Microsoft Medium Sized Business Site

Microsoft has a site dedicated to medium sized businesses but I can’t figure out what they’re trying to do with it. It’s hard to join. You have to submit a support request! huh? It may be all marketing fluff but if you’re marketing, don’t you WANT people to be able to easily join?
While poking around through the site I see that the Dynamics branding is inconsistent too. Dynamics GP, Dynamics SL then Microsoft Navision and Microsoft Axapta. Did somebody not get the memo or is there a rebranding going on here?

Weekly Dynamic: 1099’s

It will soon be 1099 time! This is a brief 1099 overview. I’ve also got 2 Dynamic Sherpa videos on preparing for and running 1099’s. For our international folks who don’t have to deal with 1099’s like we do here in the US, this is your chance to take a deep breath, stretch and have a cup of coffee. You have my permission.
For the rest of us, the first step is to make sure your vendors have the correct 1099 amounts. Smartlists are very helpful for this. If vendors need correction you can fix their 1099 amounts in Cards-Purchasing-Summary, Period (NOT YEAR). You can fix individual periods or just adjust the final period.
When you are ready to run your 1099’s here a couple of caveats:
1) You can’t have more than one box filled in per 1099. So if someone has rent and misc employment, they get 2 1099’s and if they only have one vendor record, you’ll have to fix the amount, print a 1099 then change the amount and print again.
2) Interest and Dividends are separate 1099’s
3) Remember that 1099’s are calendar year and based on payments, not expenses or invoices.
4) GP doesn’t print a 1096 transmittal form. Why not? It’s just one of the mysteries of life.
You run 1099’s from Tools-Routines-Purchasing-Print 1099’s
Most of the info is pretty straightforward, Company Name, Address, Tax ID and Year. 1099 Type should also be easy. Next pick the Form type. If you use laser printed forms, the type should be singe sheet.
After that, pick the vendors to print the forms for. We use class id to segregate our vendors and make it easy to pick the different types. We have a 1099MISC class, a 1099RENT class, etc.
At the bottom you can set GP to print an alignment form for testing, set the printing order (I like Vendor Name) and pick the box that going to get filled in (Rent, Non-employee comp, etc.).  Finally, enter the minimum required amount to generate a 1099. I believe this is still $600 in the US for non-employee compensation but some companies send 1099’s for any amount and I believe some types of transactions don’t have a minimum limit (Real Estate?).
When done, click print. My 1099 forms come with each copy separate so I can run a set for each copy and then have someone put them together for mailing.
Finally, make sure you check CustomerSource for last minute updates prior to printing. The IRS occasionally makes last minute changes to the forms. Also, don’t forget that you can use ReportWriter to make adjustments if the text doesn’t quite line up in the blocks.

Weekly Dynamic:Unit Accounts

 We’ve looked at Fixed and Variable Allocation accounts and now it’s time for Unit Accounts. Strictly speaking, Unit Accounts are not financial accounts. They hold non-financial data that is still important to the company. Typically this would be items like headcount, square footage, etc. They can be entered and reported on and they can be used with allocation accounts to split entries based on the units.
Setting up unit accounts is easy. Cards->Financial->Unit Account gets you in. From there you enter an account number, description, and number of decimal points. You also select which series to apply them too. Pick all series unless you have a really good reason not to. Leaving out a series will come back to bite you unless you’re very consistent because these account will be missing from the lookups in the series you didn’t include.
Keep in mind that you can also budget against unit accounts.
Transactionally, a unit account functions like an asset account. Debits increase, credits decrease and it doesn’t clear at year end. If you want to reset a unit account at year end you’ll need to do a clearing entry.
Unit account transactions in the GL are one-sided entries. Because they’re not financial accounts, they don’t have to balance. Yes this freaks some people out the first time they see a unit transactions. The “Unit” is a measure or fraction of 1. Whatever you designate it to be (1 sq ft, 1 individual, 1000 ads). It may be helpful to include a unit of measure description in the account name if it’s not obvious.
Unit accounts are pretty straightforward but powerful. Because they are accounts, FRx can see them and can use them. We use this to report headcount by department on our internal financials. Happy Headcounting!

The Sherpa is Back!

We’re back with another DynamicSherpa video. This one is 5 minutes on preparing for 1099’s at year end. There’s been a delay in getting this one released. I wrestled with software and server issues, you name a technology and it broke trying to put this one together.
Then, while working through that, I found a problem with my videocast host. I don’t have nearly enough bandwidth to host these on my server so I started using Podomatic when the DynamicSherpa videos started. Suddenly, I’m seeing videos that are not mine in the DynamicSherpa feed. Something got crossed at Podomatic and I was getting all these non-GP videos coming through RSS. Well, I’ve fixed that by moving to Blip.tv to host the videos. I was going to have a storage problem at Podomatic by year end anyway and I’m pretty happy with the Blip.TV folks.
The videos will continue to get added to YouTube and I’ll add the YouTube links to the permanent Sherpa page soon. So now we’ll have the videos available in Windows Media, QuickTime (iTunes/iPod) and Flash (YouTube), a little something for everyone.
Don’t overlook the usefulness of these videos. If a party at your house runs too long, just start up something like the “How Do I Cut a Check On The Fly Without Using AP?” and watch your peace and quiet return.
I’m trying to make room in my schedule for the podcasts so I’m looking at Weekly Dynamics, Bi-Weekly Videos and Monthly Podcasts. That should be enough to keep me out of trouble!
Update: If you are using the RSS feed for Dynamic Sherpa videos, the correct feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/dynamicsherpa. This feed will always work even if I mess with the plumbing underneath. If you are using any other feed, please change to one above.

Sage to Stop Offering Single Accounting Packages

Let’s face facts. As Craig Bruya mentioned when I talked with him, the big Dynamics competitor is not SAP, not Oracle and not Intuit, it’s Sage. He indicated that Microsoft was impressed with their business strategy and strong cash flow but felt that ultimately, it was a poor long term strategy. Apparently now, Sage agrees.
In my mind, Sage is where good products went to die a long slow lingering death. Sage’s strategy was to buy products, make enhancements, but not dramatic improvements and live off the past lives of these products. They own everything from Peachtree to MAS500. By my count, I get 13 accounting systems, a host of related items (Timesheets, HRMS, Verticals, Fixed Assets) and 3 CRM products. But you can’t start with Peachtree and work your way to MAS500. Every major step up in a company’s growth required a company to reimplement with a new system. If I have to reimplement, I’m going to look at competitors. There’s no lock in and no leveraging existing knowledge.
With MS now you can start with Office Accounting, upgrade to GP standard and then GP pro while leveraging the same data underpinnings (SQL Server), with a short learning curve and with relatively (as compared to a full implementation) painless upgrades.
Sage is now changing their strategy to try to offer a beginning to end product line. I think this is a good thing because it will allow for better apples to apples comparison for customers and it may push MS really match or outdo Sage feature for feature. All of that is good for us customers.

Convergence 2006 EMEA Thoughts

Convergence 2006 EMEA is going on now in Munich. I expect a lot more NAV and AX news, since both of these products have a stronger European presence, than GP. Mary Jo Foley is covering the Dynamics space as usual. She’s one of the few journalists who really spends some time in the Dynamics space. Mary Jo has a piece on the new Dynamics (not so live) services where she discusses new hosted options for the Dynamics products.
The new option “will enable Microsoft customers to subscribe to a partner-hosted version of Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions on a monthly basis, helping reduce deployment time for businesses that need a new solution immediately,” according to Microsoft’s press release.
Also Satya Nadella, the new Dynamics Head Honcho, has some blog entries around EMEA. Most of this stuff is just on the fringes of GP, much like the celebrated snap-ins from earlier this year. Ten months later there is yet to be a GP, SL or NAV snap in, though there are a some for AX and CRM.
No, I’m not in Munich. I’m still in sunny Florida but with an expected crowd of 2,500 for the first Convergence in Europe, that size bodes well for the continuation of Convergence EMEA.
Finally, when I looked at some of the promotional materials, I noticed that Dynamics SL is conspicuously absent. No love for the Solomon folks? Not enough presence in Europe? What up with that?

Dynamic Sherpa Videos Now on YouTube

All of the existing Dynamic Sherpa videos are now on YouTube. I’ll make sure new ones get on there too. The easiest way to find them is to search for “Dynamics GP”. Right now, they pop up at the top of the list. Of course, you can always get to them from DynamicAccounting.net or DynamicSherpa.com, but with YouTube distribution, you can look cool to your kids and improve your GP knowledge at the same time! (Of course this may frighten your kids away from YouTube but that’s not all bad, right?)

Pre Christmas Clearance Sale

I just got an email with some of the current discounts for Dynamics GP. I don’t have expiration info but here they are:

  • Buy 5 users get the 6th free
  • Buy 3 users get the 4th free
  • Audit Trails and Electronic Signatures – 20% off
  • Buy Analytical Accounting, Field Level Security, Account Level   Security, and Microsoft Forecaster for $5,000
  • Buy 2 GP Business Intelligence modules and get a third free

Just a reminder, support for v. 7.5 ends on 1/9/07. Asking for an upgrade for Christmas is a little late.

Prizes Missing From the Vista Box

Windows Vista is not Cracker Jack, that’s for sure. There’s gonna be some prizes missing from the box when Vista ships. Via Mary Jo Foley, some of  the items that will not work with Vista’s initial release include:
SQL Server 2005, SP1 (and 2000 and 97)
MSDE
Visual Studio 2005, SP1
SQL Server and to increasing extent, Visual Studio, are important to GP users. I’m sure you’re all running GP on Windows 2003 server or at least Windows 2000 server (if you run NT, please don’t tell. I don’t want to know!) so you’ll wait until the server release of Vista to upgrade anyway. But what about testing? Lots of people test GP on Windows XP. Are we all stuck?
Well, to get SQL Server 2005 running on Vista you’ll need Service Pack 2. Oh yeah, it’s not out yet. It’s not officially in Alpha or Beta yet. The first preview is due “soon”. 

Weekly Dynamic: 1099 Fixes

It’s that time of year, did you setup all your 1099 vendors properly throughout the year? Did you get W-9’s from everyone to ensure that you have the correct tax id number? You didn’t? Well this proves that you’re normal and you’re not a superhero from outer space, sorry.
But you still have to do your 1099’s. The biggest issue is fixing vendors that weren’t setup as 1099 vendors. You can use smart lists or other reporting options to get the amounts paid to these vendors, once you have identified them. In Dynamics GP, you change 1099 totals in Cards-Vendor-Summary-Period (NOT the Yearly button).  Once in the Vendor Credit Summary window, you can adjust a particular period to correct the vendor’s 1099 amount.
Those who work for bosses with a touch of OCD may have to update the correct period for each payment. But then, you folks are most likely to have this right in the first place. For everyone else, you can use period 12 to make your 1099 adjustment. Simply change the 1099 Amount line to properly adjust the 1099 amount.
Keep in mind that this may not be the total. A vendor may have started as a 1099 vendor and then flag was turned off mid year. It’s possible that all of a vendor’s payments should not be on the 1099.
In addition I have 2 videocast on 1099’s ready to go. Technical difficulties have prevented their release but they should be out soon.