Security & Tools

Written by Rich on April 10, 2018

SmartViews: Self Service Reporting Tool for VISUAL

Infor VISUAL ERP - SmartViews Reporting
Being in the VISUAL space, I'm sure you've heard talk over the years on Synergy's SmartViews.  And you’re likely already aware of the features and benefits – among them being:

  • Dynamic and Self-Service Reporting Tool
  • Access to Real-Time Information
  • 25+ Pre-Built “Best-in-Class” Strategic and Tactical Analytics to drive growth
  • Intuitive Interface
  • Pivot Tables, Slice and Dice, Drag ‘n Drop
  • Trend analysis
  • Dashboards upon dashboards
  • Charts and more charts
  • Database expertise NOT required
  • Automated Report Delivery system

A reporting tool....on overdrive....with features so easy that anyone can report, analyze and act on the data.

There are specifically 2 things I like best with SmartViews:

  1. It’s Self-Serving

    SmartViews was built for self-service with its’ intuitive interface and easy drag and drop analytics creation.  You can hand over the keys to your end users – and let them have at it.  Slice, Dice, Drag, Drop, Filter, Sort, Chart – whatever the combination.

    And when they’re all done – they can save it and share it.

    Think about it…

    With users creating and modifying their own reports, you will significantly reduce the burden placed on your in-house (or external) reporting expert.  No waiting for reports to be created or modified. 

    People should be empowered to interact with data with a user-friendly application, creating reports that they need and not what someone else understood them to be.    
  2. VISUAL Hooks

    Obviously, SmartViews is plugged into the VISUAL database to provide the analytics, but it can also be configured to dynamically interact with the system.  Meaning – you can automatically open VISUAL and retrieve relating information depending on your selection in SmartViews.

    For example, suppose you have a Bill of Material for a fabricated item, you can set it up so that when you select a material line item of the BOM in SmartViews – it will call up the Part ID in VISUAL’s Material Planning Window to determine whether there’s sufficient supply compared to demand.  You can easily click through your exploded BOM for supply and demand info in the Material Planning Window.  This is a good example on ways to streamline and reduce time you spend in and out of the Material Planning Window – your planners know exactly what I mean here.

    This is just a simple example of the many (many) ways you can leverage VISUAL Hooks in SmartViews.


Are you interested in "seeing" it and not so much "reading" it? 
Hit me up for a demo

You can also find additional information on SmartViews here.

 

Written by Rich on January 31, 2018

Hey Google! Can I build this product right now?

Infor VISUAL ERP - Caden using Google Mini Home
Caden using his Google Home Mini - He's asking the same question, but in his case, it's to build up his youTube channel - "Caden's World"

Google may not be plugged into your operations....yet

BUT if it were, it would likely answer you with results generated from the BOM Xploder.

The BOM Exploder is a VISUAL extension tool that quickly lets you know on whether you have all the materials to complete a job (work order) - right here, right now. 

The tool looks at ALL of your jobs (works orders) in VISUAL, drills down through all levels deep, looks to future supply and demand of parts - and tells you if you have any shortages anywhere throughout the multi-level BOM - even if parts of that BOM have their own engineering master that hasn't been released yet

One of the great things about the BOM Xploder is that it allows you to work at the Job Level rather than at the Part Level like the Material Planning Window. 

I know how arduous it can be going down the rabbit hole in the Material Planning Window chasing parts that may cause you grief in production.

The BOM Xploder gives you an overview of all your jobs to see what can be built or not based on what's available or expected to be available.  The Jobs are color-coded to providing you more information on whether you can build or not:

  • BLACK → You can build right now
  • RED Part Shortages - no supply purchase orders and no supply work orders
  • BLUE Part Shortages - supply purchase order and supply work orders in place
  • ORANGE You can build now - BUT you would be stealing from other jobs

 

Infor VISUAL ERP - BOM Xploder
Static screenshot does not do this justice
Contact me for a demo! -

You can drill down to investigate further as well as jump directly into the Material Planning Window, Manufacturing Window and Work Order Traveller

A "bonus" feature allows you to view all the parts that are causing jobs to be late.  This list can be considered your Hot or Expedite List as it prioritizes the parts based on the number of jobs they are causing to be late.

