April 2003

The LawsonGuru Letter is a free periodic newsletter containing provocative commentary about issues important to the Lawson Software community.  The LawsonGuru Letter is published by-and is solely the opinion of-John Henley of Decision Analytics.  Visit Decision Analytics at https://www.danalytics.com.  For subscription information, see the bottom of this message.
The LawsonGuru Letter is not affiliated with Lawson Software.

In this issue:
1. Guest Spot: Purging Lawson Financial Data
2. Focus: Six Sigma
3. Are you Active about Upgrading?
4. Reader feedback
5. Survey: Upgrade While Active?
6. Lawson Tips & Tricks

1. Guest Spot: Purging Lawson Financial Data
(by Andy Smith and Mo Collette, both of Novant Health. Andy is Director of Financial Systems Support; Mo is Applications Manager - Enterprise Business Systems)

Our environment. We are running Lawson apps 7.2.4/environment 7.3.3 on a UNIX/Oracle platform. In the financials area, we run GL, AM, AP, and AC. We also run PO, IC, web reqs and other modules in our Materials Management area. We do not run HR/Payroll from Lawson.

Why purging data is important. To improve overall system performance by keeping the database lean and efficient. It improves batch run times, reduces disk space requirements, and makes online queries run more efficiently. This leads to shorter outages for database backups and would make for faster database recoveries should that become necessary. And it reduces the time required during a system conversion or upgrade. Purging retains the most critical recent data in the online environment and our archiving strategy, described below, allows access to the historical data when in rare instance that is needed.

Archiving before purging. Purging data is actually deleting data from the database and online system. As part of the purge process, Lawson provides a copy of the purged data in multiple .csv files that could potentially be used by loading the data into another version of the database or some third party product such as Microsoft Access. At Novant we considered various options before choosing to archive the data in report form only. Our approach is simple. Before purging we run reports that list the data to be purged. Then we purge the data. Should anyone need to research this historical data it is available on the reports. We actually burn these reports to CD for permanent retention. In our experience, once the data has aged to the point where we no longer need it in the online system, the need for accessing this information is very, very infrequent. It is certainly more cumbersome to access the data in report form rather than via the online system, but we have decided that the tradeoff is more than worth it. An occasional inconvenience in accessing aged data is a very small price to pay for improved on-going system performance. We considered buying or building an "'archive" product line of the system to house the purged data, but felt that the ongoing overhead could not be justified for the occasional use of this historical information. To date our users have been satisfied with this configuration.

Testing before purging. Since purging obviously updates the database, we were very careful to thoroughly and methodically test these purge processes provided by Lawson before actually running a purge in our production environment. Each application system has it's own purge program; it is usually numbered xxx300, such as AM300 and GL300. Sometimes the program has multiple purge options. The AP300 program, for instance, allows you to purge during separate runs invoices, one-time vendors, and no-activity vendors. For each of the purge processes we studied the documentation and our IT group actually studied the Lawson code in order for us to get a clear understanding of the logic behind each of the purges. We then went about trying to identify the records in our system that should be purged, based on our understanding of their logic. Using our third party reporting tool Crystal as well as some in-house developed COBOL programs, we would produce a list of records that we thought would meet the purge criteria. Then we would run the purge program in our test environment and compare the actual results against our expectations. This allowed us to not only test the process to ensure that we understand what it is doing, but also to ensure that the purge program was impacting only the records that it should. For the most part, as we ran tests of this type against each one of the purges in the financial apps, we found that the Lawson-provided purge program worked satisfactorily.

We did find that in one instance we needed to add a modification to a purge program. Before we purged aged invoices, our Purchasing department requested that we not purge invoices that were associated with POs that are still open. That made sense, because if research on a PO is needed it would be helpful to have all of the invoices in the online system. So, we added that edit to the Novant-modified version of the AP300 program.

We also found one instance where the purge program did not work. We could not get the purge of vendors with no activity to work correctly. We notified Lawson of this problem. They have recently sent us a patch, which we will be testing in the near future. Otherwise, all of the purge programs that we tested and ran in AP, AM, and GL work correctly. We determined that at this time our somewhat minimal use of the Activities module does not warrant purging data in that system.

Our strategy. I already have described one component of our strategy, that is that we retain or archive the data in report form. Our online retention strategy is as follows. For the most part we want to keep at a minimum two years' worth of transaction-level data in the online system. This is true for our AP and AM systems. So, during our annual purge, we remove data that meets the purge criteria and is more than two years old. Then during the next twelve months we build up a third year's worth of data before purging the oldest year's data. That way, we always have at a minimum two full year's-worth of data in our online system that grows to become three years-worth before we run the purge. In GL, we have decided to retain five years of transaction-level data in the online system.

