Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Update on IFD and CRM Online

With the release of CRM 2011 Microsoft built the IFD components (Internet Facing Deployment) using .net4 components which in itself is great. What is tough for the GP developers is that GP is still firmly rooted in .net 3.5 - and you can not call the CRM 2011 IFD components from within a .net 3.5 environment.

What this has meant is that we either need to write a middle ware solution that we can talk to from within GP that will in turn talk to the CRM components OR we had to move our interface outside of Dynamics GP completely.

We had investigated both options and determined the best solution was to move entirely to a non GP/non Dex based interface for SmartConnect. Now this is not a big leap as we had released a distinct external SmartConnect interface earlier this year. We are very excited about this development as it provides more flexibility in regards to look and feel and removes our reliance on the GP development path. For our customers and partners there is no loss in functionality at all, and the experience will be the same as you have now. You will be able to launch SmartConnect from the GP menus (which will effectively launch and external application). Everything you can do now, you will be able to do in the new release.

So while we were originally frustrated by the way this played out, we are now full of energy about what the new solution will look like. We plan to have a release available to cater for CRM 2011 IFD and Online in the next 3 weeks (limited release to those in immediate need). We will then follow this up with a general release containing a much sexier look and feel given our partners and customers a better experience.

If you are using IFD and considering an upgrade I ask you to hold on for 3 weeks, and for everyone else hold on for a bigger and better SmartConnect. I would like to say that at eOne we remain 100% committed to supporting integration with and between all deployment types of CRM, GP and SalesForce.com

Reason's to Upgrade from Integration Manger

I have a whole bunch of reasons I will share in the next few weeks but lets start with a really simple one.

Challenge: Import 10,000 customer records into GP.

Results:
SmartConnect: 1 minute 30 seconds
Integration Manager: 4 hours 40 minutes


Those numbers just look crazy so we simplified the test and tried again.

Challenge: Import 100 customer records into GP.

Results:

SmartConnect: 2 seconds
Integration Manager: 2 minutes 51 seconds

SmartConnect WINS!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Customers stopped spending

When the share market goes down 5% in the morning, and then goes back up 5% in the afternoon - what does that mean? Firstly it means high blood pressure for all those needing to draw on their 401K anytime soon!

What it means for the world of software is that companies stop spending. Customers cancel consulting engagements, buying decisions are put on indefinite hold and work becomes significantly more difficult to find. All 'nice to have' projects stop. I was reading recently an interview with the CIO of Qantas, David Hall, who was discussing hte impact of the GFC and ongoing uncertainty : "Our main effort would be around simplification and automation of the business. Historically large enterprises have big, complex legacy systems. We're spending probably the lowest we've spent in a long time in Qantas. Yet we've got projects happening in all parts of our business to transform, (improve) speed, efficiency, greater customer analytics, and improving the customer experience has been very critical to us."

So if the largest of business is spending less than ever then let me guess this is exactly the same with mid market business. If the largest companies are focused on simplification and automation - then let me guess this is the biggest challenge for mid market companies. At no point does David suggest they have stopped spending, but he is being much more careful about the projects he spends his money on. He is very careful to ensure that what he spends money on will not have large ongoing maintenance costs.

So as software providers to the mid market - our job is pretty simple. Deliver high quality software and services, that automate and simplify business process while reducing ongoing cost of ownership. This means that there are no longer any free rides and cushy consulting jobs. There is no place for burying a consultant on a fixed assets project for 6 months - those project do not exist in more. Mid Market customers want you to get in, make things better and get out, leaving then with autonomy and reduced costs.

So is squeezing everyone into cloud computing the answer? I believe yes and no. When a business says keep it simple they mean that - but do not mean make me the same as every other company. Software must support the companies unique business model. It is a companies uniqueness that makes them profitable. Many of today's cloud apps are very simplistic and do not go any where near providing the breadth of functionality required in the mid market. The cloud pricing model is very attractive and the simplicity of the software reduces implementation costs - which also fits inside tight budgets.

The wonder of CRM and GP is the flexibility. It fits different businesses and can be configured, constructed, squeezed, customised, added to etc until it gives a perfect fit. This is what companies need. Can this be delivered in the cloud? Yes - it has to be and it will be. Is it delivered in the cloud right now - I do not think so and certainly not in regards to ERP - and it is going to take time. GP is working hard on the web client and we are hearing very positive noises from inside Fargo as to their success.

