The GP Tech Conference Fargo, 2018

 General Comments

In general, the Tech Conference turned out to be a very valuable experience. We learned the enhancements coming out in the October 1, 2018 release of GP 2018R2 which I’ll discuss later on. We also learned about some awesome new technology that I think is an amazing game-changer in the Dynamics GP space, but that we’ve got a bit to learn about their full capabilities and requirements. The Dynamics Communities staff did a bang-up job as usual trying to keep everyone happy and educated!

There were some awesome presentations, such as Steve Gray’s on eConnect Nodes and exactly what they do. This guy… If you are not familiar, check out his website: http://4penny.net/ and then follow the links under “knowledge”. He also helps maintain a site I find absolutely invaluable: http://dyndeveloper.com/DynModule.aspx .

I was told by numerous people that the tech conference was not worth it, but I disagree. I thought that it was an awesome opportunity for more one on one with MVP’s, All Star’s and users to interact in a more intimate setting with more opportunity for questions and general discussion in sessions. I think I will make the Tech Conference a priority every year.

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2018 R2

I will review my notes below – but for some crazy in-depth information on upgrading go Here to the Dynamics GP Support and Services Blog

I have to be honest, I’m pretty excited about some of the new features/enhancements in GP 2018R2:

New Feature 1 - The Intelligent Edge

This is the feature that prompted me to post on Social Media regarding “Hybrid GP” because that is what it “could be” if you enable the Intelligent Edge

What is an Intelligent Edge?

This is the beginnings of an Evolutionary Path to harness the power of machine learning, cloud and AI for financial functioning, forecasting, reporting. This functionality will utilize high speed data processing, analytics and provide shorter response times for decision making than ever before. Let’s break it down:

Touted as Intelligent Cloud:

What the word is: You will have the option of syncing your GP data into the cloud which will provide great business agility and scalability and give you unlimited computing power on demand.

What the reality is: This will be an option on a new tab in GP  to set up a cloud user and the schedule to sync data on. This data is a replication of the data in your SQL Server. And it IS optional. What will be in the cloud will be current data only at this time – meaning non-historical data, and very limited in the type of data. This year’s data. It WILL provide some awesome KPI’s and reporting and it IS being setup to allow for historical data in the future. This data will be used to run the AI and machine learning and the BI provided by Power BI. One example of the AI given was a Cash Flow report – I can’t say that I definitively understood this, but it’s a nice idea.

These BI reports will provide some real insights to action – who is always late paying you, and other insights and information most businesses should rely on for making decisions. Since these will be in the cloud – they will be accessible from anywhere and any device.

As I previously mentioned – this will all exist on a new tab in GP. Your home screens and the rest of GP will continue to look the same. To enable this Intelligent Cloud you will need to sign up for a Business Central Account (no charge) to begin the syncing of data.

You will not be able to process transactions with this cloud-syncing though – it’s view only.

My take on this

I think it is an awesome way to keep your GP data on-premise or on Azure and also be able to use some cloud computing for business intelligence.

The Microsoft presenters used the phrase “Business Central Hybrid” but it’s not a real hybrid.

New Feature 2 – Other Enhancements

Microsoft is really about making the end user experience better in GP at this point in time. With that in mind, here is a listing of enhancements:

  • Company: Recurring Batch Enhancement: Check box to use the last day of the fiscal period as the posting date on recurring batches for monthly and bi-monthly. Those with fiscal period ending dates that are not necessarily end of month like those companies on 4-4-5 accounting might like this.
  • Company: Posting Settings: Ability to allow transaction-level posting and to post these through to the GL
  • Inventory: Historical Inventory Trial Balance: Ability to exclude items with zero value or quantity
  • Financial: Check Numbers: Ability to disable duplicate check numbers on specific transactions
  • Financial: Check books: Hide inactive checkbooks In lookups
  • Payroll: Better FICA totals on payroll check registers for employer and employee
  • Payroll: Start and end dates on paycodes on employee maintenance screens
  • Payroll: Shared max for benefit and deduction codes: looks at the YTD max and compares to the calendar year max
  • Purchasing: Purchasing All In One: Now will display the Vendor’s document Number
  • Purchasing: Ability to now be able to email the Purchasing “Other” form and not just the “Blank” form.
  • Purchasing: Requisitions can now have quantities changed on the fly when moving to Purchase Order
  • Purchasing: Checkbook will default on a computer check batch
  • Sales: SOP Navigation Lists can be used to print documents in the originating currency and not just the functional currency
  • Sales: Customer Statements can be emailed directly from the customer maintenance screen!
  • Sales: New workflows are added on quotes, orders and invoices and credit limits can be added to the workflow
  • Sales: Can now print AND email SOP documents at the same time
  • Sales: New additional sort options on SOP Item Inquiries
  • System: Hide Business Analyzer on all users is added
  • System: Password length increased to 21 characters and a warning up to 7 days on when it expires!
  • Navigation Lists: Mass update status’ on Card records (i.e. inactivate, etc) from the navigation list for Vendors, Customers, Account and Checkbooks
  • Navigation Lists: SmartList Favorites created with Designer will appear in navigation lists

WOW!

Game Changing Technologies/Apps

GP Transaction Search

Steve Endow has created a tool that he is offering free of charge (amazing) to assist with the non-optimized queries for transaction lookups that slow some users with large data-sets down. This is a fairly easy install and can really help speed up your inquiry windows. Feel free to follow this link to learn more about this: https://precipioservices.com/free/gp-transaction-search/

Microsoft PowerApps

What can I say… I saw a number of examples of this technology that, when built with the correct gateways allows for no-code or low-code custom applications that can query on and update/create transactions in GP (or many other applications your company uses).

These apps are run “from the cloud” and can be used on all devices…yes, transactioning or querying GP from your phone or tablet….wowsa.

Some examples shown at the Tech Conference were: (caveat: some of these were built to be used with Microsoft Flow – discussed below)

Workflow for AP with amounts and approvals – kicked off with a simple stored procedure on the GP databases

Sales Person App: Queries GP to give the salesperson a view on the Customer data with an embedded app to Google Maps to see customers the sales person is in proximity to and a quick “message” through email to alert customers to proximity and setup meetings!

Another sales app that was shown was for a Sales Manager (not built with Flow or a gateway) allowing the Sales Manager to review Customer data in GP and even update credit limits from their phone -without ever getting in to GP

One of the apps I witnessed and loved was one that queried stock counts for inventory and brought them into a phone and allowed the updating of item amounts from the phone/tablet. It was even shown that you could use your phone to scan the bar-code to bring up the item to update! Crazy.

Several top names presented these apps and I think it’s super cutting edge. Big thank you’s to Belinda Allen, Mariano Gomez, Steve Endow, Kerry Hatalay and many more for going out to the edge of all things to bring this technology back to us.

Microsoft Flow

What can I say here... Most awesome potential I’ve seen in years. Flow is a cloud-based software tool that allows employees (yes, you!) to create and automate workflows across multiple applications and services WITHOUT THE NEED FOR DEVELOPER HELP.

That’s right. Want a custom workflow for GP? Learn Microsoft Flow with PowerApps. Schedule the flow to run, put controls around it, etc.

There were other crazy-awesome uses as well for flow – much of which went way over my head, LOL.

Citizen Developer

Microsoft is touting the technologies available through Office 365 to be able to make you a Citizen Developer. Power BI, PowerApps and Flow are part of the effort to put the Power into a Business’ Power User with these no-code, low-code apps.

Concerns

I have a number of concerns around setting up these apps. These include, but are not limited to:

Security: No one was really sure what kind of securities are needed or can be put in place to limit these apps. I’m sure there are some, but one of the presenters let us know that the technology is changing at a crazy pace and something may be different tomorrow than is in place today.

Business Logic in GP: The need to maintain the business logic and data flow in GP is of paramount importance and no one should be building data-updating apps or data-creating apps for GP without a thorough knowledge of the tables and data flow.

Final Thoughts

I’m super excited to put in place many things that were learned here at the tech conference. I’m looking forward to learning more about these apps through trial and error and through more information from Microsoft and learning at GPUG’s Summit in Phoenix in a few months!