If you are happy with your new Corporate ERP system implementation, which might be categorized as phase one, the next phase is probably about some custom features. How about the idea to change field names and their positions, maybe add new fields on the existing forms, and even add new windows with completely custom and new business logic? Each ERP system, especially the one addressed to the mid-market companies has its own software development and modification tool, Great Plains is not an exception. However, it is not simple to pick the modification or programming tool, which is doing exactly what you need to accomplish. Let us give you initial advises on where to start:
1. Who is the person to discuss the idea? The first, what you may consider to do is to call your GP reseller, explain them the intentions and see what they could recommend. Real life could be more complex, for example, implementation phase might be somewhere in the history and you are just hired as IT director and you have no idea what happened in the past. Numerous scenarios could be found here. If you recognize the situation, consider calling Microsoft Business Solutions to figure out who is your provider, or if it is too much work, just try Google search on such keywords as GP programming in Microsoft Visual Studio, Dexterity, eConnect.
2. Do I want to program myself or rather hire professional programmer? This depends on the tool. For example Great Plains Dexterity might be too proprietary for you to code on your own. But Modifier with VBA scripts might be simple enough, where you can try your Visual Basic programming skills. Of course, be sure, that you are familiar with GP table structure and functionality. eConnect SDK is another example, where you may consider to program Great Plains integration in MS Visual Studio in such programming languages as C# or VB.
3. What to consider if my goal is rather pure integration, which doesn’t require any changes to existing forms and tables? In this situation we think that you might be knocking into the open door. Consider just Integration Manager module, which is end user friendly. Even for such potentially challenging integration projects as ecommerce shopping cart, EDI, including cross platform DB queries, where you have to establish ODBC connection to such databases as Oracle, MySQL, MS Access, FoxPro, Integration Manager should be considered. In IM you can do really advanced things, such as VBA event handlers, name translation.
4. Special Consideration to Great Plains Dexterity. This is the architecture of GP with its own Integrated Development Environment and Sanscript programming language. This tool definitely should be reviewed and considered as one of the candidates. It might be too complex to turn yourself or one of your in-house programmers to program Dexterity. There might be exceptions to this rule, for example, if you are facing really high magnitude customization project, you may decide to train and certify your internal developers in Dexterity. But, as general advice, consider to subcontract this job to Dexterity programmer.