In the mean time - do not dream of asking your clients to spend money on 'silly' projects. Only offer them project that have a clear ROI, and clear improvements for their business. Software resellers need to get clever and clearly demonstrate how their solutions will make or save money for the mid market. No customer will integrate their CRM or Salesforce.com with GP because it seems like the thing to do. They will do it because you show how it makes their business more efficient and they can do more with less.

Friday, August 05, 2011

SmartConnect Consultant

eOne needs a new SmartConnect guru to join our consulting team. You do not have to be a SmartConnect guru yet, but you have to be able to become one very quickly.

If you think you have what it takes to become an 'eOne guy' then I really want to hear form you. (eOne gal's are equally welcome).

The role we have is for a gun consultant to join our services and delivery team. The things we would like you to have in order of importance:
1. An eOne attitude
2. Passion for working with customers
3. Solid understanding of GP or CRM and how the data hangs together
4. Ability to be a Gun Trainer
5. Knowlegde of SmartConnect
6. Technical/Dev skills in SQL
7. Integration experience
8. A love of entering timesheets!

We would prefer the candidate to be based out of Fargo, but this is not essential for the right person. There would be travel involved as much of our work is best done on site and face to face with our clients.

The benefits:
1. Competitive Salary
2. Fun and vibrant team to work with
3. No need to wear a suit and tie
4. Wide range of tasks including scoping, training, development, configuration and documentation.
5. Opportunity to be creative and push new products through our extensive channel.

If this sounds like you then please send me a message so we can talk. martin.olsen@eonesolutions.com.au.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

NetSuite V GP

I had not seen this before today but had a good laugh when I did. NetSuite V GP video

Firstly I thought is was funny because having spent plenty of time in North Dakota I swear I met that guy! The second thing that is funny is that to carry off an add like this you need some serious credibility which I do not yet believe NetSuite has attained.

Omitted from the add is anything factual about Netsuite? Any company that takes to marketing on perceived negatives of their competitor is losing the battle. It is just like politics, do you complain about the opposition or do you actually have plans and policies that are better and worth talking about. Being in the cloud can be important but only if you receive the same powerful functionality with which to run your business. There is no point in having a cloud based solution that provides inferior function. A well implemented ERP is used to manage a business day in and day out. There is no upside to leaping onto a cloud if it will not support the weight of your business.

The idea of access to your business system form anywhere, mobility of data entry and data retrieval and the integration between systems is very important - but not something that makes 'NetSuite' or any other cloud solution better.

1. I use GP across two locations in the USA and 3 distinct location in Australia. It works great. Microsoft are building a Web based interface which we will adopt in 2012 which will be nice - but having a web interface will certainly not change my world. In fact even with a web interface I suspect more often than not I will continue to terminal serve into my GP application.

2. I get access to my data primarily via Excel now which is real time. I have a series of email alerts that contain my reports all of which I can read and access on my mobile device.

3. I push data into my GP system from two CRM's sales Logix and Microsoft CRM. My website integrates directly with GP many times each day and royalty reports form Microsoft are imported directly into GP. There is no easier system with which to integrate.

GP has way more customers and way more experience. GP has an awesome partner channel and well established customers. GP has significantly more functionality, is totally customisable (with eXtender)and is the best integration platform. GP will soon have a web based user interface for those few companies that see this as important (I don't). Go can be hosted offsite to reduce in house maintenance and yet give you all the scale required without limitations.

If I was picking a system on which to run my business it would be GP every time. In fact I did pick a system and use GP everyday and it works brilliantly. In fact I would choose a straight up, straight talking, friendly North Dakota local over a smart talking, remote, floating in the cloud schmoozer with nothing positive to say -Any day.

I Hate Posting

Have you ever heard the question 'why do we have to post everything, it takes so long'?

SmartPost for GP 10 was released today together with an updated SmartPost for GP2010. We were a little delayed on this release as we took the time to include support for the AA module which impacts just about every posting routine.

You are now able to configure SmartPost to post transactions containing AA codes and have the correct AA posting reports delivered. There a few tricks to configuring SP for use with AA so be sure to read the setup information in the manual very carefully.

So if you wish GP would work without the posting step - get on board with SmartPost which will do all your posting for you.