Read Axapta integration with Microsoft Office and SharePoint text version

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Created: March 2005

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Table of Contents

Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 1 Empowering Individual Business Users .......................................................................................... 2 Microsoft® Outlook-based User Interface (Planned in 4.0) ......................................................... 2 Microsoft® Outlook integration with Axapta CRM ........................................................................ 3 Microsoft® Outlook calendar and tasks within Axapta Enterprise Portal ..................................... 4 Import of data from other systems using Microsoft® Excel.......................................................... 4 Microsoft® Office Word and Microsoft® Excel Integration............................................................ 5 Microsoft® Office copy and paste Integration .............................................................................. 6 Effective team collaboration and document management .............................................................. 8 Axapta Document Handling ........................................................................................................ 8 Enterprise Portal running on Windows® SharePoint Services .................................................. 10 Windows® SharePoint Services meeting spaces ................................................................... 12 Windows® SharePoint Services document workspaces ........................................................ 12 Reliable, Scalable and Extensible Windows SharePoint Services platform reduces total cost of ownership ........................................................................................................................... 13 Enhanced Web authoring experience for developers, partners and customers .................... 14 Enables key integration scenarios with existing portal solutions ........................................... 15 Common search enabling better discovery of content from both SharePoint and Axapta .... 15 Improved Business Insight ............................................................................................................ 16 Embedded PivotTables and Microsoft® Excel integration for Axapta data analysis.................. 16 Microsoft® MapPoint integration with customer data................................................................. 17 Powerful Developer Tools for Office integration ............................................................................ 19 Unique architecture provides powerful integration possibilities ................................................ 19 Email templates......................................................................................................................... 19 Utilize Microsoft® Office Vision 2003 to view the Axapta data model (Planned in 4.0) ............. 19 References .................................................................................................................................... 21 Copyright ....................................................................................................................................... 22

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Introduction Businesses the world over have similar sets of challenges when it comes to ensuring that the right employees have access to up-to-date information when they need it most. The Microsoft® Office System is used by most businesses around the globe. Each new Office release improves the productivity of employees and increases their access to information with easy-to-use programs and services. Using familiar Office programs to interact with and understand business data and simplify complex tasks reduces employee training costs and improves efficiency. This paper is written to help Microsoft® Business Solutions­Axapta® customers and partners understand the ways that Microsoft Axapta and Microsoft Office work together today and in the upcoming release to provide information to people in the context of business processes. Integration between Axapta and Office offers an approach to managing information that is based on the following objectives: · · · · Empowering individual business users to access and analyze information using familiar Office tools. Providing effective team collaboration and document management to ensure that teams have access to the information they need, when they need it. Improving business insight so that business users better understand trends in data and make faster, better-informed decisions. Providing powerful developer tools for integration with other programs, including Microsoft Office and other Microsoft solutions.

This document describes the existing Microsoft Office and Microsoft Axapta integration points and suggests business situations in which these integrations are particularly useful. It concludes with a sneak peak at the new collaboration capabilities enabled by Microsoft® Windows® SharePoint® Services that are planned for the upcoming Microsoft Axapta 4.0 release.

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Empowering Individual Business Users

Microsoft Axapta user interface based on Microsoft Outlook (Planned in 4.0)

Feature Overview Plans for the Microsoft Axapta 4.0 user interface include an updated look that uses the interface standards of Office programs, particularly the Microsoft Outlook® messaging and collaboration client. Navigation is list-based, with a primary navigation control replacing the main menu. A list of user favorites, in a familiar interface similar to Microsoft Internet Explorer, provides quick access to frequently used areas of the program. A key design goal of this updated user interface is easy customization and personalization of the navigation pane.

Figure 1. Microsoft Axapta Client with the primary navigation control and the Favorites, showing the Organize Favorites dialog box (prototype subject to change)

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Example Business Benefits Microsoft invests considerable time and money in studying and enhancing the usability of our programs. We develop our interface standards after thousands of hours of customer research across the world. The use of these standards in Microsoft Axapta provides a friendly and familiar user experience, which helps businesses reduce training time and increase program productivity.

