I see an awful lot of companies that want to redesign their chart of accounts. This happens when folks are moving to Microsoft Dynamics GP from another system and it happens if they’ve been on GP for a while. The reality is that as a business grows, the nature of the business can change and the company outgrows its account structure. But changing the chart of accounts can be a huge undertaking. Most often, companies are really looking for a better way to report off of their existing data. While you’re working on that massive chart change, there may be a way to help bridge the gap.
In Dynamics GP the setup for an account includes a field called Account Category. This much-maligned field is actually very useful, but I understand why it’s confusing for people. By default, Account Categories are not listed alphabetically, they are listed by their typical placement in financial statements. This can make it a little hard to find what you are looking for. Plus, it’s a required field, but what is it used for?
Most users of Dynamics GP don’t use the very basic (despite the name) Advanced Financial Reports feature. Account Categories are designed to work with Advanced Financial Reports, but they can do a lot more.
Basic categorized financial statements can be built using account categories in FRx, Management Reporter, and just about any other CPM tool, providing a fast way to get started with financial reporting. They can also provide a fast way to reconfigure financial statements. Even if your chart of accounts is a mess, if the categories are set correctly, the accounts will at least roll up right.
Categories are also extremely useful for business intelligence analysis via Analysis Cubes for Excel or a third party BI solution. Like financial reporting, Account Categories provide an easy roll-up for broad reporting that can then be used as the basis for a deeper, drill-down analysis. The nice thing is that even if you weren’t intending to analyze a particular area of the chart if the categories are right, the pieces are there to do an analysis that you weren’t expecting.
Finally, you can create your own categories to make rollups better fit your company’s needs. Making your own categories beyond the included ones don’t work with Advanced Financial Reports, but they work great with other Corporate Performance Management tools. I’ve seen firms build their complete financial statement package in Excel based on Account Categories and Analysis Cubes.
Even after all of these years of working with Dynamics GP, I’m still amazed at how easy some things can when companies put in just a little bit of work upfront.