GP Tech Conference Day 2

Day 2 at the Dynamics GP Technical Conference in Fargo:  It was another long day, with a lot of information presented in the sessions.  On the weather side of things, it was quite a bit warmer today vs day 1, which I have come to learn was unseasonably cold for this time of year.  Great…. it reminds me of a trip I took to Sault Ste. Marie a few years ago in January where it was the coldest weather on record at the time (and still was the record low temps).  I must be blessed!  ūüôā

I would say today there was not a lot of “new new” content provided, just more details on the same general functionality introduced in the prior day's sessions, where it related to the upcoming R2 release.

Customization Tools

The first session I sat through was presented by David Musgrave and Mariano Gomez on Customization Tools.  It was a fabulous session looking at how to handle 3 similar customizations using three different tools.  First they used purely Dexterity, second was purely Modifier with VBA, and third was a hybrid using Visual Studio Tools for GP, with a little Dex and a modified window with Modifier.  It was a very neat way to remind us there are lots of options for customizations and no one tool is always the answer.

SRS Reporting

Another session I sat through was a deeper dive into SRS reporting for GP2010 R2.  The session covered the possible* new features and changes, most notably some of the following items:

  • Integrated deployment with Dynamics GP Utilities, instead of having some server tasks and some client tasks to complete.
  • Some refreshing of look & feel elements such as visual indicators where a drillback to GP exists and some style changes to reports to make them a little nicer presentation-wise.
  • Demos of new mapping functionality in Report Builder 3.0 that is used with SQL Server 2008 R2.  Imagine, sales reports by geography, visually showing high and low sales numbers on a map instead of just a graph or report.
  • Multi-company reports and how they have accomplished it, looking at some of the background stored procedures to combine data into one report across companies.

* the disclaimer is what we say is not final and the constant reminder to us all in attendance was until you see this in the final product, these features may change!  ūüôā

GP2010 R2 Overview

I sat through another session with more of a general overview of the upcoming R2 release, not just the BI tools.  We got a chance to see in a little more detail how some of the following items are coming along (same disclaimer applies!):

  • A clean up of the Reporting Tools Setup window, less clunky and better organized data
  • Excel Builder will have multi-company abilities as well as an option to bulk-deploy excel reports
  • Navigation List performance (speed) improvements are coming – SIGNIFICANTLY improved load times!  Yay!
  • Email message setup changes, more in depth details of the ability to add data fields to message ID's
  • Adding email options to the Report Options windows on any report, where users want to email a report to someone instead of printing (or printing to PDF and emailing manually).
  • More details on the Word Template Generator showing just how nice it will be to convert ANY Report Writer report to a Word Template.  Wow, am I ever looking forward to that functionality!
  • Smartlist Builder gets an upgrade with a column ordering tool, no more having to re-order columns in Smartlist afterwards, for default smartlists created by Smartlist Builder!
  • Extender gets a minor tweak with the ability to copy list values from one field's list to another.

Management Reporter

Last was a session relating to Management Reporter.  I've seen it before but haven't gotten really hands-on very much yet.  It was good to see the differences between MR and FRx, where the improvements are and what isn't changed.  Here are the things I found interesting:

  • It's now native 64bit, built on the .net platform and C# with the data stored in SQL.  No more G32 and F32 files!
  • User setup includes security more similar to GP Security – role based
  • The report viewer no longer uses the cheesy green drill icon!  Too bad really, there goes my one opportunity to have a little fun during training and make some jokes about the drill.
  • The row formats are purely dimension based, and from the looks of it, very easy to use and more flexible than in FRx.  It will list your segment descriptions, account categories and any AA dimensions and you can build a row GL link by entering data in any or multiple of those cells.
  • The column filtering feature uses the exact same functionality as the row format.  No more masking the entire GL account with “?” marks
  • Logos are now possible on the report defiinition level (aka catalog)
  • Another new feature in columns is the ability to specify a page break. If you're familiar with FRx you know that it will not break naturally width-wise so if you have a wide set of columns, it will try to cram them all in on one page.  Eye chart anyone?!!?  So this isn't fixed with MR but they threw us a bone – the ability to specify in the column where to page break.
  • Report groups are available, an improvement to the FRx chaining feature to print multiple reports together

We got a little bit of insight into the Feature Pack 2 release which will be later this calendar year as well as the roadmap.  More to come on those as we get closer.