Microsoft Outlook integration with Microsoft Axapta

Feature Overview Microsoft Axapta provides a two-way integration with Outlook 2003, Outlook XP, and Outlook 2000. The feature set synchronizes appointments, tasks, and contacts across both systems. Users can automatically store outgoing e-mail sent from Axapta and store incoming e-mail in the document handling system. Axapta can store a list of customer or employee e-mail addresses so that userscan repeatedly send them e-mail, newsletters, and the like. In addition, the Sales and Marketing functionality of Axapta allows marketing staff to send individually tailored e-mail messages to campaign participants, with an option of creating Web user accounts for the participants and sending them their login information automatically.

Example Business Scenarios A sales representative can use Outlook to manage her calendar and items and contacts specific to her prospects and clients. The next time she opens Microsoft Axapta, this data will synch from her Outlook client. Any changes that are made inside Axapta or Outlook remain. Given that many sales people "live" inside Outlook, this is an ideal solution to empower sales teams. Axapta also allows users to see and synchronize only the data for which they are responsible. Finally, this same sales representative can easily create groups of customers and send them information about new product promotions or company news.

Enhancements in Microsoft Axapta 4.0 Microsoft Axapta 4.0 will enhance the existing Outlook synchronization in the Sales and Marketing module with increased control over the synchronization process. Users will be able to define which fields are synchronized between Axapta and Outlook and define the group of contacts to be synchronized. The enhancement will also include improved handling of the permission level at which a contact is synchronized to Outlook, in order to handle potential synchronization conflicts and user access to the records.

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Figure 2. E-mail group management and a synchronized activity in Microsoft Axapta Sales and Marketing

Microsoft Outlook calendar and tasks within Microsoft Axapta Enterprise Portal

Feature Overview The Microsoft Axapta Enterprise Portal allows individual users to access their Outlook Calendar and Tasks items by personalizing their portals. Users can include Office/Exchange Web parts without the need for additional plug-ins or ActiveX controls.

Example Business Scenarios Many remote users and specific users within a business prefer to use a Web browser to access Microsoft Axapta. This reduces the complexity of IT management and provides easy access for users. The ability for a user to configure his portal home page to view personal appointments and tasks--along with other, more structured business information, such as inventory, customer or sales data--allows him to do his job with a minimal amount of switching between programs.

Import of data from other systems using Microsoft Excel

Feature Overview Given its flexibility, Excel is preferred by users around the globe for entering data. Microsoft Axapta complements this by allowing data entered into Excel to be imported directly into the system. Users can export a blank Excel template based on the data tables in Axapta. They can then fill out the template and import the data back to Axapta. The template export is powerful because it ensures that the correct data fields are captured for use in Axapta. Also, employees can use these templates to enter or import data from other systems for use in Axapta. Example Business Scenarios An account manager can create a template using fields from the Axapta customer table. She can then fill it out in Excel or add data to the template from another source, such as a list sent to her in e-mail by a colleague. Next, she can import this data back into Microsoft Axapta. A finance

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manager can also use Excel to post transactional data such as journal entries directly into the General Ledger. Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel integration

Feature Overview Microsoft Axapta allows users to create Microsoft Word and Excel templates and transfer relevant information from Axapta into the template. This feature is a powerful way to incorporate specific business information into contracts, customer letters, proposals, or other business documents. Any field in Axapta can be the source for populating Word or Excel documents with data. Also, Microsoft Axapta Sales and Marketing has sophisticated mail-merge functionality for populating customer details, such as addresses, directly into predefined fax, company letter, quotation, and advanced quotation templates. Example Business Scenarios The ability to populate Word documents with any field from Axapta makes this feature valuable for any business user. As an example, marketing professionals can create their own templates or modify existing ones to prepare direct mail letters that publicize new products, promotions, or services. Similarly, account managers can create fast and accurate quotations by using templates and populating them directly with product prices from Axapta.

