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EstesGroup Interviews Dan Aldridge: A Journey Through ERP

EstesGroup Interviews Dan Aldridge: A Journey Through ERP

Celebrating 20 Years with EstesGroup

For two decades, EstesGroup has been immersed in the world of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), aiding companies in harnessing technology for their organizational advancement. In honor of EstesGroup’s 20th anniversary, we embark on a series of interviews with friends and colleagues who have shared in our remarkable journey.

Dan Aldridge Interview ESTES LIVE 2024

On January 12th, Brad Feakes, President of EstesGroup, sat down with Dan Aldridge, a prominent figure in the ERP community and a burgeoning social media influencer in the realms of digital transformation, change management, and Enterprise Resource Planning.

Begin with Baan

Dan brings a unique perspective to the ERP landscape, having actively participated in ERP since the late ’90s and directly witnessing the Y2K ERP boom and its aftermath. Having gained experience with Baan’s Tier 1 ERP solution at its peak, he observed its subsequent decline and eventual integration into Infor’s comprehensive suite of ERP solutions. One could say he has witnessed it all.

Network Equals Net Worth

Dan’s career is characterized by the relationships cultivated along the journey. Colleagues from past ventures became the foundation for new endeavors. When it was time to expand the team and venture into new territories, his network provided invaluable support. Reflecting on the past, Dan finds new connections emerging based on shared business cultures that transcend their original brands.

Inbound and Outbound Strategies

In marketing and business development, Dan emphasizes the transformative power of relationships. Rather than conforming to algorithmic preferences, he advocates for informative and educational content that fosters genuine connections. “Network equals net worth” underscores the organic growth nurtured by meaningful relationships. Dan’s approach to content marketing aligns with his organizational goals while building his personal brand. In the ERP space, inbound marketing is inherently relational, focusing on solving problems and building connections that drive business growth.

Scaling, Impaling, and Prevailing

Dan’s insights into business growth and operations extend from his experiences as a business owner and a leader tasked with growing an ERP organization in the US market. Scaling organizations presents unique challenges that extend beyond implementation activities. Navigating growth requires tailored approaches in sales and marketing, particularly when transitioning from a smaller market to a larger one.

Solutions vs. Services

A notable challenge in the ERP space lies in the disparity between selling ERP solutions and selling implementation services. Selling ERP solutions emphasizes software capabilities, while selling implementation services focuses on demonstrating domain authority and expertise. As a consultant, selling services is often more straightforward due to the control over delivery, unlike the uncertainties associated with software sales.

Navigating the Future: Cloud ERP and Composable ERP

Cloud ERP dominates the horizon as on-premise models become obsolete. Dan explores the concept of Composable ERP, envisioning dynamic ERP architectures built atop legacy infrastructure without necessitating underlying system upgrades. This approach offers large organizations the flexibility to create common business processes across divisions with disparate systems, heralding a new era in ERP adaptability.

Next Steps: More EstesGroup Interviews to Come!

As the year unfolds, EstesGroup will continue celebrating its 20th anniversary by reflecting on the journey alongside the friends and colleagues who have been part of this remarkable story. We look forward to sharing more EstesGroup interviews with you along the way.

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Unlocking Automation with SYSPRO® Business Objects

Unlocking Automation with SYSPRO® Business Objects

SYSPRO® Business Objects – The Basics

If you are looking to automate or customize data processing in SYSPRO® then business objects will be your best friend. A business object in SYSPRO® is a program that does not have any user interface. Instead, they rely on defined schemas to take in data, transact with SYSPRO®, and return status messages. Both the input and output are based on XML.

SYSPRO Business Objects Unlocking Automation

The latest versions of SYSPRO® ship with a significant list of available business objects to use. Each object serves its own purpose and can be used for specific types of transactions. They follow a similar naming convention to SYSPRO’s usual user-interface programs in the way that they all have codes. For instance, you can use SORTOI to create sales orders, APSTIN to post invoices, and INVSST to add, delete, modify stock codes.

Business objects exist to allow for safe, reliable automation of data transactions. While you may be familiar with the SYSPRO® SQL database, you should never use direct SQL to modify SYSPRO data. Business objects allow you simply choose your object based on the type of transaction you seek to perform, fill in the schema details, and let SYSPRO® perform the heavy lifting in the database to post the transaction. 

SYSPRO® 
Business Object Groups

All business objects in SYSPRO® are categorized into one of four types of objects:

  • Query – Objects intended to retrieve and query data (“Get” functions).
  • Setup – Objects used to create or modify data such as suppliers, stock codes, or customers. This type requires additional parameters to specify whether you intend to add, modify, or delete.
  • 
Transaction – Used to post transactional data to SYSPRO®. Examples such as creating sales orders, posting invoices, or receiving inventory.
  • Build – Objects that can be used to retrieve information to better build transaction-type posts.

Business Object Schemas and Sample XML Data

Business objects have a pre-defined “schema” containing the various fields and parameters that can be used in the object. Transaction and Setup type objects have an XML parameter file in addition to the XML-In data. As an example, below is the default sample schema XML for the INVTMB business object. This object is a Transaction-type object used to post bin transfer inventory movements.

INVTMB Parameter XML

SYSPRO Business Object

INVTMB Input XML

SYSPRO INVTMB Input XML

INVTMB XML Output (Sample)

SYSPRO Settings Automation

The parameter file contains “Settings” to apply for the overall transaction. While these settings vary based on the business object, common parameter tags are TransactionDate, ValidateOnly (testing only versus committing to the post), ApplyIfEntireDocumentValid (Post only if all items are valid).  Note that Query-type objects do not use parameter files and will not need parameter XML passed for them to work. 

The input XML (XML-In) is the item-specific data to supply the object. For this object, this is where we provide the stock code to transfer, source/destination bin, and the number of units to transfer. For many objects, it is possible to supply several “<item>” entries at a time to bulk-post transactions.

Each business object provides a “response” in the shape of an XML-Output file. In the case of the INVTMB object seen above, the output contains journal and key details about the successful inventory transfer. Most objects will have a summary of the transaction stating how many items succeeded and how many failed (if any). The XML-Out for Query-type objects will be the search results based on what you requested.

Licensing

All business objects are freely available for use if they are called and transacted within SYSPRO®. This means any script or program developed within SYSPRO® itself. If you intend to use a business object outside of SYSPRO®, you will have to purchase and update your licenses. Business objects are bundled together and grouped by modules so that you only pay for business objects that you need. For instance, if you intend to automate sales order-related data, you can license sales order business objects specifically.

The best place to learn and use business objects is the e.net Diagnostics tool. This is a program you can install using the Installer on either the server itself or on the client machine.  

Elevate your business to new heights with EstesGroup’s unparalleled managed IT and cloud services for SYSPRO® ERP.

Experience a transformative approach to technology management, ensuring optimal performance, security, and scalability for your operations. Our expert team at EstesGroup is dedicated to delivering tailored solutions, seamlessly integrating managed IT services and cutting-edge cloud technology. From proactive maintenance to advanced cybersecurity measures, we provide a comprehensive suite of services that empower your business to thrive in the digital era. Trust EstesGroup to be your strategic partner, guiding you towards efficiency, innovation, and sustained growth through our top-notch managed IT and cloud services.

Frenetic to Kinetic: 5 Tips for Epicor Kinetic Upgrades

Frenetic to Kinetic: 5 Tips for Epicor Kinetic Upgrades

Transforming ERP Upgrades into Smooth Operations

As your manufacturing company considers upgrading its current Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to Epicor Kinetic, the prospect of navigating potential challenges and complexities might seem daunting. However, with the right approach, this transition to advanced enterprise software can be a smooth and beneficial process for your organization.

Epicor Kinetic Upgrades ERP Project

Preparation for ERP Upgrade Team Success

Begin by thoroughly preparing for the transition to Epicor Kinetic. Evaluate your ERP needs, customize the solution to align with your requirements, and identify any redundant aspects of your current system. Gain a comprehensive understanding of Kinetic’s new features and formulate a detailed upgrade plan tailored to your company.

