Thursday, October 20, 2016

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 - Day 3

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 hosted by Dynamic Communities is now over, but I did not want to let this week go by without giving you an account of my experiences at the conference, which sure brought a lot of surprises to all the partners in attendance.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Day 2 had us doing a bunch of bar hopping throughout Downtown Fargo, but I cannot minimize the amount of learning opportunities going on throughout Microsoft Campus and the Hilton Garden hotel. Today would mark the last day David and I would be presenting and it couldn't be on a better topic: Leveraging GP Power Tools. As is customary, our session was standing room only.

Leveraging GP Power Tools
Because of the nature of the audience and the type of event we were presenting at, this session was fairly technical in nature, highlighting some of the GP Power Tools capabilities geared towards system administrators and software developers alike. The key to keep in mind here is that GP Power Tools is now distributed by Mekorma, Inc. worldwide. If you currently own the Support Debugging Tool, please note that it is no longer supported by Microsoft or Winthrop Development Consultants and that you must upgrade to GP Power Tools.

Finalizing our session, David and I would quickly pack our bags, grab some box lunch, and prepare for the Microsoft Collaborative Development meeting, or Collab Dev for short. This meeting is held annually and is a private meeting where ISVs can listen in on product direction and the nuances behind efforts to improve product time to market. In return, Microsoft receives feedback on the pains being experienced by developers at large and strategies to mitigate those pains, in the form of suggestions to improve the tools used by the Dynamics GP development community.

Microsoft Collaborative Development meeting: Brian Roney listens to ISVs concerns
As the content of this meeting is under Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA), I cannot really describe the topics covered or the strategies addressed. Following the meeting, David and I decided to corner Brian Roney and Chad Sogge to ask for some improvements to the Dexterity development system. Hopefully, some of our suggestions made it to the list of new Dexterity features.

After the Collab Dev meeting, David and I returned to the Hilton Garden, where Mekorma would be hosting a partner learning session and presenting our new product, Muti-Batch Management (MMM). MMM is a really cool piece of software that allows companies to create profiles to select and build check batches, and print and post checks and EFT transactions across multiple companies. The user only needs to setup a few rules and with the click of one button, MMM will automatically execute these processes, login into every company where they need to be completed, all without user intervention.

Mekorma's Partner Session
You can find out more about MMM here.

The Mekorma partner session also presented some of the capabilities of GP Power Tools and discuss pricing and implementation approach of all our products with partners.

Angel Blum presenting Mekorma Products
As usual, all good things must come to an end. The conference was officially over and some folks would begin to leave Fargo this same afternoon, weather permitting. I had a chance to catch up and say goodbye to some of my friends in the dining area of the Hilton Garden.
Rachael Brancich

David Musgrave and John Lowther

Linda Stone

Chris Dobkins
Mekorma would host a partner dinner at HuHot Mongolian Grill. The idea at this place is that you are in control of your own meal, which is stir fried by some young cooks right in front of your eyes, on a big round flat iron cast surface which rotates slowly. As the food rotates, you move along with it, and somehow, the cook figures out which one is yours and delivers your meal right at a pick up station. You then seat yourself and have at it.

Mekorma Partner Dinner
For this partner dinner, we had 33 people in attendance and were occupying around 5 big tables. Craig Clapman, Mekorma's president had the idea to borrow David's camera to take a group picture. On the way down from the wall dividing two sections of the restaurant, he managed to fall and damage David's camera.

For those of you not familiar with David's camera, this is the second replacement he's made while in Fargo. The first replacement was precisely at the 2015 reIMAGINE where he somehow managed to wipe out all the pictures on the camera, in addition to messing up the camera itself.

David was lucky enough to be able to find an exact camera the following day at a store in Fargo. It was the LAST ONE available of its kind.

Angel Blum
Before leaving, I managed to grab a picture with Angel from Mekorma. Ain't she a sweetheart?

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Monday, October 3, 2016

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 - Day 2

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 hosted by Dynamic Communities is now over, but I did not want to let this week go by without giving you an account of my experiences at the conference, which sure brought a lot of surprises to all the partners in attendance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Well Day 1, was certainly jammed packed with activities for David and I. Today however, was more of a transition day, where I would get to attend a few sessions, along with presenting one of my own.

