The LBMC team recently returned from the Microsoft Community Summit and had a great time attending and leading break-out sessions as well as the opportunity to meet with and collaborate with many of our Microsoft Dynamics customers. It is at these types of events, where we can be together in person again, that we are reminded of the great customers we have and the value of the relationships that we enjoy together as we jointly work to maximize your investment in Microsoft’s solutions both now and into the future.

As is most often the case at these events, there were general sessions related to each of the Microsoft Dynamics product lines where information was shared related to the future of each of these solutions.

 

Is Microsoft Dynamics GP Going Away?

The first question clients asked after Summit was, “Is Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains going away?” The short answer is, not right now but yes, eventually. In summary, Mike Morton who is a VP with Microsoft and responsible for Microsoft’s SMB Business Applications (including GP, SL, and BC) provided an update that “Microsoft is fully committed to supporting our Dynamics GP customers. This will include new releases (e.g., 18.6, 18.7, 18.8, …) for the foreseeable future on the same timeline and schedule as we have done in the past several years, as outlined in the GP Modern Support Lifecycle.”

https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics-gp/terms/lifecycle

This means that current Dynamics GP users will include minor updates and new releases in the near future. New releases will contain regulatory (tax), security updates, and hotfixes, ensuring GP remains up to date. According to Microsoft, new releases will also include updates in usability, reliability, addressing top customer issues, and other areas that are critical in ensuring businesses run successfully on GP.

While this is great news for current GP users, Microsoft also announced that users should not expect significant new capabilities in Dynamics GP, such as new modules. This signals that Microsoft’s major investments and innovations will be in other Dynamics 365 offerings such as Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Finance + SCM will see the majority of Microsoft’s investments in ERP.

So, what does this mean for our Dynamics GP customers?

 

Dynamics GP Support with a Microsoft Partner

 

It is very important that all Dynamics GP customers are on a supported version of Dynamics GP that is part of GP’s Modern Support Lifecycle (i.e., GP 18.x and higher). This ensures that you will have access to the updates provided by Microsoft in June, August, and December of each year which will include your regulatory, security and hotfixes. LBMC’s ability to provide support to you and your company can be significantly impacted if you are not on a current version of Dynamics GP.

Mainstream support for the following versions of Dynamics GP has ended or will end soon. This means that if for any reason your version of GP is no longer supported and there is a critical system or software issue related to your Dynamics GP system, Microsoft support is not available, and LBMC’s ability to support you would be severally limited or not available.
Based upon Microsoft’s announcement that no new significant capabilities will be added to Microsoft Dynamics GP, we recommend that every customer is proactively considering and planning for the future of their ERP solution and the industry’s move to cloud-based ERP solutions.

For those customers who are on a supported version of Dynamics GP, Microsoft’s Modern Life Cycle policy does provide our customers the time required to consider what is best for your company.

Microsoft Great Plains Software has been developed by Microsoft for the development of small enterprises accounting systems. Increasing companies in education and health industries, eCommerce retailers, wholesale construction companies, and other manufacturing fields prefer Microsoft Dynamics GP software.

What is after Dynamics GP?

 

From Dynamics GP to the Cloud: Many paths for success

 

So Dynamics GP is running well for you, but you are ready to move to the cloud – What can you do? Most Dynamics GP users will benefit greatly from a move to the cloud. For starters, maintenance and hardware costs are eliminated. What is more, the user experience changes very little, thus making it an easy transition for your team. Some might not even notice the change!

So what are your options to move your GP accounting system to the cloud?

Move Dynamics GP to Azure

This option is basically renting server space in the Microsoft Cloud. Your IT team will still manage the software (such as connecting a printer, adding a new user, and the like.)

Move Dynamics GP to a Hosting Provider

With a full-service hosting provider like LBMC, you’re still moving to the cloud, and you’re also paying someone else to give you full, 24/7 support. On average, a company using Dynamics GP already has someone on staff in IT that can handle the basic system administration. Whereas before they supported the system on-premises, now they will administer the system remotely in the cloud.

