I am sure we have all come across unique situations that present us with opportunities to develop custom solutions or provided needed services such as custom integrations. Sometimes the solutions are involved and can be complex, but other times the solutions aren’t “rocket science” and are merely clever ways to use the tools provided to meet our needs.
This is where the Silver Floppy Award comes into place. The award is anything but an award. It is actually comprised of a “legacy data storage device” or in other words, a simple 5.25-inch floppy disk. The floppy disk was painted silver and then mounted on a wooden base. The origins of the wooden base are a story in and of itself, but I will save that for another blog. From before my time with Intelligent Technologies, Inc. consultants have been passing this “award” around among themselves to indicate when one of them has cracked a particularly difficult nut. There is no compensation or other payment that goes along with the award other than the satisfaction of a job well done.
Recently the Silver Floppy was awarded to our entire Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) implementation team. The implementation involved a client, in the Triad area of North Carolina, which had a home grown system currently in place to record their customer’s transactions. These transactions would need to be translated into invoices and then provided to customers via website, or download. This was a specific need identified during the Diagnostic phase, which other software vendors were unable to meet. A weekly run would include over 15,000 invoices, each with 20 or more line items. The other vendors were concerned about managing and importing invoices from the homegrown system directly into their software, and instead were focusing on importing “summary” documents and providing an interface outside of the actual software to access the detail. Needless to say, this was unacceptable to the client. So our implementation team put their heads together to develop a solution.
Since the client was already using SQL Server 2008, complete with SQL Server Reporting Services; we were able to use eConnect to provide the client with a solution that met their needs. We developed a small custom application that read the transactions from the homegrown system and imported them into SQL tables. Once the data was “reworked” into the correct format, the custom application took the results and passed them to eConnect for importing into Sales Order Processing (SOP) module. So the first hurdle of the opportunity was passed. Next the implementation team had to provide a way for the customers to be able to see the invoices and review them.
This is where the implementation team turned to SQL Server Reporting Services. A standalone report to display the invoice in the format required by the client was created. After creating the report, a Subscription was se tup for the report. A cool feature about subscriptions is that, although in our instance all of the customers required PDF images, each customer could have had a different format defined (such as Word, HTML, Excel, etc.). By setting the subscription to launch on a weekly basis the client was able to make the invoices available to their customers either by download of the actual PDF file, or the customers could access a web version of the invoice by logging into the client’s website and calling the SQL Server Reporting Services version of the invoice directly. By using a combination of Microsoft tools that work seamlessly with Dynamics GP the implementation team was able to meet the customer’s needs and provide functionality that other software vendors were unable to provide; and for that they were given the Silver Floppy award. The team is always looking for opportunities to develop custom solutions that may earn them the prestigious Sliver Floppy award.
-By Grady Burris - Sr. Consultant - Intelligent Technologies, Inc. A South Carolina Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner
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