In this issue:
1. Preventing a Timeout in Excel Add-Ins Query Wizard
2. Should I Stay on Lawson Past the Decommission Date?
3. Lawson Certifications
4. Worthwhile Reading
5. GSC's Unwillingness to Answer Questions
6. Using Multiple Data Sources for a Crystal Report

Ah, another summer draws to a close.  This month, in addition to our usual Lawson Tips & Tricks (culled from the archives), I'm also sharing some highlights on topics discussed on Forums.

If you're a regular visitor to the Forums, you know it's the place where I hang out and answer your Lawson-related questions. 

I'll be back soon with a great new issue! 

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.

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1. Preventing a Timeout in Excel Add-Ins Query Wizard

The size of our tables seems to have reached a point where most queries run through ADDINS times out. Does anyone know of a setting that controls the amount of time a query may run before it fails with a timeout?

You can set a timeout for the Add-Ins Query Wizard by clicking the button with the green/yellow arrows, and entering a timeout value:

Note that you can't disable the timeout by entering 0; you need to enter a value between 30 and 9999.  Since 9999 is almost 3 hours, that should be more than enough time for the query to complete!  If you can't get results in that time, something must be wrong...

2. Should I Stay on Lawson Past the Decommission Date?

As always with any project, I've been tasked to do a risk analysis of the project.  One of those is the idea of staying on 8.0.3 for an unspecified time past the decommission date.   As a sys admin I am very skeptical of this idea, but I would like to hear from anyone else who may have done this in the past and how you managed your environments?  

It's my understanding Lawson will continue to support known issues past the decommission date however they won't work to resolve any new issues that maybe identified past that time.

My biggest concern are the secondary applications were dependent on such as BSI. A perfect example is the new version of BSI that has come out.  If you're not on the 8.0.3 environment you can't take Taxfactory 8 because of the environment patch required is made only for the 8.0.3 environment.

I know there are customers even now who may not be on a "supported" environment and I would like to know how they deal with these situations when they arise.

If anyone has any experience with this or thoughts on this I'm all ears. I even have some of my Lawson users who believe Lawson may extend the date for the 8.0.3 environment due to the # of customers who have yet to migrate but I don't believe they will, nor do I think that's a gamble I want to bet on.

I'd be interested to hear what others thoughts are on it.

There are a few organizations, like CIBER and Absolute, which will provide support beyond Lawson's decommission date. And Lawson has been known to provide some support on a pay-per-call basis.  But you really have to question the wisdom of not staying current.  I'd highly recommend that your organization reconsider, specifically since you are using Tax Factory, which means you're using Payroll.  If I were an auditor or a shareholder in such an organization, I'd be all over that.  There are few things that raise a flag higher than having a payroll that's reliant on an unsupported system.

And you, as their employee who obviously knows better, should be the first one out the door when they make such a bad decision.

3. Lawson Certifications

I have seen several job postings looking for certified folks in Lawson, and several resumes with several different kinds of Lawson certifications.  Where can I find info & training material on how to get certified?  I have searched the web and have come up empty, please help...

This is one of my Lawson pet peeve subjects, and you'll have to take my opinion for what it is:

Anyone choosing a consultant based solely on Lawson's certification process should do so with a very skeptic eye. The reason is this: only Lawson employees and employees of Lawson's partners may become certified.

So, for someone to say they are 'certified' means either that they currently or previously worked for Lawson or a partner, and took the classes/tests for which certification is granted.

Since neither independent consultants nor a client's employees can be certified, that obviously limits the pool of 'certified' consultants, eliminates a lot of people who may know the product better, but due to the way Lawson defines 'certification', these folks are not 'certified'. Note: At CUE 2007, Lawson did introduce "client-certification" for LSF9.

However, you have to realize that being 'certified' doesn't mean that someone knows the product any better than a non-certified consultant. Nor do they perhaps know the product in a broader sense of the rest of the applications or IT infrastructure. For example, a consultant may say they are 'certified' in ProcessFlow, but not know anything about Mercator/Ascential DataStage or Websphere MQ and how to use the best tools for an interface.