I started out the day with Understanding Workflow and Document Attach, presented by Theresa Nistler, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. Frankly, I neglected learning the initial versions of Workflow, but Dynamics GP 2016 certainly rocks and new and improved version of it, with easy configuration and a slick integration to the Document Attach feature, which I have implemented a few times. It was also good for me to attend this session, as I have a development project that involves integrating with Workflow, to improve some of our product capabilities here at Mekorma.

Following Theresa's session, it was time for me to go get setup to present my session, Dynamics GP Web Client Infrastructure and Troubleshooting. While I have presented web client sessions at previous conferences, as recent as Amplify, this session was totally new in its content and reach, as it was geared toward technical and consulting folks. My approach to this session was fundamentally exploring the web client architecture and infrastructure, all the while showcasing some of the tools I use to troubleshoot issues when installing and deploying the application.

Next off was some lunch with my coworkers, Lee Butenhoff and Jay Manley at Spitfire Bar &Grill, to discuss some of our most immediate project needs and deliverables. Having time with the guys in Fargo was awesome as we don't get to have these face to face exchanges that often, so to the tune of awesome ribs and fountain drinks, we went over all that we needed to accomplish after reIMAGINE.

Apparently, I had walked away from my session leaving my cell phone at the podium. Although the thought of losing once cellphone is always scary, I was pretty sure it would be delivered to the proper hands, so back at the Microsoft campus, I ran into Shanna Hensch from Dynamic Communities, who already was looking for me to turn over the phone back to me.

I made sure all was cool with my phone and to my surprise, I came across this fantastic selfie featuring the beautiful Tonya Anderson, Global Partner Engagement Manager at Dynamic Communities, who thought it would be fun to snap herself for posterity.

Tonya Anderson
At 2:45 PM, I decided to attend the session Custom Workflow Creation with Vince Guzik, Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft. Vince's presentation was a no nonsense display of how to rapidly create custom workflows with Dexterity, by using API functions created in the Dynamics GP dictionary for this purpose. A constant definition, a couple script procedure calls, and voila! A custom workflow! The real kicker is that existing Microsoft Dynamics GP workflows can be extended to include custom fields from other dictionaries, minimizing the need for from the ground up workflows.

Following the afternoon sessions, we had planned to have dinner among the Mekorma developers in attendance and go bar hopping in downtown Fargo, as part of the ISV sponsored Pub Crawl, so I went back to the hotel to change off and meet Jay and David downstairs to leave.

NOTE: Although David is not an official Mekorma employee, he works with us on special projects and we distribute his products worldwide, as part of the arrangements we have with Winthrop Development Consultants, so he's an integral part of the team.

Jay Manley, Lee Butenhoff, David Musgrave, and Mariano Gomez
Jay and Lee, being the locals, selected Rustica Eatery & Tavern in Moorhead, MN, just across the Red River from Fargo. Rustica is a great spot serving creative American fare in one room and artisan pizzas & beer in the other. The atmosphere in this place is upscale without being pretentious and the food is to die for.

On the way out to the pub crawl, David decided he needed to have a picture with Jay's Hummer H2, on the parking deck.

David Musgrave and Hummer H2
Our next stop would be downtown Fargo, just a few minutes from Rustica, where we had dinner. To note also, the keynote was taking place at the Fargo theater, but this year we decided not to attend in favor of the pub crawl. I have to admit that coming to Fargo at the beginning of Autumn is really fantastic. The weather couldn't be any better and the city is just a vibrant place.

Fargo Downtown

Fargo Theater
 Another view of the same street (Broadway N).

While the pub crawl would take us to several spots, our group decided to target Pickled Parrot sponsored by Njevity, Dempsey's Public House sponsored by Binary Stream, and Sazerac Alley sponsored by Greenshades Software. At the end of the evening, we decided to settle for Pickled Parrot - Big up to Njevity for throwing a really cool party!

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Friday, September 30, 2016

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 - Day 1 (Part 2)

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 hosted by Dynamic Communities is now over, but I did not want to let this week go by without giving you an account of my experiences at the conference, which sure brought a lot of surprises to all the partners in attendance.

