Microsoft this week introduced a set of tools that connect its Office 2003 suite to data and business processes within its Dynamics back-end applications.
The tools are similar to software, code-named Mendocino, being co-developed by Microsoft and SAP to link Office to SAP's ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.
The new set of applications, called Microsoft Dynamics Snap, allow users to interact with the ERP system Dynamics AX 3.0 (formerly called Axapta) and Dynamics CRM 3.0 without leaving Office, according to the company.
Microsoft this week released four Snap applications that work with Office 2003, and plans to continue to add offerings to the product family, according to the company's Web site.
As part of this first wave, the company aims to integrate the core Dynamics applications -- which in addition to AX and CRM include Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains), Dynamics NV (formerly Navision) and Dynamics SL (formerly Solomon) -- with Microsoft Office through offerings aimed specifically at the roles business users play in an organization.
The first four Snap applications are Timesheet Snap-In, Vacation Management Snap-In and two versions of Business Data Lookup Snap-In, one for Dynamics AX and the other for Dynamics CRM. Timesheet Snap-In and Vacation Management Snap-In are designed to work with Dynamics AX only.
Timesheet Snap-In enables users of Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail application in Office, to view or submit time entries for certain tasks they are required to perform on a regular basis. The application also links Dynamics AX time entries to Outlook appointments and meetings to help users keep better track of how their time is allocated across internal projects.
Vacation Management Snap-In enables users to submit vacation requests via Outlook. When that request is approved or rejected, the system automatically updates the vacation time entry into the time and attendance module in AX.
Business Data Lookup Snap-In for AX allows business workers to use Microsoft Office programs Word, Excel or Outlook within the Dynamics AX task window to browse AX data, according to Microsoft. Users also can copy selected data from AX into Office 2003 documents or attach those documents to records in Dynamics AX. The version of this application for Dynamics CRM gives users the same ability in that program.
Microsoft has made the first four Snap applications available for free as a Code Gallery project called Microsoft Dynamics Snap at GotDotNet.com, a .NET developer community site. Microsoft also is providing the source code for these applications via a Microsoft Permissive License.