4. Worthwhile Reading

Why Wesco Doesn't Use ERP


“A wise man will make more
opportunities than he finds.”
-- Francis Bacon

Wesco International didn't want to pony up big bucks for traditional enterprise resource planning
system.  How a new, quicker data warehouse helped the $5.3 billion company anchor its business.
Baseline Magazine, May 2007,1397,2137959,00.asp

Going Away

The doubts that finance executives once had about off-shoring are quickly disappearing
as savings and process improvements become too good to pass up.
CFO Magazine, May 2007

Oracle's Secret Weapon: Charles Phillips

The former Morgan Stanley software analyst has emerged as one of the most powerful
people in the software industry. How long can he keep customers satisfied and Wall Street happy?
Information Week, July 30, 2007
5. GSC's Unwillingness to Answer Questions

I'm perplexed that when we pose a 'question' to GSC they tell us that they are ONLY there to troubleshoot possible system issues and NOT to answer training questions.

We paid heavily for Lawson training, which was subpar to say the least. They seem to want us to go to the Knowledge Base, documentation and various forums in hopes of getting answers. Sometimes we can find our answers in the KB or the documentation, but sometimes we put forth diligent efforts and remain uncertain.

Do other software companies push off their clients to the graciousness of the forum members? Is this normal? Should we be outraged?

This is certainly a tough topic. When you say you "paid heavily for Lawson training, which was subpar to say the least" you should take up that issue specifically with your Client Account Manager, and 1) demand a refund as well as 2) ask them to reschedule a replacement class with a different trainer. You really do need to address this with your CAM, so that they can make sure it gets addressed internally within Lawson's organization, and the specific training resource is identified and his/her deficiencies rectified.

GSC is part of Lawson's new "Support & Delivery" operation, which is responsible for getting you the software and keeping it running. Specifically, GSC's "mission" is to troubleshoot and create "problem tickets" (PTs) for software issues/bugs, to be repaired by R&D, and issued via CTPs or ESPs/MSPs. GSC is not a training center, although sometimes they do give advice (depending on which support consultant you talk to--some are more helpful than others...).

A key point is that Lawson -- as a company -- often doesn't present a united front. This is a goal they appear to be working towards, but they're not even close yet. I've had several recent cases involving data corruption, etc. where GSC pointed at R&D and vice versa, and Lawson--as a company--failed to deliver a united resolution.

Lawson's software (despite their "Simpler is Better slogan!) is indeed very complicated--both on the technology side as well as the applications themselves. This isn't QuickBooks. Most clients end up using a third-party consultant (partner or otherwise) to help them define their business processes and the related Lawson forms/actions required. I agree that Lawson needs to streamline their software to be easier to use. Remember that they're constrained by the LID 24x80 screens--one of the key reasons Landmark is so key to their future....>

6. Using Multiple Data Sources for a Crystal Report

Currently we use PMM for our MM/Purchasing Suites, and Lawson for GL.  As it now stands, we are generating 5 monthly reports that show (1)Receipt Accruals - PMM, (2)Invoice Distribution - PMM, (3)Issues Summary(stock items) - PMM, (4)GL Transactions - Lawson, & (5)Reconciliation.

These five go to the accounting user as CSV files, which are then uploaded to Access, and finally displayed in Excel using embedded Macros and Formula. There are 5 tabs, and each sheet represents the above mentioned reports.

We would like to automate this process. I am thinking of using Crystal to link the PMM dbases with Lawson in one giant report with the parameters needed. Has anyone had experience in using multiple data sources to produce one output? Data Warehouse'ing? I am interested to hear the struggles, or concerns...

I would like to publish this on Crystal Enterprise. We are currently running Lawson / UNIX / v8.03

You can certainly report from multiple data sources in Crystal. What happens is that Crystal creates the SQL for each of the sources, and then joins/combines the data to produce the report.

The issues you will have are that you can't use "server-side group by" option (which means that grouping is done by Crystal not by the underlying database), which can slow things down. The other feature you can't use is "SQL expressions", which are equivalent to formulas, but are performed on the server.

If these are large datasets, you'll want to make sure you do as much selection in the database query itself rather than having Crystal do it after doing the joins. For example, if COMPANY is a key in both data sources, make sure you select on it from both sources as well as join on it--that will (hopefully) force Crystal to include it in the individual SQL queries that get sent to the databases.

You will want to use the "Database | Show SQL Query" menu command in Crystal to verify that the proper SQL queries are being generated.

Depending on your data, if it's what you need, it may be the answer.

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