Monday, September 19, 2016 - Part 2

Monday morning was sure a busy one and with the General Session over, it was time to go find a place to continue prepping for our sessions in the afternoon.

It was time for our first session, NEW Development Tricks & Hacks, which centered around Microsoft Dexterity development. David and I had done this session at GPUG Summit 2015 in Reno-Tahoe, where we presented 25 tricks and hacks. This time around, we would add 25 new tricks and hacks to the arsenal, so attendees could walk away with new stuff to try. To note, the slide deck for this session contains the original 25 tricks and hacks and can be downloaded from the reIMAGINE 2016 materials page.

New 25 Tricks and Hacks session
Following our NEW Development Tricks & Hacks session, David and I would be joined by Brian Roney, Principal Engineering Lead at Microsoft, and Rob Anderson, Sr. Software Engineer at Microsoft for our Dexterity Panel session. This session was meant to be a free form, ask-whatever-you-want-type session where all 4 of us panelist would address any development related inquiries from the attendees.

Dexterity Panel session
I must say, all conferences should have more of these type of sessions as you can get some really engaging questions.

It was the end of our presentations for the day and it was time to go mingle with partners and ISVs at the reception, which would be held downstairs in the lunch room. Walking around, I had a chance to say hello to the folks from Rose ASP who were giving away some really cool workout t-shirts promoting their cloud solution.

I also had the opportunity to say hi to a number of folks from Njevity, Jet Reports, and Vicinity Manufacturing.

Jonathan Oesch (Jet Reports), Belinda Allen (Njevity), Gayle Giguere (Vicinity), Randy Smith (Vicinity), Melissa Sandrovich (Njevity)

As the reception was winding down, I left to my hotel to put down my stuff and get ready to go hang out at Shotgun Sally's, where the folks from eOne Solutions would be hosting their now popular Smartner Party. Upon arrival, I had a drink and proceeded to mingle with the folks in attendance. A few minutes into my arrival, something special happened: my dear friend of many years, Mark Anderson announced that he would be shaving his beard and head in benefit of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Now, this would be a non-consequential, non-issue only if Mark was another person, but those of us who have known Mark for a long time (and in my particular case, for the better part of 20 years), have not seen him EVER without a beard - EVER! In fact, Mark made it public knowledge that his children had NEVER EVER seen him, in over 30 years, without a beard.

Mark and wife Donna
To make matters even more interesting, Mark's wife, Donna would be doing the honors of getting rid of his hair, both head and facial. Mark's only request was for the mustache to stay. In an effort to support the cause, Mark would be requesting donations from all partners in attendance with the goal of collecting $1,000.

Mark hadn't shaved for the last 30 years 
And there goes the first pass, with the Vikings wings on each side

A man must have a drink though

The deed is completed

Congrats to Mark, all for a good cause
After completing the shaving, Mark had collected over $3,000, putting him at the top of the funds raiser's list. To protect the identity of the innocent, this is where all accounts of the party ends.

Trouble makers: Sheila Jefferson-Ross and Tanya Henderson
Follow me on Monday for the accounts of Day 2.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 - Day 1 (Part 1)

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 hosted by Dynamic Communities is now over, but I did not want to let this week go by without giving you an account of my experiences at the conference, which sure brought a lot of surprises to all the partners in attendance.

Monday, September 19, 2016 - Part 1

After having an adventurous Sunday, where I had the opportunity to prep my sessions with David, attend a car show, mingle with friends and coworkers, and dine at Passage to India, I was now prepared to get the real conference schedule going.

The day started out with the traditional partner breakfast at the Hilton Garden in. I believe there was confusion with breakfast locations, because it (breakfast) was also being served at the Microsoft campus, with the starting time there being the only caveat as security restrictions there had us showing up only after 8:00 AM.

At the Hilton Garden, tables were setup by company, so I had a chance to have breakfast with some of my Mekorma coworkers in attendance and a few folks from a different company who did not have a table tag assigned, but decided to join us anyways.

Breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn
After breakfast, David and I hopped the bus over to the Microsoft campus and quickly found a spot up front in the Morton conference room. Given our tendency to take pictures, David and I conspired with Bob McAdam (twitter: @4mcadam) and Pam Misialek (twitter: @PamMisialek), hosts of the General Session, to get a picture of the over 400 partners in attendance, prior to the beginning of the session. Now, one thing is to get a picture, but getting all partners to wave for the camera? That's a whole different ball game. It worked!

