Industry veteran Patrick Miskill is bringing us a series of three blog posts about the nuts and bolts of the ERP system. For those of you who have been craving pure technical detail, these are for you. For those of you whose eyes glaze over in the face of phrases like ‘logical hierarchy’ or ‘object‐oriented‐design,’ don’t worry! Patrick lays it out as clearly as you’ll ever read it. 

After thirty years in the IT field, it becomes a lot harder remembering all of the software you’ve laid your eyes and hands on. I have used databases from Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and other companies—some that don’t exist today, or have been swallowed up by the others, or some that no one remembers at all. One thing has remained the same though: Input‐Process‐Output.  Support tools come and go, getting  relabeled, or “improved”, or put out to pasture, and I’ve learned to not believe the hype about some tools: anything other than Input‐Process­‐Output is usually lipstick on a pig. If it’s fancy with fancy words and it’s supported completely by the vendor it might be the real deal; otherwise it’s junk, and a complete waste of your valuable time.

Encompass is an Epicor Certified Platinum Partner because Epicor and its Data Migration Tool (DMT) live up to the hype. It’s used for not only loading data but for also updating and deleting existing Epicor data, and makes transitioning and overhaul incredibly easy. In a nutshell, the DMT uses spreadsheet templates that work just like the way data is organized within the Epicor ERP system. If you can use Excel (and who can’t?) you can load thousands of thousands of lines of information into the ERP.

Outside of the nutshell, well…

The DMT is designed in a logical hierarchy that mimics the data relations in the ERP system. It also takes advantage of the object‐oriented design of Epicor ERP and calls the very same programs (“business objects”) to complete a transaction, whether it is loading a single row into a simple code table, or loading thousands of rows into dozens of related tables. A user loads the raw data into an Excel spreadsheet following the “rules” for data formatting then runs the specific DMT program for that relation.  DMT reads the rows of Excel based data and one‐by‐one, loads the data into Epicor ERP.

The bottom line: DMT is fully supported by Epicor and over the past 4 years I’ve worked with it, it gets better and easier to use. Nothing else in my thirty years has come close. DMT is absolutely essential to any Epicor ERP customer.

For my most recent real world example that shows how flexible DMT is, I helped a client that had an on­‐going need to update their Method of Manufacture/MOMs based on business decisions related to the raw materials they used to build fabric belts. Let me know how fun this sounds: Imagine manufacturing a fabric belt 84 inches wide over 3,000 feet in length; the raw materials (giant spools of nylon and/or polyester thread) can weigh over two tons and can consume 100 times the length of the final product.

As market conditions changed and different raw materials were chosen to build the belts, the MOMs would have to be updated to reflect that change.

The nightmare I’m sure you’re imaging never came to be, thanks to the Epicor DMT. From loading open invoices to performing regular updates, the data migration tool vastly simplified this time-­‐consuming and manually-­‐intensive task.  And, as more systems move to the cloud and IT resources become more of a commodity, it is inevitable that a company relies upon a technically savvy user (yes, we all know how many hats management expects us to wear!) to take on the role of “Dr. Data.”  DMT is built for exactly this purpose; it allows a any user to easily insert, update or delete data in the underlying database without having to use the standard product programs.

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