The "Right" Way to Maximize the Growing Number of Online Resources for Microsoft Dynamics GP

February 2 2010

When I first started using Microsoft Dynamics GP almost twenty years ago (it was called Great Plains Software and was on DOS at the time) there were limited options for getting help.  I could call support (not free, but usually quick), call our GP Partner (not free and usually not very quick) or muddle through on my own (free, but usually nowhere near quick).  I managed, and certainly learned a lot in the process, but it was often very frustrating and time consuming.  Not to mention costly if I was not able to find the answer on my own.

Today, we have many options for getting free help for Dynamics GP.  There are various online forums, newsgroups, user groups and blogs, all with knowledgeable people posting all sorts of information, relating their experiences and answering questions posted by users. 

If I were starting to use Dynamics GP today, it would make for a very different user experience.  Certainly some of this is simply a by-product of the proliferation of the Internet and the fact that just about any information is so much more accessible today than it was twenty, ten, or even five years ago.  Much of the easy accessibility can be directly attributed to people volunteering their time to share their knowledge with others. 

Just because there is a lot of information available and people willing to provide it doesn't mean that obtaining what you need when you need it is going to be a simple matter.  Too many options can be as daunting as not enough. Here are some tips and guidelines for getting the most out of the free resources available to help with any and all Dynamics GP questions you might have:

1.       Be specific and thorough in describing your problem.

  • Include what version (and preferably service pack or build) of GP you are on when asking a question. This can be critical to getting a proper answer, as functionality sometimes changes quite drastically with versions. For example security and 1099 changes in Dynamics GP 10.0 make them quite different from prior versions.
  • List what you have already done to try to troubleshoot your problem. This will save you from getting responses suggesting you try something that you already have and get you to a resolution that much faster.
  • If you are getting an error message, type out the exact wording of the error and the exact steps taken prior to the error - this can make a big difference in getting the right answer quickly. Also, find out if you are getting that error on multiple computers with different logins; that will be one of the first questions in many troubleshooting situations.

2.       Try to find the answer yourself first.

  • Around this time of year there is a ton of year-end close and 1099 questions. It's entirely possible that your question has been answered already. Spend a little time searching the internet first.
  • If you're getting an error, type the error message into the Dynamics GP KnowledgeBase -often there will be a KB article addressing that exact error.
  • Basic functionality questions ("How do I enter inventory transactions?") or very general questions ("How do I use FRx?") are typically going to be answered with "get training" or "read the manual". If you need this kind of help, online resources are typically not going to provide what you're looking for.

3.       Be a smart "buyer."

  • Don't take answers as gospel - remember most online forums are open to anyone. If you are not 100% sure of the consequences of following the advice offered, take the time to check with someone or wait for a ‘second opinion'. Consider testing somewhere other than your production environment and always make backups first.

4.       Be considerate.

  • Keep in mind that most of the people answering questions on online are doing this on their own time. Yes, they might be getting recognition, MVP awards, even finding work this way, but they are still volunteers. Treat them as such - they are helping you for free, taking time out of their day for you. Clichéd, but true, treat others as you would want to be treated in this situation.
  • If you feel you must use all capitals (the equivalent of yelling) or use words like "urgent" or "ASAP" or "critical" in your question, then online forums are not the place for your questions. If you urgently need help or if this is something critical to your operation, then bite the bullet and go to either your GP Partner or GP support.

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About Victoria Yudin

Victoria has been designing, implementing, integrating, and customizing business management and accounting systems for over 20 years. She has been a user of Microsoft Dynamics GP (and its Great Plains Software predecessor) since it was available on DOS and has been a Dynamics GP consultant for almost 15 years. Victoria has the distinction of being the only person in the world named a Microsoft Dynamics GP Most Valuable Professional (MVP) each consecutive year since 2005. Victoria has an undergraduate degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and has numerous certifications for Microsoft Dynamics GP and related technologies.

In November 2000, Victoria started Flexible Solutions, Inc. to bring together her experience in accounting and business with her love for technology. Flexible Solutions is a Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner, offering the GP Reports Viewer add-on for Dynamics GP, as well as Microsoft Dynamics GP implementation, reporting, and support services.

In September 2008, Victoria started her blog, called Ramblings and musings of a Dynamics GP MVP to share her experiences and thoughts with the Dynamics GP community.  Victoria is the author of the book Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Implementation and Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 Implementation.

More about Victoria Yudin

Comments

winthropdc's picture

Hi Victoria This is great advice. Thanks for writing down what many of us think. David http://blogs.msdn.com/DevelopingForDynamicsGP/

ishaq ojibara's picture

Thanks Victoria for the great advise. Just to add to your great piece - With respect to GP online assist , you need to get familiar with the expert posters, their advise is as good as a confirmed resolution. Look for and adopt the postings from these expert posters first before considering other 'unanymous' posters David, i also use this opportunity to thank you for your great online assisstance on GP. Your postings as always resolved my issues/problems.