Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

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by Mark Polino | July 2010 | Enterprise Articles Microsoft

In this article by Mark Polino, author of the book Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Cookbook, we will look at:

  • Speeding up account entry with Account Aliases
  • Gaining visibility with Horizontal Scroll Arrows
  • Streamlining payables processing by prioritizing vendors
  • Getting clarity with User Defined fields
  • Developing connections with Internet User Defined fields

These recipes are designed to help administrators get more out of Dynamics GP for their users by organizing Dynamics GP.

(For more resources on Microsoft, see here.)

Speeding up account entry with Account Aliases

As organizations grow the chart of accounts tends to grow larger and more complex as well. Companies want to segment their business by departments, locations, or divisions. All of this means that more and more accounts get added to the chart. As the chart of accounts grows it gets more difficult to select the right account. Dynamics GP provides the Account Alias feature as a way to quickly select the right account. The account aliases provide a way to create shortcuts to specific accounts. This can dramatically speed up the process of selecting the correct account. We'll look at how this works in this recipe.

Getting ready

Setting up Account Aliases requires a user with access to the Account Maintenance window. To get to this window:

  1. Select Financial from the Navigation Pane on the left. In the Cards section of the Financial Area Page click on Accounts. This will open the Account Maintenance window.
  2. Click on the lookup button (indicated by a magnifying glass) next to the Account field.
  3. Find and select Account No. 000-2100-00.
  4. Enter AP in the Alias field, which is in the middle of the Account Maintenance window. This associates the letters AP with the Accounts Payable account selected. This means that the user now only has to enter AP instead of the full account number to use the Accounts Payable account:

Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

How to do it...

Once aliases have been set up, let's see how the user can quickly select an account using the alias.

  1. To demonstrate how this works, click on Financial from the Navigation Pane on the left. Select Transaction Entry from the Financial Area Page under Transactions.
  2. In the Transaction Entry window select the top line in the grid area on the lower half of the window.
  3. Click on the blue arrow next to the Account heading to open the Account Entry window.
  4. In the Alias field type AP and press Enter:
  5. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

  6. The Account Entry window will close and the account represented by the alias will appear in the Transaction Entry window:
  7. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

How it works...

Account Aliases provide quick shortcuts for account entry. Keeping them short and obvious makes them easy to use. Aliases are less useful if users have to think about them. Limiting them to the most commonly used accounts make these more useful. Most users don't mind occasionally looking up the odd account. However, they wouldn't want to memorize long account strings for regularly used account numbers.

It's counter-productive to put an alias on every account as that would make finding the right alias as difficult as finding the right account number. The setup process should be performed on the most commonly used accounts to provide easy access.

See also

  • Gaining visibility with Horizontal Scroll Arrows

Gaining visibility with Horizontal Scroll Arrows

A consequence of company growth is that not only does the chart of accounts grow larger and less intuitive, but the actual lengths of account numbers tend to grow longer as well. Companies want to be able to report by account, department, location, and so on. This results in a proliferation of segments added to the main account number and can create very long account names. Dynamics GP can accommodate an account number as long as 66 characters. The longest I've seen used in practice was 27 characters and even that was unwieldy. Most users only need a portion of that length for their day-to-day work.

This presents a problem because very long account numbers won't fit into the account number field on most screens. For this recipe, we'll look at how Dynamics GP provides a solution to this in the User Preferences window.

How to do it...

Here we'll see how to increase the visibility of long account numbers:

  1. On the Navigation Pane on the left select Home.
  2. Click on User Preferences on the Shortcut Bar.
  3. Select the checkbox for Horizontal Scroll Arrows:
  4. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

This turns on the functionality to allow users to scroll horizontally within the Account field and lets them see the full account number:

Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

How it works...

Once Horizontal Scroll Arrows are activated small arrows appear at the left-hand and right-hand side of the Account field letting users scroll right and left to see the full account number.

There's more...

Horizontal Scroll Arrows are implemented on a per-user basis, meaning each user has to turn this on individually. Administrators can make this active for all users with an SQL script.

Additionally, for companies using alphanumeric characters in their chart of accounts, wide letters such as M or W are often difficult to see. There is also an option to increase the visible width of a particular segment.

Activating Horizontal Scroll Arrows for all users

Horizontal Scroll Arrows are activated by the user. However, an administrator can turn this feature on for all users in all companies by running the following SQL script against the Dynamics database:

Update SY01400
Set HSCRLARW=1

Widening segments for better visibility

When companies use alphanumeric characters in their chart of accounts wide letters, such as M or W, are often cut off. Horizontal scroll arrows don't help because the problem is that the segment field is too narrow, not the entire account field. To resolve this problem Dynamics GP provides an option to widen the segment fields as well.