It's definitely a tool you should consider if you have deep BOMs and spending a significant amount of time in the Material Planning Window to investigation possible part shortages.

Ping me if you are interested in hearing more about BOM Xploder!


Now full disclosure :-) 

BOM Xploder is product developed by the great team at Synergy Resources who I work for.  So you may consider this post as being biased - but I do think it's a great VISUAL extension and it's currently being used in the community with great success.

If you have or know of a great product or solution for VISUAL - I'm interested in speaking with you and showcasing it

Written by Rich on January 9, 2018

VISUAL's AutoRun feature to automate Cost Utilities, Concurrent Scheduler and other processes

VISUAL_AS_A_Service
For as long as I can remember, the user community has been looking for ways to schedule and run certain VISUAL processes automatically and un-attended; Processes like Costing in Costing Utilities, MRP and the Concurrent Scheduler.

Earlier versions of VISUAL did not have this built-in feature - leaving many users to resort to creative ways and workarounds to accomplish this – some good and some not so good. Most involved 3rd party applications such as AutoIT and Automate.

But now with VISUAL 8 and up, using AutoRun Services, you can schedule and automate the following:

  • Running Concurrent Scheduler
  • Printing of Work Order Travellers
  • Costing (Cost Utilities)
  • Running Material Requirements Planning
  • Updating the Reporting Database Tables (for Dashboard Analytics)

Setting up the schedule can be done within each window of the specific process – under the FILE menu.

EXCEPTION: For Updating the Report Database Tables, you need to go to Admin > Application Global Maintenance > Maintain > Visual Reporting Data…

For example, to setup an automated schedule for the Concurrent Scheduler, select “Set as Scheduled…” item from the FILE menu of the Concurrent Scheduler window

 

VISUAL ERP - Concurrent Scheduler Automation
Concurrent Scheduler > File > Set as Scheduled...

The following window will appear. The left area are the parameters that you would typically set for running the Concurrent Scheduler. The right area is where you set the parameters to schedule the running of the Concurrent Scheduler – the fields are fairly straight forward.

ScheduleParameters

 
Also note that you can have the process run several times a day – up to 6 times - which is great if you have lots of activity (transactions) going on (inventory movement, labor reporting, shipping/receiving, etc)...it helps in keeping the system up to date (where needed).


Now
, out of the box, these services are not installed...

Don't fret - there are some setups involved but it's not overly complicated

Each automated process has its own service executable file – which are typically found in the VISUAL executables directory

Service EXE What does this service do? How many times do you need install this service?
VRDTASVC.EXE Loads data into the Reporting database tables Once per database
VMSCHSVC.EXE Runs a schedule Once per site
VMDBRSVC.EXE Runs a schedule in a DBR-enabled database Once per site
VRPTSVC.EXE Once per database Once per database
VMCSTSVC.EXE Runs costing Once per site
VMMRPSVC.EXE Runs MRP Once per site

You may have to go through the installation procedure more than once for a given service if you are a multi-site operation.


I'll walk you through an installation of the Costing Service.

  1. On the computer or server that will be running the service, go to the directory that contains the VISUAL executables and find the file VMCSTSVR.EXE (this is the service executable file to run the Costing Utilities as a service)
  2. Right Click on the VMCSTSVR.EXE and "Run as administrator"

    Infor VISUAL ERP - AutoRun     
  3. You will then be prompted to Sign Into VISUAL.  You can use any VISUAL User ID as long as it has the permissions to the respective area (in this case the Costing Utilities).

