Recently with Vista and Window 7,  we are having reports of the images disappearing from the taskbar on the MAS90/ MAS200 launcher.  It turns out that  it is due to a resolution issue in windows and MAS.

In order to fix it, you need to change the DPI setting  back to the default settings (96 Pixels Per Inch/100%).
Here are detailed instructions  for Window 7/Vista followed by Win XP.

  • Windows 7/Vista
    1. Right-click on Desktop
    2. Select Personalize.
    3. Click on Display link (bottom left).
    4. Select ‘Smaller – 100% (default)’
    5. Click Apply to save changes.
  • Windows XP
    1. Right-click on Desktop.
    2. Select Properties
    3. Go to the Settings tab.
    4. Click Advanced.
    5. Change DPI settings to ‘Normal size (96 DPI).
    6. Click Apply to save changes.

If you need any assistance with this please call our support desk at DSD Business Systems

Jim Woodhead

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Now that the giant FRX has fallen from the ranks of Financial Statement writing champion, a battle is beginning between BizNet Insight and Sage MAS Intelligence (SMI) a.k.a. Alchemex. I recently received the following  marketing piece with a comparison of the two products.  It is definitely biased towards  the BizNet product but I provided it because it does give some decent information about both products.  The key things missing  (not even mentioned)  are that SMI has a  killer BI dashboard out of the box and the fact that the base SMI product is free for all SAGE customers with current SMP’s.

Let the battle begin!!

Marketing piece directly  from BIZNET Software

If you would like more information about either  BizNet or SMI  Please contact our office.

Jim Woodhead

DSD Business Systems

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A Fellow Sage Partner ,  Clients First Business Solutions,  recently held a webinar for Sage MAS 90, MAS 200, Extended Enterprise (EES) and MAS 500 end users showing the new  SAGE MAS Intelligence Excel based reporting tool that Sage is using to replace FRx.  This solution embeds as an extension to excel and then  reports on not just financial data (like FRx) but also non financial data such as dashboards, aging reports, KPI’s etc.

The video explains both the similarities and differences between the previous solution, Microsoft FRx and SMI.  You can think of  SMI as  Business Intelligence Dashboard and financial statement  solution that is embedded into Microsoft Excel that can directly read and understand MAS 90/200/500 data files.  It’s designed to create a walk a user through creating not only financial reports and statements, but other types of non-financial reports such as dashboards, analytics, KPI’s and even traditional reports such as an AR customer aging.

If you have any questions on this product feel free to call us at  858 550-5900    or contact Jeff Keirns   jeffk@dsdinc.com   for more information or to arrange a one on one demonstration.

Jim Woodhead

DSD Business Systems

www.dsdinc.com

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We get a lot of requests on the best ways to increase your  MAS 90 or MAS 200 performance.
Here are some suggestions and things you might try.

Workstation configuration

  • For client workstations, make sure to exclude virus scanning pointed at your network MAS 90/200 installation folder. Since these files are in constant change, an anti-virus scanner will attempt to “scan” each file every time this happens, causing significant performance issues. Note: MAS 90/200 supports only corporate editions of anti-virus packages.
  • All modern versions of MS Windows can benefit from more RAM. If you are running less than 1 GB of RAM, consider upgrading to at least 2 GB’s. More is always better, in this case. The overall performance improvement in all Windows applications will be significant.
  • If you are running MAS 200, network performance is critical. Make sure you are running at least 100MB network interface cards (in full duplex mode) and your workstation and cabling can support these speeds (Cat 5 10Base-T cabling is a good choice). If you are running a large installation with 20+ workstations, consider using a managed Ethernet switch to support high throughput. (Editors note:  My experience is that Gigabit Ethernet is the single biggest improvement of speed with MAS90 in version 4.x.  The application sizes have grown 400% since version 3.71 and all applications are pulled over the network when you launch them.  100mbs sounds fast, but its ‘megabits’ not ‘megabytes’ .  Remember it takes 8bits to make a byte so this speed, with additional network collisions and overhead isn’t even enough to watch a single high definition video)
  • If you are running MAS 90 and experience intermittent hanging of the application, make sure all the printers in the windows printer manager are valid printers. If a printer has been removed from the network but not removed from the Windows printer manager, you may see intermittent hanging as MAS 90 attempts to connect to a printer.
  • If you are running MAS 200 and Crystal Reports are slow to print, consider trying the Crystal client/server ODBC driver.

