GP Tech 2018 – Day 2

Today (August 21st) is day 2 of the Dynamics GP Tech Conference. This post will be a fair bit shorter than yesterday as it only covers 1 day and I didn’t take as many detailed notes in the sessions I attended!

DynPros Beta Distribution Exam

The first thing on my agenda today was sitting in on the first take of the GP Distribution exam. Spoiler alert: I crashed and burned, but I went in expecting to fail, to be completely honest. Distribution (SOP, POP and Inventory) has never been my strong suit plus I spent zero time on prepping for this exam. I was going in purely to gauge what I know and I should not have passed, even though I hoped to be “close”. The reality is the pass rate hasn’t been determined yet because there is no baseline. As we all found out today, the exam isn’t easy. The highest score today was 68%, the lowest was 40% and I scored 61%. Most of us writing have many years of experience which tells us the exam is fairly difficult. Good job item writing teams!

A couple of years ago through to last November, I was one of the leads  of a sub-committee of item writers responsible for approximately half of the questions. Another team did the other half (approximately) and then there was a review period where another team went through things another time to vet and finalize, approve or reject questions. It’s a long process for sure and today was the first time anyone wrote the exam. The purpose today was to test it and get feedback (identify duplicate questions, questions that can be worded better, etc.). The next step will be to look at the results as a whole and start to determine what an appropriate pass rate is given the difficulty of this exam.

I left the exam committee side of things back in November last year and only recently returned as a member of the Credentialing Council, the committee that oversees everything to do with Dynamics Pro: GP and NAV exam committees oversight plus general non-product specific marketing etc. It will be an interesting role.

Session 1 – GP Life Hacks with SQL Server

This was led by Shawn Dorward, and I arrived late, having missed the first portion due to writing the exam. There were lots of tips but instead of writing them down, I figured I’d wait until the slide deck is posted as Shawn had lots of info in the slides of what he covered.

Session 2 – Power Apps for Dynamics GP

Mariano Gomez and Lee Butenhoff led this session. I actually goofed on the rooms and by the time I realized it, the session had begun and I felt it would be rude to leave! This was my 2nd choice in the timeslot, and I had planned on attending Shawn and Belinda’s Power BI session. Doh. I’ll have to get the slide decks for that too! Both things are super interesting for so some session times, it was hard to choose which one to focus on and both were good regardless! (I caught the tail end of the other one since we ended slightly early).

Session 3 – Speed Dating (Yes, GP does that)

I loved the title of this one. This was a mini-panel presentation with Windi Epperson, Rod O’Connor and Bob McAdam, and it was all about their favourite modules, favourite ISV products, and cool things they’ve done over the years to illustrate some creative use of Dynamics GP functionality. As there were only 2 sessions going on in this timeslot, this was a double room session (they opened the wall to double the size). I was “voluntold” to be the microphone person as the session would have a lot of audience participation in it. I ended up running all over the room making sure whoever wanted to participate or ask a question had a mic so all could hear. Fun, but lots of space to cover!

The funniest part of this segment was early on, Bob was in the middle of something and his phone starting going crazy with sounds (DING DING DING DING…). It turns out that the troublemakers in the next room (Steve Endow, Mariano Gomez, David Musgrave and Kerry Hataley) gave the entire room Bob’s cell phone # and asked them to simultaneously text Bob to thank him for having a developer track at the conference. If I was a betting girl, I’d put my money on Mariano being the ringleader behind it!

Session 4 – Free Tools for SQL Server

This session was led by John Lowther. The entire session was about the free tools in or around SQL server, many of which were things to help developers code better as well as sources for scripts to better manage your servers. If I were to provide feedback on the session: John ended way early and could have taken a lot more time to discuss more about each tool and/or show demos of some of them.

Session 5 – Ideas Panel

This was facilitated by Windi Epperson with Microsoft folks Jodi Christiansen and Terry Heley in attendance to answer questions or take feedback. The session was all about suggestions for enhancements to GP and there was a lot of great discussion. Windi started with some of her wish list and the crowd would kind of vote or give feedback as to whether we, too, felt that was an issue that needed addressing or not. Most things stayed on “the list” and some didn’t.

The conversation digressed at one stage to what seemed like a fair bit of negativity around Management Reporter. To be fair, I don’t think it’s an outstanding product, there are frustrating quirks I have found in designing our own financial statements, but I would say it’s a “good” product. Like Windi, I loved FRx and that was discontinued when Management Reporter came along. It’s been a couple of years now since MR has basically been “sunsetted” without officially giving it any end of life date but no real progression in functionality has occurred. I think the product is good enough for what it is for a vast majority of client situations. A few seemed to make the argument as if it’s selling GP without a Financial Reporting tool just because MR is flatlined functionality wise. The conversation kind of got stuck in this area until the remaining time was gone, which was too bad. There were ideas on my list I would have loved to have raised but didn’t get a chance to.

Ironically, the ideas site is still down and was earlier when this session was on. For those new to this, this is the site where users and partners can log feedback and requests for new features and vote on others. As Windi pointed out, if you do create an idea or two, share it somewhere (Twitter, GPUG Open Forum etc.). The more people that see your suggestion, the more likely it will get votes. Most people don’t check the ideas site often and wouldn’t otherwise see the new ones unless they were in themselves to add something new.

Some of the things that may come out of this session will be ideas where the community will be asked to log more specific examples in the comments of that suggestion. For example: there are inconsistencies in how the lookup functionality works at times where the “type a few letters” trick doesn’t work the way it should. The challenge is identifying which windows so there may be a generic suggestion posted with a request that users “name” the windows they find with a problem in the comments instead of creating multiple issues/ideas.

Evening Marathon Walks!

After the conference was done for the day, the shuttle returned to the hotel and it was a gorgeous night. I had looked up to see if Fargo has a Costco, as they have a bundle on the new Surface Go tablet I was curious about. It was just over 3.5 kms away from the hotel so I got changed into shorts and comfy running shoes, and went for a walk! It turns out they didn’t have it but I checked out the pricing on the regular Surface even though I wasn’t interested in spending that much money.

I grabbed some fast food for dinner and then walked over to the 3 Lyons pub where Njevity was hosting a party. It was about another 3kms from Costco to the pub so at this point I was really getting in some exercise. I listened to the Blue Jays game while I walked and it was a nice evening and temp to do so!

I stayed at the party for a couple of beverages and then chose to walk back to the hotel. By this point it was dark but it was on a main street and an easy walk back, although it was nearly another 3km back to complete the “square” of my walk around Fargo. Altogether, I put in a TON of steps and kms today.

That’s all for today. Wednesday is the final day and more or less is about a half day of content. More to follow on that!

If you missed my Day 1 post, it’s here and my day 3 post is here

1 thought on “GP Tech 2018 – Day 2

  1. Reply
    Zubin Gidwani - August 22, 2018

    Jen, thanks for summarizing the conference for those of us who couldn’t make it. Wish I could be there!

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