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Showing posts from 2021

Common Finance System for Dioceses and Archdioceses

The Roman Catholic Churc h is organized into dioceses around the world.  Dioceses ruled by an archbishop are commonly referred to as archdioceses. In the Washington, DC area, there are  more than 655,000  Catholics , 139 parishes, and 92  Catholic  schools under the  The Archdiocese of  Washington.  This structure means that diocesan finances are complex, and can involve dozens or hundreds of reporting entities including parishes, schools, and other diocesan organizations.  Adopting a common finance system can simplify reporting, save money on software, maintenance and training, and ensure consistency throughout the diocese. Here is an example of how a diocese might be organized in terms of reporting entities. At Serenic we are seeing a growing trend toward standardization of accounting software to simplify tracking and reporting for dioceses and their entities.  Serenic Navigator, powered by Microsoft Business Central, offers an intuitive and easy to use solution for parish and school

What's New in Serenic Employee Central

The latest (November 2021) version of Serenic Employee Central includes several enhancements such as: Ability for Payroll Admins to view  another  employee ’s  information Ability to submit Leave Requests from Employee Central Ability to filter leave requests by status Ability to sort leave request by request date Addition of Profile, Location, Hire, and Termination date to the User Profile grid to make it easier to sort users Updated field values for cleaner data entry for change requests Ability to see full details of job listing under profile section Ability to choose a pay statement version based on details you wish to show on pay statements Ability to customize PTO policy period Ability to show or hide available PTO balance on pay statement Ability to automatically disable the logins of terminated users following a specified number of days The option to assign Multi-Factor-Authentication (MFA) security to the Serenic Framework and its modules.  Serenic customers can contact the su

What's New in Serenic Navigator Fall 2021

  Highlights of Serenic Navigator Improvements The latest release of Serenic Navigator includes several small but impactful enhancements. Improvements to the User Interface Focus mode allows you to expand areas on certain pages (e.g., the  Lines  FastTab on a purchase document), allowing for easier data entry. See the  Key Terms for the User Interface  article for more information (link below). Indicators will show when your data has been saved. ( Note:  Saving is automatic.) The  Navigate  feature has been renamed  Find Entries . General Improvements or Improvements to Multiple Areas You can make personalization changes that apply to a profile (e.g., create a Saved View available to all users with that profile). See the  Make Personalization Changes for a Profile  article for more information. The  Name  and  Description  fields have been expanded to 100 characters on several records, including vendors, customers, and items. Also, the  Description  field on the general journal has bee

Sylogist Acquires pavliks.com and The Portal Connector

This week my company Sylogist announced the acquisition of pavliks.com and The Portal Connector .  I'm excited about this news, because I have known about pavliks.com for a long time and InfoStrat is a partner for The Portal Connector.  Yes, you are reading correctly that Sylogist has closed two new acquisitions in the space of a week.  pavliks.com has been in business for 52 years.  You can learn more from their company  timeline .  As you might expect, their offering has changed over time.  Today the three principal offerings are managed infrastructure services, professional services for implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365, and their unique product offering called The Portal Connector.  It's The Portal Connector (TPC) that made me aware of pavliks.com in the first place.  The Portal Connector provides a full content management system for portals which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics 365 / Power Apps.  We are using TPC for our clients and were always impressed with the pro

Sylogist Acquires Mission CRM -- Dynamics 365 for Nonprofit Fundraising & Engagement

Last week our company  Sylogist  announced the acquisition of  Mission CRM , a leader in Microsoft Dynamics 365 / Power Apps solutions for nonprofits.  This is big news for us and for the nonprofit sector.  Mission CRM built a SaaS fundraising and engagement platform architecture and mindset.  They were one of the first to embrace the vision of Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact   organization which called for industry standards of compatibility and interoperability as well as working solutions geared toward the needs of nonprofits.  Microsoft partnered with Mission CRM in development of the Common Data Model ("CDM") for nonprofits and in developing the  Fundraising and Engagement solution , based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise.   The Mission CRM solution takes advantage of the Microsoft platform and provides seamless constituent engagement, online fundraising and campaign pages, event management, peer-to-peer fundraising, donation processing, funds distributi

Switching from Microsoft Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central

Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics-gp/terms/lifecycle by James Townsend This year Microsoft announced a date for the end of mainstream support for Dynamics 365 GP 2018 accounting software.  This spurred some blogs and customers to think that they must switch from Dynamics GP to another product by January 10, 2023 when mainstream support ends. It turns out that this announcement does not cover the latest version which is named simply Dynamics 365 GP (without a year in the product name).  Dynamics 365 GP will continue to be developed and supported indefinitely. Without support, customers cannot continue to use accounting software because it must be maintained in order to comply with changing tax and regulatory requirements.  Microsoft ships these updates in the June and December releases, and adds hotfixes and other new features in an October update.  This stay of execution is good news for Dynamics GP customers, but it doesn't mean that they should not be seeking a m

