Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NetSuite vs. Dynamics GP: Save Transactions vs. Post Batches

For background, please see my introduction to this series, NetSuite vs. Dynamics GP: A Series

One distinct difference between NetSuite and Dynamics GP is that NetSuite allows you to simply save transactions to commit them, while Dynamics GP allows you to save uncommitted transactions to a batch, and then post the batch to commit them.

In GP, if you are entering 5 transactions, you can assign them to a batch, which allows you to save them.  The transactions are uncommitted at this point, and can be edited or deleted, depending on your configuration.  The batch is a temporary bucket that allows you to group the transactions and verify the number of transactions entered, as well as the total dollar amount of the transactions.

The batches can require that users enter control totals, indicating that they have independently verified the number of transactions and the total batch amount.  Dynamics GP can also be configured to require batch approvals based on transaction type, which is also handled by the batch window.

While I can understand the benefits of the batch control totals, it has been ages since I've seen anyone actually use that feature--as in use a 10 key to independently total their transactions.  I'm sure there are a few companies that use the feature, but in my experience, it has been very rare in the last 10 years.  I don't know if this is a shift in attitudes towards data entry controls, or if it is due to a higher comfort level with accounting system reliability, or some other reasons.  But it seems as if the batch control totals may be an anachronism and are not as important to businesses as they once were.

The batch approval seems a little more practical.  If an AP clerk enters 10 invoices, a supervisor can have the opportunity to quickly review the transactions, verify them, and then approve the batch prior to posting.

So that is a quick overview of GP batches.  NetSuite has a very different approach:  no batches at all.

When you enter a transaction in NetSuite, you have the option to Save the transaction.

Once you save the transaction it is committed.  No batch, no separate posting step, no control totals.

Is the lack of batches a benefit?  Is the lack of a posting process a good thing--just one less step to deal with?  NetSuite users would probably furrow their brow if you asked them about batches--why would they want or need them?

Since there are no batches in NetSuite, approvals are at the transaction level.  I'm not yet familiar with the approval functionality, but it appears that you can setup a workflow to obtain approval, which is a nice touch.

What is perhaps more significant about NetSuite is that after a transaction is saved, it can be opened, edited, changed, and even deleted.  This is very different than the more 'conservative' approach in Dynamics GP, where a posted transaction cannot be modified or deleted.  Dynamics GP allows some transactions to be voided, and allows GL journal entries to be reversed, but each of those operations is explicitly tracked, and you have a strong audit trail for those changes.

In NetSuite, if someone opens an invoice, modifies it, and then saves it, or perhaps deletes an invoice, I don't yet know what controls or audit mechanisms exist to track or control such situations.  Given the flexibility and customizability of NetSuite, I'm assuming there are several options for adding controls if desired.  And I'm told that one specific control available in NetSuite is to enable fiscal periods, which can prevent transactions from being modified if they are in a prior or closed period.

This unposted-transaction design appears to be very similar to QuickBooks, which is obviously widely used by many companies, so it certainly isn't unprecedented.  But admittedly, I'm so used to the stricter controls in Dynamics GP that it's difficult for me to imagine users having the ability to edit, modify, and delete transactions.

Written By Steve Endow

Steve Endow is a Dynamics GP Certified Trainer and Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional in Los Angeles.  He is also the owner of Precipio Services, which provides Dynamics GP integrations, customizations, and automation solutions.

You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter

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