Security & Tools

Written by Richard 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 Richard 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 Richard 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 Richard 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

Written by Richard on October 23, 2011

Window Editor aka The Object Nationalizer

The Windows Editor allows you to customize most of the VISUAL windows to suit your needs. The editor is actually the Object Nationalizer from Unify (Gupta) and you can literally change the look and feel of the forms and dialog boxes.

Before you get all excited - just note that you don't have access to the coding - so there's no chance to modify or add code to VISUAL.

It's all cosmetics.

But don't let that stop you.  There's many applications for it...

  • Hiding fields (ie: Customer's Credit Amount, Employee Hourly Rate, etc)
  • Hiding the DELETE button (and menu) to prevent unauthorized users from deleting records
  • Renaming captions/labels (ie: rename the  User Defined print formats to something more meaningful to the user)
  • Changing the format to field values (ie: increase decimal places, change time and date convention, etc)
  • Changing background colors, fonts and field positions
  • Changing a free-form dropdown box to selection only (ie the SHIP VIA in Customer Order Entry).

And that's just naming a few.

Using the Editor is quite easy if you're already familiar with any form designer for building GUI applications.  And if your not...well it may take some getting use to

Let's say you want to change one of the USER DEFINED print formats in Sales Orders Entry to read Commercial Invoice.

  1. From the ADMIN menu, select Window Editor
     
  2. In the EDIT WINDOWS dialog box, select Customer Order Entry from the list in the EDIT WINDOW screen.

    Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Window Editor 
  3. From the tree view, drill down to the Window folder.
     
    Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Window Editor 
  4. In the window folder, right click on dlgPrintForm and click on "Select in Layout" from the popup menu.
     
    Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Window Editor 
  5. You should now see Print Form dialog window that is used to print Order Acknowledgements.  Right click on the User Defined 1 label and select PROPERTIES from the popup menu.
     
    Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Window Editor
     
  6. In the Object Title field, enter "Commercial Invoice".  Close the properties window.
     
    Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Window Editor 
  7. Now it's time to save the changes.  Be sure to select SAVE AS as we only want to create an OVERLAY file which is a simple .txt file.  OVERLAYS are used by VISUAL to apply user customization.  The .txt file name must be the same as the VISUAL program name.  In this case, we need to name the overlay "VMORDENT.txt".


Now it may take a little bit of time saving the file as it's compiling the new OVERLAY but once it's done go ahead and access the Print Dialog screen for Acknowledgements
 

Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Window Editor

Written by Richard on March 31, 2011

There's Gold In Them Manuals

If you're like me - manuals are the last place I refer to when it comes to trying to fix or figure things out.  Whether it be gadgets, toys, furniture (IKEA too!) or anything that comes with instructions/manuals - who needs them? Instructions are for losers!  ;-) 

Infor ERP VISUAL - Manuals And this included the 4 VISUAL ERP manuals.....at first....but I now make them an exception to this rule.  

I'm sure when you were first introduced to VISUAL - you took a look at these manuals in an attempt to make heads or tails of this ERP solution that was going to change everything.  But the explanations, terms, definitions, screenshots, and processes were too "new" and overwhelming that you called upon your trusted consultant to guide you through the VISUAL landscape.  Perfectly fine and understandable.

But now you have your hands dirty with many VISUAL years under your belt.  I encourage you to now have a look at these manuals...I really mean that!  You'll find that  N O W  the terms, definitions, screenshots and processes all make sense. 

But that's not why I suggest you have another go at the manuals....

There's actually great tips and tricks lurking within these chapters that can greatly improve your VISUAL experience.  You don't have to read the whole manual from front to back.  Just pick any chapter (ie Chapter 15 - Part Maintenance).  It's an easy read now that you are familiar it. 

And I guarantee you that you will find a tidbit (and more) that you weren't aware of and that you will find interesting.

 

Written by Richard on February 12, 2009

Quantities out of whack? Fix them with the VMFIXOHQ tool

Vmfixohq The VMFIXOHQ tool is available to get the quantity summary fields back in sync with the actual inventory transactions.  They are usually kept in sync by various database trigger, but at times get out of whack due to extraordinary system hiccups.  The tool fixes 3 summary fields: 

  1. Quantity on Hand
  2. Quantity on Order
  3. Quantity in Demand


You can use to tool on a part per part basis or run them through the entire inventory.  Everyone needs to be out of the database for the utility to run.  If you get the erroneous message stating there are still users in the database even though everyone has logged out -> you've got some orphaned login records that need deleting.  Use this script


 
Vmfixohq1 Note: When you first start the tool, it prompts you to enter the starting and ending part IDs.  This is to sync "Quantities on Hand".  Options to fix "Quantity on Order" and "Quantity in Demand" can be found in the FILE menu.


 

WHO IS VISUALNUGGETS?

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Results Driven VISUAL Specialist

VISUAL WEBINARS - Updated!

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VISUAL EXTENSIONS

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Go Paperless App
Integration of the Go Paperless App solution and VISUAL results in Paperless ERP that provides a way for VISUAL users to increase efficiencies and thereby, the cash conversion cycle.
Inventory Management Tool
Provides you the ultimate freedom to quickly filter data, drill-down and track inventory/work in process discrepancies, easily reconcile actual inventory/wip to financial records for current or past periods.
eBoard – Financial Dashboard
A powerful Financial Dashboard allowing you to access live Financial data, drill down to supporting details and export the financial statements to Microsoft Excel in one click.
VE Mobile
The premier mobile extension to the VISUAL, adding flexibility and productivity improvements through the introduction of mobile scanning technology to the warehouse.
Logicity™ Automatic Invoicing
Automatically generate e-mailed or printed invoices out of VISUAL
EDI Integrator
A powerful alternative to the VMDI interface for EDI transactions (inbound and outbound).
Web Store Integration
e-Commerce solution integrating the web to your VISUAL system.