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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.
Setting up Account Aliases requires a user with access to the Account Maintenance window. To get to this window:
- 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.
- Click on the lookup button (indicated by a magnifying glass) next to the Account field.
- Find and select Account No. 000-2100-00.
- 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:
How to do it…
Once aliases have been set up, let’s see how the user can quickly select an account using the alias.
- 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.
- In the Transaction Entry window select the top line in the grid area on the lower half of the window.
- Click on the blue arrow next to the Account heading to open the Account Entry window.
- In the Alias field type AP and press Enter:
- The Account Entry 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 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.
- 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:
- On the Navigation Pane on the left select Home.
- Click on User Preferences on the Shortcut Bar.
- Select the checkbox for Horizontal Scroll Arrows:
This turns on the functionality to allow users to scroll horizontally within the Account field and lets them see the full account number:
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.
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:
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.
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:
- Select Purchasing from the Navigation Pane. In the Purchasing Area Page, under Cards, click on Vendor Maintenance.
- Once the Vendor Maintenance window opens, click on the lookup button (indicated by a magnifying glass) next to Vendor ID.
- Select a vendor and click on OK.
- Once the vendor information is populated, click on the Options button. This opens the Vendor Maintenance Options window.
- In the center left is the Payment Priority field. Enter 1 in the Payment Priority field and click on Save: