By Amber Bell, Microsoft Dynamics GP Training Consultant
As a trainer for Microsoft Dynamics GP software here in Connecticut, I have come across my fair share of frustrated CFOs, Controllers and other finance folks. You know, the ones who like to refer to our software as “Great Pains” instead of “Great Plains”. But almost every time I find that their frustration with GP is due to either a lack of training or poor setup and implementation by their GP Partner (consultant, reseller, VAR whatever you want to call the person they bought the software from). We have several customers that called us in long after their implementations were finished and after many frustrating hours trying to “make the system work” on their own. Often they complain because the system "doesn't work like their old system".
Usually the cycle goes: Step 1) Something went wrong between the partner and the client before training was completed. Maybe the project went over budget so users are told they cannot call for support or request training. (Unfortunately, one of the first line items people cut when the budget gets tight is training). Or else the Partner mysteriously disappeared once the main part of the project was finished. Step 2) They spend months trying to figure out the system on their own. Step 3) The frustrated and jaded new software owners begin the search for a new GP Partner.
That is what leads them to our office door. When I meet a client in this situation I look at 2 areas. First, did the GP implementation consultant ask the right questions to set up the system properly?
The questions go on and on...but if the GP Partner company working with you doesn't know their product they won’t ask and you will pay the price later after they leave. (My hint: To find out if they really know their product ask them how long they have been using
And by the way, getting GP to work just like your old system is not always good! Your GP Partner should be confident enough in their software system to suggest NEW ways of working with your data. While it is vital to make people feel comfortable, the new system has to improve, not just duplicate your old processes. (if you want the same thing, why bother spending money on something new?)
Often, the real problem is in resistance to change. Quite honestly this can be because someone has been working with a company for several years doing their job a specific way and learning a new method is scary. Often the fear is “if our company becomes more efficient in my department, will they still need me?”
Which leads me to #2. Did the company get the right training on their new Microsoft Dynamics GP system?
Training is critical! Some companies try to save money and reason that they will just try to “figure it out” as they go along. Now it is true that Microsoft Dynamics GP is easier to learn than other new systems, because it has the familiar “Microsoft office” menus and look and feel. So yes, you probably will be able to figure out the basics just by using it. BUT when you are investing thousands of dollars in a new system, the basics are not enough, you deserve much more. You want to know how to really use the tool you have to make your team more efficient. And by the time your users “figure it out”; they will already be so frustrated, that it makes them much more resistant to change.
By including proper training to show them how GP can make their everyday tasks easier, I have found that most people stop resisting the change to a new system and embrace the new challenge and an opportunity to grow and become MORE not LESS valuable to their employer. What I often tell people in training that are obviously scared of the new system or that keep saying things like “I don’t know why we switched, our old system did my job so much better” is: “While, it is possible that their old system was better for a specific job; there was something major enough that was not working that the company decided to invest a significant amount of money in a new system.” I also ask them how difficult it was to learn their old system at the beginning. They always tell me how at the beginning their old system was just as difficult or just as confusing. I explain that with training and practice, they will soon feel comfortable using their new system.
Microsoft offers a lot of free training materials (manuals, online training, sample reports, how-to sheets) but there is something that happens in live training that cannot be duplicated. There are moments that happen when I am training, where I am able to decipher what a person wants the system to do but that they can't even put into words. Sometimes it is as simple as someone pulling out their old forms and showing me the information that they cannot find. Other times, just being the person on the team that can bridge between the programmers, the Project Manager and the users is also very rewarding.
In any case, find a company that will sell and support your system by being your PARTNER. (That is the word that Microsoft uses for the companies that sell GP. They will use that term or VAR (Value Added Reseller). If a company does not take the time to get to know you or your business…are they really a partner? If a company just sells you the product and never offers to help you get the most out of it…how much “value” are they “adding”?
So before you complain about Microsoft Dynamics GP or any new accounting software system stop and think 1) Did the consultant ask me enough questions about my processes to make sure my system was set up correctly? And 2) Did I really invest the time needed to get properly trained on the new system?
As I said before, I have personally worked with many clients who were ready to give up on GP, but by listening to them, adjusting their system and giving them the right training, they are now happy Microsoft Dynamics GP power users.
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