, EDI with your suppliers, SQL Data Transformation packages
Do I need consultant? We strongly recommend you to use consultant in the following cases
You have identified the need for Great Plains Dexterity customization
You are doing migration from Pervasive/Ctree to Microsoft SQL Server/MSDE, especially when you have third-parties without migration tools
You are doing migration from Great Plains Accounting to Microsoft Great Plains
You have to create a lot or ReportWriter Modified Great Plains Reports
You have old version of Great Plains: Dynamics or eEnterprise 6.0 or prior - in this case you can not appeal to Microsoft Technical Support - it is discontinued
Your Great Plains has more than 20 users in this case the mistake may lead to serious business problems
You don't have support for your old Great Plains - then you have to select your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner and pay for the annual support/enhancement plan - you will get new registration key and will be ready for the upgrade Good luck with installation, implementation, upgrade and if you have issues or concerns ? we are here to help! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! firstname.lastname@example.org
Software Companies: Generate New Revenue Streams and Decrease Costs with Custom e-Learning Content
It?s no secret that software companies operate in a very competitive space where rivalry is increasingly fierce and where profit margins can be razor thin. New, smaller software companies are sprouting up each month and the leading software companies continually make strong advancements forward leveraging massive cash flow reserves. This cycle makes it difficult for the mid-sized software company to compete because (a) they don?t typically have the cash flow necessary to take giant leaps forward in the industry and (b) because they need to continually move forward to stay ahead of the smaller software companies that are vying for their slot in the marketplace. Consequently, making the jump from an unknown to a mainstream brand can prove to be very difficult for the mid-sized software company.
Cisco CCNA Certification: Becoming A Truly Valuable CCNA.
I've been active in the Cisco Certification track for four years, working my way from the CCNA to the coveted Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert title, and during that time I've conducted job interviews and casual conversations with hundreds of CCNAs and CCNA candidates.
We regularly hear reports about the cost to the software industry of software piracy, but are the claims to be taken at face value? Statistics are notoriously biased towards what the author is trying to say.
Microsoft Great Plains Integration with Microsoft Access ? Overview for Developer
Microsoft Business Solutions stakes on Microsoft Great Plains as main Accounting/ERP application for US market. At the same time it seems to be staking on Navision in Europe and has Axapta as high end large corporation market competitor to Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, IBM. This article is brief review of Microsoft Great Plains integration with Microsoft Access. This is also applicable to Small Business Manager (which is based on the same technology ? Great Plains Dexterity dictionary - DYNAMICS.DIC and runtime DYNAMICS.EXE) and Great Plains Standard on MSDE or MS SQL Server.
If you are developer who is asked: how do we implement Great Plains integration/interface with your MS Access-based system ? read this and you will have the clues on where to look further.
Great Plains Integration Manager - this is rather end-user tool - it is very intuitive, it validates 100% of business logic, brings in/updates master records (accounts, employees, customers, vendors. etc.) brings in transactions into work tables. The limitation of Integration Manager - it does use GP windows behind the scenes without showing them - so it is relatively slow - you can bring 100 records - but when you are talking about thousands - it is not a good option. By the way you can program Integration Manager with VBA. Microsoft Access is ODBC compliant and so you can do direct Integration Manager query to MS Access
eConnect ? it is type of Software Development Kit with samples in VB.Net. Obviously the development environment should be Visual Studio.Net. eConnect will allow you to integrate master records - such as new customers, vendors, employees, etc., plus you can bring transactions into so called Great Plains work tables (eConnect doesn't allow you to bring open or historical records - you need to post work records in Great Plains, the same limitation applies to Integration Manager above) eConnect is rather for ongoing integration. It was initially created for eCommerce application integration to Great Plains.
SQL Stored Procedures. Obviously you have unlimited control and possibilities with SQL queries. You need to know Great Plains tables structure and data flow. Launch Great Plains and go to Tools->Resource Description->Tables. Find the table in the proper series. If you are looking for the customers ? it should be RM00101 ? customer master file. If you need historical Sales Order Processing documents ? they are in SOP30200 ? Sales History Header file, etc. Do not change existing tables - do not create new fields, etc. Also you need to realize that each GP table has DEX_ROW_ID - identity column. Sometimes it is good idea to use inbound/outbound XML in the parameters - then you can deploy web service as a middle party between two systems.
