Unless you are running a cookie-cutter franchise, trying to fit your unique products, services, systems and processes into an ‘off the rack’ ERP system is unlikely to end well. Fortunately for Sage 300 users, Orchid's add-ons allow you to adjust an arm or a leg without it costing you one of each.
Extender: Bespoke tailoring for Sage 300
If the question includes both ‘Sage 300’ and ‘Tailoring’, it’s a fair bet the answer will include ‘Extender’.
Extender, Orchid's incredibly versatile tailoring and customization tool, comes in several editions:
- The Configurator edition can monitor specific fields, log changes, generate alerts, trigger workflows, and even call external applications when a nominated event occurs.
- With the Customizer edition you can introduce bespoke business logic, via Python scripts, to do just about anything: Perform enhanced validation, restrict access to sensitive fields, develop custom screens. You can also tailor existing classic VB screens using Extender OCX Scripts, and develop custom workflow actions.
- With the Developer edition you can create and edit custom tables that form part of the Sage 300 database.
All Extender customizations, including scripts, reside within the Sage 300 database, so they are automatically included when you backup or restore your system.
Workflow Templates are attached to Sage 300 view fields or view operations. They can be started automatically when a nominated event occurs, or manually from a Workflow Icon on a Sage 300 screen.
The Workflow Console allows users to navigate through workflow records, approve or reject requests, and drill down to Sage 300 screens. Alternatively, they can use workflow icons configured on relevant Sage 300 screens to progress workflows to the next steps.
A series of value-dependent Workflow Actions (Python scripts) is executed when each workflow step is invoked. We have developed a range of pre-defined actions, which should be sufficient to support workflows for many standard business scenarios. The Customizer or Developer editions of Extender can be used to incorporate custom actions, developed in Python.
Extender Case Studies
To illustrate its power, let’s look at just a few real-life examples of creative customizations using Extender. Click the links to read the full case studies.
- K&K Interiors’ warehouse struggled to manage the receipt of complex orders, with dozens of line items fulfilled across multiple shipments. Their business partner used Extender to allow a Container ID to be easily associated with each line item.
- Western Marketing’s business partner configured events to capture more granular invoice entry information, implemented scripts to perform complex validation rules, and created a custom table and screen to capture extra information about individual bulk-oil tanks.
- KBL Environmental's waste management processes meant a ‘sale’ resulted in waste products arriving at their sites, while a ‘purchase’ resulted in the products being disposed of. Their business partner developed Extender scripts to handle this by reversing the flow of selected inventory items.
Here are just a few other examples of possible Extender use cases:
- Create a CSV file for an external warehouse, listing shipment address and included products, each time an OE Shipment record is created.
- Perform contextual validation based on the logged-on user. E.g. enforce a default maximum value for AR Credit Limit changes, but allow a higher limit for specified users.
- Create a custom table to store comment templates for Items, and auto-insert the comments onto the Order Item comment or instruction lines when the Item is added to an order.
- Automatically start a workflow when the Customer Credit Limit field is updated. Restore the original limit pending approval. Assign to different teams or individuals for approval, dependent upon the requested new limit.
Other Tailoring Products
Every Orchid product has a role to play in tailoring Sage 300 - that's why add-on modules exist, after all - but while some products support specific business functions these ones offer a blank canvas:
- Combining Orchid Notes with Extender opens up a whole new world of customization options. We call this Extended Notes. The flexible configuration of Notes can be used to trigger the execution of an Extender script, then conditionally display the result, including variable content generated ‘on the fly’.
Truly, my mind is overflowing with all of the possibilities of the interplay between Extender and Notes. This new relationship between them feels like such a game-changer!
DAVID GELULA, GELULA CONSULTING, ILLINOIS, USA
- Optional Tables provides an alternative way to introduce custom, multi-dimensional data structures within the Sage 300 database. It’s particularly well suited to holding budget and forecast data, which can be maintained in Microsoft Excel using the included Spreadsheet Add-in.
- While Optional Fields let you incorporate custom data into the Sage 300 database they create challenges when it comes to reporting, usually requiring sub-reports and complex joins. Orchid's Data Views product addresses this, allowing you to easily create and maintain database views that turn your Optional Fields into columns. This both simplifies report writing and speeds up report running.
Extender as an Integration platform
Extender's versatility, through the use of Python scripts, also makes it a great platform for real-time custom integration with external applications.
- A real-life example is DIMO Maint's Sage 300 connector. They used Extender to perform interaction and synchronization between Sage 300 and their asset maintenance product, e.g. to generate a Sage 300 order for a replacement machinery part, then update the DIMO Maint inventory when the part was received into Sage 300.
- See our Collaboration in Action video for demonstrations of how Extender can be used to provide integration with cloud-based platforms such as SMS, Twitter and Microsoft Teams.
- Other examples include calls to external applications to calculate freight costs, or integration with cloud-based invoicing systems.
Other Integration Products
While Extender is now our recommended integration platform, we have from time to time developed modules that provide integration between Sage 300 and specific external applications, e.g.:
- Orchid’s AMT Integration module streamlines interactions between Sage 300 and AMT®, an industry-leading asset management tool, mainly used for mining and earthmoving equipment. This includes triggering the generation of Sage 300 Purchase Requisitions, and/or Purchase Orders or Internal Issues, to support an AMT Work Order.