The end of this session was an interesting discussion on domains being required to install Management Reporter.  I had asked the question initially, if that was ever going to change.  It turned into quite a hot topic and the end of the session morphed into discussions with the development team who were in the room.  The beauty of being at this conference is getting a chance to talk directly to the development team and the product team, with the opportunity to explain a requirement to them directly.

The Night Life!

After yesterday's sessions, there was a reception and expo.  It was a great chance to meet others in a more social setting, and talk to more Microsoft folks as well as vendors who were present in an expo setting.

Of course, the Tim Tam Slam was also a featured event at David Musgrave's table.  I chickened out completely – wearing a white sweater and trying to suck hot chocolate through a Tim Tam cookie before it disintegrates just didn't seem like a good idea!  Keep your eyes on David Musgrave's blog (link above at the top of this article) for more info on this.  I was watching him start a blog post with content of one of the participants in the event so I'm sure it will be up and online soon to watch.

Some other Tim Tam Slam links of interest!  David Musgrave's post of his own effort and Leslie Vail's post of what is involved.

 

EDITS: Updated confusing opening sentence to clarify this is about the second day; added links to other Tim Tam Slam posts.

By |March 3rd, 2011|News|0 Comments|

GP Tech Conference Day 1

Today was day 1 at the Dynamics GP Technical Conference in Fargo. ¬†It was a long day of sessions, lots of interesting information to be had. ¬†It was also bitterly cold outside, and it’s safe to say not too many people ventured outside between sessions today!

These update posts won’t have a TON of detail on the new stuff coming. ¬†I do hope to get a chance to talk more about the details another time…

The Weather

It’s funny, you know? ¬†When I say I’m from Canada, the reaction is mostly the same. ¬†“Oh, you must be used to this weather!” ¬†Yeah, right! ¬†We get temps like this maybe once a year. ¬†The temperature right now is -2F with a windchill of -20F (that’s -19C and -29C respectively). ¬†Brrrrrr.

Just for fun I looked at a map to see where I live in comparison to Fargo.  I had no idea I was so much farther south than this in comparison.  The city where I live is not on this map but Hamilton is our neighbour to the west and the closest thing to compare to.

FargoMap

The Content

Today was a long day with a lot of content to digest. ¬†First was the keynote, which was a combination of GP2010 “R2” release information and some sneak peaks at GP “12”. ¬†It sounded like, in reading the R2 release news, that it was mostly a BI release but in reality there are quite a few gems in it, and BI is only a part.

Some sneak peaks of the GP2010 R2 coming soon:

  • A new BI tool called Business Analyzer, offering a desktop application for light user access to SRS reports as well as a new piece inside the core GP install. ¬†In short, the tool is purely for SRS reports, offering contextual BI (particularly within GP). ¬†Example: in GP, the tool will be visible in the Navigation Lists area. ¬†You simply click on one or more items in your navigation list and the content within the reports in Business Analyzer change to reflect the records you have selected.
  • Additions to the Rapid Migration Tools allowing for migration from anything, via Excel.
  • Another new tool, Microsoft Word Template Generator, which will allow you to make a Word template out of ANY report in GP. ¬†Yes, I said any report!
  • Some improvements to the Email features, such as inserting document information into the email body or subject line.

GP12 previews looked pretty cool but I’ll keep those under wraps for now… ūüôā

The rest of the day was too much content to go over in any “brief” manner. ¬†Suffice to say a lot was covered in the areas of taking advantage of Light User licenses, the new Business Analyzer tool, Word Template changes, and my favourite of the day, the session on the Support Debugging Tool. ¬†That tool is not new of course but the session was super-informative and since it’s out there right now, it’s the only thing today I could put to good use immediately!

The Night Life!