Hopefully this description of our strategy and the way that we have gone about this is helpful. We feel good about our data purging strategy. We are using our Lawson financial applications in a meaningful way without allowing them to become overloaded and burdened with infrequently used historical data. We have been very thorough in our testing of the purge processes. This also has had a nice, indirect benefit in that it has allowed us to become more knowledgeable about the size and makeup of the various tables in our financial systems. And we have good documentation of these processes, so we are well positioned to thoroughly test the purge processes in the 8.0 version when we complete that upgrade.

2. Focus: Six Sigma
In the coming months, Microsoft will be releasing some tools for implementing Six Sigma methodologies in your workgroups and enterprise.  [Read More...]

Percentage of IT Applications Budget spent on:
Maintaining Old Applications 40%
Building New Applications 37%
Integrating Applications 23%
Source: Information Week Research survey of Information Week 500 IT executives

3. Are you Active about Upgrading?
This past month, I attended one of the numerous Lawson "Upgrade Road Shows" being presented to the various user groups. [Read More...]

"The world revolves around Lawson."
- John Henley

4. Reader feedback

Send your comments to mailto:letter-comments@lawsonguru.com.

Couple of comments on some past issues:

  • "Since Lawson went public, I have seen a definite decline in customer service all around. I could site several examples in the last 9 months where it has become obvious to me that Lawson has begun to care more about their bottom line than for the clients' satisfaction. One example: We registered for our 8.0.3 upgrade and eventually received our media. It wasn't until the we got to the prejob programs when we realized we didn't get the BR system code (we're a long time AC client). So, we called our Client Account Manager (CAM) and Account Executive, as well. After two weeks, our CAM called Lawson Corporate to check on the status. She said that since our media is free (no license fee for BR) they would not be shipping it until the end of the month (another two weeks!!) because they ship their REVENUE GENERATING (things people paid for) stuff first!

Can you believe that? I have been working with the Lawson product for over 5 years now and while it has been frustrating at times, it is downright pitiful these days. Our company is seriously considering looking elsewhere for an ERP."

  • "My enhancement wish (albeit a personal one) would be for laua to produce a report of "who has access to form X" without having to print out all of the reports of "what this or that security class has access TO". Today I have to go through several hoops starting with some crazy rngdbdumps and a separate database to produce such a report for an auditor who asks: "Tell me the names of everyone that has access to change, modify, or delete on AC10."

Worthwhile Reading

Are You the Strong, Sensitive Type?
CIOs who cultivate a sensitivity to others' needs are better managers and lead more effective organizations. Take our quiz to see where you stand.
CIO Magazine, March 1, 2003

Tying It All Together
Executives are charting broad integration strategies to drive real-time business change. But the process isn't easy.
Information Week, March 17, 2002

The New Frontier
In an increasingly commoditized product landscape, customer satisfaction may be the only way to differentiate your company from its competitors.
Intelligent Enterprise, April 5, 2003

You're Not CFO Material
Ten signs you're never going to make it to the big chair.
CFO Magazine, March 2003

Goal Oriented
Companies are using software to help their employees set and meet individual and business goals.
Information Week, March 10, 2003

5. Survey: Upgrade While Active?
If you're upgrading (or have completed the process), did you (or are you planning to) use Lawson's Upgrade While Active (UWA) process? How did it go? Would you do it again? Tell us about your experience. I'll keep your answers anonymous. Send to mailto:letter-survey@lawsonguru.com

6. Lawson Tips & Tricks
Share your tips. Send them to mailto:letter-tips@lawsonguru.com.

a.  This one threw me for a loop, so I wanted to share it with you:  On the Windows 2000 platform, you MUST be a member of the NT Administrator group that you specify in the Lawson Environment Configuration (laconfig) in order to run the "lawsec" utility (to turn Lawson security on/off).  Even if you're set up as a Security Officer in laua.  And, yes, it's in the documentation.

b.  You use process level security to protect your employee HR data, and use separate process levels for corporate employees as well as each field office.  On HR11, field office employees can't inquire on home offices employees, etc.  However, drill-around is a different story--process level security is not applied.  You'll need to employ file security conditions, unique to the particular security class, in order to protect the data.  Even then, there will be cases where even that isn't possible, particularly when a table doesn't have ANY organization data (e.g., company/process level/department) in it (i.e. EMDEPEND, etc.).  The best may be able to do in that case is either to live with it, or remove it from drill-around altogether.

The LawsonGuru Letter is a free periodic newsletter containing provocative commentary about issues important to the Lawson Software community. The LawsonGuru Letter is published by--and is solely the opinion of--John Henley of Decision Analytics.  Visit Decision Analytics at https://www.danalytics.com.To subscribe, send an email to: mailto:letter-subscribe@lawsonguru.com To be removed from the subscription list, send to: mailto:letter-unsubscribe@lawsonguru.com

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Decision Analytics is an independent consultancy, focusing on Lawson technical projects, and specializing in customization/modification, data conversion, and integration/interfaces.  Please visit https://www.danalytics.com for more information.

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