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Great Plains Customization Upgrade– overview for CIO/IT Director

 by: Andrew Karasev

When Microsoft bought Great Plains Software, then Navision it formed special subdivision - Microsoft Business Solutions. Several accounting/ERP systems: Great Plains Dynamics/eEnterprise, Navision Attain, Axapta, Solomon, later QuickSell - all written in different programming languages and manner and on different DB platforms were in Microsoft disposition at this time. While assuring existing customers in its commitment to support all these applications, Microsoft had to develop unification strategy. Around the same time Microsoft made its move with .Net introduction and tried to gain portion of cheaper databases market: Pervasive SQL/Btrieve, Ctree/Faircom - and launched free MSDE database program. General direction for all its accounting systems was chosen - Microsoft announced future releases of so called Microsoft suites: Microsoft Financial, Microsoft HR, Microsoft Logistics, Microsoft Manufacturing to name a few. However Microsoft did not announce which product (!

Great Plains, Solomon or Navision) will become the base or will be transformed into each specific suite. Al these suites will be integrated into web-based Microsoft Business Portal

This move, probably wise in the long run, exposed businesses with heavily customized MBS products to serious customization upgrade problems. We'll give you our recommendation, based on our practice. In this article we'll talk about Microsoft Great Plains.

1. Great Plains Dexterity Customizations – Microsoft announced that its products will be moved to .Net platform. This means that Dexterity will be phased out/discontinued. However, even now Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 is still Dexterity-based application. So, if you have Dexterity customization - our recommendation is to phase it out or consider replacing it with these: Crystal Reports, SQL Stored Procs and triggers, Web Publishing (Visual Studio.Net) from Great Plains database, eConnect (SDK created to eCommerce developers to deploy Great Plains as back end)

2. Pervasive SQL/Ctree migration to MS SQL - If you are still on these old platforms - then you are in trouble - you will be without Microsoft technical support by the end of 2004. When you do standard data migration via migration tool - Great Plains tables are migrated by the tool, however migration tooll has no info about your custom tables - these tables should be migrated manually. You can use MSSQL Server Linked Server construction to link to Pervasive/Ctree data. ODBC drivers can be installed from GP CDs.

3. VBA/Modifier/Continuum – all these are good candidates for replacement by newer technologies, because these will not have their place in .Net platform.

Additional notes: When Great Plains Software designed Dexterity as the replacement to its discontinued Great Plains Accounting - it proclaimed that Dexterity is DB independent - which is true to some extent. However there are specifics, and Dexterity customization should be analyzed and tuned to work with MS SQL Server, if it was originally designed for btrieve/ctree. We are talking about customization upgrade for Great Plains Dynamics/eEnterprise 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 7.0 to Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 or 7.5.

Happy upgrading! if you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577!

About The Author

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies – USA nationwide Great Plains, Microsoft CRM customization company, based in Chicago, California, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York, Canada, UK, Australia and having locations in multiple states and internationally (, he is Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer.

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