    Infor VISUAL ERP - Sign In

  4. In the following window, you'll need to specify the following:

    Site ID
    :  The Site to which the service will be running against.
    Log File Directory: Directory Location to store the log files for this service
    Polling Interval:  Frequency the service checks for updates - I just accept the default
    Log Level: You can specify the amount of details you want to capture when the service is running.  The recommended level is to set to None (logs just basic information - timestamps, etc).  Refer to the VISUAL manual if you would like more info on this

    Infor VISUAL ERP - AutoRun Service

  5. Hit the Install Service Button

  6. Click Yes at the following prompt

    Infor VISUAL ERP - AutoRun Service 
  7. Then CLOSE the window

The costing service is now running!!

You can verify this by going into the Services Console in Windows and scroll through the list for the service.  In this case, the service is called Infor Visual Costing Service (database name:site id) 

Infor VISUAL Services - Windows Services

 

Now that the Costing Service is running - you can now set the schedule to run Costings. 

Remember how? ... Go to the Costing Utilities window and click on Costing Service Schedule under the FILE menu. 

OK...here's a screenshot...
Infor VISUAL ERP - Costing Utilities AutoRun

  

Written by Rich on December 12, 2013

Should you CLOSE or LOCK an accounting period?

Infor VISUAL ERP - Financial Calendar MaintenanceWhen you maintain your fiscal calendar in the Financial Application Global Maintenance window,  you can set a period to have either an Active, Closed or Locked status. 

The ACTIVE status is pretty straight forward -- It will allow transactions to occur in the period. 

Setting the period to CLOSED or LOCKED status will prevent new transactions from being entered into the period. 

But why have 2 settings to prevent transactions?  What is the difference?

Well it all comes down to security.

If you CLOSE a period, anyone who has access to the Accounting Window (under the LEDGER menu) can easily toggle the status back to ACTIVE using the "Close/Reopen Period" function (as shown below) - and allow new transactions to occur in the period.
 

Infor VISUAL ERP - Accounting Window
 

If you LOCK a period, then this "Close/Reopen Period..." feature will be disabled.  The only way the period can be "Reopened" is through the Financial Application Global Maintenance which should be locked down (with limited access) from users. 

This setup allows for tighter controls in your organization.


Update!!

OK.  So no sooner did I just post this piece I get pinged from a colleague letting me know that I may be promoting bad “Visual” accounting practice. 

Infor ERP VISUAL - Accounting WindowSo let me put on my accounting hat on…

By no means did I intend to say that you should be opening and closing your periods from the Financial Application Global Maintenance window.  You should be doing this from the Accounting Window using the “Close/Reopen Period” feature.  The reason being is that the Accounting Window will ensure that there are no unposted transactions in the period you’re closing, whereas the Financial Application Global Maintenance window will allow you to CLOSE or LOCK a period with unposted transaction (not good). 

The Locked status is only available from the Financial Application Global Maintenance window and will prevent users from reopening the period from the Accounting Window - reinforcing the fact that the reporting of the period is final

This post was intended to explain the difference between the CLOSED and LOCKED status when maintaining your fiscal calendar.

Accounting hat off

Written by Rich on October 16, 2012

Looking to set your users VISUAL experience?

The visual.ini file is a simple text file that contains settings to control how VISUAL will function within your environment.  With this file, you can specify whether you want to:

  • allow users to delete inventory transactions,
  • allow users to delete PO receivers, 
  • hide/show the personal menu,
  • hide/show unshipped line items on the packlist, 
  • specify screen sizes,
  • set default values in various VISUAL windows,
  • drag and drop work orders in the scheduling window,
  • and the list goes on and on and on....

The number of available settings is extensive - allowing you to really control your users VISUAL experience.
  Infor VISUAL ERP - The Visual Experience

Now hold on a minute!  Aren't these settings maintained in the database using the Preferences Maintenance module?

Yes!  You're absolutely correct!  In VISUAL 7, you can now maintain these settings through the user interface.  This was a great enhancement to the software - making it easier to manage all the user-specific settings. 

The Preferences Maintenance module can be found under the ADMIN menu.  You can then configure the system by user.  The list of available settings is extensive - over 1800 of them (wow!).  You'll likely only need to manage a fraction of them. 

