Should I use SmartConnect?

SmartConnect is a product developed by an ISV based out of Australia with minimal support in the US. What is SmartConnect? SmartConnect is a hybrid developers tool masquerading as an end user tool. It is marketed as an integration tool that replaces Microsoft Integration Manager for Dynamics-GP but it is hardly as easy to use.

SmartConnect uses econnect as the interface to Dynamics-GP and has various input methods such as CSV, Excel, XML, and ODBC but it isn’t the most elegant connection tool.

The mapping environment isn’t logical. How you define variables isn’t intuitive and they claim it is VB.Net but it must be some hybrid VB.Net because it doesn’t support all VB.Net functionality. Creating new nodes for the Mapping isn’t straight forward and there is little documentation. How you map imports that require a Master->Detail relationship isn’t intuitive on what the requirements are. Smartconnect relies on the user having eConnect back ground and developer knowledge.

SmartConnet claims to be able to interface via a Web Service so you can use your .Net tools. Little or no documentation to assist, we assume it works but we haven’t tried it because of the lack of documentation.

Error Handling is non existent. Since it is a developer tool according to eOne they rely exclusively on the errors that are returned by eConnect or the developer has to build in their own error messages. Hardly an end user tool but more of a developer tool.

SmartConnect is a very buggy system, exporting maps often crashes, saving your maps often reverts to the original map, error handling is week, does not work with all of the GP Econnect Nodes out of the box.

Support is lacking in this product, they want to charge you for everything, even if it is a bug. It is more of providing consulting services because their support is on an hourly basis. Most companies that sell software provide per incident support, eOne does not. They also would not charge for fixing or evaluating bugs, eOne’s position is that they will charge your card and if it is a bug they will give you a credit, but it is at their discretion. Hardly a partnership.

eOne suggests you use their Knowledgebase but their own technicians claim it is out dated and slow. Several articles I found were to be incorrect according to support.

In my opinion eOne SmartConnect would not be my first choice. For the cost your pay and the lack of support I would suggest maybe creating your own integration. It would probably be cheaper and work better. I would also consider whether I would use any of their other products such as eXtender. Support of any product is important to the success of any organization and their lack of support is a failure.

This review is by Tim Lally. Tim Lally has over 25 years experience working with Dynamics-GP and before that Great Plains. Tim Lally has been involved in over 500 implementations and has developed over 1000 customizations for Dynamics-GP.

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