The remainder of the first day at Amplify consisted of breakout sessions (4 timeslots throughout the day), with expo time and lunch in the middle and a social/mingle sponsored welcome reception in the evening. Each session timeslot, there seemed to be 5 choices of session content, with one breakout timeslot being entirely ISV presentations. Overall the pace of the day was good, not quite a “full” feeling as previous conferences. The only negative in my mind was the extremely long break between in the middle of the day. The 2nd session ended at 11:15am and the third session started at 1:45pm. The intention was to have specific expo hours and a separate lunch break but that just felt way too long and in my opinion, could have been abbreviated to 90 minutes or perhaps even 2 hours but 2.5 hours just seemed excessive for a break in the middle of the day. I’d be curious how the expo vendors felt as they should have been the ones who benefited from that extreme amount of time.
Anyway, here are the sessions I attended and my thoughts on each.
Session 1 – Dynamics GP Administration – Mariano Gomez
Mariano covered a wide variety of things, making it clear administering GP is no longer about managing one SQL server and some desktop installs! He differentiated between environment administration (hardware, SQL server, Web and Reporting servers etc.) and application administration (not all of which are inside GP) and clearly demonstrated that it requires a wider variety of IT disciplines than ever before.
- Measure and monitor your performance counters. Ideally, you’re measuring performance when you first start using GP or start using a new server or after an upgrade etc., and are using that as a benchmark periodically to assess if things are still working smoothly.
- Test your data recovery plans. His horror story of a fire at a client and going back to SQL backups, only to find the backups were empty for months, is enough to scare anyone into testing backups. The client had to go back 8 months to find a backup with data on it, and I can’t even imagine what working through that to catch up begins to look like!
- Read up on “Chapter 14 Improving SQL Performance” (search for that term to find it)
- Schedule regular time to do checklinks and reconcile procedures, don’t wait until something goes wrong to run those things. Don’t run them in production unless you’ve run them in a recently refreshed test company or test environment first, as they are “destructive” processes that change data and you need to understand what it does in case something is changed that shouldn’t be.
- Use groups to manage security wherever you can, for things like SSRS reports so as people change, you just have to manage who’s in what group.
Session 2 – Rockton Software – Alicia Weigel
Alicia demonstrated a handful of the products in the Rockton Software arsenal. I don’t have any clients using Rockton’s products myself, so I wanted to sit in, as I know they are very useful tools and wanted to see for myself what more of them are capable of.
- Smartfill looks fantastic. It’s designed to make lookups easier to find things by searching on various fields at once, and being able to edit what is visible in the lookup windows. Type something in, tab off the field, a new Rockton lookup window appears with the results that are close to what you searched for. If there is only one result, it simply fills in that ID for you (account, vendor, anything).
- Auditor is an audit tracking tool where you can do field specific audits, silently or with tracking of reasons enabled of things that happen to your data whether within or behind the scenes in SQL directly. It works in both the web client and the desktop client.
- Toolbox is a bag of tricks that has too many things to list. Check it out here…
Session 3 – From GP User to GP Superhero in under an hour – Amber Bell
Amber was taking over the reigns of Mark Polino’s famous 50 tips in 50 minutes sessions over the years. While Amber’s session contained fewer tips, she enthusiastically presented various tips including demos and did a fantastic job of adding at least one new thing to everyone’s arsenal while doing so!
Session 4 – Don’t Check that Box – Leslie Vail
Leslie’s session, slightly vaguely named, was all about some review of setup windows and the various options that she has found to be missing or different from her preferred configuration options. She didn’t go through everything on every window but went through the key things in various modules that she recommends are configured a certain way for the majority of people, not that it works for everyone. There was lots of interesting discussion and it was good to listen to her take on some options and why she recommends things on or off.
One of the things introduced this year was the concept of “GP Live”, a live TV broadcast on the Dynamics GP Ustream channel! It was a cool new thing and throughout the day there were live interviews with a variety of guests hosted by people like Bob McAdam, Jon Rivers, Pam Misialek or Andy Hafer. In the evening reception, Andy caught up to me when I was talking with Todd McDaniel and you can catch that video here. This interview featured Andy wandering around the expo hall and evening reception so there are lots of separate small interviews as he wanders around. I’m on at about the 11:27 mark. It was a blast!
At one point during the day, I ran into the newest account manager, Rick Kemp, from Joe Software and we went out for dinner to get acquainted and watch a little of the end of the Raptors – Cavaliers game. We went to place called Roy’s which apparently is a chain, and the food was fantastic, my best food experience of the week, hands-down!
After dinner, it was time to chill. I had hoped to blog that evening while relaxing in my room but instead I wrote most of this on the plane ride home and finished it from home. The WiFi in the hotel rooms was really horrible, and you had to pay for it, which added to the frustration! I upgraded to the “enhanced” WiFi, which was supposed to enable you to stream Netflix and things but I was barely able to stream the UStream channel let alone get a website up consistently. So… no blogging from my room happened this week! Fortunately the hotel didn’t charge me when I brought up the lack of consistent speed to them. I was able to connect perfectly down in the meeting rooms as Mekorma sponsored the network connection area and that WiFi was readily available in all of the rooms! Yay Mekorma!
That’s the end of day 1. Soon I hope to continue with summaries of Day 2 and 3 to finish this short series.