GPUG Amplify 2017 - Day 2

At long last, here is my post on GPUG Amplify, day 2. I’m writing this on March 25th, but posting it as the last day of the event for consistency with the conference dates.

This was the last day of the conference, and I was heading to another hotel closer to the Ontario airport for my flight home, so I was up early and packed before the day began.

Three amusing things happened before the day even began. First, I was getting into the shower and I was confused at first as to where the rain head shower went… until I realized I was in a different hotel on Sunday that had the rain head shower. Doh! (You know you’re tired when…). Second, my hotel bill was under the door and I was reminded that I actually paid the upgrade for a “city view” room… and had yet to even spend much time in my room, including looking out the window. Doh, again! So I went to check out the view, on my way out, and noticed fairly large blood stains on the curtains at the doorway. Hmm…

The third “dumbass” moment was checking out of the hotel before checking what time the daily breakfast was served. Well, it turns out on Day 1 it was at 7:30am but on Day 2 it was 8am. You guessed it! I was checked out of my room at 7:15am, and ended up just paying for breakfast in the hotel instead of waiting the 45 minutes for the free one. Doh! So, that was the start of my day… oh dear, what might be next?

Session 1 - Dynamics Pro & GPUG meeting

The first session of the day I skipped, to spent some time with Janet Lampert, COO of Dynamics Communities. She had wanted to meet to discuss a few things. One was the potential idea of a Canadian GP roadshow next fall and asked if I would be interested in helping organize, plan, execute etc., if it comes to fruition. Sounds like fun to me! The other thing we talked about was the Dynamics Pro organization and some behind the scenes changes, and how we were ticking along with exam writing, organization of the item writing process and other things. I’d met Janet at previous conferences but this was the first time I really had a chance to sit down with her for any significant time so it was a good chat.

Session 2 - Business Alert Notifications

David Eichner and Mike McDowell were the co-presenters of this session. It was a good premise for a session, with some details on how the Business Alerts function worked. Business Alerts is one of those features that has literally been with Dynamics GP forever (it seems) and it likely very underutilized by most customers, if used at all.

Mike had lots of real-world examples of the alerts he’s used over the years, at times numbering in the hundreds, to catch issues right away when they occur. I must admit, I forget about business alerts many times when clients ask if there is a way to tell when “x” or “y” occurs, as I am often jumping right to auditing packages. Sometimes Business Alerts will work just as well for simpler situations, and is free.

The unfortunate part of the session was some technical difficulties, which left the impression to some as the demo not being well planned for the session. There appeared to be a version issue of SQL installed on David’s machine so the business alerts were not actually firing when it came time to demo. Abra Gilman generously offered the use of her laptop but then it was a comedy of errors with the projector not liking her laptop right away and then having issues displaying the content on the right screen etc. Mike was on the other side of the room continuing to talk and give examples to keep the session moving but half of my side of the room was chiming in talking to Daivd in trying to help the get back to displaying content, preventing most of us from hearing what Mike was saying. From where I was sitting, it was highly distracting.

Expo & Lunch break

The breaks between the last morning session and the first afternoon session were quite long, too long in my opinion. We had from 11:15am to 1:30pm off for Expo time and lunch. Since I had already checked out of my room, I used the lunch tables to finish writing my Day 1 blog, and catch up with some colleagues before the lunch actually was served.

Session 3 - GP Admin Life Hacks

This session was fun. Shawn Dorward hosted it, and even the opening slides were quite amusing, with various pictures of good, and bad, life hacks, from the internet. It was a great way to amuse the crowd while the room filled up.

Shawn did a great job of going through a whole variety of hacks he learned from his time as a GP admin, and as a consultant. There were tips, scripts, features, and resources presented. A few of the more memorable things he presented were:

  • Scripts to help with missing homepage elements (in his presentation slides if you want more info on this)
  • Changing the splash screen image to show something other than the Dynamics GP logo/version on startup. For fun, he showed one where it changed to a Quickbooks logo.
  • Showing a user summary by type, in GP 2016 where you have different license types.

Session 4 - ISV showcase

I skipped this session to handle a couple of emails…

Session 5 - Advanced Topics for Management Reporter

This session was presented by Derek Krebs of MSX Group. If you ever need financial reporting training, either on their own product, Prospero, or FRx/Management Reporter/Jet Express, look them up. That is definitely their wheelhouse!

There were a couple of interesting things that came up, one that I didn’t know, and one that I raised as not being necessary but I’m not sure Derek understood my point on it. The first one, was the row sorting feature. I’d seen this in the menu options before but have never actually used it. Essentially, you can define in the row format what section of rows should sort and on which column basis. So, you could have P&L administrative expenses sorted by dollars, for instance.

The second thing was related to the Balance Sheet and how to manage getting a balance sheet for a new fiscal year if your old fiscal year isn’t closed yet. He showed the column layout and correctly noted that the simple way to accommodate this is to have 2 hidden columns, one for “last fiscal” for the last period of that year (i.e. 12 if you have 12 periods) and one for the periods for this current fiscal. You hide both of those but have a calculated column which adds them together to mimics the proper balances, as if the year was closed and opening balances were present in your data.

However, his explanation for the “current year” column was (in my opinion) not the only way to handle this. He showed how he did the column but implied this is the only way. He showed this:

  • Column 1: Description
  • Column 2: “BASE-1” Fiscal Year, Period 12 (for a 12 period fiscal calendar)
  • Column 3: “BASE” Fiscal Year, Period “1:BASE”, Periodic

This works perfectly but is not the only option. I prefer to do this, which accomplishes the same thing. I may not have described my method properly to him because for whatever reason, he just kept saying my way wouldn’t work.

  • Column 1: Description
  • Column 2: “BASE-1” Fiscal Year, Period 12 (for a 12 period fiscal calendar)
  • Column 3: “BASE” Fiscal Year, Period “BASE”, YTD

My rationale is, for the given new fiscal year, the “Year To Date” balance in any account is the same as the “Period 1 to BASE” sum of periods. There is no opening balance, hence, either method works. Once you close a fiscal year, Dynamics GP populates “period 0” with opening balances but prior to year-end close, you need to use one of the above methods to get your Balance Sheet working.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, you do have options!

End of the Event

After the last session, I found some colleagues and we went to the hotel bar for a beverage and some food. I had arranged a shuttle to take me to the Ontario airport for the night, since I had an early 6am flight the next day. I enjoyed the last bit of time I could with my GP pals, and then made my way to the next airport.

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