Do you have trouble finding the right G/L account to use when you enter transactions? Do you frequently use the same G/L accounts on your day to day transactions and have the key them in or look them up each time? Have you recently changed your G/L account numbering and can’t remember the new account numbers? Aliases may be useful to you if you answered yes to any of these questions!
What is it?
Aliases are a little-used field on the Account Maintenance window meant for an abbreviation or shortcut to a G/L account. During implementations they are often ignored and left blank.
How to use it
On any window where you can select a G/L account (i.e. where there is a lookup field), there is also a handy little expansion button that looks like this: .
In older versions of Dynamics GP the icon was different - it looks like two small overlapping boxes if memory serves correct. The alias field is inside the expansion window (called the Account Entry window). Once you type in an alias, and tab off that field, the Account Entry window auto-closes and the G/L account it is associated with appears in your G/L account field.
- Click on Expansion Button (blue arrow) or use CTRL-Q in transaction windows (see Things to keep in mind below for a caveat)
- Type in your alias (case sensitive!)
- Tab off the field
- Voila! Your G/L account appears
Reasons to use it
- Aliases are ideal for entries that don’t have default G/L account distributions - payables transactions, receivables transactions and journal entries commonly don’t have defaults. I wouldn’t recommend creating aliases for control accounts such as Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable since any good configuration will default these in based on the company or vendor/customer setup. However in any situation where users are looking up G/L accounts, those can be updated to include aliases.
- Aliases can speed up data entry if your account numbers are long (i.e. multiple segments).
- Aliases can also reduce data entry errors from selecting incorrect accounts if you rely on numbering instead of mnemonics.
- Aliases can increase the adoption rate of converting to a new G/L account structure by using old account numbers as part of the alias until users get to know the new account numbers.
Things to keep in mind
- Aliases are case sensitive. Before implementing this feature, poll your users to see how they would key in shortcuts. Do they keep their CAPS LOCK button on all the time? Would they want to have spaces in the alias shortcut? Consider keeping all aliases similar - all lowercase, all uppercase or in some kind of pattern so everyone knows how to key them in.
- The Alias field is 20 characters long, alpha-numeric.
- The simpler your aliases are, the more likely your users will adopt it. Don’t make the aliases too complicated or they may find it just as easy to look the accounts up manually!
- Aliases must be unique. See Tips below for how to handle multiple departments or other areas where it’s hard to create unique aliases.
- The CTRL-Q shortcut ONLY works in certain transaction windows. This shortcut does not work in windows like Account Maintenance and it also does not appear to work in ALL transaction windows. I.E. it does not work in the Miscellaneous Cheque window for some reason. However, it does work in the vast majority of common transaction entry windows!
Tips for implementing
Tip 1: Export your chart of accounts to Excel using Smartlist and review the accounts to trim it down to accounts where aliases would be useful. (Delete whatever you don’t need it for). Then create aliases in your spreadsheet and import them back into Dynamics GP using Integration Manager or your choice of integration tool.
Tip 2: Make the aliases as short as possible - the goal is speeding up data entry, not typing in 20 character phrases! Abbreviate common distinguishing features.
- Do you have accounts in multiple currencies? Consider using either full currency ISO codes or abbreviations of those for currency differentiators. Example for Prepaid Expenses in say Canadian Dollars and US Dollars, “PPD C” and “PPD U”.
- Do you have lots of departments or projects in your G/L Account structure? Perhaps use a mix of alpha and numeric - if department numbers are well-known throughout your user base, then use alpha shortcuts for common expenses and keep the numerics for departments. Example for Office Supplies “offsupp 100” for department 100, “offsup 200”, “offsup 300” etc.
Tip 3: Create cheat sheets for your staff. Don’t print a list of all 2000 G/L accounts with their alias but instead look at the patterns you used and create cheat sheets to identify the patterns. Your users are smart enough to put the patterns together to enter complete aliases! Example: one list is the common expense codes with aliases like “offsup” = Office Supplies Expense. If you have 40 office supply accounts because of different departments, projects etc., just list it once with a separate sheet listing the shortcuts for the departments or projects.
I hope this is useful information for some of you!