At LBMC Technology Solutions, we follow the best practices for the Azure environment.  Just as your IT staff now needs to stay up-to-date on security for an on-premises implementation, they will need to learn Azure security best practices as well. The user experience is really not that different from a local on-premises installation of Dynamics GP, because most users today already use Terminal Services or Citrix to connect to Dynamics GP while working from home.

Does Migrating Dynamics GP to the Cloud Work for my Business?

Its been said “Dynamics GP is old technology; it wasn’t built for the cloud.” While its technically true that Dynamics GP is not built for the cloud, it doesn’t mean it won’t work in the cloud. We’ve successfully helped dozens of clients migrate their GP systems to a hosted environment.

As your Microsoft partner, our team will look at the whole picture when developing a technology roadmap with our clients. If everything else is already in the cloud, and Dynamics GP is the only on-premises holdout, then a move to a cloud-hosted service is a cost-effective, minimally-invasive option to achieve the desired result. You can even schedule the migration for when you’re performing a system upgrade, to minimize disruption to your company’s activities.

Moving from Dynamics GP to Business Central:

To be clear, moving from Dynamics GP to Dynamics Business Central is not merely an upgrade, it’s a re-implementation. There are many aspects to take into consideration. Dynamics Business Central is ideal for certain clients, such as those in Manufacturing and distribution.

One thing to know is that Business Central is usually licensed on a full “SaaS” model (Software as a Service). A full SaaS model means that you pay monthly subscription licensing and you’re hosted in the Azure Cloud. The benefit of the SaaS model is that Microsoft automatically pushes out enhancements, bug-fixes, and updates for your solution — no more upgrades! There is also no up-front cost for hardware, servers, or other components, which is great for companies with little or no dedicated IT resources. Business Central’s monthly subscription also includes security and data backups, so SMBs can rest assured their assets are secure in case of a disaster.

For companies that need it, there is also an option to have Business Central On-Premise. However, the data security is not as strong, and you do have to pay for servers, etc. As Business Central automatically syncs information via the Cloud, teams can spend more time on customer-facing activities rather than manually updating and inputing data, a process that is both time-consuming and prone to error.

After migrating to Business Central, Dynamics GP users can still enjoy many of the workflows, add-ons and functions they have come to rely on. In addition, once teams have acclimated to Dynamics 365 Business Central, they will have access to greater automation, connectivity between tools and accounting options. Users with Dynamics Business Central can also take advantage of the functionality and ease of customization with Microsoft Power Apps.

Business Central Licensing and Apps

Whereas GP has 2 packs from Microsoft that extend its functionality, Business Central lets you choose whether to license your users with essential or premium functionality. (All your users must be the same type.) There are also Team licenses. See our Dynamics 365 Business Central Licensing and Pricing post for more information.

For 3rd-party or ISV solutions, Business Central has “apps.” From the user’s perspective, Business Central 3rd-party apps and GP add-ons are roughly equivalent. There is an active ISV community that creates these apps for Business Central, similar to what you are used to in GP.

Moving from Dynamics GP to Sage Intacct:

For other organizations, moving from Dynamics GP to Sage Intacct is the appropriate strategy, lifting the resource burden usually associated with Dynamics GP systems to a cloud-native solution like Sage Intacct helps many organizations streamline their teams, make the most efficient use of resources and get more done with less.

While it may seem like moving from GP to Business Central would be a simple switch, you still must migrate all of your data and go through a long implementation phase. Microsoft Business Central can be an excellent solution for many large enterprises—especially those dealing with supply chain planning, warehouse management, inventory, and manufacturing. However, if your organization doesn’t need that type of functionality and instead requires a solution built specifically for finance and accounting—including capabilities for multi-entity accounting and data visualizations—Sage Intacct likely has exactly what you’re looking for.

Unlike Dynamics GP or Dynamics Business Central, Sage Intacct is a true cloud-based solution that gives organizations complete accessibility to their financials any time, from anywhere. With Sage Intacct, there are no hardware requirements or ongoing hardware costs. Upgrades are rolled out through Sage Intacct automatically, whereas, Dynamics GP upgrades have to be scheduled with Microsoft or your service provider.

