March 2004

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  For subscription information, see the bottom of this message.
The LawsonGuru Letter is not affiliated with Lawson Software.

In this issue:
1. Guest Spot: Lawson Bar Coding
2. Lawson Goes Offshore
3. Worthwhile Reading
4. Reader Feedback
5. Survey: How strategic are your Process Flows?
6. Lawson Tips & Tricks

I've been joking recently that it's about time for my mid-life crisis. Heaven knows, I'll get tired of this some day, and I'll have to think about a life after Lawson. Well, this month I got to spend some time in an entirely new venture. Something I'd never done before-jury duty!! I'm willing to share it with you if enough of you are interested in hearing about it.

As a result, I've been a bit rushed this month, and I'm indebted once again to Bill Ianni, who came to my aid by taking another turn in the Guest Spot. Bill also helped guide my thoughts on Lawson's offshoring. If you're looking for an excellent business consultant to help you get the most out of Lawson, Bill's the one.
As always, if you want to take your turn in the Guest Spot--send me an email at

1. Guest Spot: Lawson Bar Coding
(by Bill Ianni, Independent Lawson Consultant; contact Bill at
Many clients ask if Lawson can accommodate bar code scanning. Hopefully this article takes the mystery out of the process.
Bar code translation is actually a function of the scanning device rather than the business application (i.e. Lawson). A bar code scanner simply replaces keyboarding as a means of data entry, which means your don't require any special software to convert bar coded data into your system. The scanner does this automatically. By the time the data reaches the computer, it has already been translated into a language the computer understands. Thus, while bar code functionality is not delivered with Lawson applications, the technology is certainly easy to implement.
What is a Bar Code?
Everyone knows what a bar code is and how it works, but not many understand that a bar code is really nothing more than a type of font. Have you ever played around with the wingdings font in MS Word? If I type "LAWSON" in the wingdings font, it appears as:

Note: the frowning face and skull-and-crossbones are purely coincidental!

Similarly, a bar code font translates good old-fashioned numbers into universally understood output. For example, the number 1212121212 appears as:

You can purchase a bar code font for under $100. There are many different types of bar code fonts, so don't be alarmed. The purpose for all the variations is to generate bar codes with thicker lines, heavier inks, or other bells and whistles. Today's handheld devices can read most any of them. This leads us to the more important subject of handheld scanners and devices.

What are Handheld devices?
Handhelds are wireless devices (ex. Palm Pilot, Symbol Technologies) that are used to interpret bar codes and then format and store small data files that are later uploaded to Lawson through a standard (delivered) interface. Some devices have sophisticated operating systems, but the key is selecting a device with adequate memory and an easy to use graphical interface. Remember, the device's memory must be large enough to host an operating system plus have the capacity to store plenty of data files.

Why use Handheld devices?
Handhelds allow mobile personnel to instantly access comprehensive customer information at the point of interaction with constituents. Use handheld devices to make processes more efficient by eliminating data entry in dual systems. Imagine toting a PC up and down the aisles of a warehouse or in and out of service areas to capture transactions...with handheld devices you have the convenience to do just that. The most immediate impact the devices provide are productivity improvement and error reduction. In addition, the cost for the handheld devices is usually offset by a reduction in user licensing (and training) costs for the host system(s) because all of this information is interfaced through a standard delivered Lawson program (called an API).

Typical Applications:

  • Receiving
  • Inventory Issues
  • Cart/Par Management
  • Physical Inventory
  • Patient Charging
  • Asset Inventory
  • Order Entry



"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."
- Thurgood Marshall

 2. Lawson Goes Offshore
Several months ago (see , I wrote about Lawson's offshore development plans. This month let's take a closer look.  [Read More]

3. Worthwhile Reading
You Sue, You Lose: The High Cost of Litigation
The rise in lawsuits over failed software projects demonstrates a truism-everyone loses in court. CIOs can avoid a legal morass by doing up-front contract work to protect their companies' interests.
CIO, February 1, 2004
An Executive's Eye View of Data Synchronization
Easing the pain of bad data isn't the only reason to move toward cleaner data. The benefits of synchronized data are substantial.
Business Integration Journal, January 2004
Use the Best Security for SQL Server
Learn tips for administering SQL Server securely.
Windows Server System Magazine, January 2004
The 100-Million-Mile Network
Think your network is hard to manage? Try remote diagnosis and repair when you're relying on radio signals from Mars.
Baseline Magazine, February 2004,3959,1519021,00.asp

4. Reader Feedback

Send your comments to

Some comments on the February 2004 issue (see

I received just a few comments on the LawsonGuru Letter make-over--here's one:

"I really love the new look and feel of the LawsonGuru Letter. I read it regularly and save the tips. I wish I was a Lawson user again. I am using Deltek in this gig and I really don't like it at all. Perhaps in the next assignment..."

I also asked for a "progress report" on your upgrades.  Here's an earful:

"We have had a painful process of upgrading our Unix system which began back in July and is still not finished. We have experienced several major issues like the "&" character in our data causing problems and the find feature not working and other minor issues like default window sizing being tiny and payment modeling still not working.

But the issue that is still outstanding is the Time Out error - code 500 or 200. These errors send back a time-out message and the user can usually just resubmit or re-query to proceed. We have been working with GSC on this one for months and they can't solve it. It appears they've narrowed it down to a failure of the communication link between the RMI processes (pts.exe) and oracle. It appears this failure happens only in the morning after the server has been shut down for backup and re-started. It also seems that once some number (varying each time) of errors occurs, we won't get anymore for the rest of the day.

We've been told that other companies are live with this and that their people just expect to see a few errors each morning. My company won't go live with a product that produces errors for an unknown reason and causes the users to have to re-do things. We still have to do performance testing and are pushing up against the decommission date.

We are in discussions with Lawson about this date and how we do not plan to pay for support on a decommissioned system until Lawson can resolve all the errors in the new version.

Overall, this has been an extremely painful process, highlighting Lawson's lack of testing on all supported platforms and configurations.

I can't wait to get onto my next project!"

5. Survey: How strategic are your Process Flows?
If you're like many Lawson clients, your implementation team set up some initial Process Flows to approve requisitions. And, you've never revisited the idea of utilizing Lawson's ProcessFlow products to automate more of your business processes, which was a major selling point for ERP.
How many of you are using additional flows, and how so?
If you're not, why not?
Share your experience:

6. Lawson Tips & Tricks
Share your tips. Send them to
Changing Inventory Bin Locations
Q: We need to update the bin locations. We don't want to turn off bin tracking. Is it possible to change the bin locations without adjusting all on hand quantities to zero?
A: Try this short cut for changing bin locations on IC12.1 (for items that are maintained in only one bin location):
Change the bin tracking flag to 'N' and change the bin location to the new location.
Click change.
Then go back, change the bin tracking flag to 'Y' and the inventory is now in the new bin location.
The message on the status bar will indicate that the bin has been changed.
If you're on version 8, you can also use Item Mass Change (IC330).

The LawsonGuru Letter is a free periodic newsletter providing provocative commentary on 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
For subscription information, see the bottom of this message.

© Copyright 2004, Decision Analytics. All rights reserved. Please share The LawsonGuru Letter in whole or in part as long as copyright and attribution are always included.

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

Decision Analytics. Integrating Lawson with the Real World.