If you're looking to get a complete list of the available settings, you need only to do the following from the Preferences Maintenance module:

  1. Click on the INSERT icon.
     
    Infor VISUAL ERP - Preferences Maintenance
  2. Double Click on the BROWSE icon
     
    Infor VISUAL ERP - Preferences Maintenance Browse
  3. The following window lists all the available settings (with short description).  You can also export the list to excel.
     
    Infor VISUAL ERP - Preferences Maintenance list
Written by Peter on September 26, 2012

DIY - SQL Server upkeep

How’s your SQL Server running?  Backups taking too much space?  How is Infor helping you with this?  Your channel partner?  Where can you get help?

SQLSaturdayI went to a free seminar last Saturday by the folks at SQLSaturday and learned a lot!  I am sure there is one in your area soon.  Look for the next one here:  http://www.sqlsaturday.com.

Just a few tidbits I learned from some SQL MVPs:

Hopefully, some of this information will help you next time someone screams “Visual is SLOW!!”

Challenge Completed


Peter Boers is our special guest author at visualnuggets.com and is an active participant in the VISUAL community.  Peter has recently taken on the responsibility for maintaining the web site for the newly formed Visual Enterprise Global User Group (VEGUG).

Connect with him online at LinkedIn 

 

Written by Peter on June 13, 2012

I'm new to VISUAL, how do I get help?

NewhereIf you are a new VISUAL ERP user, there are lots of sources for end user support, end user training, and technical help. 

Besides visualnuggets.com, which BTW is super amazing (shameless plug inserted by the blog editor - rich :-) , you have several avenues to choose from:

  1. Visual Global Enterprise User Group
    Here you can register and automatically be assigned to a regional VISUAL user group.  The regional user groups hold quarterly meetings with presentations and open discussions on everything VISUAL.  You can also browse the forums on the VEGUG website and post questions for other VISUAL users to answer.
     
     
  2. InforXtreme Support - http://www.inforxtreme.com
    Infor's support site has a Knowledge Base for common VISUAL questions, and a place to open support calls - which can be used for any type of VISUAL question.  You must have an active maintenance plan to use the Infor support site.
      
      
  3. Annual User Conference
    Infor also has an annual user conference - the next one in April 2013 in Orlando.  There are numerous training classes and networking opportunities for VISUAL users to attend.
     
     
  4. Infor Channel Partner
    Your Channel Partner will also offer training classes - from generic Manufacturing Basics down to specific one-on-one training.
     
      
  5. Yahoo! User Groups - http://groups.yahoo.com
    The user groups VMIUGLIST and VMIUG-TEC are both good resources for searching past discussions and posting new questions.
      
      
  6. Infor's Ambassador Reference Program
    If you are looking at purchasing additional modules for VISUAL, this program  can get you in touch with another Visual user who is already using the module you are researching.  This will give you real-world examples of the success of the module.

Good luck, and welcome to the VISUAL world!


Peter Boers is a special guest author to visualnuggets.com.  Peter is an active participant in the VISUAL community.  He has recently taken on the responsibility for maintaining the web site for the newly formed Visual Enterprise Global User Group (VEGUG). 

 

Written by Rich on June 13, 2012

How to be notified of VISUAL patch releases

Always the last to know?

Have you ever found yourself spending hours racking your brain trying to determine whether an issue you found in VISUAL is bug-related or simply a lack of knowledge of the module.  Only to find out that INFOR has already acknowledged it as a "bug" and has already fixed it in a patch released months ago

Finding this out is both relieving and frustrating.  Relieved to know it's not YOU, but frustrating to know that you wasted your time on an known issue which has been reported and fixed long ago.

So in order to keep on top of things, INFOR offers you to be notified by email when patches are released.  And in these releases you'll find not only the latest patches but a pdf detailing what was updated and fixed.

