How to Use ExpressLink

Applies to: Microsoft Forecaster 7.0


Microsoft Forecaster administrators can use the ExpressLink Wizard to map general ledger segment information, accounts and balances into Microsoft Forecaster.
The following prerequisites must be met before using ExpressLink: Segments, Periods and an Input Set must be defined in Microsoft Forecaster.
  • Center, Account and any other non period segments are populated in the 'Define Segment Mapping' and 'Define Account Mapping' steps of the ExpressLink Wizard.
  • The individual Periods populated by ExpressLink must be set up in Setup - Segments - Periods.
  • An Input Set must be created. ExpressLink populates the Input Columns of the input set selected in the 'Define Balance Mapping' step of the Wizard.
Note: ExpressLink works only with the versions of Microsoft Forecaster for Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle. It does not work with the version of Microsoft Forecaster for Microsoft Office Access.

More Information

Log in to Microsoft Forecaster as an Administrator
To launch the ExpressLink Wizard, choose Import - ExpressLink from the Tools menu.

Getting Started Window
To view the trace of the ExpressLink session, click on the Trace Viewer button to launch a separate window. This is intended to be a troubleshooting tool to help isolate problems that may occur during the load and is not required to run the load. The window will remain open as you navigate through the wizard to define your mapping and load data into Microsoft Forecaster.

Select General Ledger Company
If the ExpressLink Wizard detects that Microsoft FRx Reporter security is turned on, enter the Microsoft FRx user name and password then click the Login button. In cases where Microsoft FRx security is not used these fields will be inactive.
Select which general ledger company to load data from and Enter the general ledger login information.
Use previously saved settings: If ExpressLink was run previously in Microsoft Forecaster 7.0 for the selected general ledger company, that mapping definition may be re-used. To do so, Select to Use previously saved settings. Selecting this option will force the system to default the information in the remaining windows to match the previous load.
Click the Test Connection button to validate that the specified login(s) are correct. The status information provided at the top of the window will update to indicate whether a valid connection has been established.

(c) Select Load Types and Options
(d) Select Type(s) of Mapping
Define Segment Mapping
General ledger account mask: map the segments within your general ledger to Microsoft Forecaster. You may map all or only some of your general ledger segments so long as both a Reversible and Assignable segment is mapped to a general ledger segment. Furthermore it is required that a mapping be provided for each Microsoft Forecaster segment. You may combine general ledger segments into a single Microsoft Forecaster segment by simply dragging an additional segment to the desired location. To remove a mapping you will need to drag the value in the Mapped Value cell found in the grid into the trash bin labeled Un-map Segment.
Microsoft Forecaster account mask: In cases where the number of Microsoft Forecaster segments exceeds the number of general ledger segments or where you do not wish to map a general ledger segment for budgeting, ExpressLink provides the ability to define your own segments. This is done by selecting the User Defined checkbox for a given Microsoft Forecaster Segment. If you choose this option you will be allowed to define your own Segment Id as well as a Segment Description. This will result in a consolidation of balances at the user defined account segment level(s).
Un-map Segment
Define Account Mapping
Map Accounts to Account Types: Specify the following before adding it to the Mapped Accounts table:
Account Type: Valid Account types are: Assets, Liabilities, Equity, Revenue, Expenses, Statistical, Income
From and To: Provide either a single general ledger account number or a range to map to a specific Microsoft Forecaster account. Wildcards are supported where a user can enter a "?" character to be interpreted as any number. For example "1???" would be interpreted as accounts 1000 thru 1999 by the system. Wildcards cannot be used in ranges.
Budget Account: The Budget Account is used when you would like general ledger accounts to be mapped to a Microsoft Forecaster account that doesn't exist in the general ledger. This is commonly used for consolidating several general ledger accounts into a single budgeting or posting level account. This Budget Account will be defined in your Microsoft Forecaster accounts only. Leaving this field blank will result in the same accounts being created in Microsoft Forecaster.
Label: You have the option to create an account label in cases where you provide a value in the Budget Account field.
Note: Users who select to load segments only will skip to the ExpressLink Load Summary window to confirm their segment mapping.
Define Balance Mapping
The balance mapping definition is the final piece before an ExpressLink load can run. Users need to indicate how their general ledger periods will need to map to the corresponding Microsoft Forecaster periods. To complete this step, the following information needs to be provided:
Input Set: This refers to the Input Set in Microsoft Forecaster where the account balances will be loaded into. You must have an Input Set created within the application before you can run an ExpressLink load.
Book code: Select the general ledger book code you will need to map your periods from.
Fiscal year: Select the general ledger fiscal year you will need to map your periods from.
Currency: Select the general ledger currency for which you need to map from. This field is optional. Refer to your General Ledger system to determine the default currency for existing balances. Often times the default currency is blank rather than a specified currency (e.g. USD). A mismatch of currencies will result in no balances being imported.
Note: Selecting multiple currencies or book codes is not allowed within a single load.

Once the information above has been provided you will be able to add to the mapping definition table using two different methods:
Auto Populate: selecting Auto Populate will automatically create a one-to-one mapping between general ledger and Microsoft Forecaster periods.
Period Range: The fields located at the bottom of the wizard window are used to manually create period mappings. These fields provide the ability to map single periods at a time as well as allowing multiple general ledger periods to map to a single budgeting posting level period (example: Months 1, 2 and 3 can map to Quarter 1 in Microsoft Forecaster).
Only those mappings that have been checked in the mapping table will be run during the ExpressLink load. The ExpressLink Wizard also provides the flexibility to load from multiple general ledger fiscal years and into multiple input sets. You can do this by changing the corresponding list box values at the top of the window.
Load Summary
Before the wizard begins to transfer data from the general ledger into Microsoft Forecaster you will have the opportunity to confirm the load settings you have entered. You also have the ability to view the complete mapping definitions that will run by clicking the corresponding hyperlinks.
Import Completed
A progress window will appear while the data is transferred into Microsoft Forecaster. If the data load finished without problems you will get a notification that looks similar to the window below.
Information will be posted to the trace window in the event that ExpressLink failed to copy some or all of the defined general ledger data into the Microsoft Forecaster database. Once the load is complete you can close the ExpressLink Wizard. To validate that the loaded data did not result in errors within Microsoft Forecaster you will need to view the associated Transaction Batch by selecting Transactions from the Data menu.
Completed ExpressLink Trace
Trace Details: Based on the selections made for Message Severities and Message Types, system process information is displayed within the Trace Details area. Users have the ability to save their trace information to a flat file for future reference.