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The Roots of Microsoft Dynamics GP: Where Have All the Accountants Gone?

by Mark Polino
Director of Client Services, Fastpath, Integrated Business Group
August 10 2011

I am a CPA and I implement Microsoft Dynamics GP for a living. There, I said it. I know that doesn't sound like a huge revelation but as Dynamics GP connects to more of the Microsoft stack it seems like we accountants are getting squeezed out by technology folks. Frankly, not every solution is a technology solution. Sometimes those 500 year old accounting ideas still work just fine.

The Dynamics GP space still has plenty of accountants of course; I've warmed more than one Controller's cold little heart by explaining the invoice matching process using T-Accounts. Still, we seem to have fewer accountants around the consulting space each year. As disturbing as that trend is, it feels like more clients are trying to fill the role of accountant with technology, too. I see more and more people in accounting positions who can barely tell a Debit from a Credit, much less develop a solution to new a problem based on an accounting principal. I see whole AP departments without an accounting degree in sight and blank stares when I ask about last month's roll forward analysis on a balance sheet account. This is where so many people get burned by QuickBooks - no matter how much technology you wrap around accounting, you still need to understand the principals.

For fun I've got a real world example or two. We had a client who decided to manage the importing of their own Fixed Assets for a new division. At month end they were behind - no amount of technology was going to get the import done and validated before month end close in three days. The accounting answer they decided on was simple: accrue the depreciation from last month and give the technology people another thirty days ...

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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 DynamicAccounting.net. 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
Kimberly
Submitted by Kgageharv on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 08:24 Permalink

This article really hit home with me because it is just so true! The amount of accounting experience needed to fill an accounting position is absolutely diminishing. I see it all around me and it is very frustrating at times when someone can't figure out the back end of a transaction in order to enter into GP correctly. The software doesn't do EVERYTHING!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Francisco
Submitted by fhillyer on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 10:03 Permalink

Thumbs up Mr. Polino (the guy that looks nicer in person than in the pictures according to Doug Picher) Today's post is so true, even knowing that I am not an accountant, it took me a while to get past beyond the basics to understand the true value behind technology. I always try to find ways to learn more now, that I work with Dynamics GP. I found so exciting the experiences a CFE can get and the stories wow!!!!!. Thruth is as well if you are an accountant and don't know how Dynamics GP works in the background (stored procs, SQL, environment, etc) systems wise, you could end wasting precious time trying to fix things when they are not in good shape. I believe its time for us the Hybrids that will prevail at the end (by Hybrids I meant Financial Systems Analyst, the systems guys with accounting understanding or those intrepid Accountants with SQL skills :-)) Hace a great Day Mr. Polino

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Humberto
Submitted by hchemas on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 10:37 Permalink

I implement Dynamics GP for a living as well. I am an engineer, but through the years have understood the importance of accounting in organizations to provide the right information to make the best decisions. For me the best consultants are those who have technical skills (SQL, etc), but who are capable of understanding the business problems they are solving. From that perspective accounting knowledge plays a definite role. Also, through my 20+ years of experience with implementation of different software solutions, I have found that consultants with a good accounting background learn the technical skills easier, than people good at technology but with no business knowledge. Thanks for the article Mr. Polino, very illustrative.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Mark
Submitted by mpolino on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 13:26 Permalink

..."I have found that consultants with a good accounting background learn the technical skills easier, than people good at technology but with no business knowledge." I generally agree but I didn't want to seem too prejudiced in the article! Mark
Warren
Submitted by wrpease on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 12:39 Permalink

I agree with the vanishing importance of the accounting role in the eyes of MS for the Dynamics product line. I have been implementing GP for 20+ years and am concerned about the trend toward more technology and less emphasis on providing accounting functionality. Management Reporter is a prime example of how a technology solution is replacing a proven accouting solution (FRx). As most of you know MR is not as feature rich and forces a bigger investment in the MS stack. It feels like MS has walked away from the sweet spot of the old GP. A 1-3 man GP shop selling to a 5 user accounting shop was the bread and butter of the old GP. The push is to get rid of the smaller reseller and focus less on the smaller end user site. Of course, this is a business decision on the part of MS and it is their decision to make. All that small resellers and small end users can do is react. It is my opinion that some other software publisher will recognize this and step in to fill the void.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Gloria
Submitted by Gloria Braunschweig on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 15:07 Permalink

I'm a CMA and I implement Microsoft Dynamics GP for a living. We seem to be in a similar 12-step program, Mark. I like that the accountants are becoming rare in our industry. I love what I do; how else could I explain over 35 years implementing accounting systems? I could go back to the days of 14 modules on GPA. But, hold it, I had to learn how to stack GPA into 640K memory. Or what about working out the compatibility with FRx on a Windows 3.0 desktop? Now we're dealing with SQL, a financial series with as many modules as GPA formerly had, plus distribution, manufacturing, Management Reporter with 3 major installation components, Citrix, Cisco, 64-bit or 32-bit.... Accountants may becoming rare in the complexity, but more than technical people overwhelming us, it's the entire technical stack and the need for a cohesive, communicating team that's the need. The technical guys need the accountants and we sure as heck need the technical guys. I appreciate your article. Caught my eye. Gloria J. Braunschweig, CMA President, Computeration, Inc.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)