1. Multi-Company Consolidation & Dimensions

Although Intacct and Dynamics GP both have strong core accounting functionality, Sage Intacct goes beyond Dynamics GP to offer built-in dimensions. Dynamics GP offers a segmented chart of accounts but lacks many multi-company features. Alternatively, Sage Intacct offers a multi-entity environment as well as a dimensional chart of accounts for financial reporting so you can better understand your organization’s performance. Intacct allows finance leaders to slice and dice data by drilling down into individual transactions for complete visibility.

2. Industry Specific Needs

Dynamics GP is a true ERP solution that has capabilities from accounting to HR to manufacturing management. Although Dynamics GP typically can support manufacturers and distributors, the solution is not a good fit for many other industries. For example, Sage Intacct has capabilities to handle complex billing scenarios such as revenue recognition with ASC606 compliance that many SaaS organizations depend on. Furthermore, Sage Intacct offers fund accounting and grant tracking that are necessary for not-for-profit organizations. Sage Intacct also has an open API structure that allows for easy integrations with other best-in-class solutions available through their marketplace partners.

Dynamics GP vs Dynamics 365 Business Central vs Sage Intacct – A Side-by-Side Comparison

Both Dynamics GP and Dynamics 365 Business Central are ERPs aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, and are well-suited for managing an organization’s core finances. Sage Intacct is also aimed at small and medium-sized businesses that utilize cloud-native solutions such as Quickbooks or Quickbooks online but have since outgrown the tools. While they may have very similar features at the end of the day, there are some key differences in licensing, hosting, upgrades/updates, and functionality that should be noted.

Sage Intacct is a good option if you need a lot of accounting features. Sage Intacct specializes in accounting and provides significant financial management capabilities as a best-in-class solution. It complies with GAAP and is the only financial management software recommended by the AICPA. Although Sage Intacct has some operational capabilities, they are quite basic.

Understanding the important differences isn’t completely black and white. In many ways, GP and BC are similar, with features and functions that appear to be the same.

GP vs Business Central Comparison

Dynamics GP and Dynamics 365 Business Central are quite similar when it comes to their functionality. Both offer budgeting, reporting, ways to segment the general ledger account structure, and support for fixed asset management and eBanking.

GP and Business Central provide similar functionality for:

  • Bill of Materials
  • eBanking
  • Fixed Assets
  • Inter-company Processing
  • Inventory Tracking
  • Sales Order Processing
  • Project Accounting (now called Jobs)
  • Manufacturing
  • Multiple Currencies
  • Multiple Entities
  • SQL Server Reporting Services

However, one of the most important differences in functionality is Business Central’s dimensional accounting. Dimensions in Dynamics 365 Business Central let you define analysis categories and then “tag” your data so you can quickly review, for instance, travel expenses across several different departments.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Overview

With Microsoft Dynamics GP, you have options in both licensing and hosting:

GP Licensing Options

  1. Perpetual licensing — you own your licensing.
  2. Subscription licensing — you have the flexibility of paying monthly.

GP Hosting Options

  • On-premise hosting — you maintain your own servers.
  • Cloud hosting — your servers are hosted through Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas).

GP Pricing

With perpetual licensing, you pay the full licensing costs upfront, starting from $5,000 USD for 3 users (or $6,167 CAD). You also pay an annual maintenance fee to Microsoft after that. As of October 1, 2022, customers will typically pay 19% the first year and 17% after that. Subscription licensing avoids that large initial capital expense.

With cloud hosting, you save the cost and risk of upgrading your servers every 2–3 years. Cloud hosting also provides superior security and easier remote work options. Your Dynamics Partner may also offer additional cloud perks such as 24-hour monitoring, weekly server updates, break-fix support, and automatic backups.

However, companies that have special data regulations or that are located in areas with weak Internet connectivity may find the on-premise option better suited to their needs.

Dynamics GP has strong business rules and a very intuitive interface. It’s simple and follows best practices from a business or finance perspective, especially for traditional businesses. It also offers a wide variety of options from many ISV providers for additional functionality. This is what makes — and will continue to make — Dynamics GP such a valuable tool.

Should I Transition from Dynamics GP to Business Central?

Many current Dynamics GP customers are very tempted to switch from GP to Business Central. There is an easy learning curve for users because Business Central’s interface is consistent with all Microsoft products.