It's easy to sign up:

  1. Log into InforXtreme Support site.  You'll need to be on maintenance, of course.
        Infor VISUAL ERP Express - InforXtreme Support 
  2. Enter the Solution # of the patch release for the VISUAL application and version your interested in.  Refer the Nuggets to refer to where I list the popular patches by solution #.
    In this example I'm using Solution #955942 VISUAL 7 patch release.
        Infor VISUAL ERP Express - InforXtreme Support   
  3. When the following window appears, click on the SIGN UP link located to the right of the solution (as shown).
         Infor VISUAL ERP Express - InforXtreme Support Sign Up     
  4. Now enter your email and click on the SIGN UP button.
         Infor VISUAL ERP Express - InforXtreme Support - Enter email     

And Bob's your uncle (what does that mean anyway? and who's Bob?)

 

Written by Candy on May 24, 2012

What’s your plan for disaster?

Disaster RecoveryWe are approaching the unstable weather portion of the year. As with any other data center component, you should have a disaster recovery plan specifically for your Visual environment.  After all, it does touch on EVERY facet of your business.  Be prepared for natural (and un-natural) disasters… weather-related or not.

So here are some keys to content for your disaster recovery and backup plan to keep you from running for the hills.

1. Disaster Recovery & Backups

The thing to know here is that these are two directly-related, but completely different plans!

  • Disaster Recovery (typically Image-based) duplicates one, many, or all of a company’s production and critical servers. Software is used to take snapshots of the entire server(s) it is protecting and that snapshot is kept offsite. Examples include co-location or managed offsite backup systems.
     
  • Backups (typically File-based) allows for restoration of files, database components, and e‐mail components in the case of any unwanted modification, deletion, or failure. Software provides the ability to back up any selected data to tape, disk, or a cloud‐based repository. Examples include Symantec BackupExec or Quest vRanger.
     

2. Consider Virtualization

Server virtualization can reduce full restoration to four hours or less because it’s not necessary to rebuild servers, applications or operating systems separately. These components exist elsewhere and can be brought back online using templates and clones.  However, it is critical that these systems are regularly monitored.  They should be properly in place and up to date. Virtualization creates a useful way to perform disaster recovery testing because you can run a test on the virtual image of the system without affecting your production system. And it doesn’t require IT to wait until after hours to test!
 

3. Recovery Model

Sell your management and get buy-in from everyone on what your backup & recovery strategy is going to be.  This will make life much more easier when this first disaster occurs.  People will understand right out of the gate what the recovery model is and the expectations that were set for time and cost to recover data and systems.  Below is an example (click on image to enlarge) of a pyramid model that I like to use to explain how the quicker we need to be up and running, the more it is going to cost.
 
Infor VISUAL ERP Express = Disaster recovery Model 

4. Basic Components Specific to VISUAL Mfg

The core components for your VISUAL Mfg plan should take into consideration:

  • Hardware   (HP, Dell, clone servers, etc.)
    Know your environment!  Create a hardware inventory and have it available in your plan.  Consider using a tool like Microsoft Assessment & Planning toolkit (MAP).  It collects data in your environment. After the data is gathered, you can parse and evaluate it for specific hardware and software needs and requirements.  The toolkit is designed to let you quickly and easily perform an inventory of your hardware environment, assess your current IT infrastructure. The data and analysis provided by this toolkit greatly simplifies the planning process to migrate software, assess device driver availability, and obtain hardware upgrade recommendations.
     
  • Operating System   (Windows 2008 Server, Linux, etc.)
     
  • Databases   (MS SQL Server, Oracle, SQLBase)
    What patches and updates are required for the database to function with Visual?
    Do you have good backups of your databases?
    Can I restore a database from backup software or does it need to be from within an application (i.e., Autodesk CAD systems use ADMS)?
     
  • Application Files   (Installation media, patches, etc.)
    Make sure you have easily retrievable and usable installation media on hand to install your Visual executables.  This is not something you want to try spend extra time on during a disaster. Visual 7.1.0 just released on 5/22/2012 is a 1.9Gb download which will take approximately 25 minutes to download.  Do you have this time and do you have this connection in a disaster?  Consider having the installation files readily available on USB or a NAS device with other critical downloads.
     