Data Transformation Services (DTS) ? Good tool for importing your third party data into staging tables in GP - then you can pull them in using either stored procs of Integration Manager. You can also deploy this tool for EDI export/import. You can have DTS working with Linked Server - SQL Server Construction for linking to Microsoft Access
Great Plains Dexterity Custom Screens. Sometimes users prefer to have seamlessly integrated into GP interface custom screens - for parameters settings and initiating integration. Dexterity is a good option, however remember - it is always better to create new custom screen versus customizing existing one - due to the future upgrade issues. Also - Dexterity is in phasing our by Microsoft Business Solutions.
Modifier/VBA custom buttons on the existing screens - alternative to Dexterity is you are comfortable with VBA and ADO.
SQL Linked Servers ? you can do direct SQL queries to other ODBC compliant platform via SQL Linked Server (including Microsoft Access) - you may need to familiarize yourself with OPENROWSET command in Transact SQL. This is also good option if you need cross-platform Crystal Report - pulling data from SQL Server and third party databases on the same report.
Warning - do not place existing GP tables into Replication! - you will have upgrade issues.
Happy integrating! if you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! email@example.com
Microsoft Great Plains Reporting ? Overview for Developer
Looks like Microsoft Great Plains becomes more and more popular, partly because of Microsoft muscles behind it. Now it is targeted to the whole spectrum of horizontal and vertical market clientele. Small companies use Small Business Manager (which is based on the same technology ? Great Plains Dexterity dictionary and runtime), Great Plains Standard on MSDE is for small to midsize clients, and then Great Plains serves the rest of the market up to big corporations. There are several reporting tools available and you definitely need to know which one to use for different types of reports.
If you are developer who is asked: how do we create report for Microsoft Great Plains ? read this and you will have the clues on where to look further.
Great Plains Report Writer (ReportWriter) ? this is built-in reporting tool. All the original report in Great Plains are written in ReportWriter. ReportWriter itself is Dexterity module. You should use this tool if you would like to modify existing Great Plains reports, such as Blank Invoice Form - here you can place your company logo, change the positioning, fonts, colors, etc. ReportWriter will allow you also do new reports - simple option if you want to export all the records from one Great Plains table - use it. New report, however doesn't have interface where you would enter parameters - so it is not useful for real custom reports. Another limitation of ReportWriter - you can not do cross-modules report - when you need sales and purchasing info on the same report for example.
FRx. This is excellent tool when deal with financial reporting - it works on the General Ledger level (Balance sheet, P&L, Cash Flow Statement, etc.). It also allows you to do multiple companies consolidation - when you do consolidated Balance Sheet (with inter-companies transactions elimination).
Smart List - Export to Excel ? this is nice feature in Great Plains - you could create a list with simple criteria and then export it to Excel.
Crystal Reports. It gives you unlimited functionality. Obviously flexibility requires you to know Great Plains table structure: Launch Great Plains and go to Tools->Resource Description->Tables. Find the table in the proper series. If you are looking for the customers ? it should be RM00101 ? customer master file. If you need historical Sales Order Processing documents ? they are in SOP30200 ? Sales History Header file, etc. Create ODBC connection to GP Company database. Use the same technique as when you create standard ODBC connection for GP workstation ? but change default database to targeted company database. Create SQL Query to probe the data ? we always recommend tuning your query and see that you are getting adequate results ? in any case ? Crystal Report is just a nice tool to show the results of your query.
Direct Web Publishing off Great Plains databases ? yes - it is easy now with Visual Studio.Net and you can hire good programmers. This is good - Microsoft Business Solutions products: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta will be integrated into so called Microsoft Business Portal - which will have web interface - you can get the idea if you look at Microsoft CRM web client - so direct web publishing is good taste.
SQL Queries. If you have SQL background - this is great field for you. You know - with properly formatted SQL query you can realize simple EDI export/import for the integration with legacy systems.
Happy designing! if you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! firstname.lastname@example.org
Crystal Reports for Microsoft Great Plains ? Overview for Developer
Microsoft Great Plains is main accounting / ERP application from Microsoft Business Solutions, targeted to the US market. It serves the whole of vertical and horizontal market: most of the industries and company sizes. Crystal Reports on the other hand is the leader in the reporting software industry and Microsoft is willing to use Crystal as main reporting tool for Great Plains, Solomon, Microsoft CRM, .Net platform, etc.