If this is you, you may want to check that you satisfy several of the following conditions:

  • Your organization would like help in developing a cloud strategy for your ERP.
  • You feel Dynamics GP upgrading, patching, and maintenance has become too burdensome.
  • Any critical business process for which you currently use an ISV solution has an equivalent 3rd-party Dynamics 365 app available, or the functionality is available out of the box in Business Central. (Ask your Dynamics Partner for help assessing 3rd-party apps.)

There is a particular difficulty in GP or a feature in Business Central that makes you want to switch. Here are 4 common ones:

  • You want Business Central’s dimensional chart of accounts, which makes the reporting more meaningful and powerful than in GP.
  • You want your finance team to work more smoothly with your operations team, using project accounting (“jobs”) in Business Central.
  • You want faster and more flexible analysis of all your data.
  • You want to better support remote work, staff mobility, and collaboration.

Why Are Dynamics GP Clients Transitioning to Cloud-based Applications?

Some of the main reasons Dynamics GP clients are transitioning to cloud ERP systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Sage Intacct:

  • Predictable and flexible cost
  • Always on the latest version of the solution
  • No more infrastructure management
  • Security managed by Microsoft team
  • Seamless integration with other Microsoft products
  • Work from anywhere, on any device
  • Gain features in Dynamics 365 Business Central
  • Centralized data
  • Predictive analytics, AI, and data visualizations
  • Be ready for the future and what’s next

Predictable and flexible Cost

Predictable and flexible cost means that there is a predictable monthly price that includes maintenance and infrastructure costs. There are no more surprise upgrade costs. Customers can scale license types for current business needs, which means you can add or remove users as needed.

Always on the latest version

Always on the latest version of the solution, because two major updates are automatically pushed out during the year for Dynamics 365 Business Central, one in the spring and one in the fall. This eliminates the need to upgrade, which is something that costs additional time and expense in Dynamics GP.

No More Infrastructure Management

No more infrastructure management with cloud-based solutions like Sage Intacct and Dynamics Business Central. With cloud technology, you’ll never have to manage or purchase new infrastructure and you’ll never have to upgrade or patch your ERP solution.

Security managed by Software Publisher

Security managed by software publisher teams because your sensitive business data is stored in highly secure state-of-the-art data centers that are owned and managed by either Sage or Microsoft. With a cloud solution, security monitoring and threat management are handled by the software publisher’s team. This allows your business’s IT resources to focus their efforts elsewhere. There is peace of mind that your data will be there when you need it thanks to a 99.9% uptime service level agreement.

Powerful ERP and CRM Integrations

Integrations with other business applications such as Excel, Outlook, Word, Microsoft Teams, Power BI and the rest of the Power Platform, and other Dynamics 365 solutions such as Sales or Customer Service.

Work from anywhere on any device

Work from anywhere, on any device. This empowers a mobile workforce with access to the same tools found in desktop application versions. The user experience is consistent and secure across all devices and operating systems (Android, iPhone, etc.).

Centralized Data

Centralized data from accounting, sales, purchasing, inventory, and customer interactions to give an accurate end-to-end view of your business, spot trends, and deliver better customer experiences.

The beauty of technology is that it is constantly changing to stay relevant for your industry or vertical. LBMC is always available to assist you with navigating the future of your financial reporting needs. We offer experience with many financial reporting packages that are compatible with Dynamics GP or Dynamics SL. Depending on your needs, it may be a good idea to invest in one of these solutions to bring enhancements and additional functionality to your Dynamics ERP system.

Dynamics GP, Business Central or Sage Intacct: Which ERP Solution Is Best for You?

It depends. Every company is different and has its own needs and requirements. You should discuss your options with an experienced Dynamics Partner like LBMC to evaluate what is best for your organization’s cloud application roadmap.

The LBMC team is ready to assist our customers in putting together a plan that considers not only what is best for today but what new capabilities you might need in the future for the success of your business that are not part of your current solution and based upon Microsoft’s announcement most likely never to be available.

As a full-service technology company LBMC Technology Solutions has many years of experience in assisting clients with their technology cloud transformation strategies which include not only ERP solutions but across all your technology platforms.