Year-End Closing Procedures

The holiday season is here, and we hope you have some time to enjoy it. It’s also time to consider the Year-End Closing Procedures for Dynamics GP. At SDN Computer Consultants, we are committed to delivering consistent, significant value to you, our customers. We respect your time in this busy season and would like to provide an alternative to the Year-End Closing Procedures meetings we have held in the past. In consideration of your business operations and your people, we have put together a group of tools that will help guide you through the Year-End Process. As always, we are available to assist you in this process. You’ll find the 2011 version of this document here: Year-End Closing Procedures 2011.

Please note that the following versions of Dynamics GP are no longer supported: GP 8.0 and GP 9.0. And these are the 2011 year-end service packs: GP v10.0—10.00.1779 includes service pack 5 and GP 2010—11.00.1860 includes service pack 2.

Also, for your convenience, we have posted a Microsoft video that highlights the steps of the Year-End Close. Just follow this link: microsoft-dynamics-gp-year-end-closing-tips

You can also access these tools in the Recent News section on the right hand side of our website: www.sdnconsultants.com.

For additional GP information and updates, follow our blog, Dynamics GP & Life Conversations, by clicking either the Follow button or the RSS icon in the sidebar.

We look forward to hearing from you, and thank you for your partnership. Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

SDN Computer Consultants

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A Bittersweet Day

At noon today, Wayne Weaver, the majority owner, chairman, and CEO of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, announced that he was selling the team to Shahid Khan, an Illinois businessman. The agreement was signed this morning, but is still pending final approval from the league and other owners.

Wayne Weaver has spent the last few years squashing constant speculation that he would move the team to California, insisting he was dedicated to keeping the Jaguars at home in Jacksonville. This afternoon he said he feels certain that Khan has adopted that same dedication to the city. He called Khan “an American success story” and a man of integrity. The transition should be smooth for Jaguars management and staff, too—Khan plans to stick with the organization’s current personnel teams. He’s also planning to buy a house in Jacksonville. All good signs for the future of professional football on the First Coast of Florida.

Khan released a statement not long after Weaver’s press conference, saying:

I will responsibly and enthusiastically serve the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars and their great fans, and I will be fully committed to delivering Jacksonville its first Super Bowl championship.  This is a franchise with tons of potential, playing in a community that is passionate about football and loves to win.  I can’t think of a better place to be.

The news, though, came as a shock to fans. Wayne Weaver is Jaguars football. He brought the franchise to Jacksonville, and he has put together a consistently competitive football team for sixteen years. He’s not just the owner of a football team, either—he’s a local businessman who has developed quality, lasting relationships and partnerships with entrepreneurs and other small business owners all over northeast Florida. Since 1993, when the NFL awarded Jacksonville its franchise, Weaver has played a key role in the rejuvenation and exponential growth of downtown Jacksonville.

Wayne and his wife, Delores, have also been dedicated community philanthropists. They have donated nearly $55 million to local charities through the Weaver Family Foundation and the Jaguars Foundation over the last eighteen years. Every single home game you can actually see the impact the Weavers have on the youth of this community. The Honor Rows program awards free tickets (and a yellow T-shirt) to over 4,000 deserving children every season. They earn their seats by setting and achieving realistic “goals for personal and academic achievement, physical fitness and volunteer service.” At the end of the first quarter, the entire stadium takes a moment to recognize their accomplishments by waving to the enthralled kids wearing yellow shirts in the north end zone. It’s always uplifting, and it’s only one example.

But Wayne is seventy-seven years old (he wouldn’t reveal Delores’s age) and said he is ready to retire and spend more time with his family. He has done a lot for this city, and it is sad to see him step down, but comforting to know that he has turned the franchise over to someone he trusts. And luckily, the Weavers are retiring in Jacksonville!

Thank you for everything, Wayne.

