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Monday, June 18, 2007

Microsoft Great Plains - Integration Manager in action

The company uses a version of Microsoft Great Plains (GP) that's been customized for the PEO industry. One piece of that is Integration Manager (IM). I've talked about the bridge application a number of times before. With an Excel file from a client and, with some sophisticated programming, we create a tab-delimited text transaction file for Integration Manager. We've set up some profiles in Integration Manager to upload payroll transactions into a batch in the Great Plains system, saving a lot of time and money. In some cases we've seen a 91% drop in the amount of time it takes to run a payroll.

Over the next few weeks or so, I'll be running Integration Manager for the Payroll department. Here are some numbers for today:


1002 transactions, for 530 employees of 10 clients.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Every programmer should be on a testing project

I think every programmer should get a chance to be on a testing project because it will make him or her a better programmer. On one project I supported the complete software development lifecycle process to develop a multi-tiered, Intranet-based, Product Data Management System from a software quality assurance perspective. The company is a global consumer products company, and they were creating a system to manage information about their products.

To do this the testing team, of which I was a part, analyzed business requirements and functional specifications, and designed test cases. Then we built test data and executed the test cases. For the most part, each of us would concentrate on a specific aspect of the system.

Since my time on this and other testing projects, I've found myself approaching development from the perspective as a tester, and it's helped me be a better programmer. I wish the same for every programmer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

At a Conference in Downtown Cincinnati

Over the next few days I'll be attending a conference in downtown Cincinnati. I'm really glad that I'll be able to catch the bus instead of driving the hour commute to Dayton.

The conference is being conducted by Thinkware, a vendor that has -- and I'm probably oversimplifying this -- customized Microsoft Great Plains for Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). I look forward to learning more about the latest versions and seeing how I might be able to use it on my job.

I may or may not provide updates here.

June 7th Update: I found out it's not until today. More to come later perhaps!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Helping company take advantage of a tax credit

I found out last year from the Accounting department at my current company that employers with tipped employees can get a tax credit based on how employees have reported their tips. I guess it's the IRS's way to encourage employers to get their employees to report tips so that they can get the tax from it.

The PEO model is one of co-employment: the client employs someone to do the work while the PEO employs the worker from an HR perspective. If the client doesn't take the tipped employee tax credit (or whatever it's actually called), then the PEO can take it.

For me it has meant developing yet another report from the SQL Server database. The business, of course, wants the report as soon as they can get it, and I and my boss help them understand that it cannot always happen overnight or even in a week.

The report, as many of these I develop lately, involves looking at the transaction history on employees' paychecks to identify reported tips. It sounds simple, and it really is, as long as you know where to look.

Over the past year or so, I've gotten better as I've come to understand where the types of information are stored - the database and the front-end are a modified version of Microsoft Great Plains, and the tables are not always intuitively-named.

I probably should push this application out to the Accounting department, since all I did was run it for last year and the current year. The upper management was certainly surprised at fast I'd turned their request around.