General Session in the Morton Room at Microsoft 
The session began just after our camera stunt and things would get downright interesting from there on. The welcome pleasantries were up and over in a few minutes and gave way to Joe Carroll, introducing new Microsoft Dynamics GP Advanced Distribution and Advanced HR/P exams and the new Microsoft Dynamics GP Advanced Credentialed Professional certification. Having been a council member of the Association of Dynamics Professionals for a bit over a year, I cannot stress the importance of these exams to the Dynamics GP community at large. If you haven't signed up to take any of the exams, please do so. You are missing out on a really significant opportunity to distinguish yourself from the rest.

Association of Dynamics Professionals: new GP exams and credential

Next up was Errol Schoenfish (twitter: @ifErrolCanDoIt). Errol's presentation centered on the current cloud momentum, presenting some statistics predicting 6 times faster growth in SMB spending on business apps in the cloud versus on premises over the next three years (2015–2018).

Errol also presented Microsoft's SMB offerings corresponding to the 3 major cloud models, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service), demonstrating where each product fits within the scope of those models.

SMB cloud offerings

More importantly, the discussion went in the direction of Microsoft's roadmap for the SMB products. I have to say, this is the first time I have seen a side-by-side roadmap for all the SMB offerings and it was a beauty to watch.
Microsoft SMB offerings roadmap

The key message delivered to the Microsoft Dynamics GP partners in attendance centered around two premises: a) Dynamics GP will only go away if partners are not selling it, and b) Microsoft Dynamics GP development will continue beyond the next 3 years at the very least. Errol reiterated Microsoft's support behind the current market offerings. It's also important to note that Dynamics 365, formerly Project Madeira, roadmap was introduced as part of the stack.

Microsoft then presented its US Dynamics SMB sales team org chart and in particular, introduced Anjali Justus (twitter: @AnjaliJustus), who is the new GP Sales Manager. This was well received news by all partners as it shows Microsoft's renewed commitment to the channel. A major point here is, Microsoft recruited all these folks from competitors like NetSuite and Infor.

US Dynamics SMB Org Chart

Next on stage were the awesome quartet of Chad Sogge (twitter: @csogge), Jennifer Ranz (twitter: @jenniferranz1), Jodi Christiansen (twitter: @JodiChrist), and Brian Mayer (can someone please get this guy a Twitter account?) to talk about and demonstrate GP 2016 and GP 2016 R2 features. Needless to say, they are always flawless and delivered an excellent presentation. To note, some of the features presented for GP 2016 R2 (subject to change) are as follow:

SystemSmartList favorite protection
SystemSmartList Designer SmartLists available in Advanced
DistributionDisplay Tax Percent for Historical Transactions
DistributionCancel PO when linked to a Requisition
DistributionPA Timesheet Status Report
FinancialsGL Distribution Line Display Expanded
FinancialsCredit Limit Warning Calculation for unposted Credit Documents
FinancialsSafePay file displays Check Name from the Check
FinancialsPOP to FA Link to Include Taxes
FinancialsSave Fixed Asset ID with suffix
ServicesPower BI on Web Client Home page

Sponsoring partners also had their spotlight at the event, with Greenshades Software, eOne Solutions, and Binary Stream delivering the interludes. Greenshades provided the kicker laugh with their Captain Compliance skit.

Special mention: Martin Olsen delivered a really cool skit to promote SmartConnect, but I don't have a video of it, so I will try to incorporate the slides and the text in a future article.

As this was a jam packed morning, I have decided to split day one into couple articles as it will be easier to follow. Please stay put for the conclusion of Day 1.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 - Pre-conference Day 2

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 hosted by Dynamic Communities is now over, but I did not want to let this week go by without giving you an account of my experiences at the conference, which sure brought a lot of surprises to all the partners in attendance.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The previous day had me meeting up with a few of the guys and gals here in town. Today, David and I had plans to meet up early to begin reviewing our sessions and making sure we had our act together. After a quick breakfast at the Home2 Suites and around an hour of prep time, it was time for us to head over to the Hilton Garden Inn Fargo to complete our registration and to get our conference badges and goodies. The Hilton Garden is just a few short steps away from the Home2 Suites.