Utilize Documentation for a Stress-Free Epicor Upgrade

Leverage available documentation and industry best practices to make the upgrade to Kinetic a stress-free experience. Conduct an initial consultation to walk through the planning and upgrade process, ensuring your team is well-informed and prepared for the transition.

Adopt a Three-Stage Approach to All ERP Upgrades

Implement a three-stage approach to streamline the upgrade process. Develop checklists, tools, and data fixes that align with the flexibility and customization needs of your current system. This approach minimizes disruptions and ensures a seamless transition during each stage of the upgrade.

Harness the Power of ERP Upgrade Tools

Prior to your upgrade, use tools to identify necessary customizations and anticipate potential obstacles. Post-upgrade, utilize tools to understand your new configurations and operating system. This analytical approach enables your team to make well-informed decisions throughout the transition. Software is alive, and Epicor Kinetic upgrades often become part of a holistic digital transformation process, and the abundance of tools will help your team optimize every digital step. 

Invest in Employee Learning for Optimal Performance

Maximize the performance of your updated system by investing in employee learning. Develop a comprehensive training plan to ensure that your staff can fully utilize the functionality of the new Epicor Kinetic system. Proactively schedule training sessions to facilitate a smooth transition and enhance overall workflow and productivity.

By adopting these strategies and focusing on internal capabilities, your manufacturing company can smoothly transition to the Kinetic upgrade. Navigate each step with careful planning, industry knowledge, and a commitment to optimizing your ERP system for enhanced efficiency and productivity. Embrace the benefits of a newly customized system without hesitation, and position your company for success with Epicor Kinetic.

Totaled Tip: Choose Your ERP Cloud Wisely So You Don’t Crash

When considering the Epicor Kinetic upgrades, businesses often find themselves deliberating between the private cloud deployment and the Software as a Service (SaaS) web-browser version. The private cloud option provides companies with a dedicated environment, offering greater control over customization, security, and data management. It is an ideal choice for organizations with specific compliance requirements or those seeking a tailored solution. On the other hand, the SaaS web-browser version, being a cloud-based option, offers flexibility and accessibility. With this model, businesses can benefit from reduced infrastructure costs, automatic updates, and seamless scalability. The decision between private cloud Kinetic and SaaS depends on factors such as organizational needs, preferences, and the level of control desired. While private cloud ensures a more personalized approach, SaaS brings the advantages of convenience and agility in adapting to evolving business requirements.

Are you looking for help with Epicor Kinetic upgrades and updates?

Chat with us now for immediate help, or schedule a free introductory consultation with one of our Epicor experts.

Freight Forward to the Future: P21 Web UI Migration Options

Freight Forward to the Future: P21 Web UI Migration Options

Transitioning to the P21 Web UI Version

Keeping your Prophet 21 ERP system up to date poses numerous challenges, especially when dealing with upgrades. The testing, retesting, troubleshooting, and remediation processes can be time-consuming and demanding. Transitioning to the P21 Web UI introduces even greater challenges, with larger changes, increased risks, and heightened frustrations for end users. Consequently, the adoption of the P21 Web UI has been progressing slowly, akin to molasses in January, as they say in Canada.

Prophet 21 P21 Web UI Migration Distribution Warehouse

In November, EstesGroup sponsored the Southeast User Group chapter of the P21WWUG, presenting on P21 Infrastructure Best Practices and the elusive topic of Web UI Migrations. Our polls revealed that two-thirds of customers have yet to fully migrate from the P21 desktop application.

For customers still tethered to a desktop version seeking a way out, we recommend two approaches when planning a P21 Web UI migration: incremental or big bang.

An Incremental Approach

For those committed to the last branched version (2021.1) and hesitant to fully transition from the P21 desktop, an incremental approach is advisable. The customer creates an ecosystem as a live testing model, gradually shifting from the old to the new through the following steps:

  • Develop an adoption plan for “branched” usage, initially allocating specific hours for web UI use.
  • Configure a branched deployment in the live environment, allowing parallel use of desktop and web UI.
  • Instruct users to incrementally operate on the web UI during designated hours.
  • Address reported shortcomings incrementally through IT or ERP administrator intervention.
  • Create a remediation work plan for identified issues and initiate resolution.
  • Conduct remediation and testing cycles until all issues are resolved.
  • Increase web UI usage until reaching a predefined cutoff amount of time.
  • Attain user and management signoff, and officially transition all users to the web UI.
  • Stabilize the live cutover environment and provide ongoing support.

A Big Bang Approach

For customers seeking a more significant leap to a web-only version (2022+), the big bang approach is recommended. This involves an implementation-level cutover executed in one decisive move:

  • Deploy the Web UI to a middleware-only test environment.
  • Conduct user testing, addressing and communicating issues as they arise.
  • Create a remediation work plan and resolve identified issues.
  • Document remediations and compile into a cutover plan, expanding the testing pool.
  • Conduct a mock cutover (CRP), regression testing, and address any remaining issues.
  • Attain user and management sign-off for the “go live” decision.
  • Repeat the cutover to the new version in the live environment with Web UI.
  • Stabilize the live cutover environment and provide ongoing support.

The Weight (and Freight) of Risk in P21 Migrations

The choice between incremental and big bang approaches depends on your risk tolerance and desired rewards. If you seek to minimize risks, choose the incremental approach. For maximizing rewards, opt for the big bang. Each approach comes with its own set of risks, rewards, and characteristics. If you need assistance with your Web UI Migration, please reach out to us!

Connecting the Clouds: Website vs. ERP Hosting

Connecting the Clouds: Website vs. ERP Hosting

Manufacturers and distributors can benefit significantly from a Managed Services Provider (MSP) managing one website or kin websites as part of an integrated IT services, IT security, and enterprise cloud strategy. An external IT provider ensures that the world will view web-based company representation with optimal performance, scalability, and security, reduced downtime and enhanced user experience. Through robust IT security measures, a cloud provider like EstesGroup safeguards sensitive data, mitigating the risk of cyber threats. Additionally, integrating enterprise cloud solutions facilitates seamless data access, collaboration, and scalability, enabling manufacturers and distributors to focus on core business functions while staying agile and competitive in the digital landscape.

Website vs ERP Hosting

For businesses, websites serve as crucial repositories for sharing information, necessitating proper hosting and data management to connect with customers, ensure security, and facilitate growth. When exploring website hosting services and ERP hosting solutions, businesses encounter various cloud options, with managed hosting and shared hosting being the primary types. Understanding the distinctions in the website vs. ERP hosting conversation empowers businesses to make informed decisions aligning with their unique identities.

Is your website hosting forgotten data?

While your IT team is focusing on critical tasks, your website might go unnoticed, opening the path to vulnerability and chaos. In the realm of website hosting, discerning between managed hosting and shared hosting is essential. Managed hosting is ideal for businesses seeking comprehensive control and responsibility, with the service provider acting as a dedicated IT department overseeing all aspects of the website. Conversely, shared hosting accommodates businesses needing performance and security but may lack the size or budget for full-service management. Multiple businesses share resources like RAM and CPU under a shared server, potentially impacting performance during traffic surges. Managed hosting suits larger enterprises prioritizing ultimate performance and security, while shared hosting remains viable for budget-conscious smaller businesses.

Managed Hosting vs. Shared Hosting vs. Managed ERP Hosting

Businesses should consider several key differences between managed and shared hosting for websites and ERP hosting for enterprise resource planning applications. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you unravel your web of business data.

  • Resources: Managed hosting provides dedicated server resources, ensuring optimal performance, while shared hosting involves resource-sharing, potentially leading to performance issues during high traffic.
  • Customization: Managed hosting offers customized solutions, tailored to specific business needs, whereas shared hosting tends to be more one-size-fits-all.
  • Security: Managed hosting prioritizes security, protecting individual businesses, whereas shared hosting may compromise security if one business on the shared server experiences a breach.
  • Optimal Performance: Managed hosting eliminates performance issues associated with shared resources, providing consistent and optimized performance.
  • Updates: Managed hosting ensures prompt updates and security patches, while shared hosting may require businesses to schedule updates themselves.
  • Email: Both hosting types offer email services, with managed hosting providing premium plans for enhanced features.
  • Cost: Shared hosting is more affordable, making it suitable for smaller businesses with budget constraints, while managed hosting, though more expensive, offers superior performance and security.

How ERP Hosting Gets Tangled in Your Website Web

The discussion on website hosting parallels ERP hosting, where businesses can opt for a managed service provider to host their ERP software in a remote, cloud-based data center. This centralized approach provides cost-effective, secure, and scalable solutions, enabling businesses to focus on operations rather than maintaining on-premise infrastructure.

Businesses must comprehend the disparities between the many available cloud options to make informed choices for their website and ERP hosting needs. While managed hosting excels in performance, security, and support, startups or small businesses with budget constraints may consider shared hosting initially. Managed hosting proves invaluable for businesses seeking to eliminate on-premise responsibilities, allowing them to concentrate on optimization and growth.

Complex Cloud Hosting Environments

Experience seamless business operations with our fully managed ERP hosting, ensuring optimal performance, security, and scalability as we take charge of your ERP software in a secure, remote, and cloud-based environment. Ready to tackle website vs. ERP hosting? Elevate your online presence with our fully managed website hosting, where a dedicated IT team handles every aspect, providing tailored solutions for peak performance, robust security, and unmatched support. Trust EstesGroup to streamline your technology infrastructure, allowing you to focus on growth and innovation without the burden of managing complex hosting environments.

SYSPRO Error Message: Operator Already Logged In

SYSPRO Error Message: Operator Already Logged In

A warning message that most SYSPRO users will commonly see is the “Operator already logged in” prompt. Under normal circumstances, this message means exactly what it says! The operator is already signed in.

SYSPRO Error Message Operator Sign In

However, the error message can appear for other reasons that may be puzzling to the user. It is most typically associated with users not exiting SYSPRO through normal means (crashes, forced computer shutdown, etc). It is good for both the ERP administrator as well as the end-users to know what this error means and why it may appear despite the user not being signed in.

SYSPRO Error Message Operator Logged In

What does this “SYSPRO Error Message – Operator Already Logged In” message mean?

SYSPRO’s database has a table called AdmOperator. Inside this table there is a column used to indicate whether a SYSPRO operator is currently signed in. The column value is set to “Y” when a user signs in and is cleared when SYSPRO is closed out normally by the user. The “Y” value can linger in the database if the user fails to close out of SYSPRO “gracefully”.

In that case, the “Operator already logged in” message will appear. The user has the option to proceed which will clear any lingering operator entries. If the user is in fact already signed in, any previous session is terminated by the system.

What causes this “Operator already logged in” message?

Besides the intended circumstance of the operator already being signed in on another computer, the message also appears if a user fails to close out of SYSPRO “gracefully”. Examples of this could include:

  • The user shuts down their PC while SYSPRO was running. 
  • The user closes SYSPRO forcefully using the Windows Task Manager. This is common in the event of SYSPRO freezing or crashing. 
  • Network failures between SYSPRO and the app server causing communication errors. 
  • If the user closes their web browser when using SYSPRO Avanti without using the logout functionality in the application.

Some of these events may also result in “Unknown Processes” lingering in SYSPRO. These will have to be closed out using administrative tools in SYSPRO. To learn about these processes, see our article on Handling Unknown Processes in SYSPRO.

So, what should you do about this message?

Clicking “OK” to proceed is all you need to do! If the warning appears because the user is in fact already signed in, that previous session will simply be terminated. If it appeared for any of the other reasons outlined above, the database fields are cleaned up from any incorrect flags and reset to their intended status. It is good to inform users that this error means no harm and that they can safely proceed if they do not believe that their operator is signed in anywhere else.