My Favorite Microsoft Power Apps Bloggers and their Blogs

  by James Townsend Microsoft Power Apps is one of my favorite subjects, and I enjoy reading blog posts from members of this thriving technical community.  Here are some of my favorite bloggers and their blogs: The Official Microsoft Power Apps Blog   I have to start with the official Microsoft Power Apps blog.  It has many contributors, largely Microsoft program manager, including frequent posters Denise Moran ,  Greg Lindhorst , Kartik Kanakasabesan , and  Adrian Orth .  This is the place to go for product announcements, updates and technical how-to for a broad range of Power Apps topics.  April Dunnam April Dunnam has been a rising star for years, formerly on SharePoint and now devoting herself to Power Platform.  April offers highly understandable explanations of Power Platform, Dataverse and other top Power Apps topics. She joined Microsoft in late 2019 and has a thriving YouTube channel .  Carl De Souza Power Apps Blog and eBook This is one of the most extensive and best organize

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Solutions for Education

Student Portal by James Townsend For over three years, Microsoft has released solution accelerators based on Dynamics 365 for industries including healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, finance, nonprofits and education.  Each year we are seeing new solutions and updates to solutions based on Dynamics 365, Power Apps and the Common Data Model. In August 2021 Microsoft released the Higher Education component in the latest version of the  Dynamics 365 Education Accelerator v3.2.3.10 . Here are some highlights from the Higher Ed solution A student portal  An advisor dashboard  A business partner dashboard for events, hackathons, internships, scholarships, and grants. The Accomplishment extension tracking student work outside courses. The Grants phone app that allows research faculty to keep track of applications and approvals.  Rich reporting on students applying for internships, grants, and scholarships. System views for tables including students, faculty, extracurricular activities, pr

Microsoft Power App Price Cuts

by James Townsend This month Microsoft announced major price cuts for Power Apps .  Starting October 1, 2021, the per user plan will be priced at $20/user/month, a fifty percent reduction from the previous price.  The Power Apps per app plan will also be slashed in half to $5/user/app/month. There are no license minimums for these subscriptions.  The Power Apps portal price has also been reduced for high volume customers. Portal logins and page views were formerly quite expensive for public websites with large numbers of authenticated users.   Nothing pleases customers more than price cuts, so Microsoft is likely to help its customers have a happier summer as well as planning for broader adoption of Power Apps. 

Understanding Software for Fund Accounting

by James Townsend Many organizations such as nonprofits, non-governmental agencies, K-12 school districts, state, and local government agencies depend on grants to fund some of, or in many cases, their entire operations.  In the United States alone there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations [1] .  Winning grants can be difficult, especially for competitive programs, so managing the grants that your organization receives is critical to making grants successful and to paving the way for additional grants in the future. Grants nearly always come with compliance requirements such as post-award reporting and spending guidelines.  A surprising number of organizations track grants in spreadsheets and use email as their  principal means of sharing information and automating workflows.  This increases the risk of poor data integrity and usually requires monthly spreadsheet updates and distribution to decision-makers. Organizations that receive grants should use a financial solution, suc

Microsoft Power Apps and Oracle

by James Townsend Recently I was demonstrating a Microsoft Power Apps solution and I was asked what options are available for handling data in Oracle along with Power Apps. Can Oracle be migrated to Power Apps and Dataverse? Can Power Apps access data stored in Oracle?  Can I use Power Apps to replace Oracle Forms? Like Oracle, Power Apps offers both a front end user interface and a database (Dataverse).  This post introduces some options on how Oracle data can fit with Power Apps as well as some migration paths to get to Power Apps from Oracle. Microsoft offers a Power Apps connector for Oracle   First, a reminder that there are two kinds of Power Apps: model-driven apps and canvas apps . Model driven apps store their data in Dataverse, the repository used by Power Apps and Dynamics 365 apps such as Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and others. Model-driven apps give a more complete low code environment for solution development, and are tightly integrated with the Microsoft Cloud. Th

Welcoming Wen-GAGE to the Sylogist Corporate Family

  by James Townsend In March 2021, InfoStrat’s parent company Sylogist acquired Municipal Accounting Systems Inc. (MAS) , a provider of student information systems and accounting solutions to K-12 public school districts. MAS was founded in 1985 and has grown to serve nearly 85% of the Oklahoma K-12 public education market with its integrated Wen-GAGE platform. This SaaS solution includes budgeting and accounting, a student portal, comprehensive student information tracking, grading and scheduling, and lunchroom administration. Wen-GAGE expands our company’s offering and customer base in K-12 dramatically, and we are excited to bring these products to other states.  