  • Customizations to the applications and environment   (QRPs, .NET apps, Macros, etc.)
    Make sure all the custom files are regularly backed up and available for re-installation.  There could be many other custom report uses in the organization that would be difficult to recover from if they were not restored.
     

5. Test it!

6. Communicate it!

The biggest misconception is that Disaster Recovery & Backup Plans are maintained by the IT department, printed out and sitting on a shelf (sometimes under lock and key).  WRONG! 

Disaster Recovery & Backup Plans need to be a living document that everyone maintains and nurtures.


Candy Kirchner is a special guest author to visualnuggets.com.  Candy is an active participant in the VISUAL community.  She has recently taken on the responsibility for Member & User Group Relations for the newly formed Visual Enterprise Global User Group (VEGUG). 

 

Written by Rich on January 11, 2012

Open Orders, Open Receivables and Open Shipped Totals: When was the last time you checked these fields for accuracy?

During a recent CRM implementation, I came across a large number of customers with negative balances for Open Orders and Open Receivables.  With CRM Contact Center, they stuck out like a sore thumb because the customers are laid out in an easy to read grid format.  One simple click on the Open Order column and there they all were.  And, in this case, there were quite a few
 

Infor ERP Express Visual - CRM Contact Center
 
So, you might think that this is a CRM-related issue.  But it's not.  These numbers are actually coming over from VISUAL MFG.  More specifically, they're directly from the CUSTOMER table.  From time to time, the summary fields do get out of whack.

To get them back into sync you will need to use the conversion utility VMCVTUTL.exe to "resummarize" these fields.

  1. Locate and start VMCVTUTL.exe (which can be found in the folder of your VMFG executables).
     
  2. Enter the following information:

    Database Engine
    Database: Name of new database
    SA Password
    SQL server name


    Infor ERP Express Visual - Conversion Utility
    Then hit the RESUMMARIZE button.
     
  3. The following window should then appear.

    Infor ERP Express Visual - Resummarize window
    Uncheck all the boxes except for the first three (as shown above)

     - Cust Order Line to Cust Order
     - Cust Order to Customer
     - Receivable to Customer
     
  4. Then click on the BEGIN button.

When the process is done, your fields should jive.

Always test first in a copy of the LIVE database and verify the results before proceeding in your LIVE environment

WHO IS VISUALNUGGETS?

Rich Ferlatte
Results Driven VISUAL Specialist

CONSULTING SERVICES

Of course, I am available for hire!

ERP Implementations & Upgrades
Analytics & Reporting
Integrations & Macros
General VISUAL Support

ONLINE VISUAL WORKSHOPS

Taking it to the next level and designing a program around "Hands On VISUAL Training".

Check them out - there's sure to be one to interest you!

Operational Workshops
Reporting Workshops
Financial Workshops
Inventory Workshops
Quality Workshops

VISUAL EXTENSIONS

BOM Xploder
Drastically improve your BOM visibility and discover shortages at ANY level of your bill of material no matter how deep.
SmartViews
See, analyze, and track information that helps you better support individual, departmental, and your company’s performance metrics and goals.
Credit Card Integration
Easily accept and process credit card payments right from within VISUAL.
CAD Integration with CADLink
Reduce rework, minimize scrap, and work more efficiently with CADLink - a fully automated, two-way connection between VISUAL and your CAD system.
Sales Tax Automation with AvaTax
Easily automate sales and use tax in VISUAL with AvaTax. No more manually entering data or uploading rate tables and tax information.
Workforce Management with Kebrite Solutions
Streamlines the collection of Job, Labor, Payroll, Time & Attendance, and a vast array of HR related data-- with live VISUAL integration.
ACH Document Processing
Leveraging VISUAL's payment scheduling and batch payment functions, with the added convenience, performance, and security of Electronic Funds Transfer payment processing.