If you are developer who is asked: how do we extend Great Plains ReportWriter with somewhat more sophisticated ? read this and you will have the clues on where to look further.
Great Plains Tables Structure ? first of all you need to know the tables to link. Launch Great Plains and go to Tools->Resource Description->Tables. Find the table in the proper series. If you are looking for the customers ? it should be RM00101 ? customer master file. If you need historical Sales Order Processing documents ? they are in SOP30200 ? Sales History Header file, etc.
Create ODBC connection to GP Company database. Use the same technique as when you create standard ODBC connection for GP workstation ? but change default database to targeted company database.
Consider SQL Views ? if you don?t want complex links in Crystal Report itself or if you need unionization from several companies ? SQL view is the answer.
Consider SQL Stored Procedures. Sometimes you can not pull the data in one view ? you need temporary tables to be created and the final query should be based on these temp tables ? this is when you need stored procedure.
Call Crystal Report from GP Screens via VBA/Modifier ? if the user wants to call Crystal report for example - printing Invoices in GP and do it from SOP Entry window ? you can use Modifier and VBA to call Crystal Reports engine.
Create SQL Query to probe the data ? we always recommend tuning your query and see that you are getting adequate results ? in any case ? Crystal Report is just a nice tool to show the results of your query.
Happy customizing, querying and designing! if you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! email@example.com
How to Upgrade Dexterity Customization ? Tips for IT Manager
If you have Microsoft Great Plains and support it for your company and have light or heavy Great Plains customization, written in Dexterity ? you need to know your options in upgrading Great Plains or migrating it from ctree/Pervasive to MS SQL/MSDE.
Great Plains Dexterity is proprietary programming language/environment, which was created in early 1990-th to provide platform / database / graphical interface independence for Mac and Windows based Great Plains Dynamics. Today it is legacy and Microsoft Business Solutions is phasing Dexterity out.
However Great Plains 7.5 and even 8.0 is Dexterity based application, so you have to deal with it and it?s customization.
Good news. Prior to version 7.0 Great Plains had plans on expanding GP functionality and so was changing tables structure ? forcing Dexterity customization to be analyzed and partially rewritten with each upgrade. Not any more ? GP structure stays the same ? Microsoft is doing new modules acquisition and unifying it?s graphical interface to move all it?s ERP packages: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta to web-based Microsoft Business Portal.
Still pain. Dexterity has possibility to customize existing Great Plains screens, so called Alternative Great Plains forms. This was upgrade problem in the past and it stays now ? there is no way to do it in house (until you are willing to pay for full-time internal developer ? who is usually in the learning curve). You got to bring in consultant.
Recommended approach. You should have the strategy to migrate Dexterity customization to SQL, Crystal Reports, custom web publishing ? Visual Studio.net and slowly abandon Dexterity customization
SQL Stored procedures - performance improvement. Consider replacing dexterity data manipulation with SQL stored procedures. Dexterity is cursor-driven language and it is not efficient when processing huge datasets.
Crystal Reports. Take advantage of open and leading technology. Crystal Reports will eliminate the need in the future for painstaking Dexterity reports upgrade. Base you Crystal report on the SQL view or stored proc
Do direct web publishing off your GP database. Use Visual Studio ? it is easy to find specialists and have them in staff. We are in the World when web publishing is very easy.
Good luck and if you have issues or concerns ? we are here to help! if you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! firstname.lastname@example.org
IT Department Skills to Support Microsoft Great Plains and Microsoft CRM
Microsoft Great Plains as ERP and Microsoft CRM as Client Relation Management system is very robust combination and could serve midsize to large corporation as Business System. Being VP IT or IT Director you need to foresee the positions to have in your IT department to do internal MS Great Plains and MS CRM support.
Let us give you the directions, based on our research and consulting practice.
Microsoft SQL Server Specialist ? we specially do not name this position as MS SQL DBA, because both Great Plains and MS CRM are not very complex from the database administration side, they do not use indexes optimization, referential integrity, probably do not require complex transaction log backup/recovery scenarios. On the other hand this position requires Great Plains and Microsoft CRM tables structure analysis and some primary Great Plains data fixing skills via SQL queries, described in MBS Customer source techknowledge database. The best candidate should have some accounting background - to be able to address ongoing issues to MBS technical support.