On the Navigation Pane click on Administration. Select Account Format. For each segment that needs to be wider, select the field under the Display Width column and change it from Standard to Expansion 1, Expansion 2, or Expansion 3 to widen the field. Expansion 3 represents the widest option.

Companies using only numbers in their chart of accounts won't need to widen the segment field. However, firms that include letters as part of their chart will need to increase the width. Following is a list of the expansion options and the letters these are designed to accommodate:

  • Expansion 1: A,B,E,K,P,S,V,X, and Y
  • Expansion 2: C,D,G,H,M,N,O, Q,R, and U
  • Expansion 3: W

Streamlining payables processing by prioritizing vendors

Management of vendor payments is a critical activity for any firm. It's even more critical in difficult economic times. Companies need to understand and control payments. A key component of that is prioritizing vendors. Every firm has both critical and expendable vendors. Paying critical vendors on time is a key business driver.

For example, a newspaper company that doesn't pay their newsprint supplier won't be in business for long. However, they can safely delay payments to their janitorial vendor without worrying about going under.

Dynamics GP provides a mechanism to prioritize vendors and apply those priorities when selecting which checks to print. That is the focus of this recipe.

Getting ready

Setting this up first requires that the company figure out who the priority vendors are. That part is beyond the scope of this book. The Vendor Priority field in Dynamics GP is a 3-character field. Users shouldn't be tempted by the possibilities of 3 characters. A best practice is to keep the priorities simple by using 1, 2, and 3 or A, B, and C. Anything more complicated than this tends to confuse users and actually makes it harder to prioritize vendors.

Once the vendor priorities have been determined the priority needs to be set in Dynamics GP. Attaching a priority to a vendor is the first step. To do that:

  1. Select Purchasing from the Navigation Pane. In the Purchasing Area Page, under Cards, click on Vendor Maintenance.
  2. Once the Vendor Maintenance window opens, click on the lookup button (indicated by a magnifying glass) next to Vendor ID.
  3. Select a vendor and click on OK.
  4. Once the vendor information is populated, click on the Options button. This opens the Vendor Maintenance Options window.
  5. In the center left is the Payment Priority field. Enter 1 in the Payment Priority field and click on Save:

    Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Cookbook Solve real-world Dynamics GP problems with over 100 immediately usable and incredibly effective recipes using this Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 book and eBook
Published: July 2010
eBook Price: $35.99
Book Price: $59.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

(For more resources on Microsoft, see here.)

How to do it...

Now that a vendor has been set up with a priority let's see how to apply that information when selecting checks to print:

  1. To use vendor priorities to select invoices for payment, click on Select Checks from the Purchasing Area Page.
  2. In the Select Payables Checks window enter TEST to name the check batch. Press Tab to move off the Batch ID field and click on Add to add the batch.
  3. Select a Checkbook ID and click on Save to save the batch.
  4. In the Select field click on the drop-down box and select Payment Priority. Enter 1 in both the From and To fields.
  5. Click on the Insert button to lock in Payment Priority as an option:
  6. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

  7. Click on Build Batch at the top of the Select Payables Checks window. If there are any transactions where the vendor is set to a priority of 1, this will populate a batch of checks based on the vendor priority:
  8. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

How it works...

Since priority is one of the built-in options for selecting checks it's easy to ensure that high-priority vendors get selected to be paid first. All of this is easily accomplished with basic Dynamics GP functionality that most people miss.

Getting clarity with User Defined fields

Throughout Dynamics GP maintenance cards typically include at least two user defined fields. User defined fields can be renamed in the setup screen for the related module. This provides a great mechanism to add in special information. We'll take a look at a typical use of a user defined field in this recipe.

How to do it...

For our example, we'll look at using a user defined field to rename the User-Defined 1 field to Region in the Customer Maintenance window.

  1. From the Navigation Pane select Sales. In the Sales Area Page click on Setup, then Receivables, and finally Options.
  2. In the User-Defined 1 field type Region and click on OK to close each window:
  3. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

  4. Back on the Sales Area Page click on Customer under the Cards area. On the bottom left above User-Defined 2 is the newly named Region field ready to be filled in:
  5. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

How it works...

Changing the field name only changes the display field. It doesn't change the underlying field name in the database. SmartLists are smart enough to show the new name. In our example the description Region would appear in a SmartList, not User-Defined 1.

User defined fields such as these are present for Customers, Vendors, Accounts, Sales Orders, Fixed Assets, Inventory Items, and Purchase Receipts among others. These can each be renamed in their respective setup screens.

There's more...

All user defined fields are not the same. Some have special features.

Special User Defined 1 features

User Defined 1 has special features inside of Dynamics GP. Most of the built-in reports inside of Dynamics GP allow sorting and selection by the User Defined 1 field. These options aren't provided for User Defined 2. Consequently, administrators should carefully consider what information belongs in User Defined 1 before changing its name as the effects of this selection will be felt throughout the system.

Company Setup user defined fields

On the Company Setup window there are two user defined fields at the top right. There is no option in Dynamics GP to rename these fields. The Company Setup window is accessed by clicking on Administration on the Navigation Pane, then clicking on Company under the Setup and Company headers.

Expanded user defined fields

Certain areas such as Fixed Assets, Inventory Items, and Purchase Receipts have more complex types of user defined fields that can include dates, list selections, and currency.

Developing connections with Internet User Defined fields

Dynamics GP provides a built-in set of Internet fields for users to enter information such as web pages, e-mail addresses, and FTP sites. What many people don't know is that these are actually user defined fields and can be changed by an administrator. This allows a firm to add a second e-mail address or remove the FTP link if they want to. In this recipe, we'll look at how to customize these fields.

It is important to keep in mind when setting up Internet User Defined fields that these settings affect all of the Internet User Defined field names attached to address IDs assigned to a Company, Customers, Employees, Items, Salespeople, and Vendors.

How to do it...

Customizing the Internet User Defined fields is easy. Let's look at how it is done. For our example, we'll add the social networking service Twitter as a new label:

  1. Select Administration from the Navigation Pane. Under the Setup and Company headers in the Administration Area Page select Company.
  2. Click on the Internet User Defined button and change the description in the Label 4 field to Twitter. Click on OK:
  3. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

  4. Back on the Company Setup screen click on the blue italic letter (I) to the right of the Address ID to open the Internet Information window. In the Twitter field type http://www.twitter.com/mpolino.
  5. Click on the link associated with the Twitter field on the left. This opens a web browser and navigates to my Twitter account so that you can follow me. Click on Save to update the record:
  6. Organizing Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

How it works...

The secret to Internet User Defined fields is how the data is entered. Internet items use a prefix in the field to identify the type of Internet transaction to be used with the link. http:// is used for web pages, mailto:// for e-mail, and ftp:// for FTP sites. These prefixes tell Dynamics GP what to do when a link is clicked on. If no prefix is entered, GP will try to figure out what to do and may or may not succeed.

If http://www.microsoft.com is entered in the Home Page field, clicking on the link to the left will start the default browser and open the Microsoft web page. If http:// is not included but www is, GP figures out that it should open a web page. Just putting in microsoft.com isn't enough for GP to understand that the link corresponds to a web page. Similarly, if a user enters mailto://mpolino@gmail.com in the E-mail field and clicks on the corresponding link the default e-mail client opens up ready to send an e-mail to me. If no prefix is used on an e-mail address, GP will respond with a "File Not Found" error when the link is clicked on. It's not smart enough to know that the @ symbol means that this is an e-mail account.

Using a prefix in the Internet User Defined fields explicitly defines how this link should work and provides the most consistency to users.

There's more...

Some Internet User Defined fields look special but aren't, and some really are special.

Login and password

By default Label 5 is set to Login and Label 6 is set to Password. These fields are supposed to represent the login and password for one of the associated web pages or FTP sites. However, these fields are not encrypted and there is limited security control. So, it may not be appropriate to leave these fields named Login and Password if a company doesn't want users entering that information here.

Labels 7 and 8

Label 7 and Label 8 in the Internet User Defined Setup window are special fields that allow a user to look up and attach links to files located on the computer or the network. Clicking on the label name on the left opens the associated file. Any of the user defined fields can hold a filename, not just text. However, the special ability of labels 7 and 8 to allow users to look up filenames means that administrators should reserve these fields for file attachments.

Summary

This article included recipes that are designed to help administrators get more out of Dynamics GP for their users by changing the way Dynamics GP is organized.

In the next article, we will look at some more features of Dynamics GP.


Further resources on this subject:


Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Cookbook Solve real-world Dynamics GP problems with over 100 immediately usable and incredibly effective recipes using this Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 book and eBook
Published: July 2010
eBook Price: $35.99
Book Price: $59.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Mark Polino

Mark Polino is a Microsoft MVP for Dynamics GP, a Certified Public Accountant, and a Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Professional. He is the author of the premier Dynamics GP related blog, DynamicAccounting.net, and the creator and presenter of the successful series Getting More Out of Microsoft Dynamics GP: 50 Tips in 50 minutes. Mark has worked with Dynamics GP and its predecessor, Great Plains, for more than 10 years.

He works as a Principal Consultant with I.B.I.S., Inc. and spends his days helping clients implement Microsoft Dynamics GP.

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