Microsoft Great Plains Update: Release 8.0 Overview for IT Manager/Controller
If you have Microsoft Great Plains as your main accounting and ERP system, you need to know some technical details about Great Plains version upgrade and what happens behind the scenes, what options do you have in case of Dexterity, VBA, SQL customizations, ctree / Generalized migration to MS SQL/MSDE. As of now, it is reasonable to upgrade to Microsoft Great Plains 8.0
Update required? Not really, but you have to take these factors into account.
o Support Suspended: Previous version may not be supported; currently, if you have version 6.0, support is already discontinued. You can’t let Microsoft Business Solutions help you, but they obviously have MBS partners who can still help. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL, your support expires on December 31, 2004.
o Magnetic Media Expiration/Tax Updates – If you have the US Payroll module and rely on it with W2 and other forms, you should stay with the version that is compatible and has tax updates. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL then you will not have tax updates for these platforms in late 2004 and your W2’s may be inaccurate. If you have many employees, you may be in trouble with the government.
o Follow Technology and Microsoft rules: Microsoft wants you to be on the newest platform and gives you the best support when you follow this rule
o If you have a lot of customization, we recommend you skip a version, for example, if you are on version 7.5, don’t update to 8.0 and wait for the next version.
What is update in the language of technology? The update has server and client sides.
o Server side: the update converts the tables from the old format to the new one. In general words, Microsoft Business Solutions developers can change the structure of the table, add extra fields to add new features, things like that. The update copies the table with changes to the temporary table, then drops the original table, recreates it with a new structure, and copies all data from the temporary table to the newly created one.
o Workstation side: Workstation is written in Great Plains Dexterity and has Dynamics.exe – engine and DYNAMICS.DIC – dictionary. These two plus all additional files will be replaced by the new ones. Other dictionaries, such as REPORTS.DIC and FORMS.DIC, also need to be updated, and the update will try to handle them automatically. In some cases, modified reports (in REPORTS.DIC) could not be updated and must be recreated in the new version.
What is the customization update? You should consider different types of customizations: Dexterity, VBA/Modifier, SQL, ReportWriter, Crystal Reports
o Customization of the Dexterity: being very short, the Dexterity can have so-called custom forms, which do not need updating, they should work as is. Dexterity can then alter existing Great Plains forms (so-called alternate Great Plains forms); in this case, the Dexterity customization needs to be redone for these forms/screens. More attention should be paid to Dexterity triggers, shadow tables, etc.
o VBA Customization/Modifier: The modifier allows you to modify existing Great Plains windows; creates so-called modified Great Plains windows, stored in FORMS.DIC. Modification usually consists of placing new buttons or fields, which in turn will receive VBA scripts (stored in DYNAMICS.VBA). VBA scripts can call something nice, like a Crystal Report, or have some data access logic. Generally, the old version of DYNAMICS.VBA works with the new version. You may need to rearrange the buttons on the modified form.
o SQL: You may have some stored processes for data integration, EDI, or the like; if the addressed tables will be changed in the new version then you need to parse your SQL code. The good news is that Microsoft Business Solution doesn’t make many changes since version 7.0, because Microsoft is now trying to merge the products it owns: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision, and Axapta, so it has different priorities.
o ReportWriter: MBS does not change the tables, but continues to change the Dexterity formulas used in the original ReportWriter reports; this is the problem in the so-called Modified Reports update; usually you have these modified reports: blank SOP invoice form, blank SOP pickup ticket, etc. If the report cannot be updated, it must be redone in the new version with some exceptions.
o Crystal Reports: the good thing about Crystal Report: no need to update the id (if the fields in the tables exist in the new version, which is usually a true statement)
What is the update for third party modules? Your Great Plains may have so called third party modules: Mekorma, Kampdata, Horyzon, Wennsoft, Avalara, Truepay, Trinity, Intellisol to name a few.
Third party modules may have their own update utility. You just need to know that your third party is ready for the new version of Great Plains; if not, just wait and stay on the old version.
What is migration from Ctree/Pervasive.SQL 2000 to MS SQL/MSDE? MBS has a migration tool. You must first install Great Plains on SQL Server with exactly the same account/segment structure, and then install the migration tool (it’s a Dexterity stub) on your ctree/Pervasive workstation; then when you integrate the chunk it will map it to the SQL based destination Great Plains Company, select all your system and company tables, click the button and it will move all your tables one by one. In the event that your Great Plains ctree/Pervasive has third parties, you should check if the provider has a migration tool; otherwise you have to do a manual move, use SQL Linked server for your legacy data.
Do I need a consultant? It’s probably a good idea to have a consultant do the upgrade. We strongly recommend that you use a consultant in the following cases
o You have Dexterity customization
o You are migrating from Pervasive/Ctree to Microsoft SQL Server/MSDE, especially when you have third parties without migration tools
o Has many o ReportWriter Modified Great Plains Reports
o You have an old version of Great Plains: Dynamics or eEnterprise 6.0 or earlier; in this case, you cannot appeal to Microsoft technical support; discontinued
o Your Great Plains has more than 20 users and you need to update over the weekend; if it fails, you have business problems
o It is not supported; in this case, you must select your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner and pay for the annual support/upgrade plan; you will get a new registration key and you are ready to upgrade.
Good luck with the update and if you have any issues or concerns, we’re here to help! If you want us to do the work, give us a call at 1-866-528-0577! [email protected]