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Seashell Sugar Cookies

This is my first Thanksgiving as a mother-in-law. It is my first Thanksgiving as a grandmother, too. New titles and new responsibilities. New responsibility #1: seashell sugar cookies. My husband and I spent most of the 1990s hauling our children from Jacksonville to Memphis, Tennessee, every Thanksgiving to celebrate the holiday with his parents and his two brothers’ families. When the kids weren’t playing football with their cousins in the front yard or roughhousing in the study, you could always find one of them in the walk-in pantry, peeling back the lid of a deep plastic container filled with cookies. Bernice, my mother-in-law, spent the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving baking. She’d bake ten kinds of cookies and six pies, sometimes more: chess pies, pecan pies, pumpkin pies, and cookies that always looked and tasted like they were from the local bakery—just a little too perfectly shaped, too expertly decorated, too delicious! But they weren’t; everything came from the oven in that spotless Schneider kitchen.

Well, my kitchen’s not spotless, but I’m running the show now. Yesterday I sorted through Bernice’s old cookie molds. I pulled out the small shell design she used for the sugar cookies. An hour later the countertops were covered in flour and I was pressing lumps of dough into seashells the old fashioned way. The green handle is slightly worn and the shell’s depression has lost some of its definition, but the recipe is the same. They still taste perfect—even frozen. But more importantly, these cookies connect my family to decades of memories, and hopefully, as our family continues to grow, will connect them to decades more. The memories are different for each of us, of course, kneaded and shaped by any number of things, but every one of them tastes like sugar.

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Metrics Drive Behavior

A well-respected, forward-thinking franchisor provided its franchisees with a new group of data metrics designed to ramp up sales. The specific metrics are, of course, proprietary information, but they were generated after comprehensively reviewing company operations and discovering areas where added focus (using the metrics as a guide) could really improve the bottom line and help the company continue to thrive.

Implementing these metrics (or any metrics, if done correctly) required more than simply handing branch managers a sheet of paper with new percentages or monthly quotas on it—it also required new training and added responsibility for every employee. They already had highly skilled and incredibly knowledgeable technicians. The new metrics and added training allowed these “info-powered end-users” to strengthen their existing customer relationships and gave them the tools to generate new business faster and more efficiently. The details here are less important than the lesson: the metrics worked.

So what did we do? Well, one of these franchisees is a client of mine, and after receiving these new metrics from the franchisor, he called us in to review the figures and see if we could help him build a monthly report that he could also generate whenever he felt like reviewing the figures, say mid-month. These reports would provide him with all the information he needed to make his frequent meetings with both his branch managers and individual technicians as productive and focused as possible. So through a series of views and queries we created a refreshable Excel report that pulled the data using date parameters. The data were in various tables and needed to be summarized. We also needed to create a few calculations. Eventually we came up with a continuously up-to-date, detailed, one-page report that provided him with all the fiscal and percentage-target data he needed, and at a moment’s notice.

Now, armed with these new data reports, they were able to compare their old numbers to their new metrics. Then they targeted specific areas for improvement and realigned their training programs to hit those targets.

Recently, he showed me the figures from the first monthly report: every technician was well below the new targets. Then he showed me a report created ten months later: every single technician was either at or above the new targets. The result (and this is only referencing a single metric from the larger group generated by the franchisor) was a $400,000 sales leap over the previous year’s numbers! It was stunning, and proved that metrics really do drive behavior. The key is the right metrics.

What you measure will determine how you evaluate your employees (and yourself). It will also drive those same employees’ behaviors. So research and analyze any metric you’re considering incorporating into your business plan extensively. Make sure it’s achievable, too—not just measurable. And finally, make sure it has an effective training program attached. The wrong metrics and unfocused training can lead to a downward sloping bottom line, but the right metrics can refresh expectations, widen your profit margin, and help your business flourish.

More at SDN Computer Consultants, LLC.

