Friday, May 21, 2010

Buyer (or Surfer) Beware!

I have witnessed a few incidents in the past week that have reminded me of the power (both negative and positive) of the internet when it comes to troubleshooting and training on software in general, and Microsoft Dynamics GP in particular.

The first scenario involved me stumbling across the Summit Group Software Blog that just so happened to have a post on the recent 941 changes for US Payroll. Coincidentally, I had just seen an email chain internally regarding it and the blog provided some great information I could pass along. It sort of made my day, finding such useful information from a group I know and trust.

The second scenario involved a post that was forwarded to me by a coworker (that originally was forwarded to them by a customer). The post was on a message board that I won't name and contained a number of factual errors about Microsoft Dynamics GP. Looking through the comments on the post, most of the contributors took the post to be factually correct and expressed a range of negative views. Only at the end of the many many comments was there a voice of reason trying to clear up the many mistruths and errors that had been propagated by this one post and the ensuing comments. Not me, but a fellow blogger whose identity I will protect :) I use this as an example, but this sort of thing pops up for me on at least a weekly basis-- either forwarded to me, or when I doing my own research.

So, how do you sift through all of the information out there (including this blog)? Well, here are my thoughts, please share yours. And I want to add that these should be applied to everything you read (this blog included).
  • If the information is overly negative or overly positive, take it with a grain of salt. If the post is something that seems to be advocating one way or another, keep in mind that the author may have their own objective when posting.
  • Look for specifics, step by step examples, with the expected outcome. This shows you that the author has "done their homework" and isn't just working on assumptions.
  • Test, test, test. If someone puts forth an idea or issue, test it out. Even on the post I mention above, although I knew it to be incorrect, I tested it all out. It took 15 minutes, but I gained the confidence in what was/wasn't correct.
  • Look for signs of credibility. This can be a tough one, but if someone is certified or an MVP, MCT, etc you can have some confidence that the information they are putting forth is factually correct. If you subscribe to blogs or other newsletter, you will start to see the same names pop up as resources...Victoria, Leslie, Steve, David, Mark, etc...
  • Start with known sources like the User Guides, Training Manuals, and the KnowledgeBase on CustomerSource and PartnerSource. I know, I know, this information is not always perfect but it has been vetted by the experts and is a great starting place.

Feel free to share your own tips :)

1 comment:

Mariano Gomez said...

Very very true! I have come across these so called "facts" and cannot tell you how much cleanup work and damage control had to be done to get clients to trust the product again. Typically, the client starts out with the usual "I saw this post on a blog and I now question what we are doing", that's a bad sign! I always request the source of the information and, if I have to, confront the writer about their "facts".

Your remarks are correct. I personally don't claim to have full knowledge of everything GP, but doing your homework as a blogger is a sign of respect to the community.

Mariano Gomez, MVP