Our Journey from Microsoft Dynamics GP to the Business Central Cloud Part 3: The Implementation
Over the last couple of blog posts talking about “Where We’ve Been” and “Where We’re Going”, we’ve looked at all the history of our financials management and our transition to being a true SaaS-based software and services company. In this post, we will look at our process of going through the Business Central implementation.
Decisions to make
As mentioned previously, an important decision you need to make is which Dynamics partner you will engage to ensure your migration is successful. As organizations decide to make the change from Microsoft Dynamics GP (or other financial systems) to Dynamics 365 Business Central, they should read about the conversations you need to have as well as some of the key things to consider when changing payroll systems. These same concepts apply to changing financial management systems as well.
For Integrity Data, our decision-making process started with an email to Dan Doolin, who arguably knows every key player in the Dynamics partner space. Given our size and relatively simple Dynamics GP implementation, he recommended a great partner and Microsoft MVP that we felt was a great fit for our situation.
The conversation to move forward with Business Central occurred about 6 months prior to our desired 1/1/2021 go live date. The decision was made to get together and start the actual implementation efforts in late September 2020. This would give us three full months to complete our implementation. For many organizations, three months is likely not nearly enough time. For Integrity Data, given our internal expertise in Dynamics GP and financial systems implementation, we felt that would be sufficient time.
Discovery, preparation, documenting, and processes
Our implementation process began like most should, with a systematic review of our current usage of Dynamics GP. This effort is commonly referred to as “discovery”. This process helps us identify the critical areas that need to be considered as we do business in Dynamics 365 BC. Specifically, we reviewed the following areas:
Company Setup Info
We took time to document all our key business processes. This included things like payroll compliance reporting, invoicing customers, paying vendors, and generating monthly financials. We pulled in all the team members that were responsible for entering data and pulling reports from Dynamics GP to ensure we understood the “how” of these processes. We identified some areas that would require some special attention during the implementation:
Recognizing deferred revenue
Integration of sales invoicing and customer payments from our SaaS billing solution
Financial reporting by product line and team (what became our “Global Dimensions”)
Understanding that we had been using Dynamics GP for over 15 years, it was clear that we did not want to just copy our current account structure (GL accounts) and customers. We took the time to redefine our chart of accounts, financial statements, and customer/partner accounts. This cleanup effort was made much easier since we were migrating to a new system. If you are migrating to a new system, make sure to take the time to improve your processes and reporting capabilities. This effort is well worth the additional time taken during the implementation.
“Redefining” our chart of accounts included renaming, renumbering and/or reclassifying a handful of accounts. However, this meant that we would have to build a translation of old account to new account. We chose to bring in 2 years’ worth of historical GL transactions. We started out with a script from Victoria Yudin to extract the GP general ledger transactions (SQL view for all posted GL transactions in Dynamics GP). Next, we wrote an Excel macro (VBA script) to perform the GL account translation. From there, it was a copy and paste into Dynamics 365 Business Central. That’s right! You can copy and paste from Excel directly into almost any list-based D365 BC page! Or better yet, check out “Edit in Excel” for Business Central.
For our customer list, we took the opportunity to combine and renumber our customers. This added complexity when we brought in our open accounts receivable balances, but a simple translation table (old Customer ID > new Customer ID) in Excel with a VLOOKUP function took care of ensuring these open transactions came into Business Central accurately.
Finally, we used the Dynamics 365 BC account schedules to redefine our income statement so that we could easily report on profitability by product line and by team. Business Central allows for two global dimension codes (think of them as two of your GL account segments in Dynamics GP). We set ours up to be Product and Team and ensured that all income statement accounts have a Product and Team assigned to the GL transactions. This is easy to do using “Posting Groups” in D365 BC.
Of course, we performed all these actions in our Business Central implementation test company prior to bringing them into our live company. In the test company, we imported the two years of historical GL transactions by month in separate batches, plus our beginning balance entries. Then, we posted each batch and tied out the summary trial balance to one from the Dynamics GP company for each month. We found and fixed a couple small issues, then performed the same actions for all but the current year in our production company. Current year transactions were to come in during our go live (we will discuss this more in our next post of this series).
Business Central payroll implementation
For the payroll side of our Dynamics 365 Business Central implementation, we had the benefit of some great internal payroll expertise and a great integrated application to use in Payroll NOW. The power of this application became apparent for us as we were able to do an in-place upgrade from Dynamics GP payroll to Payroll NOW. In the past, we’ve had to rely on some enhanced payroll functionality to meet all our internal payroll business needs around leave management and 401(k). Payroll NOW worked for us right out of the box.
Our primary pre-go-live activities around payroll included:
Internal assessment of all payroll-related policies (e.g. retirement, leave, and unemployment).
Working with the Payroll NOW implementation team to understand the key differences between Dynamics GP payroll and Payroll NOW.
Working with our bank to ensure our ACH files were compatible.
Some of our key takeaways from these efforts included an understanding of the improvements that Payroll NOW provided to Integrity Data over Dynamics GP payroll, including:
Combination of deduction and benefit setup, and employee assignment without a full-blown HR implementation.
Fewer pay period processing steps.
Automatic unemployment calculations during our biweekly payroll processing.
Easier setups around posting accounts (no more Payroll Posting Account Setup from Dynamics GP).
Flagging of setup and employee issues ahead of the payroll process to ensure payroll processing goes without a hitch each pay period.
In general, the payroll implementation was by far the easiest of all the areas.
Want more on Payroll NOW? Connect with a member of our team.