If there is night life in Fargo, someone else can write about it! ¬†What I did after the sessions were over tonight was a little volunteer work. ¬†Every year there is a huge risk of flooding here in the spring, and I’m probably WAY understating that. ¬†I’m doing a little research to get the facts straight and this is where I’m getting the info from. ¬†Currently the Red River is just under 16 feet. ¬†Flood level is 18 feet, and in 2009 it reached a level of over 40 feet!

One of the preparatory emails we got before coming to Fargo talked about opportunities to volunteer at Sandbag Central!  The goal this year is to have 3 million sandbags filled, the effort started two weeks ago and as of yesterday they have filled 1.4 million so far.

Tonight I went down to volunteer and am glad I did. ¬†It was a great experience and good to see the sense of community here. ¬†I did a 1.5 hour shift til closing this evening (8pm). ¬†At closing, they announced today was the best day so far, filling approximately 175,000 bags! ¬†That’s impressive!

Here are a couple of photos of the area I was working in. ¬†First, the “spider” filling machine. ¬†I didn’t get better pics unfortunately but there is a giant pile of sand to the left, that is being run up to the top of this spider machine and then one at a time being sent down the “legs” to the bagging machines with the right quantity of sand per bag. ¬†This pic is the group of folks I was teamed up with, all from the same softball team.

One person gets the bags ready, one holds the bag at the botttom of the spider leg for filling, then passes it to the next two people. The ones at the front of the picture, one spins the bag to get it as tightly closed as possible, then the other person uses a hand gun type of machine to strap the bags shut with a metal wire.  Then there are two people putting the bags on the skids, that was where I spent my evening!

IMG_0239

Here is a view of the skids, we had to pile the bags in a certain way, anywhere from 8 to 10 bags high (approx 85-100 bags).  We filled about 7 skids while I was there.

IMG_0240

It was a crazy place, you really had to watch where you walked with forklift operators constantly moving skids that are full before the next “leg” finished their skid. ¬†We often were piling on someone else’s skid (and others on ours) as skids filled up quicker than the forklift operators could move them out.

All in all, it was a great first day here and now it’s time to call it a night!

EDIT: Updated a typo

By |March 1st, 2011|News|0 Comments|

Canadian Payroll 2010 Year End Tax Update – Round 2

The Dynamics GP Canadian Payroll Round 2 tax updates for year end are now all released (this is old news now as the first one, for GP9, was released on January 20th).

There are downloads for release 9.0, 10.0 and 2010, however the new T4A functionlity is only included for GP10 and GP2010.  The GP9 download is bug fixes and a Quebec RL-1 slip change only.

The installation guide had everything you want and need to know in terms of what is changed and what is included or not.  That guide can be downloaded here: Canadian Payroll Round 2 tax update 2011 (on customersource).

Release 9.0:

Download Link (Customersource)

Versions after install:

Dynamics 9.0.386
Canadian Payroll 9.0.387

 

Release 10.0:

Download Link (Customersource)

Versions after install:

Dynamics 10.0.1701
Canadian Payroll 10.0.???? (to be determined)

 

Release 2010:

Download Link (Customersource)

Versions after install:

Dynamics 11.0.1677
Canadian Payroll 11.0.1674

The end is near (or is it here?) for GP 9.0

It’s a sad day for all of you Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 users out there.  Today is the official end date for mainstream support of that release.  There is a small asterisk here: tax updates will continue until January 31, 2011.

For more information about the lifecycle of this and other products, here is the link

To ensure you are on a supported version of Microsoft Dynamics GP, you will need to update to GP 10.0 or GP 2010.

What does “Supported” mean?

A supported version generally means feature requests are continuing to be reviewed and bug fixes are continuing to be fixed with service packs or hotfixes.  Being supported also means being able to purchase new modules and/or user licences for GP.  Being supported has nothing to do with being “current” on your annual enhancement plan.

Customersource will still have a wealth of knowledge for a recently discontinued product although over time you will find, as the knowledgebase grows, articles will be increasingly relevant only to the newer supported releases.

Partners generally continue to support the product as well as they have a wealth of knowledge themselves on all releases of a product for which they have been working with Dynamics GP.  That being said, over time, as you get farther away from your product being supported, you may find it harder to obtain support for your release.  Partners will not always keep a ready library of functioning test environments of old versions of a product should testing a scenario be needed to answer a question.