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Microsoft & Skype

Microsoft has now received permission from both the US and the EU to move ahead with its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype. I love Skype. It makes it so easy to communicate with anyone, anywhere, like when my husband and I were sitting at lunch with our new grandchild, Drew, sharing the experience with our son, the godfather-to-be, on the other side of the country. We can still be a family!

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Using Management Reporter to Create NFL-Conforming Statements

Bill Prescott, CFO of the Jacksonville Jaguars , called me in to see if I could complete some FRx reports that his Accounting Manager was working on. She was trying to create NFL-conforming schedule templates in FRx. I started by spending a few hours reviewing what she had already done, and then I compared her templates to the schedules and a working trial balance they had pulled into Excel and coded with the NFL-schedule and -line code.

As I looked at FRx, I was seeing hours of having to manually reconcile the trial balance to the coding. This would require exporting the details and then mapping them to a coded spreadsheet. This didn’t seem like a productive use of anyone’s time. Not to mention, every year they added around a hundred accounts and poor Brian, their staff accountant, would have to repeat the whole process for every one of them. Plus, in some reports I could see the Accounting Manager was struggling with trees and the way segments were pulled together, which equaled even more hours of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.

Eager to simplify the process (and end the drudgery), I thought, There has to be an easier way—90% of the coding has already been done in the spreadsheet!

It appeared that each year the Accounting Manager would take the working trial balance and export it out to Excel, then probably do a VLOOKUP to map the codes from the previous year’s spreadsheet and manually add the codes for the new accounts. The spreadsheet would be subtotaled by schedule and code, and then manually inserted into the NFL template and tweeked and tuned until all the numbers accurately reflected the audited P&L and Balance Sheet.

So I thought if I could get the codes from the General Ledger (GL), I could recreate the reports altogether. Each GL account has four user-defined fields. I figured I could use these fields to enter the NFL template codes, populating “User-Defined 1” with the NFL schedule and “User-Defined 2” with the line code. Using integration manager, I ran a GL update integration which would, at the very least, allow me to generate the system’s trial balance and pull the codes.

But I wanted to use those fields to create a report. FRx, unfortunately, does not allow you to create reports based on the user-defined fields, but Management Reporter does: It lets you take the user-defined fields and create them as another dimension of the overall account structure, kind of like a new segment to the account.

Perfect! Now I could create the reports in Management Reporter. The Jaguars were in the process of upgrading from Version 8 to GP2010. I know big jump, but what better way to test a new functionality and the potential value of the new Management Reporter than to run a test upgrade and create the reports.

I started with the detailed schedules. First, I spent some time developing a shell format, and since we were under a time crunch and the process to create the simple schedules was fairly easy, I trained two of their staff members to finish building those reports. Then I focused my attention on the rolled-up schedules. Yes, these schedules were a little more difficult because I could not simply pull a schedule as a line in the rolled-up schedule. Well, at least not yet. Maybe that functionality is there in some form, but new product, new learning curve.

The rolled-up schedules required some pieces of certain schedules, primarily ticketing and sponsorship revenues, to be rolled up in different ways. Since I could use any (or all) of the user-defined fields to create additional dimensions for each account, I was able to concentrate on the various line items. Yes, I did have to do some difficult work reconciling of the accounts to the trial balance, but now it is a reusable product. As new accounts are added, they can be coded and reports can be run during the year to balance the P&L and Balance Sheet.

They also do a working trial balance by tax code to use for the tax return. So why not use the third user-defined field for that, too. I ran a GL update integration on this new dimension and now they can run a Working Trial Balance in Management Reporter for tax codes, as well.

It was a down-to-the-wire day, but we made the NFL’s deadline (which made everyone happy), and along the way, discovered a much more user-friendly and time-saving way of building reports. If you haven’t worked with the new Management Reporter, I strongly recommend you give it a shot. It has some great new features that might help you find long-term, simple solutions to some of those frustrating reports. It worked for the Jaguars!

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My New Blog

This is my first post on my new blog.

I hope to share insightful and thought-provoking material.  Sound nice?  If so, stay tuned!

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