Microsoft Dynamics GP To Business Central Upgrades Thoughts

Join the Upgrade Conversation

Microsoft has noticeably ramped up efforts to offer a path for its on-premises SMB ERP customers on Dynamics NAV, GP, and SL to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Some technical tools already exist to help migrate data to the cloud, and there is a roadmap for more to come. And Business Central partners are armed with favorable licensing conversions and special offers for these existing customers. While many SMB ERP customer will be well suited to a future Business Central solution, others will be best served looking elsewhere. Staying in the Microsoft family, Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations is the logical option for organizations with multi-company, multi-currency, or other complex needs that their current ERP is struggling to fulfill. Some may end up looking at other third party options.

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Episode 1: CONSIDER ALL OF YOUR OPTIONS

Show Notes

Our guests on this episode, Karen Riordan of Menlo Technologies and Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics, walk us through some of the reasons today’s on-premises SMB ERP customer may be tomorrow’s SaaS enterprise ERP customer – or not.

 

Show Notes:

  • 2:00 – Karen’s background in the ERP channel
  • 3:00 – On being challenged to think about more than just Business Central for today’s GP customers
  • 5:00 – When a GP customer should stay on GP
  • 7:45 – Microsoft’s advantage by improving GP to BC cloud migrations
  • 11:00 – The importance of master data cleanup
  • 14:00 – Why GP customers may not be aware of the extent of the customization and ISV add-on solutions in their ERP
  • 18:30 – Consolidating legacy systems
  • 20:30 – Why leaving GP ought to be a move to the cloud in some form – whether BC, F&O, or another
Article

As the ERP landscape has shifted over the years, consultants that started in the same place have followed a different paths in terms of the products, industries, and clientelle. For a couple of Great Plains OGs like us, our individual journeys have led to interesting differences in how we view the current ERP upgrade landscape, especially for today’s Microsoft Dynamics GP users.

One of us (Peter) has spent the better part of two years deeply immersed in the Microsoft Dynamics AX to D365 F&O conversation, with very little visibility into the effort to migrate from Dynamics GP users to Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC). The other (Karen) has had more of a traditional GP partner career, staying the course and  now helping companies make the transition to BC.

What we both found fascinating since recently re-connecting were the alternative views we brought to the GP-to-BC discussion, and how our individual Dynamics GP histories shaped our thinking in several critical areas:

  • What does the future hold for GP customers and the GP partner channel?
  • What are an organization’s critical ERP requirements for the future?
  • What are the critical factors that go into the decision making process for a GP customer planning their future?

The discussion regarding GP to BC upgrades came up casually at first. The tone of the conversation changed as we discussed the considerations and options that we do not see in the current migration marketing push.

Here are our key takeaways, distilled from conversations that spanned several hours:

  • Upgrades from Dynamics GP to BC are not a one size fits all proposition. There are dramatic and nuanced factors that we do not see discussed in the general messaging.
  • GP customers would be best served if educated on a broader set of options presented to them when considering an upgrade.

Our guidance suggests that the first question a Dynamics GP customer should ask is, “why am I upgrading”? The answer could be one or more of the following:

  • I have outgrown my GP software, and it is hindering the growth of my business.
  • I want to move my ERP solution to the cloud.
  • I am following Microsoft’s or my GP partner’s messaging.

Next, the following are essential upgrade factors to consider:

  • There are no upgrades to a new ERP platform. With today’s complex ERP systems, “upgrade” is more of a marketing term than an exact technical definition. Even within product lines themselves, upgrades are now re-implementations. Also, upgrade toolsets are, in reality, often just generic spreadsheets and marketing hype with little technical substance.
  • There are significant functional and technical reasons why companies outgrow GP. If that is the case, then it is critical not to make an incremental ERP move that does not address all of those technical and functional issues.
  • If the primary motivation for a GP upgrade is to move your on-premises implementation to the cloud, then a better solution may be to host your existing GP system. This solution can buy critical time before making a move to a new ERP system or be a permanent solution if the proposed Microsoft life span for GP fits your requirements.

The most important takeaway is that all upgrades are complicated and expensive. The real cost of the upgrade is never the cost of the new software, that is just the tip of the iceberg. In making that decision for your company, consider all of your options carefully and do not base that critical business decision on marketing materials promoting the latest shiny toy.

Episode 2: ADVANCED STRATEGIES

Show Notes

In the first episode of this series about upgrade strategies for Microsoft Dynamics GP customers, Karen Riordan of Menlo Technologies and Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics joined us to discuss the wide-ranging the experiences of these organizations and varied viewpoints they hold today when it comes to the much-hyped promise of moving from on-prem ERP to Dynamics 365 Business Central in the cloud.

On this second episode, we go deeper on the needs of GP customers today. The tens of thousands of GP customers in the world are a diverse group. Some have watched carefully as Microsoft and other vendors have released their new generation of ERP solutions, while others need someone to come in and start from the beginning on what cloud is all about. Peter and Karen agree that GP customers should expect their partners to take a consultative approach rather than acting as an extension of their IT team. And they discuss some of the signs that a company is a good candidate for moving to pure cloud ERP as opposed to some other alternative.

 

Show Notes

  • 1:00 – When talking about upgrades, why talk about the GP market’s decisions?
  • 4:30 – Why don’t companies have a great understanding of what a newer ERP system can do for their businesses?
  • 6:30 – The challenge of taking a consultative approach rather than a technical approach to ERP discussions
  • 10:30 – Signs that an organization really needs to consider a new ERP
  • 15:30 – What roles or groups tend to support new technology investments and why is there resistance in other areas?
  • 19:30 – Distinguishing between different types of GP deployments and why the broad use means different future needs
  • 22:30 – Why executive vision is the critical foundation to enterprise application investments, both for the organization and the success of an implementation partner
  • 24:30 – How coronavirus has impacted the ERP and broader IT priorities of organizations
Article

 

]The messaging from Microsoft and the general Microsoft Dynamics GP (GP) partner community is that the optimal upgrade option for GP users is a natural choice: upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics Business Central (BC).