Upgrade Implications

While most clients do not upgrade every time a new release comes out, the vast majority of clients I see upgrade every other version, once mainstream support ends.  Keep in mind when planning to upgrade, if you are on an older unsupported version, your cost to upgrade may increase as there is less likely to be a direct path of upgrade from your current version to the version you want to upgrade to.  That means more time spent, more potential issues and added complexity to the project. 

Overall Recommendation

You have made a significant investment in Dynamic GP and part of the cost of maintaining it and budgeting for it should include upgrading every couple of releases at least.  This doesn’t mean it’s an annual cost, but more like an “every three year” scenario based on the current rate of new product releases.  Being “supported” means you have more resources at your disposal – Partners, Microsoft, Customersource, Blogs etc. – all with information relevant to your investment.  There is little worse than reading about some fabulous new features or functionality only to find out you can’t get it on your release!

By |January 11th, 2011|General Stuff, News|0 Comments|

Canadian Payroll 2010 Year End Update – issues for GP9?

Hey Canadian Payroll fans out there… it’s me again with some possible bad news. ¬†It seems there is an issue appearing that is pretty specific to a group of customers that fit a certain criteria, namely: customers on GP9 who had previously upgraded from something else to GP9.

The issue is with the table conversion on CPY10100, CP50100 where 4 columns in these two tables have incorrect lengths and the failed tables list is showing a status 135 meaning not having the correct structure prior to upgrading the database.

Updated Dec 23, 2010: the original download page now includes the file to correct issues with the incorrect column lengths.  Look in the Overview section for the link to the file.  Link is here.

The bad good news

There is no fix ready yet – Microsoft is working on a script and I’ll update the status of this post as we get more details.

Mid-way through writing this post I received another email with a resolution for this. ¬†A script has been created and will be posted to customersource on Thursday. ¬† I will update this post with the link once it’s posted. ¬†(I have the script but don’t feel it’s wise to post it here, I’d prefer readers get the script via their partner or via their customersource account).

What to check

These scripts can be run at any time, ideally the earlier the better so that you can identify potential issues before you start your tax update.  There is nothing worse than coming in over the holidays, possibly during a seasonal shut down period, to do an update and only then find you have an issue.  Often times these year end updates are being run during times when partners and support-networks are on reduced hours due to holidays so preparing in advance and doing risk-assessment is very wise!

  • Run these scripts in SQL Management Studio
  • It is a database specific so select the company db(s) that have Canadian Payroll in them when you run the script.
  • It is wise to check ALL of your companies even if you don’t run payroll in them because the tables may still exist.
  • If you haven’t run an sp_help command before, it returns a bunch of information about a table that is irrelevant for this issue; the second set of results is the list of column names, field type, and length among other things with “Length” being the column of interest here.

sp_help CPY10100

sp_help CPY50100

  • Look for these fields in both sp_help results lists and determine if you see the proper field lengths for each or not.

PAddress1 ‚Äď column length should be 61, incorrect table structure may show 31
PAddress2 ‚Äď column length should be 61, incorrect table structure may show 31
PCity ‚Äď column length should be 35, incorrect table structure may show 30
Pcountry ‚Äď column length should be 61, incorrect table structure may show 20

(Edited Dec 23, 2010 to re-post link to GP9 tax table download where the link to the script to resolve this issue is located.)

Canadian Payroll 2010 Year End Update – a two part journey

Hello Canadian Payroll fans… this is an update to my previous post last month, with some news from Microsoft. ¬†Reminder: this update contains table changes which often means longer updates and more possibility of complications – ensure your process includes backups as you proceed through the install!

GP9.0 users Рplease note a Round 2 update is coming this year which is NOT being made available for GP9.  Please review the functionality that it contains if it affects the timing of your plans to upgrade!

Target Release Date

Friday, December 17th, 2010 is the aim for English with French to follow.  The release will be available for 9.0, 10.0 and 2010.