Using Analytics Software to Ask Different Questions

by James Townsend Analytics is one of the fastest growing categories of software.  Sales of products like Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Qlik and Splunk are growing rapidly and analytics is being placed in the hands of more users than ever before.  Analytics tools make it easier to visualize and understand your data, but there is still plenty of work for us as analytics end users.  Now that we have analytics, what can we do with them?  Here are some approaches that may help you harness analytics for your business or research. Learn from others . Like writing an original song, a good place to seek inspiration is by learning the works of others. Check out reports in your industry and other industries to get ideas on new analytic approaches.  COVID-19 provided a great opportunity for analytics, especially geographic representations of case and mortality data.  You can view sources like the Johns Hopkins COVID map https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html or the informationisbeautiful visualizati

Microsoft 365 for Nonprofits: Software Grants

by James Townsend Microsoft makes it easy for nonprofits to get the software they need for office productivity through grants of Microsoft 365 to eligible organizations.   Microsoft 365 is a suite which includes Windows and Office 365.  It is available in Basic, Standard, and Premium editions which contain different products: Microsoft 365 Business Basic -- Free up to 300 users Microsoft 365 Business Standard -- $3/user/mo. Microsoft 365 Business Premium -- Free up to 10 users and $5/user/mo.  You can begin the eligibility process to show that your organization meets all five of these criteria: Organization muts be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization Mission must benefit the local community Users must meet eligible categories Meet license restrictions Meet Microsoft non-discrimination qualifications Combined with the Microsoft Nonprofit Cloud that I have discussed in other posts, this offer means that Microsoft provides a broad suite of products at no or low cost. 

Microsoft Power Apps Community Plan

  Updated 9/7/2021 by James Townsend If you follow this blog or have attended any webinars or other events where I present, you know that Microsoft Power Apps is growing like gangbusters and that many people are turning to Power Apps for their line of business solutions. But where should you start?  For some organizations, the best way is to choose a Dynamics 365 app such as Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise or Customer Service and roll it out for your organization.  These off-the-shelf apps are built on Power Apps but are fully functional from the start.  You can learn Power Apps by configuring and customizing them with your own new tables, fields, workflows and reports. This is the best scenario when you have a business need that maps closely to one of these apps. Another way to start is to build a custom Power App from the group up, either as a canvas app or model-driven app.  You can purchase Power Apps for all the users who need these apps and start with one which is simple enough to

Meet Power Fx: The Language of Microsoft Power Apps Canvas Apps

by James Townsend Last week Microsoft made many announcements on Power Apps.  One of the most important was naming  Power Fx , the unified language used in Power Apps Canvas Apps and other Power Platform products. This announcement is more than just naming a language because it unveils a long-term plan for standardizing the Power Platform stack of development tools.  April Dunnam of Microsoft provides a concise explanation in the video above, relating the announcement to the groups of products and developers who are affected by the change.  Formulas in Power Apps are based on Power Fx which uses expressions derived from Microsoft Excel. Power Fx is easier to learn than JavaScript.  It gives immediate results (or error messages) to the developer in a similar way to Excel.  The following shows functions highlighted in green which are shared by Power Fx and Excel. Source: https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/what-is-microsoft-power-fx/ Updated 9/7/2021 Microsoft is targeting citizen

Low Code Software Tradeoffs

by James Townsend Recently I wrote on The Enduring Appeal of Low Code Software Development  and 6 Reasons to Choose Microsoft for your Low Code Application Platform which explain why low code development is popular and why Microsoft is especially successful among the low code application development platforms.  Like many decisions, moving to low code software involves tradeoffs, so this post is devoted to some of the considerations that may shape your decision on whether and how far to move toward low code. Performance The first tradeoff is performance.  If your goal is to squeeze every bit of performance out of a system, low code may not be the best option.  Low code platforms involve layers of abstraction and code that introduce overhead,  For extremely large data sets, intensive calculations, or real time operations, you do not see many low code systems.  Instead, the highest performance systems use full code and get as close to the data as possible to max out speed.  User Experie

More Microsoft Clouds for Industries, Including Nonprofits

by James Townsend Today Microsoft announced three new industry computing clouds for financial, manufacturing and nonprofit.  The new clouds join the healthcare and retail clouds.  Based on Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform and other Microsoft services, the industry clouds consolidate components, tools, solutions, and data models that are geared toward industry needs and standards.  Since my focus is public sector, I am most interested in the nonprofit cloud among these three new clouds.   According to Justin Spelhaug, who leads Tech for Social Impact at Microsoft, "Specifically, we are bringing together the power of Microsoft 365, Power Platform, Dynamics 365, Azure and LinkedIn. This will make engagement and fundraising, staff collaboration, volunteer engagement and management, and program design and delivery more efficient. In addition, Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit is underpinned by a Common Data Model for Nonprofits, making it easier and less expensive for n