The User Manual is Dead. Long Live the User Manual.

February 6 2017

Documantation in hand

Is the traditional user manual as we know it dead? I ask this as an honest question, wondering if my love for manuals has something to do with my generation.

About Mark Polino

Mark Polino is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a former Microsoft MVP (2007-2018) for Business Solutions. He is the author or coauthor of 5 books related to Microsoft Dynamics GP.  Mark also maintains the Dynamics GP focused website He speaks and writes regularly about ERP related topics. Mark has been a controller and CFO for a division of a publicly traded company and he has  worked as a consultant implementing ERP solutions. Mark holds additional certifications including Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) , Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Dynamics Credentialed Professional for Dynamics GP 2015 (Core Install and Core Financials), Xero Certified. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from Rollins College. Mark lives with his family in Florida.

More about Mark Polino


loustar's picture

Another great topic, Mark. Manuals are critical but today they can take many forms. In addition to PDFs, vendors are using detailed help screens, wikis, knowledgebases, videos, FAQs and custom web searches. Unfortunately, too many ISVs neglect documentation as they release new versions and features. It's one of the key requirements that I look for when I select new solutions.

mherring's picture

I whole heartedly agree that the information needs to be somewhere. I have been either using or consulting on GP for 20 years now and I still open the online manuals at least once a month. I use this information to save time. If I have to go to various sources and use keyword searches or trial and error test the application to try to find the information I need it becomes a significant amount of time that could have been used much better. I consider centralized information a necessity, whether it is a repository of manuals, the application Help, or some other method of recording how a system operates, just do it!

dlashua's picture

Mark, Thanks for the article. Manuals of some sort are still in great demand, whether they are online or built within the help application. I have been consulting on Dynamics GP for nearly 20 years and I am still asked by many clients where the manuals are located. These are good references for not only users that are new to GP, but also those that may be implementing a new module or performing a task that they do not normally perform on a daily basis.

Leslie Vail's picture

Mark, Perhaps our age is showing, but I've always been a manual person. I actually read them; I’ve learned many new things that I wouldn't have normally come across without the manual. I understand the cost aspect, but I really miss the ability to print out the manuals and highlight them. Yesterday, Harry Lee and I decided to update some of the old Accolade books and to complete a couple that were in the works at the time of Richard’s passing. We have a General Ledger and Accounts Payable book that are nearly completed. I think we’re going to update the Confessions book and introduce the GL and AP manuals first. Leslie

tjr2jtr2's picture

I've always like having the hard-copy to refer to/make notes in/etc... Love the idea that the Accolade books be updated. When will these be available? Deanne

Jeff Petersen's picture

But they could get the cookbook as a supplement to what still is out there. J

Sheilajr's picture

I totally agree. I have clients that don't want to spend a lot of money on training but where do I send them for manuals? It really is a "black hole" as you describe it. I have been on their documentation site and think that they need to get away from versions and just list all their manuals on one page with a published date to decern the most current. Why go hunting in each version for what you want? Thanks for bringing this painful topic to the forefront.

DavidMO2's picture

I have GP 2016 R2 and went to open the GP Web Services install manual. There is an extra checkbox with "Are you using the Web Client", and I wanted to review the need for this. What did I get? Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 R2 - Web Services Installation and Administration Guide Does it show the screen I want? Nope. MDGP2016_R2_DVD_ENUS All but one of the 20 included PDFs are GP 2013 or 2013R2 versions. One (ProfServicesToolsLibrary.pdf) is a 2015 version. As an aside, it is rather frustrating to search for GP and Web nowadays. I return mostly Web Client results. Very few for GP Web Services.

SueZ's picture

I agree there is a need to have a manual. I like to have one place to look up information and not have to search various sites. I like to be able to highlight and post it note sections that are applicable to our install.

HairyCelt's picture

We were all thinking it - printed manuals excel as your can't read the other formats while in the bath!