New! Expect Round 2 in mid-January

Yes, you read that correctly! ¬†Some new functionality that is not in the year end update will be released in “Round 2” (E.T.A mid-January 2011). Very important for 9.0 customers who are delaying upgrading – you WILL NOT be getting the Round 2 update! ¬†This is only being released for GP10 and GP2010.

What does Round 2 have?

The Round 2 update will be supporting the new T4A boxes (Patronage allocation, registered pension, pension adjustment, RESP, Charitable donation, etc). ¬†For more information on the T4A re-design, see the Canada Revenue Agency’s What’s New link¬†and New T4A codes for 2011.

What does the Year End Update have?

Apart from the normal tax rate changes and some bug fixes, here are changes specific to the year end update:

  • XML file format updates for RL-1, T4 and T4A
  • Update to RL-1 (ability to print amended and original)
  • New T4 boxes (66 Eligible Retiring Allowances, 67 Non-eligible Retiring Allowances, 68 Status Indian Eligible Retiring Allowances, 69 Status Indian Non-Eligible Retiring Allowances, and 86 Stock Option Cash-Out Expense)
  • T4A slip form layout change (2 part form instead of 3 part form)
  • Quebec added functionality around WCB CSST

Which tables are affected?

The following tables will have fields added to them to support the new functionality.

  • CPY10103¬†P_CPY_Employee_T4_MSTR
  • CPY50103 P_CPY_Employee_T4_MSTR_LY
  • CPY30250 P_CPY_Calc_MSTR
  • CPY30150 P_CPY_Calc_WORK
  • CPY50250 P_CPY_Calc_MSTR_LY
  • CPY30151 P_CPY_Employee_T4_WORK
  • CPY40105 P_CPY_R1
  • CPY70105 P_CPY_R1_LY
  • CPY40115 P_CPY_SETP_R1_Summary
  • CPY70115 P_CPY_SETP_R1_Summary_LY
  • CPY10100 P_CPY_MSTR
  • CPY50100 P_CPY_MSTR_LY

General Info on What’s New for 2011

The most significant changes are with the T4A and Retiring Allowances moving from the T4A to the T4 slip for 2011. ¬†See the Canada Revenue Agency’s list of what’s new¬†for more details.

The Support Debugging Tool is my new best friend

I have known about the Support Debugging Tool for a while but have never had an occasion to install and use it at a client location.  

I took advantage of a recent client upgrade from GP9 to GP2010 to install it on all of the workstations while we rolled out GP2010.  It has already paid dividends!

The Issue

One user was getting an error on posting “Not privileged to run this report” – when she posted Receivings Transaction Entry batches.  That's a standard error, and typically I haven't found it tough to resolve.  Since it was received on posting, I did what I normally do: I went into a test company and posted a batch with a POWERUSER user to see what posting reports were turned on.  The result however was I received the same 3 posting journals that this user did, except I did not get an error message.  Hmmm…. 

SDT to the rescue

I turned to the Support Debugging Tool's Security Profiler feature and it was a very easy and quick way to find the problem.  The steps were as follows:

  • Enable the Security Profiler on the user's workstation
  • The user posted a test batch to get to the point of the permission error
  • She exported the information to the shared drive for debugging information
  • I logged on as 'sa' and imported the information
  • The SDT showed me it was the report “POP Backordered Items Received” that she did not have access to.
  • Opened security via the shortcut, made the necessary change, problem solved!

Feedback

There are a TON of things in this tool I don't know how to use effectively yet and will be looking at other features I can take advantage of.

One very cool thing is the colour customization of the GP windows which this client is using for test companies.  They wanted to ensure the users don't accidentally forget they are in a test company and post something they want to be “live” data.

The second very cool thing is the option to rename the window titles when GP is minimized.  In this case, the power users tend to have multiple instances of GP launched at once and with GP2010 having the user interface display all windows individually, their taskbar gets busy in a hurry.  They loved this feature to quickly see which minimized windows are which user / company logged in.

If you haven't tried this, check out David Musgrave's site for the Support Debugging Tool Portal for more information and lots of articles and information.

If you are already using this, Build 14 was just released – check it out and update to the latest build!

Canadian Payroll 2010 Year End Update – heads up!

Two important notes for Dynamics GP Canadian Payroll clients!