Read more on "After Your Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016 Upgrade: Next Steps" »
Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016 was officially released last month, and if your company has made the decision to upgrade, then chances are you’ve been hard at work preparing – or implementing – your own system upgrade.
If you’re not sure whether an upgrade is right for you, contact us and we can help with your direction and analysis in regards to your financial system.
Upgrading can be a rather lengthy process, requiring a big investment of time, money, and human resources. However, GP 2016 offers some very exciting new features, most notably a much improved web client that may be beneficial to your company.
First, ensure that you’ve completed every facet of the upgrade.
Upgrading is a big job, so you want to make sure you haven’t forgotten any department databases, modified reports, or forms. Run through your checklist one last time before you officially declare the upgrade complete.
This will prevent any compatibility issues from arising – the last thing you want is to launch GP 2016 and find that you forgot about a major database.
Once you’ve verified that every piece of your system has been upgraded, you can move on to the next step.
Make a backup.
When you have your new system up and running, make a SQL backup of your databases for safekeeping. You’ll also want to back up your modified reports by logging in to GP 2016 and exporting them to package files.
Start upgrading your add-ons and third-party applications.
Once your GP upgrade is complete, it’s time to shift into the next phase: focusing on your third-party applications and add-ons.
If you’re using GP’s web client, you’ll want to upgrade to the new version. This version offers a much better mobile experience for users, as it runs on HTML 5 rather than Silverlight, which is what previous versions used.
If you have add-ons or integrations for the web client, make sure to test all of these once you’ve finished the upgrade.
Switch to the new Management Reporter.
The upgrade to GP 2016 means that FRx is not supported any longer, so you’ll have to switch to Management Reporter. If you haven’t done this yet, you’ll need to access the service pack for Management Reporter, and test all your Management Reporter reports after the upgrade is complete.
Test your system!
This is a vital step in completing a successful upgrade process. Microsoft recommends creating checklists for your users to go through, so they can test out all the modules in use. Have users test these modules in both the test and live upgrade systems. This includes everything from reports, to data entry tasks, to daily, weekly, and monthly routines.
The goal here is first, to ensure that everything works properly, and second – and just as important – to ensure that your users are comfortable with the new system and any process changes that it will require of them. After all, a software system can only give you value if your users are using it.
Read more on "How an ERP Can Help You Grow Your Financial Services Business" »
In the financial services industry, data security is always a major concern. Above all else, your customers have to be able to trust you and your organization – otherwise, they’ll quickly take their business elsewhere.
In today’s online world, digital security is constantly evolving. ERP software providers know this, and they release regular security patches and software upgrades in order to maintain that security. Two of the ERPs TGO works with, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Sage X3, are both known for their strong data security.
One of the security advantages inherent in implementing an ERP is that it brings all your data together into one system. This means you have fewer systems that could be breached, as well as a lower potential for loss of data control through outside systems.
If you’re using a cloud-based ERP, you can further increase your security. Cloud-based services are quickly overtaking on-premise ones due to their lower price, quicker implementation time, and mobile accessibility, and they’ve got very high security standards, too. Many ERP providers offer various options for data encryption that can further increase your data’s safety.
Improving customer service
Financial services companies must offer great customer service if they are to succeed in today’s competitive economy. Now that so many facets of the industry are moving toward customer self-service, financial services firms have to truly stand out if they’re going to make an impression on customers.
An ERP system can help you improve your customer service by improving your capabilities in reporting, data capture, and forecasting, among other functions. When your salespeople and marketing departments have access to better information, they’ll be able to give your customers more of what they want, when they want it.
In addition, because ERPs bring all of a company’s departments together in one software system, communication and transparency are automatically improved. This allows your customer-facing departments to respond more quickly and accurately to customer inquiries or complaints.
Financial services companies often have complex and lengthy back-office procedures. Take a mortgage provider, for example. While a loan officer works directly with the customer, there are multiple people behind the scenes checking credit scores, verifying personal and business information, calculating interest rates, and more.
The improved inter-departmental communication that an ERP provides means that your back-office staff can coordinate their work with each other better, reducing the time it takes to go from an initial customer inquiry to a finalized loan.
