This product in the past was introduced by Great Plains as Small Business Manager and currently it is part of Microsoft Dynamics family of ERP products. SBF is in essence scaled down version of Great Plains Dynamics with DYNAMICS.DIC - Dexterity written business logic dictionary. Current version is 9.0. It also has FRx reporting, version 6.7 is distributed with latest SBF. As Small Business Financials is for small businesses, it is often common that they do not upgrade to the new version and even skip one or two versions. In this small article we will consider upgrade scenario from version 6.0 to 9.0:
1. Microsoft SQL Server or MSDE version. If you are on 6.0, you may already be on SQL 2000. Version 9.0 could be hosted in SQL 2000 as well or you may consider after upgrading SBF to 9.0 also update MS SQL from 2000 to 2005
2. Intermediate version 7.5. We recommend you to stick to upgrade path via version 7.5 as in our opinions it was very solid and bug free versions of Great Plains Dynamics. On the Server, insert CD of SBF 7.5, and select install Multi-User Server components. Be sure to make a backup prior to upgrading, plus print out major reports: balance, P&L, AR and AP aging - we recommend you to compare it with the same after upgrade reports
3. Continue toward version 9.0. You do not need to enter 7.5 reg key, assuming you have them for version 9.0. Version 9.0 installs into standard path on drive C Program Files: Microsoft\Small Business Financials
4. Modified Reports. These are stored in Reports.DIC file. SBF Utilities will offer you to upgrade modified reports. Please know that not all the reports could be upgraded, some of them need to be rebuilt or re-modified.
5. FRx upgrade. It is similar to FRx for Microsoft Dynamics GP. You again should be aware about ODBC connection, data tables in Dynamics database as well as know the role of sysdata folder, where FRx configuration files reside
Small business financial software is an essential tool for running any small business. It's what you need to keep all your records up-to-date so you stay out of trouble with all the various government "partners" you have. But even more, the right software is a tool to better manage any business. How do you pick the right product for you though?
What do you really need?
You can get software that'll do just about anything. Beware that somebody may sell you a whole lot more than you need. Why is that a bad thing? More powerful software is harder to learn and harder to use. You need a tool that will do what you need done, but you don't need too much power. Spend some time looking at what your real needs are. Nobody can answer that question better than you can.
Is there a standard solution?
Several leading companies sell software packages by the thousands. They're proven in the real world and you're not forced to help develop them. Think Microsoft, Quicken and Peachtree. Not only do you get proven solutions, there are all kinds of experts around on these best-selling accounting software packages. Help is readily available at local accounting firms. Get a software package that nobody has heard of and you may be in trouble.
Can you upgrade?
Start with a simple system and you may want more powerful software at some point. Some program offerings have no upgrade version so you're stuck with moving to a completely different package. Other packages have a more complex version that operates much like yours. That's a huge advantage, being able to upgrade without completely starting over with learning and training.
Remember when choosing small business accounting software that you plan to grow your business. Get software with an upgrade. A standard software package may be just the solution you need. But make sure that what you choose has the features you need. Then the tool you get can help you stay out of trouble while you grow your business.
SBF is part of Microsoft Dynamics GP family of ERP application, in the past this product was introduced by Great Plains Software as Small Business Manager. This application was originally initially created from the same code base as regular Great Plains Dynamics and so it is Great Plains Dexterity coded with the options if being modified in Microsoft Dexterity
1. SBF Support. User training is relatively simple in Small Business Financials and often users are reading the manual and discover the system on their own. Security model is also straight forward. Real support needs are typically related to data repair on SQL scripting level. You can also use traditional for GP data fixing technologies as check links. We recommend you to use consultant or programmer who could quickly help you via web sessions or remote desktop connection, meaning that these people do not have to be local
2. Version update. In comparison to Microsoft Great Plains Dynamics GP, Small Business Financials is easier to upgrade, and it is less sensitive to Service packs application in upgrading process. Current version is 9.0 as of April 2008, typical upgrade path is from version 6.0 to 7.5 and then to 9.0. GP latest version is 10.0, where Microsoft Business Solutions completely redesigned user security model, this is probably one of the reasons that SBF is still on 9.0
3. Integration. You should consider such technologies as SQL stored procedures, if you have support from MBS VAR, who is comfortable with Microsoft Dexterity, you can deploy Dex customizations in integrating SBF with external legacy application or in EDI environments
4. Reporting. SBF utilizes GP ReportWriter for integrated reports and FRx reports for Financial reporting. Report Writer stores modified reports in Reports.dic dictionary file, you should be aware about this file, when you install new user workstation. It is also good idea to share reports dictionary for all the users on the server, in this case you should modify Dynamics.set file - the line, where reports.dic file path is specified
5. Backup Strategies. As SBF is typically for small businesses, where IT support is limited, we recommend you to setup automatic backup via SQL Server Agent maintenance plans. Then backup files should be taken by tape backup, or alternatively you can deploy Windows backup utility to backup on external USB hard drive. You should include into backup the following databases: Dynamics, company, master
Former Great Plains Small Business Manager, recent version s 9.0, Small Business Financials is in essence GP Dexterity application with similar code base as regular Microsoft Great Plains Dynamics GP, but with scaled down functionality. SBF is available exclusively on Microsoft SQL Server platform and this fact opens great opportunities for SQL programmers and consultants to fix SBF data and program integrations. In this small publication we would like to give your reports design highlights
1. Report Writer Reporting. Small Business Financials allows you only to change the position of the fields, if you need to really change report design - place new fields, add calculated fields, then you need to do it in GP ReportWriter module, and then transfer it back to SBF in the form of Export (or package). This is pretty much a standard practice in supporting and upgrading Small Business Financial customers - they need to be backed by Great Plains Dynamics GP customization partner
2. Advanced Financial Analysis reporting. Yes, SBF has AFA as default and preferred reports for Balance Sheet, P&L, Cash Flow Statement. AFA is another Dex module which builds its reports on GP account categories
3. Crystal Reports for SBF. Here you have the opportunity and the challenge as CR is just a tool and it doesn't give your GP report wizard. We recommend you to familiarize yourself, if you are software developer or programmer with SBF tables structure, this is very similar to GP. If you have MSDN subscription, please download Dynamics GP 9.0 demo CD and install it for testing with demo company
4. SRS or Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services. Similar to Crystal Reports, SRS should be based on SQL Stored Procedures, however it gives you more freedom in deploying ecommerce or web interface for report users
5. eConnect. This SDK is not available in standard package for Small Business Financials. You would need to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics GP Business Ready to deploy eConnect integration and reporting functionality