This week I passed S130 Reports, Dashboards, and Inquiries. I first started this course back in July 2013 (click here). Now, almost a year later, I finally finished, thanks to a renewed interest in the Acumatica reporting vision (click here).
Learning a new ERP product: An endurance race
I’m looking back and trying to figure out why it took me so long to pass this course. Well, I’m not really sure, other than to say that learning a new ERP product is an endurance race. There are so many different avenues to pursue and so little time to do it. I wish that I could work full-time on learning Acumatica, but how would I make a living? Actually, we’re all in the same boat. Most companies that implement new ERP products expect their employees to somehow magically find time to learn the new system in addition to their regular duties. A new system rarely gets the amount of dedicated training hours that it needs to succeed. So, we’re all in the same boat. We’re doing our best to learn A LOT in small of time. A little here, a little there. This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an endurance race for sure.
It’s all about sticking with it, and I’m glad that I stuck with the S130 Reports, Dashboards, and Inquiries course. Of course, for me, I don’t have to spend large amounts of time on a specific topic. I have the luxury to meander around Acumatica looking for things that interest me since I’m not in a live environment that requires me to make stuff work in the real world, so it’s easy for me to get distracted with different topics. This flexibility probably contributed to me taking a year to finish this course.
Now, don’t worry, the certificate above doesn’t mean that much to me. It for sure doesn’t vault me into the dangerous position of ANEXPERT. This is a PAL journey and I very much expect to continue to learn a lot more about Reports, Dashboards, and Inquiries as time goes on.
Some thoughts on the S130 Reports, Dashboards, and Inquiries course
- The exam was difficult. Many ERP certification testing programs are nothing more than making sure you were able to memorize some canned phrases from the training material. If you have the ability to search the training material, these exams are a piece of cake. The S130 exam was more difficult. I wasn’t able to just search through the training material to find the answer to most of the questions. In many cases I had to dig into the Acumatica system to find the answer. Even then, sometimes, I just had to make an educated guess. I’m glad that the exam was difficult because it makes passing it more gratifying.
- Generic Inquiry has a lot of potential. I’ve written about Generic Inquiry before and compared it to a similar tool in Sage 500 ERP (click here), but the S130 training course helped me understand it even better. If you haven’t built a custom Generic Inquiry screen yet, checkout Richard Duffy’s new video which does a good job of explaining it:
- The Dashboard feature is pretty cool. You can take an existing Generic Inquiry screen or a custom Generic Inquiry screen and easily drop it onto a dashboard. You can create standard dashboards and also allow users to make their own personal dashboards. In addition to Generic Inquiry screens, you can also add Charts and Wiki articles to a dashboard. When I first read about the dashboard feature in Acumatica, I kind of ignored it because it seems to me that most dashboard features are canned, “look at me I’m pretty” features that don’t really offer much in the way of configurable content. The Acumatica dashboard feature, however, is very easy to use with a drag-and-drop interface and yet it has a lot of flexibility since it sits on top of Generic Inquiry screens which can be heavily customized. Here is a screenshot of a dashboard that I threw together in 2 minutes with a Table and Chart on the left (both based on a Generic Inquiry screen) and a Wiki article on the right. It’s nothing fancy, but it gives you an idea of what is possible.
- Acumatica Report Designer is growing on me. It has deeper functionality than I originally thought. It reminds me a lot of SSRS and Crystal Reports (more like SSRS though) and even has some features that SSRS and Crystal Reports don’t have. I hope to do a post in the future comparing Acumatica Report Designer to SSRS and Crystal Reports. Originally I questioned the need for Acumatica to create their own reporting program (click here), but I’m starting to applaud that decision a little more now because of how well Acumatica Report Designer integrates into the Acumatica product. It makes for a very nice end-user reporting experience. Of course, it’s still very new and has a lot of room for improvement, but the Acumatica team appears to be investing the time to make it work right. For example, while doing some exercises related to the S130 course, I encountered what appeared to be a bug so I entered a product suggestion. 11 days later my suggestion was marked “completed.” When I submit stuff like this to Sage, many times it takes months to get a response. 11 days is fast! It seems that Acumatica Report Designer will continue to improve at a fast pace.