Network Configuration

  • Terminal Services – using terminal services for your MAS 90 can tremendously improve your overall application performance. The is especially true if the client workstations are not up to the latest performance specs or the system network bandwidth is not adequate. (Editors Note:  Obviously if Terminal Services works well, so will Citrix. )
  • Avoid Peer-to-Peer network configurations – network performance in these types of networks is not adequate for MAS 90/200.

Though there are thousands of online resources to help you tune your Windows PC performance, here are a few that provide the biggest “bang for the buck:”

General Windows XP performance issues

  • General performance – remove all unused applications. Go to “control panel” –> “add/remove programs” and uninstall everything you don’t use. You will be surprised how many applications you really don’t need or use. If you are not sure what the program is, don’t remove it. And don’t remove anything labeled as a “Hotfix” or “patch.”
  • Disk Drive performance – clean up your hard drives. Go to My Computer and right-click “local disk” and select properties. On the “general” tab, select “Disk Cleanup.” The utility will analyze your hard drive and recommend areas to be cleaned. Select the file types that can be removed and select “ok” and the utility will clean things up.
  • Graphics performance – make sure you have the latest video driver for your graphics card. Most graphic card manufacturers have support sites that allow you to download the latest driver for free. If you are not sure how to do this, talk to your system administrator.

As the Windows operating system gets more sophisticated, the demand on PC hardware also increases. With the economy being so tight, many companies are delaying the purchase of new PC equipment until it is absolutely necessary.  As businesses, we need to manage costs but we also need to manage productivity.  If a salesperson can enter 10% more sales orders per day, the cost of new hardware would pay for itself in a matter of weeks

If you have any questions regarding this please contact our support desk at DSD.  We can definitely assist you.

Jim Woodhead

DSD Business Systems

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Recently  Steve Malmgren the  ”Chief  Architect” of MAS 90 and 200 released a blog describing the  key differences between the old MAS200 SQL version  and the New MAS200 4.45 version.   This new SQL version is due out November 2010.

Here are the highlights:

I want to  shed some light on the key differences between the 3.7x SQL product and the new Sage ERP MAS 200 SQL version 4.45, releasing to market in November 2010.

The bottom line is 4.45 has achieved a level of performance comparable to the 4.40 Providex version, especially for data entry and maintenance screens.  For an average size company data set, reports, registers and updates will be close to Providex, and do not exhibit the type of degradation experienced in the 3.7x product.  Ad-hoc reporting speed via Business Insights Explorer and Crystal Reports is greatly improved over the Providex ODBC driver.


Feedback on performance of the product from partners involved in the beta process has been very positive.  Also, even before Beta began, we hosted a preview party where we invited several partners to Irvine to test drive 4.45 and we received positive feedback on performance and many other aspects of the new SQL product.  Check out this link to a blog entry from Doug Deane at DSD that discusses that experience.


Now let’s talk about what’s under the hood and why this is the case…

One of the primary architectural goals of the Business Framework was to be able to support a much better implementation on SQL Server.  This was primarily achieved in two areas.

Schema:

A fundamental change that needed to occur was at the schema level and how the MAS 200 programs access and interact with that data.  In the 3.7x version, the schema inside the SQL Server database tables was flattened out into discrete columns, however the MAS 200 program logic was designed to reference a single large string with position offsets for each individual column (remember the Offset and Length from the TRSG?).  What this meant is every time a row was read from SQL Server, the Data Access Layer needed to take the discrete columns from the table and concatenate them together into one big string that the programs could interact with.  Then when the row was written back out, the string had to be split back out to the individual columns in the SQL table.

Another issue that compounded this problem was the variant (or multiple) record types defined in the system.  An example of this is the 3.7x, SO2 table, which was the detail table for Sales Orders, where based on the line type (regular item, misc item, special, comment, etc.) different sets of columns from the SQL table were needed to map into the large string and then split back out on the write.

Finally the 3.7x detail tables were stored in a linked list sequential access table.  Not only did these tables cause issues for custom Crystal reports and trying to have the detail lines report in the correct order, they were also a source of initial deadlock issues and cross-linked orders.

All of these issues are eliminated in version 4.45.  All programs interact directly with the discrete columns that are in the SQL tables and there are no more variant record types, eliminating the back and forth mapping between the application and the database, improving overall performance of the system.  No more linked list sequential access tables for transaction detail entry tables, improves the overall integrity of the system.