Fewer redundancies, lower instances of error, and a more efficient back-office staff will all ultimately result in happier customers – which, in turn, means growth for your business.
Gain more time for data analysis
If you want your business to grow, you’ve got to have a strategic plan. To build that strategic plan, you need to be able to not just gather data, but analyze it, too.
ERP solutions can help you do this by providing excellent reporting options. Users can pull almost any type of report they can think of, either on demand or on a regular schedule. Armed with useful, actionable data, you’ll be able to plan more strategically for your company’s future growth.
Here are 5 tips for making your systems training more effective.
Use a trainer or training company with expertise specific to your system. This no doubt seems obvious. However, it can be easy to end up choosing a company that advertises its budgeting expertise, for example, but doesn’t actually have experience with the specific budgeting solution you’re using.
Make sure your training partner offers an objective statement as well as a benefits statement. Good trainers will include a clear objective statement outlining what the trainees will know or be able to perform after the training.
Different objective statements may be presented for each section of the training, and this can be helpful as well. Giving participants an idea of the end-goal for the training as a whole, and for the separate sections can help them focus and give them a sense of direction.
Benefits statements are similar to objective statements, but they can be even more important when it comes to motivating your employees. If an employee isn’t able to see how the information being presented will benefit them, then they’re likely to tune that information out.
Offering a concrete benefit in clear, concise language – “Employees will be proficient in managing Microsoft Dynamics GP’s SmartLists” – can help show how the training material’s practical application.
Consider offering different training options for different employees or departments. We’ve all heard about the different ways young people learn and how that can affect their school performance. Well, those differences don’t suddenly disappear once we become adults. If resources allow, consider offering different training options for different departments or employees – classroom and online, for example.
If you go this route, your training partner should be proficient in various types of information delivery so that your employees are receiving uniformly great training no matter what format they choose.
Build in reflection and processing time. Experienced trainers know that the mind needs time to absorb new information. This is especially true when teaching technical lessons on software systems, as these systems aren’t always intuitive for non-technical thinkers.
Make sure participants receive some time to ask questions, work through hypothetical scenarios, reflect on their own, or break into small discussion groups throughout the course of the training. This will help the new information sink in, and improve your return on investment.
Keep the learning mentality active in your workplace after the training is complete. If you really want your training to be effective, you must maintain that learning mentality throughout the workplace. You don’t want to invest lots of money in a great training program only to have employees who didn’t quite understand the information go back to using less productive workarounds.
One way to prevent this is to institute a peer coaching program. This will give employees who need a bit of extra help the chance to work through any questions or problems they have with a peer who already has a good grasp on the information. This will help you continue to gain value from the training after it’s finished.
Another good post-training idea is to offer chances for your team to give feedback on the training. You can ask for this feedback at various intervals – one week, two weeks, a month, etc. – to see how the training has actually impacted their work habits and determine whether or not it was truly effective.
Read more on "How TGO’s In-House Support Team Provides Value for Our Clients" »
There’s a reason that so many businesspeople often see calling tech support as a dreaded last resort. Too often, calling a helpdesk means going through automated menus, answering lots of seemingly insignificant questions, and ultimately spending hours on the phone – sometimes only to hear that the problem will require a technician to be sent out.
This is why we decided years ago to offer an in-house support team for our clients. Our financial systems support specialists are experts in Microsoft Dynamics GP support as well as Sage X3 support, in addition to many other products.
The advantages of this in-house service are many, and help reinforce our commitment to giving our clients the personalized, individualized service that they can always expect from TGO.
How TGO’s in-house support team works
Any software system, however well-maintained, is bound to run into issues that require systems support at some point. Maybe an upgrade isn’t running properly; maybe a user accidentally locked himself out of an important database; or maybe the system simply ran into a glitch.
When this happens, the protocol is usually to call your software provider’s tech support team. This works fine in some cases, but it does usually mean that you’ll be spending a longer time on the phone as you wait for one of dozens of support staff to answer your call.
For TGO’s clients, however, things are a bit different. When a situation arises with one of our clients’ systems, all they have to do is call TGO. We recognize the urgency of these problems, and we immediately document your call.
Then an experienced support specialist will contact you to get more information about your issue and work with you to quickly and efficiently resolve the problem.
