Protect Your Investment: Five Things You Must Document in a Microsoft Dynamics GP Solution

November 7 2011

Quite often in the last few years I have received a call or email that sounds something like this: "I have recently started working for a company that is using Dynamics GP and have been tasked with helping users address their various questions on it.  At the same time, management would like to make sure we are utilizing Dynamics GP to its fullest potential and would like to add/streamline functionality.  However, my first task is to get a handle on all the various components we have, as nothing is currently documented." 

This is, of course, the cleaned up version.  The real conversations usually touch on how difficult it is to find any information, turnover in the IT and accounting departments, and how no one in the company remembers anything about customizations, modifications or any reasoning behind them.

I believe there is an important lesson in this: no matter how fabulous your GP partner is, no matter how ‘vanilla' your Dynamics GP implementation, you still have to be responsible for your own documentation and need to make sure there is an internal resource in charge of gathering and maintaining all of it. 

Whether you are just starting to implement Dynamics GP or have been using it for 15 years, here are five things to make sure you have a well documented system:

  • Your Microsoft Dynamics GP licensing. Don't forget to include FRx, Management Reporter, and any 3rd party (aka ISV) products. This can be important when planning changes - for example your licensing might be limited to a certain number of users or already include modules you want to use in the future, making the decision to add functionality a lot easier. This documentation should also include any license and registration keys, contact information for sales and support, as well as details for any maintenance agreements in place.
  • Installation details. What versions and builds of all the Dynamics GP products, 3rd party products and customizations are installed, details about where all the installation media is, installation locations, possibly even installation instructions. While this can get quite lengthy and detailed, it is important not only for internal support but also when working with any outside company for support.
  • Customizations/Modifications. This is possibly the most difficult, especially going backwards. Many companies that I see with customizations or modifications do not know who created them, why they were created and/or what purpose they actually serve. You might think that if your GP partner or Microsoft is creating a customization for you they should have all the documentation - and they very well might. However, it's still critical that you have your own copy of documentation regarding all customizations and modifications. This will be needed for training and support as well as any future updates and upgrades.
  • Setup. Many setup options are easy to check directly in GP and they may also change periodically, so those may not be so critical to explicitly document. However, other setup, like account structure, or User Security and who has access to what areas, may be important to document for many reasons including audits and future changes.
  • Ongoing changes and fixes. Anytime you have a support incident that is not something basic, document it. This will help you have something to refer to in the future, thus lowering support costs and time. Any changes done to help with an issue or change a large set of data should be documented to make sure that you can answer any questions about the changes and the issue in the future.

If you are reading this thinking, "Geez, we really should get something like this done, I know we don't have anything documented", don't wait.  If you wait until you absolutely need this documentation, then it's a mad scramble and things get overlooked and support and upgrades end up costing more than they should.   Protect your Dynamics GP investment with good documentation.

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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.

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