ADO Data Access Layer:

The biggest difference in regards to performance between the 3.7x version and 4.45 is in the streamlined Data Access Layer using ADO to request data from SQL.  One of the largest performance bottlenecks in the 3.7x version was in how data was requested from SQL Server and some basic assumptions of how that data would be used within the application.  In 3.7x when data was requested a Dynamic Cursor was generated so that rows could be fetched as needed to be processed.  Important to note is that this cursor contains all rows from the starting access point to the end of the table based on the index being used.  If the process needed to consume all of the rows in the cursor then this is relatively efficient.  If however, the assumption, that all rows are needed, is incorrect then performance problems surface.  This is because the cursor is discarded and potentially rebuilt many times during the process.  This becomes particularly evident with large data sets.  Furthermore, even if all rows were to be processed any updates or deletes issued against those rows would cause the cursor to be discarded and recreated, causing more performance issues.

In 4.45, we have taken several steps to alleviate these problems.

  • The new development coding standards present in the Business Framework modules support the ability to only request the rows that are needed, which eliminates the need to generate a cursor to the end of the table.
  • Dynamic Cursors are no longer used, replaced with the fastest possible Read Only/Forward Only cursor type.
  • When processing sets of data such as updating or deleting multiple rows, these operations are executed on a separate statement, meaning the cursor remains open and is not discarded and recreated multiple times.

Other significant performance gains with the ADO Data Access Layer:

  • Three types of data caching to avoid multiple requests to SQL Server for the same data within a process.  This lowers CPU usage on the server by reducing the number of queries parsed, as well as reduces network traffic by eliminating repeated requests.
  • Parameterized Queries for frequently issued queries, reducing CPU usage on the server by allowing SQL Server to reuse the most effective query plan on multiple requests.
  • Update statements only update changed columns, as compared to updating every column in the table regardless of whether it was changed as was the case in the 3.7x product.
  • Efficient retrieval of related data during report process, greatly reducing the number of queries issued to SQL server.
  • Bulk insert for creating report worktables, for extremely fast inserts.

I hope this inspires you to check it out for yourself and gives you a good feel for the significant improvements that we have made in the approach and implementation of Sage ERP MAS 200 SQL.  You may also be interested in my previous blog entry on Sage ERP MAS 200 SQL if you haven’t seen it already.

Thank you for your time.

Steve Malmgren

Chief Architect, MAS 90 and 200


Jim Woodhead

DSD Business Systems

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Yesterday on our internal Socialcast network the question of how to move the PR Paperless Forms came up.  In the Paperless Office Module, there is a viewer for Registers & Journals, Reports, Period End Reports, Customer Documents, and for Vendor Documents, but for PR there is just the Employee Self Service viewer.

image

In order to view the employee documents using Employee Self Service you have to enter (not lookup) the employee number, social security number, and password. And once you’re in the normal options to move documents in Paperless Office are unavailable.

SNAGHTML777ee99

So what are we to do when we have to move the MAS 90 or 200 install to another location or even another server?

Answer:

In the Payroll | Direct Deposit menu, there is the Paperless Office Stub Viewer.

direct_deposit_viewer

Once you select the forms you need to move (and don’t forget to update the dates and click Refresh), you can then click the move button (circled in red above) and select the new file location just as you would with any of the other Paperless Office viewer

If you have any questions about this please contact our support team.

Jim Woodhead

DSD Business Systems

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On Database Dump and Load

Sage ERP Accpac has always shipped with a number of very useful utilities for maintaining its data in good condition as well as transferring data between Accpac installations. This is useful for backing up data, or sending it to your business partner to do some work for you. These utilities are the reason that it is so easy to move an Accpac database from one database server to another, say from Pervasive.SQL to SQL Server or from SQL Server to Oracle.

Accpac database dump and upload

Database Dump and Load Utilities

Database Dump is an Accpac utility program that will export an Accpac company or system database to a set of database independent files in a folder you specify. You can run this either from the Start Menu – Sage Accpac – Tools – Database Dump or from the Database Dump icon in Administrative services. You need to be the ADMIN user to run this. These files can then be backed up, or sent to someone else to use.

Database Load is the Accpac utility program to load the files dumped by Database Dump. It doesn’t matter whether the source of the files was SQL Server, Pervasive.SQL or Oracle. Database Load can load them into any Accpac company (or system) database. You can run this either from the Start Menu – Sage Accpac – Tools – Database Load or from the Database Load icon in Administrative Services. You need to be the ADMIN user to run this. To run Database Load, all users must be out of the system. Database Load will first erase any tables in the database you have selected and then load the files into the newly emptied database. Generally you would load into a newly created database. The Database ID doesn’t have to be the same as it was when you dumped. If the Database ID is differences then Database Load will fix up and references to this in the database.

In addition:
Database Copy is a shortcut that copies a database from on company to another on the same system. It works just like doing a Database Dump and then a Database Load. The only difference is that it doesn’t bother creating the dumped files as it processes. This utility is only available from the Start Menu – Sage Accpac – Tools – Database Copy icon; it is not available from Administrative Services. Again you must be the ADMIN user to run this.

What Are the Dumped Files?
Database Dump creates a set of files consisting of an orgid.DCT file and then a subdirectory which is named after the orgid. This subdirectory then contains a large set of *.REC files each named after a database table that has been dumped. The orgid.DCT file contains the data dictionary for the database, it lists all the tables in the database along with all the fields in each table and their name, type and some other info. It also lists all the indexes in all the tables.

Since we don’t store any extra information, the set of REC files tends to be more compact than the original database. We use a very simple compression scheme to save some space; but any zip utility can further compress the files and provide a single archive file to email or burn to DVD.

If there is no data in the table being dumped, then we don’t create a .REC file at all. So if you see some files missing, don’t worry they are just empty (or only worry if they should have some data in them). If you delete a .REC file, then that file will end up empty when you load; this isn’t recommended as it will probably compromise database integrity.

Issues with Backing Up
Many people use Database Dump and Load as a mechanism to back up their company databases. This is fine, but it requires everyone be out of the system. It does make it easy to say send a backup to tech support or your Business Partner if you have a problem, but the higher end backup programs along with the backup programs built into the database servers have some advantages. For instance the SQL Server backup program is very fast, this is by far the fastest way to load a database. Also the SQL Server backup program can run while people are in the system and it will ensure that the backup is to a consistent place based on the transactions being executed. Either way is fine, just be aware that there are tradeoffs in any solution and what is best for you will perhaps be different than the solution for your neighbor.

Also beware that if Database Load fails, you won’t have a working database. Database Load needs to finish loading all the tables in order to give you a workable company database. If it does fail, fix whatever is wrong (usually out of disk space or a network interruption) and run it again. Database Load writes to the database using fairly small transactions of 50 records or so at a time, since from our performance measurements, this gives the quickest load time.

Summary
Database Dump and Load are extremely useful utilities that let you transfer Accpac companies between different organization IDs and even between different types of database servers. They provide an easy mechanism to send data to your Business Partner or Tech Support. They provide a mechanism to back up your data, if you need one. And they also provide a quick method of re-indexing and compressing your data.

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CRM Implementation

Implementing a CRM System can be a complex project, not necessarily because of the technical aspects of the solution, but more so because of the challenges associated with leveraging the technology and integrating that with the people who will use the system each day. All CRM implementations inevitably will need to deal with issues pertaining to automating daily tasks, obtaining user buy-in, avoiding automating bad processes, and embedding CRM as a philosophy into the organization.

Below is a list of our “Top 6” tips to help you navigate your CRM Implementation, and improve your chances of success. These tips have been generated over 10 years, as the result of completing almost 300 successful CRM deployments.