Listen to the MSDynamicsWorld podcast hosted by Jason Gumpert that discusses how that message misses several vital options that lead to a better solution based on your business requirements and plans.

Listen in as Jason, Karen Riordan, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Menlo-Technologies and Peter Joeckel, President of TurnOnDynamics, Dynamics ERP industry veterans, as they discuss GP to BC upgrade strategies from their unique perspective.

Listen as Karen and Peter discuss a more complete and nuanced approach to the GP to BC upgrade question.

A Complete Strategy

A more realistic GP to BC decision tree looks like the following and contains three significant decisions forks to help will determine the optimal “upgrade route” or strategy:

Decision 1 – Upgrade?

Our guidance suggests that the first question a Dynamics GP customer should ask is, “why am I upgrading”? The answer could be one or more of the following:

  • I have outgrown my GP software, and it is hindering the growth of my business.
  • I want to move my ERP solution to the cloud.
  • I am following Microsoft’s or my GP partner’s messaging.

Decision 2 – Cloud?

Is the primary motivation for a GP upgrade is to move your on-premise implementation to the cloud? Assuming that you are happy with the business functionality that you are currently getting, that leaves us with three options:

  • Locate your existing servers (or upgrade) in a co-hosting environment.
  • Move your GP to hosted servers.
  • A better solution may be to have your GP hosted by a company specializing in hosting your existing GP system.

These solutions can buy critical time before making a move to a new ERP system or can be a permanent solution if the proposed Microsoft life span for GP fits your requirements.

Decision 3 – Requirements?

If the determination has is to upgrade to a new ERP platform, then several important questions should be answered.

It is critical to understand that there are no simple upgrades to a new ERP platform in the SMB world. With today’s complex ERP systems, “upgrade” is more of a marketing term than an exact technical definition. Even within product lines themselves, upgrades are now some flavor of re-implementations.

Upgrade toolsets are becoming more powerful and user friendly but come with limitations that may be critical, especially in larger, more sophisticated implementations that require enterprise-level ERP platform capabilities.

There are significant functional and technical reasons why companies outgrow GP. If that is the case, then it is critical not to make an incremental ERP move that does not address all of those technical and functional issues.

The most important takeaway is that all upgrades are complicated and expensive. The real cost of the upgrade is never the cost of the new software, that is just the tip of the iceberg. In making that decision for your company, consider all of your options carefully and do not base that critical business decision on marketing materials promoting the latest shiny toy.

Upcoming podcasts will delve into the specifics behind each decision and provide valuable insights to help you make a more informed choice.

Peter Joeckel, President of TurnOnDynamics, a Microsoft Dynamics consultancy specializing in providing senior functional and technical resources for Microsoft Dynamics AX/D365 upgrade and rescue projects.

Episode 3: CLOUD OPTIONS AND stRATEGIES

Show Notes

 2:15 – Why now is the time to talk about GP customer upgrade options
 8:45 – Defining two of the unique reasons why GP customers are
motivated for a change
 16:45 – Are GP customers moving to cloud hosting?
 20:15 – Multi-tenancy – what it means that GP doesn't support it
 22:45 – Peter makes the case for why GP to BC is not an upgrade
 24:45 – Are GP users educating themselves?
 28:45 – Why Karen is seeing interest in Intelligent Cloud
 30:15 – Where should this series go from here?

Article

MICROSOFT DYNAMICS GP TO BC UPGRADES – CLOUD OPTIONS AND STRATEGIES

As an existing on-premise Microsoft Dynamics GP (GP) customer, if you have asked yourself the question, “why do I need to upgrade?” and the answer was to move to the cloud, then you have multiple options.

Those options may not be readily evident if you look at the current wave of Microsoft and GP partner marketing that distills the on-premise GP cloud option into a straightforward “Upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics Business Central (BC)” message.

 Instead of focusing on that strategy exclusively, it can be informative to take a step back and look at the actual range of choices available to move an existing GP on-premise solution to the cloud.

Let’s start by thinking about the existing server or servers that are currently tucked into a spare closet or utility room in your office used to run your current on-premise GP implementation. The servers with the rat’s nest of wiring in the back that you pray never get accidentally unplugged. Cloud computing simplified just means sticking those servers and rats nest of wires into someone else’s closet and paying rent for them to “host” it for you.

Consider this; if you have a traditional GP on-premise implementation and like thousands of companies, have utilized a standard technology such as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to have remote users “dial into” that on-premise system, then you are hosting GP in the cloud. You’re just not getting paid for it.

Here is the critical point, if you are happy with the business functionality that you are currently getting from your GP software, then there are much better options to move to the cloud than implementing a new ERP solution. Consider these options:

  • If your hardware is old and in need of a refresh, you can rent servers in the cloud, install your GP software on those hosted servers and access it remotely.
  • If your hardware is relatively new, you can locate your existing servers in a co-location company that specializes in having ideal environments to secure, monitor, and manage your hardware.
  • If you don’t want any of the headaches associated with maintaining your servers, then there is an excellent option of moving your GP implementation into a hosted environment run by companies that specialize in running traditional or existing GP solutions in the cloud for you.

Any of these solutions can be an acceptable long-term strategy or can buy critical time before making a move to a new ERP system. The new and improved commitment by Microsoft to supporting GP makes this a safe option if GP fits your requirements.

Upcoming podcasts will delve into the specifics behind each decision of these cloud decisions and provide valuable insights to help you make a more informed choice.

Contact us today to get a fresh perspective on your project!

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