As a cycling fan, I am excited by the start of each new season particularly spring time as the "Spring Classics" get underway and everyone starts to look towards the summer blockbuster, the Tour de France. This is also the season in which I start to seriously ramp up my training as I look forward to the Tour de France stage (Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz) I will be riding on 7th July. With this in mind, I will share what I consider similarities in learning the necessary skills to power tailor and customize SYSPRO, and training for such a gruelling endurance event.
As with most undertakings in life, personal or professional, planning is a key factor. Knowing what you want to achieve at particular key points in time and laying out an ambitious but achievable timeline is something I always aim to do first and foremost - I am a firm believer that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. At the very start sit down and work out:
what you want to achieve;
when you want to achieve it;
and who will be involved.
- Establishing technical support
As with any sporting challenge or training schedule, you will need support. Not the support of family and friends as I require, but colleagues, IT staff (whether internal or external), line management and possibly even executive level if the investment in time and effort is significant. Don’t underestimate support from online sources too - when getting to grips with VBScript, XML and any other technology new to you, sites and forums such as the CodeProject and StackOverflow have a wealth of articles, walkthroughs, ideas and forums to help you learn. All of the 'experts' on these sites started as beginners too! I also highly recommend gaining support and feedback from your SYSPRO Regional office or Reseller as they can advise on the best way to achieve a particular goal, and may well have implemented something similar before.There are also some useful resources about SYSPRO power tailoring on the SYSPRO Support Zone, which customers and resellers can access.
- Know the best software tools
Be well equipped. As I start to organise a new chainset for my bike to ensure I have the best chance of completing this challenge, you too should be equipped with knowledge garnered from self-learning or even introductory courses in VBScript and/or XML. Know the best software tools available for your budget (there are some great, free VBScript and XML editors around for example), make sure you're familiar with their features to best aid your power-tailoring and customization tests. Also ensure that your backups are equipped to take SYSPRO file/folder/database backups so that you have something to restore from should something go awry.
- Do a test run
I recently changed to a new 'cleat' system for clipping my shoes to the pedals, and to prevent a public fall or two, tested these in the areas around my apartment before heading out on an official training ride. The same goes for trialling new SYSPRO power tailoring. Do this in a safe, secure environment. If you don't already have one, arrange to have your live companies copied to test companies so that you can test the impact of the any customization before rolling out 'live'. This way, you'll find any issues in a 'sandbox' environment and can correct these without causing any problems to your end users. I would even suggest having end users test new customizations in the sandbox, rather than testing yourself if possible - all too often you can be too close to something to be able to scrutinise it sufficiently. (Don't worry if you still make the odd mistake rolling out 'live' - I still occasionally topple off my bike at traffic lights too!).
Be realistic, and patient. If you are new to the languages and technologies used by SYSPRO for power tailoring, then it will take time to become fully confident in these technologies. If the parties responsible for putting this together are new to VBScript and XML, and indeed SYSPRO's customization features, then perhaps any roll-out plans could be designed to coincide with the learning curve. Each 'block' of learning is similar to one of the hills I tackle, and whilst it may not seem like much progress is being made day-by-day, week-by-week, rest-assured that the process is making headway. You'll find me starting with smaller hills first and building from here. I don’t start my training by heading straight for Alpe d'Huez!
If you have started the process of learning how about power tailoring in SYSPRO, what do you think are appropriate plans and goals to the learning process? Do you have any comments or useful tips about software tools, forums etc?