If you don’t already know, I am pretty opinionated.
At the Microsoft Business Applications Summit last year (or was it Microsoft Ignite?), Microsoft was rolling out the Robotic Process Automation capabilities of Power Automate and showcasing Ikea. They were showing off a tablet app developed in Power Apps for the frontline staff that was then interfacing with their custom-built backend system.
Were they scrapping their existing system to chase the latest and greatest systems?
They were continuing to use what has worked for them — and using modern technologies to complement it.
That’s the same way I look at Dynamics GP.
For almost 17 years, I have been the person keeping it working, handing all of the upgrades and responsible for all of the training. It is an incredibly solid and stable system. Does it have some challenges? Of course it does! Tell me any software that doesn’t!
As a Microsoft Silver Partner, it is our job to help our clients with solutions for their businesses and apply the Microsoft technologies to achieve those solutions. If we were to equate it to dating, we meet each other, get into a serious relationship and then basically get married and live happily ever after.
After listening to Jason Gumpert’s podcast on MSDynamicsWorld.com about what to expect with Dynamics GP in 2021, I was left scratching my head while sitting on the couch. You can listen to the whole thing here.
What is beyond shocking to me is Microsoft playing the part of the homewrecker. We (the Partner) are the trusted other half of the relationship with our Client. And to have Microsoft directly contacting the Client in combination with another Partner discussing an “assessment” to move to Business Central is unreal. I see that as having the power to completely undermine a relationship for the sole purpose of a revenue grab.
The marketing machine is also pushing an inaccurate message, saying “GP is being retired” or “You need to move off of GP” or “Time to upgrade to Business Central.” This isn’t the same as going to the dealership and trading in your car for a new one. Obviously, there is no idea what that entails. This is also just a revenue grab.
Worst case, it is the potential for defection from the Microsoft ecosystem.
ERP is a whole different story than CRM or email or process improvement or finding a “cool” app in the app store. An ERP system is what is running the whole company. How do you get inventory? From your ERP. How do you get financials? From your ERP. How do you do purchasing and sales? From your ERP.
ANY change to that is incredibly complex and incredibly disruptive.
It’s Just Data
Like any system, Dynamics GP is stored in a database as tables and records in those tables. Regardless where the data is stored — on-premises, Azure, private hosting — it is still just a database with tables and records. Since everything is SQL Server based, there are a zillion ways to connect and use the data:
- SQL Server Reporting Services
- Power BI
- Power Automate
Runs on Anything
Like any other software, Dynamics GP is still a standard Win32 application — which means it will run on any current version of Windows or Windows Server.
Don’t want to run the full client on every PC? Need remote access? You’ve got options! Use the web client or make the investment into Remote Desktop Services or Windows Virtual Desktop. No VPN necessary.
If you’re looking for a more customized interface, there’s options. There’s even the endless possibilities of PowerApps.
Hardware and Software Considerations
Not to minimize this, but server hardware and software is still going to be around and still supported. The current version of SQL Server (2019) is in support until 2030. Windows Server, Windows 10 and beyond will still be here too.
There are some software considerations — especially with Microsoft Office — but those can be mitigated. I’ll talk about that in the future.
Customize, Integrate and Extend Until the Cows Come Home
This is one of the strongest wins with Dynamics GP — the ability to easily customize the application for your needs, integrate virtually ANY data into it and the insane number of companies that provide extensions and solutions.
I’m not even scratching the surface with my examples:
- Autonumbering of batches and master records
- Simple or complex salesperson commissions
- Automate virtually any process
- Wildcard searches in any lookup field
- Add unlimited fields to screens or even build separate data collection apps
- Workflows and approvals
- Powerful credit card processing with a free customer portal
- Any number of enhancements for distribution/inventory/supply chain management
- Track vendor pricing
- Job and project accounting
- Time tracking
- Replace all of the Report Writer and Word template forms with SSRS
- Automatic report scheduling
- Automatic batch posting
- Integration with any number of warehouse management systems
- Label printing
- Oodles of reporting options (SmartList, SmartList Builder, SmartView, SSRS, Excel, Power BI)
- At least a million vertical industry addons (slight exaggeration)
- Tools to integrate with any number of other systems
- Multicompany management
- Field service capabilities
- Manufacturing and production planning
- Shipping integration with FedEx/UPS/USPS/DHL/LTL shipping carriers
- Rock-solid payroll and HR
- And on and on and on……
Complement with Other Technologies
All of these examples off the top of my head can range from simple to very complex, but are very possible with what you have right now.
Want to get visuals of your data? Set up the Dynamics GP OData service and use Power BI!
Need document management that isn’t going to bloat the database? Connect Dynamics GP with SharePoint and OneDrive.
Have a dream to get your Square POS transactions into Receivables and the GL? Sure, why not?
Looking to get WooCommerce data and transactions into GP? It can be done.
Want to build an app using PowerApps to surface data to a salesforce or firstline workers? Let’s do it!
I am only one person and these are all my opinions, but there’s lots to love about Dynamics GP. On-premise systems are never really going to go away (just remember: the cloud is someone else’s on-premise system) and if you really want to move to hosted Dynamics GP, there’s options out there.
Like everything else, you don’t need the latest shiny object. If it works well, is maintained and secured, has options to incorporate other technology and is meeting the needs of the business, why change to something else just for the sake of change? Also, the loaded and mixed messaging coming from Microsoft and other partners is downright infuriating.
It’s also up to us to keep pushing Microsoft. Development, ideas, fixes, you name it. There is a very large community out there (hi everyone!) and we have to be vocal.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting about how to get MORE out of Dynamics GP and tips and tricks to really supercharge it to work even harder for you.