Archive for September 2013
With our upcoming Sage 300 ERP 2014 version we will be integrated with Sage Intelligence Reporting 7.4. Within our product this will also be labeled as version 2014. This is a fairly major upgrade to the Sage Intelligence package and definitely worth a look. There have been a great many feature, usability and performance enhancements throughout the product.
This product is integrated to many sister Sage ERP packages and this is where Sage is investing in improving Excel based reporting. For ERP a big usage of this is for Financial Reporting, but don’t forget this is a useful tools for many other applications like Sales Analysis.
Many of our Sage sister products used Microsoft FRX as their financial reporter. This product has now been discontinued by Microsoft. To provide a replacement we spent quite a bit of time adding features contained in FRX into Sage Intelligence. Sage 300 never used FRX, but we now benefit from all this work with better Financial Reporting from Sage Intelligence.
For Sage 300 ERP installed on-premise, it still includes the Financial Reporter bundled with General Ledger. This F/R is still there and supported. We just added support for Excel 2013 which was a major job due to the changes in Excel from a multiple document interface (MDI) to a single document interface (SDI) along with Excel now having data execution protection (DEP) turned on. We understand that people have invested a lot in developing many powerful reports with this technology and are quite happy with how it works.
For the Sage 300 Online product we have removed this Financial Reporter and are only hosting Sage Intelligence for Financial Reporting. With this cloud offering we are looking to the future. With version 1.0 of this product we are running the regular desktop version of Excel to work with Sage Intelligence. But this isn’t really what we wanted. As a cloud offering we wanted to integrate to the cloud version of Excel, namely the browser based Excel 365 version. However the API for this product isn’t sufficient yet to do sophisticated Financial Reporting. Once Excel 365 develops sufficient power, we will be integrating Sage Intelligence to this and allow cloud based use of Office 365. By using Sage Intelligence it means that when we switch from the local installation of Excel to using the cloud version, all your report will continue to work and won’t need to be re-written. For the Sage 300 built-in Financial Reporter it will only continue to work with the local installed version of Excel. As a result of this besides adding features needed for FRX users, we have also added functionality to Sage Intelligence to make it more comparable to the built in Financial Reporter.
We now load all the data into memory at the beginning and then do all reporting from this in-memory database. This way as you change reporting options and interact with the report, you get far better performance than before. No more re-reading things from the database as you go along.
Sage Intelligence 7.4 now supports running Excel 2013 both 32 and 64 bits. For Sage 300 ERP the built-in F/R supports Excel 2013 but only running in 32 bit. If you absolutely need 64 Bits then give this solution a look. However MS does install 32 bits by default now for Excel 2013 due to all the compatibility problems with the 64 bit version (it isn’t only us). Similarly Sage Intelligence also no uses .Net framework 4 which is better supported and avoids installing old versions of the .Net runtime.
Let’s look at a few of the new things in the product. First we’ve modernize the toolbar in the Report Manager to the Office ribbon style. We’ve also fixed up the wording and hints to make this a bit easier to use.
As part of providing an out of the box Financial Reporting solution for Sage 300 ERP, we’ve added a number of sample reports that match the Financial Reports bundled with our built in F/R. Below is he home page for the Financial Ratio report:
And then the actual report. Note that there are a few more ratios here than in the built-in report along with graphs and such.
For the Balance Statement and Income Statement reports each three are incorporated into one Sage Intelligence report, each on a separate tab. One of the income statements is shown below.
The new Report Designer boasts a fresh new User Interface to supplement a powerful generation engine utilizing the Report Designer In-Memory technology allowing for improved performance and usability. This tool makes it very easy to create new powerful Financial Reports without having to edit every Excel cell by hand. Automated layout generation for a single company:
Plus screens to specify your account ranges and labels:
Sage 300 ERP 2014 will be bundled with Sage Intelligence 2014 which is version Sage Alchemex Intelligence 7.4. This is a fairly major release which greatly increases the power of Sage Intelligence as a Financial Reporter. It adds many features to be comparable to both FRX and to the built-in F/R from General Ledger. This version supports Excel 2013, including the 64 bit version and this is the product that we will be adding cloud based Excel 365 support to.
If you look in our product feedback site at https://www11.v1ideas.com/Sage300ERP/Accpac you will notice a number of items in the top ideas section to do with managing Sage 300 ERP Lanpaks. In the upcoming Sage 300 ERP 2014 release, we are adding a number of features to help with this.
How to Tell Who is Using Lanpaks
We’ve always had a screen accessible from the Desktop’s Help menu where you can get a list of the Lanpaks in use, and who is using them. However there was a fundamental flaw in this screen, namely that you needed to log on to the Desktop to access it and this required using a Lanpak. So if you were out of Lanpaks, you couldn’t log in and see who was doing what.
Now if you run the Desktop, you can cancel the signon dialog and select Help – Current Users… This then will give you a signon dialog where you can signon specifically to see who is on the system without using a Lanpak. To demonstrate I did this on my laptop and the screenshot is below.
Notice that no Lanpaks were used in bringing up this screen. So now if you are out of Lanpaks and need one, you can access this screen, see what people are doing and then ask the person doing the least important work to sign-out.
Giving More Information
Previously, all the Lanpak screen told you was which user was logged into which company, you didn’t know what they were actually doing. In fact many companies have only one company and everyone logs in as ADMIN, in which case the screen gave you no useful information. The usual suggestion here is to setup users and security properly, but for Sage 300 ERP 2014 we are giving quite a bit more useful information in our new “Current Users” screen.
Now we give you the users along with their contact information. Sorry for the two screen shots, but one shows the information with the horizontal scroll bar scroll left and the next one with the scroll bar scrolled right.
Further there is an option to see all the screens that they are running and the time when they started the screen.
The screen AS9010 is the Desktop and will have a proper description by the time we ship.
This way you can make a judgment on who you want to kick out of the system. Perhaps user1 is only running data entry screens and you know they have gone home, so you can log them off. Or perhaps user2 is running I/C Day End Processing and only started it just now, so you want to let that run to completion.
Besides using this screen to manage Lanpaks once they run out, you can also use this screen to see what people are doing when the system is slow, perhaps lots of people are printing reports or posting batches. Either way you can use this to manage more cases than just Lanpaks. Managing periodic slowdowns is one case, looking for low usage times to run larger reporting or processing runs is another.
The descriptions come from the language DLL that is generated from the VB template that is part of the Sage 300 ERP SDK. This means that we will be able to display good screen names for any Sage or third party application that is written in the SDK and uses the VB UI template. We also know about a few special cases like the Desktop.
For IAPs we don’t give as much information since this tends to be used by third party non-SDK applications that we don’t know about.
For this version we don’t provide a mechanism to kick people out from here. We are considering this for a future version, but want to get this rights, so we don’t just kill a process while some one is entering an order and causing them to lose their work. However if you are running on Terminal Services then you can use the Terminal Services console to kick people right out of Windows from there.
Ideas Web Site
As I mentioned in the introduction, this feature was the direct result of input to our ideas web site. So to just stress that if there are features you want added to Sage 300 ERP, be sure to add them here. If others agree with you and it makes it to the top of the list, then it has a very good chance of being implemented. Notice that the ideas web site lists the ideas that we have implemented, ideas in progress and which are the current top rated ideas. Feel free to promote your idea on Sage City, this can help get your idea implemented with sufficient support.
With the forthcoming Sage 300 ERP 2014 release we are giving you better methods to manage your Lanpaks. First by letting you see what is going on without using a Lanpak and then second by giving you more useful information on what people are currently doing.