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Your Information Technology Career: Beware The Comfort Zone

I’ve seen it happen time and again to programmers, network engineers and administrators, and other IT personnel.   They get a solid IT position, a good-paying job, and they get comfortable.  They stop keeping up with the latest technologies, they stop studying, they no longer keep their CCNA, MCSE, and other industry certifications up-to-date…. and then one day, their comfortable job is gone.

Maybe they get laid off, maybe the company moves and they don’t want to move with it… but for one reason or another, they’re in the worst position possible.  They have no job, and they have allowed their IT skills to deteriorate to the point where they are no longer employable.

If you’re in IT, you must be constantly learning.  You must continually take the long view, and ask yourself three important questions.  First, where do you want to be in three years?  Second, what are you doing now in order to reach this goal?  And finally, if you were laid off today, are your current skills sharp enough to quickly get another job?

That third question can be the hardest of all to answer honestly.   I’m reminded of Microsoft announcing years ago that they would no longer be recognizing the MSCE 4.0 certification, since the network operating systems that certification was based upon would no longer be supported by MS.  (Keep in mind that this change was announced months in advance, giving those holding the MCSE 4.0 plenty of time to earn the latest MS certification.)

Some MCSE 4.0s just went nuts.  Microsoft’s certification magazine printed letter after letter from angry MCSEs saying that their company would always run NT 4.0, and that there was no reason for them to ever upgrade their certification.

This wasn’t just denial.  This was career suicide.  Let’s say that their network never moved from NT 4.0.  Let’s also say that they got laid off yesterday.  Would you want to go out into the current IT workplace and have your most recent network operating system experience be on NT 4.0 ?  I sure wouldn’t.

The fact is that you’ve got to continue studying, continue growing, and continue learning new things if you want to have a successful long-term IT career.  If you plan on studying only one topic, getting into IT, and then never cracking a book again, you’re entering the wrong field.  And for those of us who have been in it for a while – again, ask yourself this question:  “Am I prepared for what would happen if I were laid off today?”  And if you’re not, do something about it!

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August 4, 2010 Posted by | Computers & Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Management Interface for Microsoft Dynamics GP Or Great Plains

For existing Microsoft Dynamics GP customers, or for the prospects who are in decision making phase on their future Corporate ERP and MRP application, we recommend you this Supply Chain Management oriented publication.  Great Plains Dynamics was traditionally open for External standalone systems, such as WMS, SCM, Consignment, eCommerce, Barcode Scanning based Allocation and Fulfillment via such integration technologies as Integration Manager, SQL Stored Procedures, eConnect and even Microsoft Dexterity

So, you have two options to choose from.  First would be External high end WMS, having its own functionality and Database with scheduled data migration into Dynamics GP Distribution modules: Sales Order Processing, Purchase Order Processing, Inventory Control and sometimes Bill Of Materials or even Manufacturing Suite of modules.  And the second approach is to enable these modules in Dynamics GP for Barcode Scanning and integration with WMS client, working on the Barcode Scanner screen.  This publication discusses the second approach, the Interface, not external WMS integration:
1. Advantages of WMS Interface versus External Warehouse Management System integration.  We see several.  First of all, you do not have to pay for the same WMS functionality in the External system as you already have it in Dynamics GP Supply Chain Management, Logistics set of modules: SOP, POP, Inventory Control.  Second one is simplified implementation, as you would have to implement your Microsoft Dynamics GP and just extend with Barcode scanning logic GP objects, versus duplicate implementation of the same or similar SCM logic in External WMS and Dynamics GP.  And the third advantage is coming from the integration implementation complexity and potential to fail.  When you are implementing two complex systems in parallel and then try to force them talk to each other often in bi-directional manner, you may expect some underwater stones and complexity, often translated into over budgeted consulting hours, unexpected WMS connectors modification and programming, months of pilot External WMS integration prior to deciding to go into production phase
2. Arguments of the opposite side.  Of course each commercial publication has the bias and we would like to show you the other side of the coin.  If External Supply Chain Management System has advanced functionality, there might be a good reason to keep all your Inventory Quantities control, Sales and Purchasing sides right there and post only General Ledger transactions to your Accounting System, in our case Microsoft Dynamics GP.  GL might be over simplification, but you may consider to post Sales operations from WMS to just GP Receivable Management module (without the inventory items sales history and statistics, just with the distributions to the appropriate GL Revenue and COGS accounts), the same could be said about Purchasing – consider just Payable Management module and its AP Voucher with some details in GL distribution.  Another argument might be this – Standalone and self sufficient WMS might be already probed in thousands of installations and be more reliable and software bug free
3. Our Warehouse Management Extension works out of Dynamics GP SOP module where you allocate Sales Order lines directly on the warehouse floor by using your barcoding scanner and its WMS client.  WMS client speaks with WMS server and the server in turn talks to Dynamics GP application database on the ODBC connection level.  Similar approach is in Purchase Receipts (often referred as Merchandize receipt on the warehouse floor by scanning Vendor packing slip and then item barcode labels and quantities).  Inventory WMS extensions naturally expose Inventory Adjustment, Transfer and Cycle Count for the Barcoding
4. Beyond standard WMS logic.  Also what is offered – Consignment routines, including delivery trucks route optimization (preferred delivery dates of the week and hours are in the algorithm) and other options
5. eCommerce and Modern WMS.  Yes, if you are large or midsize business with the needs in heavy WMS operations, chances are high that you are already in eCommerce B2B or B2C shopping cart integration to Dynamics GP Sales Orders (Magento, Asp.Net Store Front or Nop Commerce shopping carts seems to be very popular).  This is what we plan to demo on Convergence 2010 in April 2010 in Atlanta or already demoed, depending when you are reading these lines.  Alba Spectrum eCommerce modules talks to our WMS solutions as it was programmed by the same Dynamics GP ISV.  For the ecommerce it is also important to select appropriate shopping cart, providing customer Credit Card payment, price list and items catalogue – all these features are well available in Shopping Cart platforms and we are enabling your chosen Ecommerce SC for Wizard driven integration implementation
6. How to get further help?  Please, call us 1-866-528-0577, or internationally 1-630-961-5918 or email us help@albaspectrum.com  Our consultants speak English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Filipino, Russian, Chinese
7. Dynamics GP WMS on the International ERP market.  Former Great Plains Dynamics was localized for the very wide spectrum of countries, including Europe and even Eastern Europe and Russia.  However with the acquisition of Navision Software Microsoft Business Solutions narrowed Dynamics GP offer to English speaking countries (plus French Canadian for Montreal Quebec), Spanish Speaking Latin America (Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Caribbean, Colombia, Uruguay, etc.).  Dynamics GP is very popular and reasonably localized for Arabic speaking countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Persian Gulf.  Good news however is the fact that there is Dynamics GP ISV supported add-on, enabling GP for Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, Portuguese, European French, Dutch (more languages are coming) interface.  If Dynamics GP is not localized or translated to your country language, we recommend you to take a look at Dynamics AX (former Axapta) for lager international facility automation solution or SAP Business One (for smaller operations)

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Computers & Technology, Microsoft | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment