If you are a loyal Microsoft Dynamics GP customer, you might be concerned about the future of your ERP solution. Dynamics GP is a reliable ERP system; however, it’s no secret that Microsoft has hedged their bets and prioritized their efforts on its’ cloud-first business line, Dynamics 365. While Dynamics GP continues to be supported, customers are being encouraged to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central. With potential discounts of up to 40% and Business Central being touted as the only move to really get what would be considered ‘Microsoft Dynamics GP cloud,’ no wonder it’s on your mind!
Many Dynamics GP customers have already made the move, for a number of reasons. Whether the hardware and server maintenance or resource requirements of their Dynamics GP system were growing too expensive, or they decided to opt for more modern, productivity enhancing features, like mobile access and data analysis – the decision to upgrade to Business Central is different for everyone. That’s why we are going to help you compare and contrast both ERP solutions side-by-side.
At the surface, both Dynamics GP and Business Central are built for growing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Each solution offers a core set of functionalities to manage finances, customer service, sales, operations, projects, and the supply chain. As similar as they are on the outside, there are 3 major differences between the two ERP solutions that you should be aware before you move:
- Licensing and Hosting
- Functionality and Integrations
Scroll to the end to view the full side-by-side comparison of Dynamics GP vs. Business Central!
Licensing and Hosting
Dynamics GP is purchased through perpetual licensing, where you pay for the software up-front along with a yearly maintenance fee. Major upgrades are not included in the upfront costs. Dynamics GP on-premise upgrades require significant migration services and events that involve additional costs and resources. There is a subscription licensing option available that allows you to pay monthly, but it’s not as popular. Dynamics GP users are “concurrent,” which limits how many people are logged into the system at one time, not how many are licensed in total.
Dynamics GP customers have the choice to host on their own servers or deploy cloud hosting, which is through a third-party infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Deploying Dynamics GP on IaaS does not make it a true cloud ERP however, as the software isn’t purpose-built for web accessibility and upgrades are not automatic like Business Central.
- Flexible up-front or monthly licensing options
- Total control of infrastructure
- Concurrent users
- Must pay for and maintain your infrastructure
- Costly, disruptive upgrades
- No true SaaS option that includes instant upgrades
Business Central is a true cloud ERP solution that is licensed as SaaS and hosted on Microsoft Azure. This means that your ERP will update automatically with the latest features and enhancements, so the days of long, risky, and expensive upgrades are over. Organizations must choose between “premium” or “essential” named users, and they are required to be the same across the entire license. Compared to concurrent users in Dynamics GP, named users do require a license purchase for each person who will be accessing the system at any given time.
There is also an on-premise model with Business Central available for organizations who have the infrastructure and want the control of hosting in-house.
- Automatic enhancements, upgrades and bug-fixes
- No costly upgrades
- Built for accessibility and cloud
- No infrastructure (hardware, server, IT) expenses
- Named users
- License types must be the same across the organization
The base model or starter pack of Dynamics GP includes core financial and distribution functionality. Outside of that, you can purchase three additional packages to extend functionality for manufacturing, services, customizations, and advanced payroll/HR.
Dynamics GP has been around since 1993 and therefore has an exceptionally large network of partners and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) who build add-ons specifically for Dynamics GP. These add-ons are integrated and highly valuable, covering needs in everything from barcoding and business intelligence to credit card processing and advanced manufacturing. Dynamics GP add-ons require different back-end development and must be managed separately.
- Includes the functionality many businesses need with Starter Pack
- Flexible and robust network of add-ons to fill gaps
- No consistent platform to access add-ons
- New add-on market for GP is slowing down and the ‘latest and greatest’ offers are for Microsoft’s 365 line only
Business Central’s extended functionality and add-ons are roughly equivalent to Dynamics GP – but with some significant differences in how they integrate with the system. Microsoft has made building add-ons for Business Central easier with Extensions. Extensions or business apps are available for trial and purchase through a centralized app platform, Microsoft AppSource. There, you can install apps for Business Central, Power BI or separate Azure web apps in minutes.
For that reason, companies who are enhancing and developing them are concentrating on Microsoft Dynamics 365 for the foreseeable future.
