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Crestwood Associates

Microsoft Dynamics GP or SL – Which is better?


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    I get this question all the time, so I thought we’d write a little about each.  The answer of course, is “It depends.”  Dynamics GP and SL both have rich features and great functionality, but each has different strengths and can be a better fit for certain industries.

    First, a brief history lesson.   The predecessors of each of these products have been around for over 20 years.  Throughout the 90’s, these two solutions were competitors of each other and were considered two of the best solutions available in the market.  Then in 2000 Great Plains acquired its biggest competitor --Solomon.  And only about a year later, Microsoft made a huge splash in the mid-market by acquiring Great Plains – effectively adding both solutions to their fold.

    There had been talk about a plan to merge these solutions into one best-of-breed solution.  But that plan has faded away and instead Microsoft continues to improve each of the products with common technology.

    We have worked with both solutions for many years.  Both Dynamics GP and SL are robust and flexible solutions.  They both offer powerful financial and distribution modules, ease of use, and advanced reporting (although done in different ways).  They also both use common Microsoft technology such as SQL Server, SharePoint, Financial Reporting via FRx / Management Reporter, and integrations to Office.

    Some of the ways they differ include:

    Dynamics GP 

    • Role-based user interface with some additional user friendly tools including customizable dashboards.  SL has customizable menus but will be building out home page dashboards in future releases.
    • Smartlist – Still one of the best features offered by GP, this easy to use data query tool remains the optimal way of getting at data and getting it out into Excel as needed.
    • Additional breadth of modules – GP offers more modules than SL, including its own Fixed Assets, National Accounts, some NFP focused modules such as Grant Management.  (SL addresses some of these needs through some very capable third party add-ons).
    • Ribbon interface – GP has fully adopted the Microsoft Outlook / Office ribbon interface.  SL is currently rolling out parts of that in stages.

    Dynamics SL

    • Project Series – For project based companies (Professional Services, Construction, etc), SL far exceeds GP.  Its project series may be the best in the mid-market, offering deep capabilities and flexible configuration and automation that is difficult to match.
    • Strong Financial Capabilities and Multi-company / Intercompany – In the GL, SL separates its Natural Account field from it Sub-account field (departments, divisions, lines of business) and uses flex keys.  This approach leads to a more powerful and flexible financial configuration.  SL also has more robust multi-company, inter-company, and consolidation capabilities than GP.
    • Strong Distribution Series – Although both are capable, SL offers some very powerful features including Customizable Order Type which can handle very well different types of order processing.
    • Development Environment – Although both solutions have strong development tools, the SL VB.Net SDK allows for easier and more seamless customizations to the solution.
    • Reporting – GP’s proprietary report writer that has been deeply imbedded in its product for some time leaves something to be desired.  However, there continues to be a move to SQL Reporting Services and even Word for forms in its latest and future releases.  SL has always used Crystal Reports for its standard reports, which may be an advantage to those companies with existing Crystal skills sets.  SL is also rolling out SSRS as a reporting tool.

    In summary, Dynamics GP remains a can’t-miss tremendous solution for most companies.  But for those companies that are either project based, distributors, have multi-company / inter-company needs, or want to develop against their ERP solution, you might consider Dynamics SL.  You won’t be disappointed.

    We have deep knowledge of both solutions.  For anyone that wants to discuss the pros and cons of these two great solutions, please reach out to me [email protected].

    Submitted by Indiana Dynamics GP Partner Crestwood Associates LLC.

    One Response to “Microsoft Dynamics GP or SL – Which is better?”

    1. John Tomasini says:

      Dear Crestwood Associates: I am currently using Microsoft Dynamics Solomon in my present job but concentrating mostly on the Accounts Payable side. Are the modules and links in the AP menu the same as Microsoft Great Plains? Would I be available to cross train on Dynamics Great Plains or it is a totally different program than Dynamics Solomon? Some ERP systems are not cross trainable.

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