Figure 3. Wizard used to create and open Excel templates in Microsoft Axapta

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Figure 4. Excel template generated from Microsoft Axapta for entering data back into the system

Microsoft Office copy-and-paste integration

Feature Overview Users can copy directly from any dataset in Microsoft Axapta to any program in the Microsoft Office suite. Example Business Scenarios A Microsoft Axapta user wants to present a group of data to management in Microsoft PowerPoint®, present a price list on the Web using Microsoft FrontPage®, or create a pie chart using Microsoft Excel. Any of these operations is available with a single copy-and-paste operation.

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Figure 5. Working with customer transactions in Microsoft Excel

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Providing effective team collaboration and document management

Microsoft Axapta Document Handling

Feature Overview Microsoft Axapta provides rich and easy access to financial information, human resources, supply chain management, and other structured data. However, information such as employee records, inventory items, and customer account data represents only part of the business picture. In many cases, unstructured information contained in Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, e-mail messages or other types of documents is equally important. Users can associate any type of document with any record in the system directly from the Axapta interface. When these documents are accessed from within Axapta, users see only the documents that are associated with the Axapta records to which they have access. The Axapta Sales and Marketing module allows a user to select groups of customers and contact persons and to generate large document shipments. Users can also register information related to each customer on the documented material and when and by whom it was shipped. Example Business Scenarios This powerful document-handling feature allows a sales person to associate with a customer record the PowerPoint presentation that closed the deal; a project manager can associate a Microsoft Project plan with an Axapta project record; an engineer can attach a blueprint to a bill of materials; and a purchasing agent can associate the latest catalog for a particular supplier to that vendor's record in Axapta. The possibilities are endless. Support for non-Office documents provides users with access to information of all kinds.

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Figure 6. Microsoft Word document associated with a business account in Microsoft Axapta

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Enterprise Portal running on Windows SharePoint Services Windows SharePoint Services is the Web portal platform for Microsoft and is based on SQL ServerTM 2003. Axapta 4.0 will allow companies to deploy all Axapta Enterprise Portal Web content within Windows SharePoint Services, making it possible to view structured business data in the form of Web parts, in addition to shared contacts, documents, calendars, and other collaborative content. The current features of Enterprise Portal, such as enabling casual users to take a more active role in the business, and support for self-service programs, will continue to benefit customers and end users. Windows SharePoint Services provides the foundation for a smart workspace: a single intranet location serves as a centralized information hub where individuals and teams can collaborate and communicate more easily and productively. Windows SharePoint Services incorporates all of the essential collaboration and communication technologies that information workers use every day in a single Web-based environment that integrates easily with smart-client programs such as Microsoft Office. Windows SharePoint Services also integrates with server databases and specialized business programs. This integration enables information workers to access network resources easily, quickly, and efficiently. Windows SharePoint Services can be personalized and customized to meet the unique needs of users and organizations. It provides shared calendars and tasks, document libraries, discussions, team announcements, and the ability to add Web parts that display news and information from the internet or from other external programs. Windows SharePoint Services functionality can be extended readily and cost-effectively by adding other Microsoft technologies and services, such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Live Communications Server 2003, SharePoint Portal Server 2003, and Live Meeting (formerly Place Ware Conferencing Service), Project Server 2003, and in the 4.0 release, Microsoft Axapta, as well. Thousands of Microsoft partners are now building on Windows SharePoint Services, so the ability to add new Web capabilities and content grows each day. The key benefits of such a portal solution on top of Windows SharePoint Services are: · · · · · · Better team collaboration through meeting and document workspaces. A strong and extensible platform. An enhanced Web authoring experience for developers, partners, and customers. Improved information worker productivity in Enterprise Portal. Integration with existing portal solutions. A common search to better discover content from across Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Axapta.