  1. Designate an internal champion. Regardless of how good your CRM Implementation consultant is, you still need to have an internal CRM Champion – someone who has sufficient “power” within the organization to get things done, to set direction, and the authority to make things happen.
  2. Before you start, determine what success is. Don’t be one of the organizations that goes into your CRM implementation not knowing what you want out of it, and how you will measure success. Set objective goals and targets, and check on your progress towards meeting them on a regular basis.
  3. Don’t rush things. Regardless of what anyone says, a CRM Implementation cannot be rushed. Don’t buy into marketing and promotions that suggest you can be up and running in “hours”. Can you have software turned on within hours? Sure you can, but that is about 1% of a CRM implementation. What value are you going to get out of such an implementation? Absolutely none. Successful CRM implementations take time, require planning, require adjustment, and cannot be rushed. Expect 3-6 months, elapsed, to have everything in place, and operating at peak efficiency.
  4. Don’t do it yourself. There are certain jobs at home, or in the office that make sense to “do yourself”. Home Depot and Staples are built on this premise. Neither of them sell CRM, and for good reason. More than 80% of CRM implementations attempted “in house” ultimately fail. Why? CRM Implementation is a specialty. Its very different than, say, a network restructure, or an office suite deployment. A CRM Implementation is 20% technology, and 80% other things. Is your “IT Guy” really qualified to re-design your business processes? Is your marketing person really fit to rework your order processing group? Have any of them ever done such a project before? Are they all familiar with best practices that cover all of these subjects? Make use of a skilled, experienced CRM implementation specialist, and you are far more likely to have a smooth, successful implementation that will begin returning value to you quickly.
  5. Plan for tomorrow, not today. Its very easy to look at your current problems, and focus only on them. Certainly your CRM implementation should help you solve todays issues, however, you need to keep your eye on what your challenges will be 1, 2, 5, 10 years from now and ensure your system will grow, flex, and expand to meet those needs. Pick the right platform, implement it properly, and leave room for growth. After all, you do hope to grow your business, right? Just like when you buy new shoes for your 13 year old… leave some “toe room”.
  6. Pay attention to “TCO” – total cost of ownership. Unlike most other system implementations, a CRM system should have a negative cost of ownership, meaning that over the life of the system, it should save you much more than the investment required to implement it. A quality CRM implementation should include a plan that will provide you with total return on investment within 2 years, and possibly much less. Compare this with other IT projects – which generally have return on investment periods of 5-7 years.

If you have any questions please contact us at DSD Business Systems

858-550-5900

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A new feature  for MAS 90 has been added in the latest Product Update (  4.40.0.3).  Now you  can now post a transaction into the Check Deposit and Adjustment Entry and have an option to post directly to General Ledger.

Here is how it works.

Bank Reconciliation -> Check, Deposit and Adjustment Entry ->

Enter a new check at the bottom of the list. After entering the check number, entry number, check date, reference, payee name and amount, select the check box “Select for G/L Posting. When the check box has been selected the field “Distribution Account No.” opens up and you can enter the general ledger account number. The Comment field also opens up. If you enter anything into the Comment field it will post into the general ledger.

MAS90 Check Entry

Back at the menu there is a Bank Reconciliation Transaction Register menu item. The bank code is selected.

Trans Register

The register is printed and updated, just like all other posting processes in MAS90.

MAS90 Register

A Daily Transaction Register is printed and updated.

After the transaction has been updated the Check, Deposit and Adjustment Entry displays the account number but the field is grayed out.

MAS90 Adjustment Entry Screen

One word of caution. While you cannot change the account number it is possible to delete the line. Deleting the line does not undo the journal that was posted to you general ledger.

Additional note. There are two new buttons on the bottom left of the screen. You can launch the Bank Reconciliation Transaction Register and the Bank Recap Report from the entry screen. Just another little convenience!

If you have any questions on how this is done please contact our support desk or call us at 858–550-5900

DSD Business Systems

www.dsdinc.com

Thanks to  Merilyn Van Zwieten  Partners-in-tech for this tip.

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When you upgrade to Sage MAS 90 or MAS 200 v4.4, you must prepare your Payroll Data entry imports prior to upgrading in order for them to work in v4.4 MAS90.   If you don’t, when you try to compile the PR.DATAENT import you will receive  an error message, and the job will delete.   If you try to import the job without following  below tip, the import will delete when you attempt to compile.

This is due to the job validations existing in the prior version  containing obsolete file references that no longer exist in the data dictionary in v4.4.

Here is the best way to prepare your import for Payroll.

Prior to importing/migrating the job to version 4.40.x:

  1. Log into an earlier version of Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200 (for example, version 4.30).
  2. Select Visual Integrator, Main, and Import Job Maintenance.
  3. Select the PR.DATAENT import job.
  4. Click Validation. Click OK at the warning message.
  5. Select the Check_Bank_Code field. Click Del to remove it.
  6. Export and migrate the job to version 4.40.
  7. Start version 4.40. Import the job.
  8. Add the Check_Bank_Code column on the Validation tab, as shown below. Choose the file name GL_Bank and Key Expression PR6$(20,1). Alternately, select the Resetbutton to reset all Validation.


SAGE Resolution ID  525271

Jim Woodhead
DSD Business Systems
www.dsdinc.com

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