Upon arriving at the Hilton Garden, we caught a small crew putting up some posters signaling the beginning of the event. Posters were placed on the sliding doors and on the outside columns.

reIMAGINE 2016 posters on sliding door

reIMAGINE 2016 posters on columns (the mystery girl's name is Rachael Brancich)

Walking in, we came across MVP John Lowther who seemed excited to see David and I. After chit-chatting for a few minutes, we head over to the Dynamic Communities registration desk, where we would claim our badges.

Microsoft Business Solutions MVP John Lowther
We were greeted by Daisey Eck, Program Coordinator with Dynamic Communities, who began searching for our badges and preparing our conference goodies. Apparently, David's badge could not be located for quite a bit of time and it took the quick eyes and memory of Shanna Hensch, Events Manager at Dynamic Communities, to locate the badge which happened to be in the very front row of the pile close to the drawer where Daisey was standing.

David Musgrave receiving his conference goodies and guide
After registering, we walked around to see what was going on and crashed the class of fellow Microsoft Business Solutions MVP, Ian Grieve. Ian is the author of AzureCurve, a blog dedicated to all things Microsoft Dynamics GP. Ian lives in the United Kingdom and did his first trek to Fargo, ND to teach a Microsoft Dynamics GP Workflow pre-conference training session. He was also going to spend additional time after the conference, visiting friends and touring a few places.

Microsoft Business Solutions MVP Ian Grieve

Back at the registration desk, we caught up with the full conference reception team, so we decided to snap one more picture.

From left to right: Shanna Hensch, Sue Whitney, and Daisey Eck

Our day was just about to get much more interesting. A couple weeks aback, prior to arriving to the conference, my boss, Jay Manley, invited me to attend a car show even that was being held in Dilworth, Minnesota, just a few miles outside of Fargo, which I gladly accepted, given the fact that I am also a car nuts - BMW cars, but nonetheless a car nuts. The day before, I spent quite a bit of time trying to convince David to join in, until he finally gave in and decided to go. Jay happens to drive a 1972 Mustang Mach 1 which was originally equipped with a 351 cu CJ (Cobra Jet) engine. Jay has made some changes to this car to say the least and has acquired a Ford 351 cu in Cleveland engine stroked to 408 cu in, .631/.644 CAM lift, 240/244 duration and compression ratio of 13.5:1. This engine is fuel injected, burning 99.9% ethanol. These specs put the Mach 1 at nearly 600 hp at the crank.

'72 Mustang Mach 1

'72 Mustang Mach 1 Engine Bay

From left to right: Air Fuel Ratio (O2), Fuel Pressure, Trans Temp, Voltage gauges

From left to right: Water Temp, Oil Pressure, Oil Temp

Arriving at the event in Dilworth, Jay revved up a bit to call everyone's attention to the pony entering the lot. We found some really cool builds on the lot, although some others needed a lot of work. Here's the best of what I personally saw out there.

Following the car meet up, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings, around the Fargo Dome to get some lunch and then back to the hotel. David and I decided to give our presentation one more pass, but not without the help of our dear friend and fellow Microsoft Business Solutions MVP, Leslie Vail.

David Musgrave and Leslie Vail

Leslie helped us with refining the introductory problem descriptions for our GP Power Tools session, which aided us in selecting sample of demos to present during our session. Following our meet up, David and I went back to our rooms to drop off our stuff to join Sheila Jefferson-Ross and Leslie Vail in what have become a yearly conference tradition: meet and greet and dinner with friends at Passage to India, a local Indian food joint located in the Westfield Strip Mall on 45th street south.

Sheila Jefferson-Ross

The crew in Sheila's and Leslie's room
Front, left to right: Craig Clapman, Tanya Henderson, Sheila Jefferson-Ross, Leslie Vail, David Musgrave, Ora Goldman, Angel Blum
Back, left to right: Lee Butenhoff, Jay Manley, Ian Grieve
At Passage to India

Well, after a heavy dinner, it was time to go back to the hotel as the real conference would begin bright and early on Monday morning.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP