AFR, EPM or Just XL Connect?


Thanks for the helpful information regarding the possible need for Replication anyways when using a Progress DB.  Part of my Bias towards XL Connect was because it sounded like it would not require Replication, but it's sounding more and more like XL Connect actually connects to an SQL DB.  I have contacted BizNet Software directly to confirm this.

If anyone else has any input regarding your preference or first hand experiences between AFR, EPM and XL Connect, I would love to hear it.

I was hoping to eliminate Replication to reduce the complexity and the server resources required.

Can anyone provide any feedback with their experience with AFR and/or EPM (with Replication) and how well it works or does not work for you.  Also, please include what version you are on.  
Also, is anyone using XL Connect, if so, in what ways and how do you like it?
Has anyone struggled so much with Replication to facilitate AFR & EPM that you moved to XL Connect, if so, was that a good move.

Any recommendations from the community would be much appreciated.

When we signed with Epicor, they said we needed AFR & EPM.  Once I was hired and I reviewed what was purchased I didn't understand why Epicor did not push XL Connect instead.  After I reviewed how most of the business interacts with data I found they are VERY strong Excel users, like I've never seen, which made me wonder even more why XL Connect was not offered.  However, since XL Connect looks like it's a 3rd party software offering, I wonder if that is the reason for the difference.

We purchased EPM several months ago and recently started using it.     From my experience, it performs quickly and the few canvases I've created have been well received.    However, technical support is basically non-existent on the product.     I've started several support tickets going back as far as the middle of December and have yet to receive a response.   We are on Epicor 905.700C.   

We had the same conversation with Epicor and since we used FRx before hand, we were going to use the AFR. Then we learned that AFR's capabilities were substantially less than FRx (for what we needed) and so we opted for XL Connect.


We're on 9.05.606 (going to 702 shortly)


For clarity, we also use Active Planner and have begun an EPM implementation. With EPM, we are not using Replication server, but rather SQL's Snapshot replication twice a day. We understood that the replication server had issues and since the time delay is okay for us, we opted to use SQL to do the heavy lifting.


Having said all that, we were speaking with the EPM team in Nashville last year and understand that there is a new product coming from that group that will obviate the need for XL Connect. It's from the same team and has a similar interface (we saw a brief demo of it). We've not been able to get any more information out of them, so we continue to use XL Connect until something else happens.


XL Connect is quite easy to use, albeit a PITA to get set up sometimes. I'm working on the SP4 update which will hopefully be easier. And we've done quite a few financial documents with it to replace the FRx ones. If you have more specific questions, email me (mike@...)


XL Broadcast is also an option with XL Connect - but it requires a single install running a pseudo-dedicated process and some specific setup. IF you are looking at that, get some seriously specific answers for what you want to do.



If those responding to my question about EPM, AFR & XL Connect could also mention what DB they are using as well, that would be helpful.

We are on a Progress DB and we are having a terrible time with keeping Replication\Sonic running, it seems to build up a backlog quickly.

I am thinking that XL Connect would be better for us since it does not use replication.

Mike is your Epicor DB Progress or SQL,  I am assuming SQL since you said SQL Snapshot, but I wanted to be sure in case there is a better way to replicate from Progress to SQL other than Sonic & Replication.

Also, it doesn't sound like you nor anyone else is using XL Connect Developer...

If you had to pick between EPM or XL Connect which would you pick based on your experience?

We only have AFR but it is not setup due to the replication piece not working correctly when we were on 9.05.603. We have now moved up to 9.05.700C, but have not taken another shot at it with other things going on.


We are on Progress and as I understand it we would still need replication to run for XL Connect to work as well.


At this point I am tempted to wait to go to E10 first and then figure out the rest (AFR or XL Connect) from there...


Brad Boes




We are using SQL Server 2008 R2 and replication is working without any issues.    The only small exception, which isn't necessarily the fault of the EPM product, is that the indexing is not the same.    We are running some Crystal Reports against the replication database and they did not respond identically.    It's probably something we can correct, but haven't had time to address it.

Yes, correct - we're using SQL 2008 right now. (And 2012 when we upgrade).


No, we are not using the XL Connect developer. With the XL Connect Sp4, it seems we'll get the few missing bits (like Pivot table sorting/support) we need.


As for a choice - we see it as two different application and two different uses. We (will when it's father along) utilize EPM for more of a dollars-to-shipping-to-production-to-product analytical need, and we use XL Connect for the day to day (sometimes hour-to-hour) analysis of the GL. And we really only use it within the Accounting department although the month-end reports are distributed to everyone.


We're a manufacturing company and rely heavily on dollars/production analysis and not just financial statements/etc - this is why we use them the way we do.