Organizing Dynamics GP

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Speeding 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 and, as the chart of accounts grows, it becomes more difficult to select the right account. Dynamics GP provides the account alias feature as a way to quickly select the right account. Account aliases provide a way to create shortcuts to specific accounts that can dramatically speed up the process of selecting the correct account. We’ll look at how that works in this recipe.

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 and, as the chart of accounts grows, it becomes more difficult to select the right account. Dynamics GP provides the account alias feature as a way to quickly select the right account. Account aliases provide a way to create shortcuts to specific accounts that can dramatically speed up the process of selecting the correct account. We’ll look at how that 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, perform the following steps:

  1. Select Financial from the navigation pane on the left. Click on Accounts on the Financial area page under Cards. This will open the Account Maintenance window.
  2. Click on the Lookup button (magnifying glass) next to the Account Number or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Q.
  3. Find and select account 000-2100-00.
  4. In the middle of the Account Maintenance window you can find the Account Alias field. Enter AP in the Alias field.

This associates the letters AP with the account’s selected payable account. This means that the user now only has to enter AP instead of the full account number to use the account’s payable account.

How to do it…

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

  1. To demonstrate how this works, click on Financial in 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 expansion button (represented by a blue arrow) next to the Account heading to open the Account Entry window.
  4. In the Alias field, type AP and press Enter.

  5. The Account Alias window will close and the account represented by the alias will appear in the Transaction Entry window.

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 makes them more useful. Most users don’t mind occasionally looking up the odd account, but they shouldn’t have to memorize long account strings for regularly used account numbers.

It’s counter-productive to put an alias on every account since 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.

Cleaning account lookups by removing accounts from lookups

A consequence of company growth is that the chart of accounts grows and the account lookups can get clogged up by the number of accounts in the system. While the General Ledger will stop showing an account in a lookup when the account is made inactive, other modules will continue to show these inactive codes.

However, Dynamics GP does contain a feature that can be used to remove inactive codes from lookups; this same feature can also be used to remove codes from lookups in series where the code should not be used, such as a sales code in the purchasing or inventory series.

How to do it…

Here we will see how to remove inactive accounts from lookups:

  1. Open Financial from the navigation pane on the left. In the main area page, under Cards , select Account.
  2. Enter, or do a lookup for, the account to be made inactive and removed from the lookups.

  3. Check the Inactive checkbox.
  4. Press and hold the Ctrl key and click on each of the lines in the Include in Lookup list.
  5. Click on Save to commit the changes.

Next time a lookup is done in any of the now deselected modules, the account will not be included in the list.

If the account is to be included in lookups in some modules but not in others, simply leave selected the modules in which the account should be included.

How it works…

Accounts will only be shown in lookups when the series is selected in the Include in Lookup list. For series other than General Ledger, simply marking an account inactive is not enough to remove it from the lookup although the code can’t be used when the account is inactive.

Gaining visibility by using horizontal scroll arrows

A consequence of company growth is that not only does the chart of accounts grow larger and less intuitive, but also 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, which results in a proliferation of segments added to the main account number and can create very long accounts. Dynamics GP can accommodate an account number as long as 66 characters. The longest I’ve seen used in practice was of 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 area.

How to do it…

Here we’ll see how to increase the visibility of long account numbers.

  1. In the navigation pane on the left, select Home.
  2. Click on User Preferences on the shortcut bar.
  3. Check the box for Horizontal Scroll Arrows.

    This turns on the functionality that allows users to scroll horizontally within the Account field, allowing them to see the full account number.

How it works…

Once horizontal scroll arrows are activated, small arrows appear at the left and right 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 a 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.

In the navigation pane, click on Administration and select Account Format. For each segment that needs to be wider, select 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, but firms that include letters as part of their charts will need to increase the width. The following is a list of the expansion options and the letters they are designed to accommodate:

  • Expansion 1: A, B, E, K, P, S, V, X, Y
  • Expansion 2: C, D, G, H, M, N, O, Q, R, 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 and a key component of this 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 that doesn’t pay its newsprint supplier won’t be in business 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 figures out who the priority vendors are. That part is beyond the scope of this book. The Vendor Priority field in Dynamics GP is a three-character field, but users shouldn’t be seduced by the possibilities of three characters. A best practice is to keep the priorities simple by using 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C. Anything more complicated than that 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, perform the following steps:

  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 (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 screen.
  5. In the center left we find the Payment Priority field. Enter 1 in Payment Priority and click on Save.

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 CHEQUES to name the check batch. Press Tab to move off of the Batch ID field and click on Add to add the batch.
  3. Pick a Checkbook ID and click on Save to save the batch.
  4. In the Select By field, click on the drop-down box and select Payment Priority. Enter 1 in both the From and To boxes.
  5. Click on the Insert button to lock in Payment Priority as an option.

  6. Click on Build Batch at the top. 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.

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 Customer Maintenance .

  1. From the navigation pane, select Sales . In the Sales page, click on Setup and then click on Receivables and finally Options .
  2. In the User-Defined 1 field, type Region and click on OK to close each window.

  3. Back on the Sales 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.

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 for Region would appear in a SmartList, not User-Defined 1 .

User-defined fields like this are present for customers, vendors, accounts, sales orders, fixed assets, inventory items, and purchase receipts among others. Each of these can 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 -n reports inside the 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 since the effects of this selection will be felt throughout the system.

Company Setup user-defined fields

In the Company Setup window, there are two user-defined fields at the top right and there is no option in Dynamics GP to rename these fields. The Company Setup window is accessed by clicking on Administration in the navigation pane, and 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 that allows firms 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 the Internet user-defined field names attached to address ID’s assigned to a company, customers, employees, items, salespeople, and vendors.

How to do it…

Customizing the Internet user-defined fields is easy, so let’s take a look at how to do it. 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, pick Company .
  2. Click on the Internet User Defined button and change the Image description next to Label 4 to Twitter. Click on OK .

  3. 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
  4. 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.

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, and if no prefix is entered, Dynamics GP will try to figure out what to do and may or may not succeed.

If is entered in a field, 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 isn’t enough for GP to understand that the link corresponds to a web page. Similarly, if a user enters <> and clicks the link, the default e-mail client opens up and is ready to send an e-mail to me. If no prefix is used with an e-mail address, GP will respond with a “File Not Found” error when the link is clicked. 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, the Internet user-defined Label 5 field is named Login and the Label 6 field is named 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.

Label 7 and Label 8

Label 7 and Label 8 in Internet user defined fields 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. Other fields can accept files and these fields can still accept a prefix and link or free form text, but their special ability to look up file names mean that administrators should consider reserving them for file attachments.


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