Network Administrator with good Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory skills. Microsoft CRM uses all the newest Microsoft technologies, and Exchange is a workhorse here. In order to install and upgrade MS CRM this guy needs to understand the under-laying Microsoft technology. In the best case - she/he should know Exchange security structure and probably program Exchange handlers, due to the fact that CRM/Exchange connector is not a perfect tool yet.
C# or VB.Net programmer with excellent SQL Skills? if you are midsize or large company - you should have this position - you will need web publishing and MS CRM customization and its support. Currently Microsoft CRM SDK has C# examples - so C# programmer would be the best fit, it may have more VB code in the future, so the C# - VB balance maybe restored.
Crystal Reports Designer/Programmer - Crystal Reports is the best tool available on the market to address both Great Plains and MS CRM reporting needs. This position maybe merged with one of the above.
These people should be probably cross-trained in both Great Plains, Microsoft CRM, Crystal Reports, SQL and C# programming, so you do not depend on the unique skills of one person. In our opinion, which is based on our long term consulting practice - these skills will allow you to keep the cost of IT support reasonably low and avoid paying high consulting price to your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner.
Happy hiring and training! But in any case you need to select Microsoft Business Solutions Partner/Var/Reseller to be your official representative. This is how MBS has its channel working - it assures that Microsoft Business Solutions products are properly implemented. If you want us to be your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! email@example.com
SQL: Querying Microsoft Great Plains ? Overview for Database Administrator/Developer
Microsoft CRM Custom Design & Development: SDK, C#, SQL, Exchange, Integration, Crystal Reports
Microsoft CRM is new player on the CRM software market. The whole conception behind CRM seems to be different. In case of traditional CRM software (Siebel, Oracle) - the application was designed with platform independence in mind. Microsoft CRM is dedicated to Microsoft technology and so deploys all the Microsoft tools: Windows Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange 2003/2000, SQL Server, Crystal Reports Enterprise, Biztalk server, Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Great Plains as backend, etc.
If you are software developer, database administrator or web designer who is asked: how do we customize Microsoft CRM ? we are giving you directions in this article.
Microsoft CRM SDK ? this is software development kit with C# and partly VB.net code samples ? it is supported by Microsoft Business Solutions technical support. It is based on web service calls, if you are C# .NET developer ? you are excellently positioned to do this type of customizations. This is the preferred modification scenario and this should be easily upgradeable customization. VB.Net examples will be available soon.
Legacy SQL Data integration. This is also easy and safe. If you have SQL database, sitting on the same or linked SQL Server ? you can create ASPX .Net application and simply integrate it into CRM. You can place it on the navigation bar or menu in isv.config ? please refer to MS CRM SDK
Legacy ASP integration ? this is somewhat more sophisticated. You have to deploy HTTP handler to be a middle party between CRM which is .Net based and ASP which is legacy IIS. The trick is ? you have to have INI file with security settings to penetrate into MS CRM with proper credentials, calling web service.
Microsoft Exchange Programming. Microsoft CRM has Exchange connector ? which moves CRM incoming email to MS if it has GUID in its subject. You can alter this logic (for instance - move email to CRM if it doesn?t have GUID but it is from the sender who is contact or account in MS CRM). Refer to MS Exchange SDK onsyncsave event handling. Then simply apply some MS CRM SDK programming - you need some COM+ objects creation and VB programming experience.
Direct SQL touch ? in #4 above I described you the scenario with MS Exchange handlers ? this would be ideal world if MS CRM SDK does the job. But ? in real world this is not always true ? you have to do direct flags correction in CRM database (like making Activity closed, moving email attachments/octet streams, etc). This is not supported by MBS technical support ? but you can rescue to this technique if you have to get job done.
MS CRM Customization tool ? this is rather end-user tool and we don?t describe it here ? read the manual. We?ve described above the options to use when this tool doesn?t do the job
Crystal Reports - feel free to create Crystal report - tables and views structure is self explanatory. Try to avoid the temptation to create your own SQL view or stored procedure in MS CRM database, instead - create custom database and place your view and stored proc in it.