Advantages of working with our in-house support staff
You’re calling someone who knows you. One of the biggest advantages of being able to call an in-house support team is that the people you’re talking with know you, your business, and your financial systems. TGO builds close relationships with our clients – our entire methodology is based on understanding your specific needs and then delivering the results that will give you the most value.
In other words, we’ve established a history with you. That means we’ll be better equipped to understand your issue, and to help you achieve a resolution that works for you and your company.
You have access to our financial experts’ knowledge pool. When you call our support team, you’re not just calling tech support – you’re calling TGO, comprehensive financial systems specialists. Because of this, you’ve got access to our financial experts’ collective knowledge in addition to our technical support expertise.
This can help bridge the knowledge gap between IT and Finance, helping each side better understand their roles in making the financial software system successful.
You receive personalized recommendations on how to avoid future issues. Because we possess unparalleled current knowledge of your financial systems, we can offer you practical and relevant suggestions on what you can do to avoid issues in the future.
These aren’t just standard recommendations you’d receive from an outsourced helpdesk. Instead, these are recommendations tailored to you and your business specifically, based on our deep knowledge of your company and the close relationship we’ve built with you over our consulting engagement.
You gain the best of both in-house and outsourced IT support. Companies with in-house IT staff reap certain benefits: in-house staff know your system, they’re easily accessible, and they can address problems within the context of your overall system.
However, there can be major costs that come with this approach. Maintaining an adequate IT staff yourself can be costly in terms of salary and benefits. It can be difficult to find and keep good technicians. And finally, nearly any in-house IT team will still face gaps in knowledge that necessitate outside help.
With TGO’s in-house support team, on the other hand, you can maintain the aforementioned benefits without having to worry about the associated costs. There’s no knowledge or skills gap to worry about, as our technicians are experts in their fields.
If you have a question that needs input from one of our financial systems experts, that’s available to you as well. As mentioned earlier, we already have deep knowledge of your system.
Read more on "How Working with a Consultant Can Help You Get the Most Value Out of Your ERP" »
At TGO, we work with a lot of businesses that are new to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The name alone can be overwhelming, and when you start looking at what an ERP system can do and handle, that overwhelming feeling can get a lot worse.
As any CFO knows, time is money – and implementing an ERP can require a good deal of both of those resources.
If your own IT staff is working on your ERP project along with their regular daily tasks, their time and attention will be split. They can’t neglect their regular daily tasks, which are integral to keeping your business running. Therefore, it’s likely that the ERP project will be the one that gets placed on the backburner simply out of necessity.
You may think you’re saving money by not hiring an outside consultant. However, if you take into account the extra time that you’ll spend waiting for your ERP project to be completed, it’s highly likely that you could have saved both time and money by going with a consulting firm. (At TGO, our value-based pricing means we guarantee our price upfront, so with us, you’ll know the price you’re paying from the start.)
Consulting firms have the expertise and experience necessary to not only customize your software to fit your needs, but to figure out what customizations are needed in the first place.
At TGO, for example, we work very closely with our clients to learn about their organizations and business gaps. We will sit down with them and conduct a deep dive into their requirements to provide a solution blueprint. This is to ensure that the client receives a guaranteed fixed price for the project. Each client is different and has different needs. No two companies will require exactly the same things from their ERP.
Our business model is based on embracing this reality, so we approach every ERP project knowing that the system will require some customization. Once we’ve made those customizations, we’re able to work with you and your staff to make sure the implementation goes as smoothly as possible. We also provide employee training and our own in-house support team for when you need help along the way.
The bottom line? Just because a system is “out-of-the-box” it doesn’t mean that it will work for every business without some changes. In fact, that’s really one of the advantages of these systems: ERPs like Sage X3 and Microsoft Dynamics GP, can also be quite flexible, capable of growing and changing with your organization’s needs.
Building a relationship that offers support and follow-up
CFOs and business owners know that no software system is completely fool-proof. Unfortunately, issues are bound to arise at some point.
When this happens, being able to contact a consultant who knows you and your business, not to mention your software, can be indispensable. TGO is different from many companies in that we have our own in-house support team. This allows us to quickly respond to clients’ requests and get their systems up and running again.