What’s next for Dynamics Great Plains clients?

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What’s next for Dynamics Great Plains clients?

By: Dean Dorton | September 2, 2020

Find out why current Dynamics Great Plains clients are making the move to the cloud with Business Central 365 for anywhere, anytime access and stronger functionality.

Accounting Software | Microsoft Dynamics 365

Dynamics GP, originally known as Great Plains Software Dynamics, is an enterprise accounting software solution that started in the early 1990s and still has a large, dedicated following today.  With nearly 30 years of experience, over 50,000 companies using it and an ecosystem of thousands of companies that have developed add-on applications, Dynamics GP remains one of the statistical leaders in mid-market accounting software.  But statistics don’t tell the whole story, so let’s look a little deeper.

Dynamics GP was first born back in the early 1990s in Fargo, North Dakota under the name Dynamics, created by Great Plains Software.  It created an amazing following based on a solid product that was quickly evolving with new features and functions.  It also didn’t hurt that Great Plains was soon lead by Doug Burgum, a charismatic, intelligent extrovert who was a superb leader.  The software grew and grew, as did the customer base, and it gained awards and a stellar reputation.  So much so that soon after it went public, in the late 1990s, it was acquired by Microsoft – along with a handful of other accounting software products.

In addition to Great Plains, Microsoft also acquired Solomon (via a previous Great Plains acquisition), Navision and Axapta, giving the company a total of four lower-to-upper mid-market accounting software platforms.  For years, Microsoft tried to create one common code base, Project Green.  That effort eventually folded and Microsoft went back to the drawing board for a new project called “365.”  Over the last several years, Microsoft has devoted much of its attention to 365 products from Office to Windows to Dynamics.

So where does that leave Dynamics GP today?  In this day of cloud software with anywhere, anytime access a primary concern of most modern organizations, a primarily on-premise system isn’t what they are looking for.  Microsoft has tried to create a web client for Dynamics GP, but it’s missing many features and many of the thousands of third-party developers have not adapted their add-on solutions to work in the ill-fated web client.  You can host Dynamics GP on Amazon or Azure or many other vendors, but you still have downtime for upgrades and all the other complications that accompany and, often, the cost of hosted Dynamics GP equals or exceeds the cost of many cloud solutions, Dynamics 365 Business Central especially. Current Dynamics GP users have three options inside the Microsoft Dynamics family going forward and we explore those options briefly.

  • On-Premise
  • Cloud Sync
  • Cloud

First, let’s explore the most obvious choice, On-Premise.  This option is the one Dynamics GP end-users have chosen for years without even knowing it. In other words, it’s the status quo.  Microsoft has pledged a decade of support for all versions of Dynamics GP.  That means you have, as of this writing, some level of support for Dynamics GP through 2029 at a minimum, so you do not have to move off Dynamics GP if you really like it.  Many companies still have on-premise network infrastructure and technicians that manage other systems, so what’s one more?  And, on-premise data is mostly still the best when it comes to flexible, custom reporting using tools like SQL Reporting and many others.

Second, for those that want to test the waters of the cloud, there is a cloud-sync option where you keep using Dynamics GP as you always have but synchronize some data with the cloud in Dynamics 365.  With this option, you keep everything you love about Dynamics GP but you get the benefits of reports and analytics in the cloud.  Access your pertinent data from the cloud – anywhere and anytime – but skip the implementation of a new system.  This may be a perfect option for companies who want more functionality or remote information access but aren’t yet ready to leave Dynamics GP.

Third, Dynamics GP organizations have the option of fully migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central. This is a great option, but the biggest caution is that it is NOT Dynamics GP cloud.  Business Central is based on – closely resembles – the Dynamics NAV product, a different accounting software solution as mentioned above. For Dynamics GP users, this is not a simple upgrade, but a new implementation of the software.  Business Central is, however, a great next option for Dynamics GP users as it has similar functionality and is a full cloud offering so you no longer need to worry about backups or upgrades or other maintenance.  Business Central also offers a great deal of new functionality for Dynamics GP users around inter-company, financial reporting, and inventory.  Take a look today to see if it’s the right choice for your organization.

In summary, Dynamics GP is now very much considered a “legacy” accounting system as it’s mostly targeted at companies that want to host their data at their site.  That’s NOT a bad thing by itself, though.  Many companies still have the hardware infrastructure to support an on-premise accounting system so the work involved isn’t unusual.  But, the cloud is here to stay and provides a great deal of benefits that on-premise systems will never be able to offer.  Business Central users, for example, get anywhere, anytime access and have more options for data integration and reporting tools, like Microsoft Power BI, to make data dissemination a more personal experience.

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