Happy modifying! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Hidden Power of Online Manual
Writing software manuals is boring, isn't it? We often think: "My software is easy to use. The user interface is intuitive. Why should I waste so much time for writing the document which nobody reads anyway?" Sometimes it's true ? I've never read the WinZip or Internet Explorer manuals ? everything seems clear without explanations. Nevertheless, even if your manual doesn't help to your software users, it may help to you. Publish your manual online and turn its hidden power into the real benefits for your business.
Online Manual Makes Your Web Site Visible
User manual is a huge bunch of words, the highly targeted words, which are specific for your software market. For instance, if you develop a database management system, its user guide will certainly contain such words as "database", "query", "transaction", "table", "record", and etc. On the other hand, people use these words in their queries when they are looking for a database management solution on the Google, Yahoo, or other search engine. Let the interested people to find your web site and your product. Upload your manual on your web server and make it available for indexing by search engine spiders. This area specific content will make your web site and your software more visible to potential customers. Making the user guide available online will increase your web site rank in relevant search results and will bring highly targeted traffic to web your site. Let the manual to work not only for your users, but for you as well.
Online Manual Saves Your Time
A picture worth a hundred words. Those who are engaged in user support know this for sure. When replying to user concerns, very often we have to write sentences like this "Open the Document settings dialog. Choose the External modules tab. Select the 'ABC Spell Checker' in the module list. Enter your registration key and verification code in the corresponding text fields which will appear at the bottom of the window. Then, press Activate". If your application is simple the user will likely understand you right and will do everything as you have explained. However, if your application is a complex system with lots of setting windows which behave differently in various modes, the user may be puzzled which window and which fields do you mean. In this case you risk getting into a long conversation by repeatedly explaining the same things again and again.
The screenshot could be a very helpful illustration of your explanations. You may run your application, go to the certain window, open that tab page, activate the corresponding item in the list. Then make the screenshot of the window by using Alt+PrtSc key combination or another screen capture tool, save the picture in a file, and finally attach it to your message. Sometimes it's also necessary to add callouts, annotations and other enlightenments to the screenshot picture. Thus, you have to launch your image editor and to manually draw all the elements required. As you see, it may takes up to a half hour to reply to a single message only. And how many messages are yet in the queue?
Having the screenshots prepared is a good approach which may save your time. But having screenshots already prepared together with callouts, explanations, and annotations is a great approach which will save you much more time. Most likely, you have all that stuff prepared in your software manual but it's not very polite to reply to the user: "Read that fantastic manual". User may have no idea where the manual is on the PC and on what page is the looked-for solution located. On the other hand, you may also have no time to manually cut particular pages with screenshots and related instructions from the manual and to attach them to each support message.
The solution is easy. Put your manual on your web site in the form of HTML pages. Make all the pictures, screenshots with callouts, descriptions, and instructions accessible for every user. When you are processing another support request, simply insert an URL link to the appropriate page of your online manual and add just a few clarification words ? more words and pictures are already on that page. You will save much time and nerves because you will be sure that the user is looking at the same thing which you are describing. At the same time, the user will get a fast solution which is supported by clear pictures and neat instructions.
Online Manual Makes Your Products Trustworthy
Besides the users get the faster and more helpful support, they also see that you did this tedious job ? writing the handy and well structured manual with great screenshots and clear explanations. They know that this job is boring and developers don't like to do it. Therefore, if you did it and if you did it perfectly, it means that you respect your customers, not only their money. Good manual means that you consider your business and product seriously yourself. This helps your business to look more credible and serious. So, make your manual available online and prove your respect to your existing and prospective users. Make them trusting in you and in your product before they even download a demo copy of it.
Online Manual Brings Sales
As we see, the software manual which is a part of your web site generates a targeted traffic. The people may easily find your product because online help makes your web site more visible in relevant search results on the search engines. Those new visitors get more loyal when they see a well done help system. Also, if a prospect experiences difficulties with your software and asks for technical support, you may easily resolve the issue by referring the user to a certain page of your online help. With just a one click the user will see screenshots and explanations which will help them to settle the case. So, you have a motivated and targeted visitor, who feels loyal to your company and products, and whom you can easily help in case of a technical problem. The probability of such visitor ordering a license is several times higher than of the average one.
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