Is it time to upgrade Dynamics GP to
Dynamics 365 Business Central?
One of the questions we frequently hear at Dynamics 365 Providers is this: “We have been using Dynamics GP for years, but we see the industry press and see the Microsoft marketing. This leads us to question which Dynamics product should we be using today and how do we plan for the future?” How better to start than with a history lesson!
Microsoft acquired Great Plains back in 2001. With this acquisition, Microsoft not only added one of the leading mid-market ERP solutions to their catalogue of products. For the first few years all was rosy in the garden; however, as Microsoft continued their further ERP acquisitions and their development of GP, NAV (Navision), AX and SL there became a more and more obvious delineation between the products. Now Microsoft have really begun to drive their “Cloud First” vision of the world in response to customer demand and released Dynamics 365 in 2016.
AX (nee Axapta) has always been viewed as the “Big ‘Un” now replaced by Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain – if you are a larger / enterprise, multi-site, international organisation – this is probably the product for you. The amount of development work that has gone into the product is impressive. In the last 5 years, over 3000 features and tweaks have been added to the product. Looking at the wider ERP market, this probably represents the greatest number of feature enhancements when you think about the obvious competitors like SAP and Oracle.
However, when you look at the SMB market, the picture was less clear. You had NAV and GP competing for the same customer – sometimes it was extraordinarily hard for the buyer to differentiate between the two products. Yes – they were developed on very different technologies, but the end result (i.e. a more productive end user business!!) was always the goal of the buyer and having two products (not including SL) led to confusion.
The ability to determine the key differences was always clouded by the fact that both products boasted great inter-operability with the complimentary Microsoft technologies and were both equally backed by Microsoft marketing messages. The key differentiator in fact became the reseller channel. In the UK there are at least 5 times as many Dynamics 365 Business Central (NAV) partners than there are GP partners, this means the ability to cover off a far wider range of industry specialisms and “standard” ERP implementations is far greater therefore giving the customer a great deal more choice.
The determination of a successful ERP implementation and a positive ongoing customer experience has never just been about the software and the technology. The key ingredient has always been the implementation and support partner. Therefore, just looking at the numbers of resellers alone, you cannot help but conclude that the greater choice of partners and consultants means a far higher chance of customer success.
So, let us think about Dynamics 365 in the context of an SMB. We know that Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain is based on a large, complex solution – but what about Dynamics 365 Business Central? The product is based on Dynamics NAV. This is the product that Microsoft has re-architected for the cloud and invested millions of dollars in over several years to make it fully cloud ready.
So, what does this mean for Dynamics GP customers today? Microsoft are not investing in a long-term strategy or roadmap for GP and support comes to an end in 2025. It would be sensible to begin finding out more about Business Central and exploring the migration options available to you with the help of Dynamics 365 Providers.