- Simplicity and consistency of two functionality types across the organization
- Fastest-growing add-on availability
- Consistent platform for accessing third party apps in AppSource
- Add-ons seamlessly update with Business Central
- Some add-ons are available but not yet listed on AppSource and found separately
Functionality and Integrations
In terms of functionality, Dynamics GP provides segmented accounts structures with core financials, Payroll, eBanking, Fixed Assets, Inventory Tracking, Multi-Currency, Multiple Entities, and Purchase Orders (including requisitions), Manufacturing and Services. It does not include warehousing.
Financial reporting in Dynamics GP is often handled through Management Reporter or the popular ISV add-on, Jet Reports. Dynamics GP comes with a free version of Jet Basics, but most customers have to upgrade to the paid version in order to get the most out of it. Budgeting is typically handled through manual spreadsheets or a purchased add-on.
When it comes to integrating with Power BI, you can do it in Dynamics GP with specialized resources and additional costs, specifically in data modeling. Similarly, Dynamics CRM can integrate with Dynamics GP, but it requires quite a bit of customized implementation.
- US and Canadian Payroll included
- Integrations with Power BI and CRM take significant effort
- Budgeting and warehousing not included
From our perspective, Business Central arguably delivers more flexible and reporting friendly dimensional account structures with its core financials than Dynamics GP. That comes along with Fixed Assets, eBanking, Inventory Tracking, Multi-Currency, Multiple Entities, Purchase Orders, Warehouse Management, and with the Premium licensing – Manufacturing, and Services. Payroll must be through apps, but basic budget functionality is built in.
One of the biggest advantages with Business Central is that it offers automated and scheduled reconciliations, cash flow projects, and seamless integrations for warehousing capabilities with barcoding, handheld scanners, and shipping for simplified operations.
Business Central is also purpose-built to quickly and seamlessly integrate with Power BI for robust, visual dashboards. Aspects of CRM are baked into the solution itself and you can extend those features even further with additional sales, customer service, field service, and support apps in AppSource for minimal effort.
- Power BI and Dynamics CRM integrations are seamless and easy
- Standard budgeting capability included
- Automated reconciliations and cash flow projections
- Cutting-edge integrations
- Warehouse management included
- Payroll requires an additional application
Should You Upgrade from Dynamics GP to Business Central?
Many organizations currently running Dynamics GP are looking at their options to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central. That motivation comes in the way of cost savings, accessibility, eliminating complex upgrades, long-term viability, and consistently evolving features that automate and streamline many operations.
|Dynamics 365 Business Central
|Perpetual or Subscription
|Software as a Service (SaaS), Perpetual Available
|‘Full’ User or ‘Limited’ User, Concurrent, Any Combo
|‘Premium’ or ‘Essentials,’ Names, Must Be the Same
|On-Premise or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) with Third-Party
|Microsoft Azure included in SaaS Pricing, On-Premise Option
|Extensive Network of ISV Add-Ons – Available Through Partners, Not Many New in Market
|3rd Party Apps – Quickly Growing Availability on Centralized AppSource
|Core Financials GL Structure
|GL, Payroll, eBanking, Fixed Assets, Inventory Tracking, Multi-Currency, Multiple Entities, and Purchase Orders (including requisitions), Manufacturing, and Services
|GL, Budgeting, eBanking, Fixed Assets, Inventory Tracking, Multi-Currency, Multiple Entities, Purchase Orders, Manufacturing, Services, Warehousing, Automated Reconciliations, Cash Flow Projections, Scanning/Barcoding/Shipping Integrations
|Power BI Integration
|Available – Significant Effort for Integration
|Available – Out-of-the-Box Dashboards (Power BI Reports Embedded) and Little Effort for Integration
|Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 Sales Integration
|Available – Significant Effort for Integration using Third-Party Tools
|Available – Little Effort for Integration
Should You Move from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central?
Find out if you should upgrade from Dynamics GP to Business Central and what deployment options you have to choose from.
Discuss your Options with Clients First
At Clients First, we are here to help your company make the right decision. We offer comprehensive upgrade planning to Business Central. What will work best depends on how you use your ERP system today and what your goals are for the future. Contact us today to discuss what solution and upgrade is the better fit for your organization’s needs.