Dynamics GP in Wholesale Trade and Distribution

Microsoft Dynamics GP was formerly known as Great Plains Dynamics and eEnterprise.  With its native set of s-called Distribution modules, including Inventory Control, Purchase Order Processing and Sales Order Processing, this mid-market Corporate ERP application should be considered as a good fit to the Supply Chain Management niche.  When we are talking about mid-size wholesaler – our experience shows moderate or even reasonably large number of integration and custom programming work is typically required.  Especially in such areas as Barcode or RFID based Warehouse Management features, Electronic Document Interchange (or its new alternative Business-to-Business Ecommerce), Moving merchandize between sites and truck delivery monitoring (and other SCM scenarios).  Let’s take a look at implementation scenarios and details:

1. Warehouse Management System (WMS).  Technically all its functions, such as Sales Order Fulfillment, Inventory Replenishment and Merchandise movement and count could be accomplished in GP SOP, POP and Inventory modules.  However it is usually done directly on the warehouse floor via scanning barcode labels with Barcoding scanners (in certain cases businesses are using RFID tags and readers, but it is similar by functionality).  Out-of-the-box Microsoft Dynamics may support simple USB scanners, but it may not support such advanced features as batch mode scanning and documents upload.  There are multiple flavors of WMS architectures.  We prefer direct extension of Sales, Purchase and Inventory modules, where WMS originated transactions are initially created in GP tables.  Alternatively you may decide to implement high end external Warehouse Management System with integration to General Ledger (here GP is not controlling item quantities and turnover) or to SOP, POP and Inventory (or partial integration, when something could be given up to be traced in General Ledger only)

2. EDI or B2B Ecommerce.  It might be exposed in both Accounts Receivable and Payable.  If you are selling merchandize to smaller distributors or retailers – you may require them to place restocking orders directly via your EDI channel.  In this case EDI works in SOP or RM modules, good alternative is B2B ecommerce, where your customers reorder via web based self-service.  If you have to purchase your merchandize from nationwide distributor or direct manufacturer – then EDI is working on POP or PM modules level.  There are various EDI packages, which cover all the interfaces and protocols (ftp, email, text file, XML, etc.).  Alternatively, if you are only using one EDI channel, there could be the option to enable it via Integration Manager (pulling in new customer orders – Advanced ODBC Source is recommended, where you can use precisely formatted SQL Select statement to parse document header, lines and trailer), or export POP Purchase Orders into EDI file format directly from SQL query

3. Customizations, Integration and Programming tools.  First of all, there are various user defined fields, meaning that customization could be partially done via settings.  Most of the integration work could be done in Integration Manager, where you setup integration, such as Sales Document Import from text file or ODBC compliant data source.  We do like to recommend IM in various B2B Ecommerce shopping cart integration scenarios (where Integration could be scheduled to fire every twenty minutes to provide quasi real time approach).  If you prefer real-time integration, it is possible to program it in Microsoft Visual Studio, by including eConnect libraries, where eConnect has methods and classes to create, delete and modify master records (customer, vendor, inventory item, address) and work transactions (SOP Invoice, POP Purchase Receipt, etc.).  And finally there is all-mighty tool, Microsoft Dexterity (formerly known as Great Plains Dexterity), where you are virtually unlimited in what could be modified.  Dex requires professional Dexterity programmer to do the work.  There are also Modifier with VBA scripting (it is just for modification of the existing forms) as well as Extender

4. Financial and Managerial Reporting.  In 2010 Microsoft Business Solutions introduced new Financial Reporting tool: Microsoft Management Reporter with migration tool from more traditional Financial Statement (Balance Sheet, P&L, Statement of Cash Flow and their consolidated versions) reporting tool – FRx.  For earlier versions of Dynamics GP and Great Plains: 10.0, 9.0, 8.0, 7.5, 7.0, 6.0, 5.5 Financial Reporting was done in FRx (Financial Report Extender).  Managerial Reporting, such as Sales Commissions, Invoice Form, Barcode Labels.  There is integrated reporting tool – Report Writer, where Invoice could be modified (the most popular is placing JPEG logon on the report header).  With version 2010 and 10.0 we see more recommendations to design reports (or use predesigned ones) in SSRS (Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services).  For older version of Great Plains on MS SQL Server or Pervasive SQL 2000/Btrieve platforms Crystal Reports are recommended

5. Phased Implementation Approach.  We do not recommend to implement SCM or Warehouse Management logic prior to going in production with GP as accounting back office (or phase one).  Consider WMS integration to be separated in the second phase.  By sticking to the phased approach you typically minimize the risk of Corporate ERP implementation limbo or even failure

Andrew Karasev, http://www.albaspectrum.com Great Plains Dynamics GP and eEnterprise Certified Master, Microsoft MVP and consultant with 10 years and plus experience and expertise. Alba Spectrum,   1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com If you are thinking to implement Dynamics GP in challenging environment, we recommend you to give us a call

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