GP Tech 2019 - Day 1

Day 1 of this year’s GP Tech conference was Monday, September 9th. As in previous years, this is a 2.5 day event, with very full days on the Monday and Tuesday followed by a “morning-only” set of content on the Wednesday. As I write this, it’s Wednesday and I’m catching up on my blogs to get them written and posted before I fly out this afternoon for home.

If you missed my “Pre-Day” post, you can find it here.

General Session: What’s coming in GP Next

Theresa Nistler (from Microsoft) led this session, after a brief introduction from Bob McAdam. The “GP Next” session slide shows nearly 40 new features and changes coming in the next release of Microsoft Dynamics GP. There is some news about the version numbering that is still under NDA so I am not going to comment on here until it’s OK to do so.

Of that list above, the changes that resonated with me included the following (in no particular order):

  • Adding a new Long Description field to Payables Transaction Entry. It’s a new field on the window, not an extension of the existing description field. There is a new option in Payables Setup to control whether you want this field visible or not. The length of this field is 100 characters. By default it will appear on the default cheque layouts but if you have modified your cheque layout, you would need to edit that modified report to add this. Upgrades won’t typically add something like this to a modified report!
  • Journal Entry Inquiry will now show the User Who Posted.
  • Document Attach is available in Bank Reconciliation.
  • A visual cue has been added to Edit Payment Batch for EFT Vendors.
  • Workflow has been added for User Security, User Setup, Security Task and Role changes - all very welcome additions!
  • Workflow import and export, there was a lot of clapping for the ability to do this! The format is JSON and it exports the bulk of a workflow setup, except for approvers and messages which will differ between systems and environments.
  • Workflow change of approvers for active tasks is a good change. I.E. the ability to re-assign tasks not yet completed, if someone leaves your company while they have unapproved tasks assigned to them.
  • Copy Report Options: this is one of my favourites. All of the Report Option windows should have this functionality. If you have named a Report Option poorly, you can now Copy and “rename” and delete the old one. If you want to make one that has very similar restrictions to another, you can copy and make the minor changes. So nice!!
  • Lastly there were some system compatibility items noted in the slide such as support for SQL 2019, Office 2019 and Windows Server 2019.

Not Your Daddy’s Financials

This was Belinda Allen’s session, showing tips and tricks for creating dashboards. She walked through this in a ton of detail: what tables she uses, what data modelling steps to perform, etc. and it was fantastic. Belinda is a pro with Power BI and it’s always a pleasure to watch her work, which gives the audience insight into the process not just the outcome.

Practical GP Security

Mark Polino presented this session and I loved it. It was in the “New Consultants” track, but I sat in purely because Mark has the best stories! He’s always got a few analogies, fraud cases or other stories about security gone wrong, whether that’s in Dynamics GP or not. Here are some of the things that stood out for me:

  • Internal threats are bigger than cyber security. 80% of fraud is internal.
  • The average cost of a fraud incident is $130,000 (US I assume). The average for smaller firms is quite a bit higher than for large firms, $200K vs. $104K. Smaller firms are less likely to have extensive segregation of duties or as big a focus on internal controls.

Overall there were a lot of great recommendations on how to make improvements, to segregate duties or simply guidelines for better security. His analogy is like the joke about outrunning a bear: you just have to be faster than the slowest person. With security, you need to make things difficult enough for a potential fraudster that they will move on to some other easier-to-attack target.

It’s impossible to capture all of his recommendations, so I won’t try to do it an injustice by listing things out. Suffice to say you should go to one of his GP security presentations at the next conference you attend.

User Defined Functions

This presentation was delivered by the amazing Leslie Vail. At the end of the General Session to start the day, there was an update on Taylor Dorward, who was present at the conference to meet some of Shawn’s colleagues and friends. After that was a well put-together tribute to Leslie Vail who officially retired earlier this year, and was attending this year as her swan song, so to speak. This was one of 2 or 3 sessions she was presenting and I was not going to miss one of the last opportunities to learn from her lengthy Dynamics GP consulting career. She is a GPUG All*Star and a former (long-time) Microsoft MVP with 26 years of experience in the Dynamics GP community.

Today’s session was invaluable, and I suspect more than one person skipped it thinking who the heck needs to learn Report Writer? Well, as Leslie pointed out, if you are doing any Word Template work, and you need a field on it, you need to know how to get it on the Report Writer version of the report before it will be present on the Word Template. Therefore, knowing Report Writer will help you be a better consultant.

If you didn’t attend, at least go to the downloads and get a copy of her presentation and extra files. It’s an incredible resource - listing off the most useful UDFs in Report Writer, the parameters required and in some cases examples of what it does.

SQL Server Life Hacks

Shawn Dorward presented this session and it was typical of his other “life hacks” presentations where it’s a compilation of tips and tricks from a consultant’s perspective, this one about SQL Server. He covered queries, useful setup options for SQL Management Studio and several other things. It’s a topic that every new consultant can benefit from attending to get some tips to get them started!

Evening Reception at Microsoft

As in the past few years of this event, the first night included a reception and Expo at Microsoft in the Cafe downstairs. It’s always a good chance to unwind, get a small bite to eat with a variety of hors d’oeuvres, enjoy a beverage or two and mingle with the other attendees.

After the reception, I hopped in the car with Corey Clay and a colleague of his (I neglected to catch her name unfortunately). We dropped by the eOne Solutions office for a brief visit to their “Smartner Party”, and got a tour of the new Dynamic Communities office which happens to be above the eOne office. After that short visit, we went back to our hotels and I called it a night! I tried to write this day’s blog that evening butt fatigue won out and I fell asleep instead!

That’s it for day 1. Stay tuned for Days 2 and 3 to come!

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