New Release of RapidStart for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 Aims for Speed with Flexibility

Welcome screen in GP 2013 RapidStart tool

Call it a case of what's old is new again.

Earlier this month, the newest version of RapidStart Services for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 was released to partners.  The tool is delivered as services deployed onto eConnect, with significant upgrades and changes to make it a more robust tool for day-to-day work.

One of the benefits of using the RapidStart tool is a dramatic reduction in implementation time.

"The benefit is typically when you look at an implementation cycle, it used to take twenty-four hours to do the set up of this part of this software but now it will be minutes rather than days and hours," Microsoft Dynamics GP senior product manager Jay Manley said. "The reduction in time is a factor of six or eight, but really it's more like a factor of 10. It's that significant of a [time] savings."

But RapidStart isn't exactly a new tool.

"We've had it in the past; it wasn't called RapidStart, but it was call Rapid Implementation tools," said Manley. "There are actually two tools. One is a configuration tool and one is a migration tool."

The configuration tool helps users set up the basic configuration elements of Dynamics GP like how the chart of accounts looks; how the company is set up for currency; and how companies set up modules.  And the latest release improves the flexibility, allowing for more stopping and starting of the tool without losing data.

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 RapidStart Project Overview

"The configuration tool has varied greatly. The way that it's changed - I've worked in the field for twelve years on ERP implementation. When I saw the tool, it was wizard-based. It asked you a series of questions and there was no way to do it any other way. Let's say you were halfway through it, and you didn't have a particular piece of information, you would have to get out of it, and lose all of that information. Then re-enter the information, the next time you got into the wizard. I made it more of a questionnaire-based process. Now you can go in and save the information each time. Each RapidStart validates the [information.] So now you can do this piecemeal, which is how consultants work."

RapidStart also fits into the Dynamics GP team's focus on rapid implementation and helping partners complete more projects and close more deals. "RapidStart is a great way to save a lot of time in setting up a company especially when you're trying to do volume," Manley said. "Lately that is our focus - on the volume of small and medium market businesses. To focus on that we need to find out ways to make it more rapid."

That's where the configuration and the migration tools in RapidStart come into play, he said.

"First you can do the configuration very rapidly," he said. "We've included thirteen industry templates with the tool including bookkeeping, light manufacturing, restaurants, and retail."

So if you are in one of those 13 industries, you can simply grab the template, and you could be 6 0%-80% complete on the configuration side, he said.

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 RapidStart Projects

"Then what we also tell partners that if they have a lot of customers [in a particular industry] they can grab their configuration files, and then when they have a similar customer in the future, they can reuse that configuration with a new customer," Manley said. "That gets you in a 90%-95% complete range. It really saves you a lot of time right when you are doing the configuration side of the software. Plus, if you grab that configuration from an existing company, the likelihood of there being an error in there or some kind of mistake in the setup is going to be very low because you have been working with them in the past."

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 RapidStart Questions

Then the other part of RapidStart is the migration tool, which lets companies migrate data from one of three data sources.

"In the new version of RapidStart, the migration tool is basically the same, it's just been updated to handle migrations from QuickBooks and Sage Peachtree," he said. " When you want to move up from QuickBooks to one of our real ERP systems, one of the likely moves is GP," he said. "Then we have a spreadsheet that they can fill in with their data and we can migrate it from [there] as well."

And RapidStart is not just for partners. If a customer that's fairly technical is doing a  basic implementation of Dynamics GP, that customer can probably use RapidStart without any outside help, Manley said.

"For instance, one of our customers is currently acquiring boutique hotels and the CFO uses this tool to take the existing configuration for one hotel and then use it for another hotel," he said.

But one problem in the SMB market is that companies don't have a lot of technical people. In those cases, Manley suggests potentially using a partner.

About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in Massachusetts. She has written about information technology for 10 years. She has been a journalist since the late 1980s. She wrote for numerous community newspapers in the Boston area, where she covered politics and was a high-profile investigative reporter. She has freelanced for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. She is the published author of four true crime books "Murder at Morses Pond," "An Act of Murder," "Ripper", and "Bone Crusher" for Kensington Publishing Corp. (Pinnacle imprint). She has just started her fifth true crime book for Kensington.

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