Microsoft is Ready, Are You?

Microsoft held an Executive Briefing about Dynamics GP (Great Plains) in Toronto this week. The first speaker talked about the research Microsoft is doing and how they have shadowed actual people at their jobs to see how best to design their software tools. The second speaker presented a day-in-the-life of an executive using Dynamics. This wasn’t a gee-whiz session talking breezily about a rosy future. All of the features are available today.

My question is: how many people are in a position to take advantage of the software?

Your accounting system can now identify unusual transactions (the example was a particularly large sale), shoot you off an email, let you see a report with more detail, then create a letter or email to customize before sending it to the customer. Cool, eh?

How do we get there from here?

“Hands off my data!” – Accounting departments need to be open about allowing staff from other departments access to the financial database (with all of the appropriate controls and security in place, of course).

“What’s a Pivot Table?” – Accounting staff need more than just a nodding acquaintance with Excel. They need to be able to:

  • Sort, filter and lookup data so they can zero in on specific transactions
  • Summarize data (pivot table) by any field (e.g. date, item, vendor, territory, etc.)
  • Present data with readable charts, tables or graphs

“How many widgets did we sell in Ohio?” – Accounting staff need to be able to create ad hoc reports or download blocks of data quickly and easily. They need a good understanding about how information is organized in the database so they can find requested data.

Even if you have no plans to change your accounting system, the next time you see someone entering whole columns of data into a spreadsheet, challenge them to find a way to do it faster. When someone says that the system can’t produce the information you’re looking for, ask why not. The accounting system is a diamond mine of information. Let’s give the miners the right tools and training!

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