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Figure 7. Windows SharePoint Services with integrated Microsoft Axapta content (prototype subject to change)

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Figure 8. Microsoft Axapta Enterprise Portal sales page on Windows SharePoint Services (prototype subject to change)

Windows SharePoint Services meeting spaces In a typical company, employees complain that meetings aren't handled as effectively as they should be, agendas aren't distributed before the meeting, and notes and actions items aren't always available afterward. By using Windows SharePoint Services with Enterprise Portal to set up meeting spaces, users can make agendas available before meetings, allowing team members to contribute agenda items, and providing a central location for reporting notes, action items, and follow-up activities after the meeting.

Figure 9. Windows SharePoint Services Team site

Windows SharePoint Services document workspaces When e-mail attachments are using up an unreasonable amount of server space, and employees waste time looking for documents in their overflowing email in-boxes, there's a better way to share documents. Document libraries created with Windows SharePoint Services enable team members to collaborate on documents and post new documents that are available to everyone. When Enterprise Portal is added, users can create department or team sites that allow team members to easily read and share documents from a central location, while controlling access to sensitive material, or work in process, through role-based restrictions.

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Examples of the SharePoint document management features and benefits include: · Keeping team members updated and informed. Using built-in alert capabilities, users can be notified when information is added, modified, or deleted. Announcements, surveys, and discussion boards keep team members informed. Users can create shared meeting workspaces to manage agenda items and follow-up actions. Users can also track meeting attendance from within Microsoft Office Outlook 2003. Providing users with document storage, creation and review capabilities. Users can more easily and efficiently create and review any type of document with built-in document versioning and check-in and check-out capabilities integrated into team workspaces. Extending document protection. Information Rights Management, available in Microsoft Office 2003 Professional, and enabled by Windows Rights Management Services (RMS), lets authors determine how their documents are distributed and used by others. This approach ensures that intellectual property can be classified and used with consistency and security throughout and beyond an organization. When documents are distributed by e-mail or by instant messages, organizations can enforce distribution and handling policies without incurring the costs of additional systems management and support. Providing Web browser access. The browser-based interface empowers users to create, access, and modify shared team workspaces on demand. It provides users with a single point of access to all of the rich information stored in team workspaces, including business data from Axapta. Adapting workspaces to meet team needs. Users can easily adapt team workspaces to fit the needs of specific projects and communities by using built-in and extensible templates, Web parts, views, and custom lists.

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Reliable, scalable, and extensible Windows SharePoint Services platform reduces total cost of ownership A reliable and scalable infrastructure enables IT professionals to establish a foundation that can help to reduce network administration effort and total cost of ownership, and accommodate future collaboration needs, such as an organization-wide portal strategy or inter-organization communications. Establishing Windows SharePoint Services team sites with Axapta content provides IT professionals with the following reliability and scalability benefits: · Cost-effective scale-up. With Microsoft System Architecture and ASP.NET stateless front ends, IT professionals can provide scalable team workspace services in environments that range from a single computer to a clustered server farm. Even in very large environments, system administrators can set up Windows SharePoint Services configurations with multiple, stateless front-end Web servers that support large numbers of user connections and as many database servers as required. Organizations can scale up their Windows SharePoint Services workspace environment without compromising system reliability, security, and performance, and without committing substantial additional systems management effort. These capabilities can help IT professionals to expand Windows SharePoint Services and keep systems administration costs under control. Continuous system operations of large sites. Windows ServerTM 2003 and SQL Server 2000 technologies such as load balancing and failover enable system administrators to maintain enterprise-class reliability for all team workspace infrastructures. By detecting host failures and redistributing traffic to operational hosts automatically, Windows Server 2003 load balancing ensures that team sites and mission-critical services based on Windows SharePoint Services are

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available when and where users need them. The resulting increase in system availability reduces system administration effort and its related costs. · Faster configuration and reduced development costs. To build integrated collaboration programs quickly and easily, IT professionals can use the development tools of the Microsoft .NET Framework, standard data formats such as Extensible Markup Language (XML), and common tools. The strategy of using the Microsoft .NET Framework, Web services, Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET, and Windows Server 2003 to build SharePoint products and technologies reduces the time, effort, and costs of developing Windows SharePoint Services solutions. Accelerated return on IT investments. Industry-standard protocols such as XML, which enable data exchange between different platforms or programs, help IT professionals to extend the value of existing business data and computing systems by linking formerly isolated silos of data and making them available through a Web browser or a traditional productivity program. Lower site-provisioning costs. Standardized site design templates and easy-to-use site operations tools help IT administrators to provision Windows SharePoint Services team workspaces quickly. With Windows SharePoint Services, system administrators can help users create sites, control site membership, directly monitor site usage, and moderate content submissions with minimal IT effort and site-provisioning costs. Reduced site-related support costs. After workspace startup, the self-service tools of Windows SharePoint Services enable users to create site templates with Axapta and collaborative information, share them with one another, and reuse customized, proven site solutions. Because teams handle day-to-day site functionality and administration, users rely less on the IT staff and IT support costs decrease. Lower operational costs and TCO. Using the underlying management technologies and tools of the Windows Server 2003 platform, IT professionals can monitor and troubleshoot Windows SharePoint Services team sites with less time and effort. IT professionals can configure Windows SharePoint Services from a centralized location by using Group Policy and the familiar Microsoft Management Console (MMC) graphical user interface, monitor sites with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), and administer the sites remotely with scripts and command-line tools. Lower site backup and restore costs. Per-site backup and restore and the centralized user administration capabilities of Windows SharePoint Services help IT professionals to back up and restore team workspaces individually. As a result, IT administrators can avoid the effort and related system management costs of restoring an entire database rather than a small subset of data. Lower site management and support costs. IT professionals can use the Microsoft .NET object model to create custom scripts that automate common site management functions and to build custom programs on the Windows SharePoint Services platform. Most list data and site settings offer full read/write access. IT administrators can use browser-based administration tools or the command line to manage workspace sites and site collections. These capabilities reduce the effort and costs of site management.

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Enhanced Web authoring experience for developers, partners, and customers Because Microsoft Axapta weblets can be surfaced as SharePoint Web parts, all the pages in Enterprise Portal can be Web part pages residing in SharePoint. New Web part pages can be created and existing pages can be modified directly from the browser (and Front Page can also be used for additional customization).This switch to a SharePoint environment opens up options for more themes and styles. In addition, these pages can be customized and personalized with additional Web parts or a distinct page layout that better suits the individual or company. SharePoint becomes the integration enabler for Enterprise Portal, because there are thousands of ISVs building standard SharePoint Web parts in various domains and systems, and these parts can be easily integrated with Enterprise Portal, because all of them share the same technology stack and are built on the same platform.

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Figure 10. Enterprise Portal sales page in design mode within Windows SharePoint Services (prototype subject to change)

Improved Information Worker Productivity in Enterprise Portal Enterprise Portal brings rich structured enterprise resource planning (ERP) data to information workers together with their unstructured data and data from other systems through Web part integration in a familiar, collaborative user interface. Having all of this information in one place allows users to find and act on information, as well as to collaborate with others inside and outside the organization.

Key integration scenarios with existing portal solutions The Microsoft Axapta Web part framework opens up Axapta Web elements as individually and independently usable components. These Axapta Web parts can be used directly in any existing portal solution that supports hosting of SharePoint Web parts. For instance, if a customer already has a portal solution, such as a portal based on ASP.NET, Windows SharePoint Services, or even SharePoint Portal Server, integrating Axapta into that portal solution is as simple as using Axapta Web parts and referencing Web forms and Web reports from Axapta.

Common search for better discovery of content from both Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Axapta A common search from Enterprise Portal enables the discovery of content from both the SharePoint and Axapta databases. Information workers require immediate access to the information they use every day, as well as access to data that is not on their team site but is stored on the corporate

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intranet. Searching across the structured and unstructured data in SharePoint and Axapta makes this possible.

Improving Business Insight

Embedded PivotTable reports and Microsoft Excel integration for Microsoft Axapta data analysis Feature Overview Microsoft Axapta allows users to view customers, items, vendors, projects, and other core data in a PivotTable® report without ever having to leave the Axapta work environment. The feature works with Office 2003, Office XP, and Office 2000, and allows users to easily view and analyze data that is stored in online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. Sixteen default cubes ship with Axapta for key modules. More can be defined by power users and developers. The Microsoft Excel PivotTable control that is embedded in Axapta allows for analysis ledger, employee, customer, vendor, project and production data. Graphing tools allow data to be displayed visually for clear evaluation of trends and results. Users can also export data directly from Axapta into Excel to share with others or to do additional analysis.

Example Business Scenarios Any Axapta user can extract value from this feature set. For example, a sales executive can quickly compare and analyze product sales over the last four fiscal quarters by region, product, or sales manager. A project manager can analyze her projects to determine which ones are the most profitable.

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Figure 11. Embedded Excel PivotTables and charts in Microsoft Axapta

Microsoft MapPoint integration with customer data Feature Overview Integration with Microsoft MapPoint® business mapping software makes route planning and geographic analysis part of customer management. This solution is currently available "out of the box" for the United States market only. This solution uses the MapPoint Web-based solution to display customer locations on maps to assist in route planning. It uses the core Axapta customer record and can also be accessed from within Axapta Sales and Marketing. Example Business Scenarios A customer service representative who sends a technician to do on-site maintenance can quickly generate directions to the customer's location from within the Axapta interface.

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Figure 12. MapPoint route inside a Microsoft Axapta customer address screen

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Providing Powerful Developer Tools for Office integration

Unique architecture provides powerful integration possibilities Feature Overview Microsoft Axapta has a unique 3-tier architecture that makes it easier to integrate with other components, programs, and the Internet. The possibilities range from program peer-to-peer integration, COM/managed interfaces integration, and Web services to Microsoft Office integration. Example Business Scenarios Developers and partners can extend Axapta to provide new and unique Office integration scenarios. For example, by using Microsoft InfoPath®, a developer can quickly create a new Office-based form for entering inventory items into Axapta. Similarly, a partner organization can rapidly create a customer solution in Excel that allows employees to enter project time information into the project accounting module. E-mail templates Feature Overview E-mail messages can be sent to new users or ASP clients. Sending a message is triggered by a predefined event. Example Business Scenarios An e-mail message can be sent to a new user who has been established as a user in the system and has been assigned a password.

Use Microsoft Visio 2003 to view the Axapta data model (Planned in 4.0) Feature Overview With the 4.0 release of Microsoft Axapta, developers and power users will be able to use the UML add-on for Microsoft Visio 2003® to generate views of the Axapta data and object model. This allows developers to visually represent the relationships between data and objects for more accurate specification writing and data modeling. Example Business Scenarios A developer partner needs to make specific business process changes to Axapta to meet the unique needs of a furniture-manufacturing customer. With this new capability, the developer can generate a visual representation in the widely used Visio format. She can then use this representation in discussions with the customer to model the changes and ensure that all parties involved understand the planned development effort and process changes.

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Figure 13. Microsoft Axapta data model displayed using Microsoft Visio

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References 1. More Microsoft SharePoint information: http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/ 2. More Microsoft Office System 2003 information: http://office.microsoft.com/enus/default.aspx 3. More Microsoft Axapta information: http://www.microsoft.com/BusinessSolutions/Axapta/default.aspx

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Copyright The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication. This White Paper is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft may have patents, patent programs, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property. © 2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft is either registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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