The Future of Dynamics: What's the Deal with GP and 365 Business Central?

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written by John Davis
Senior Dynamics GP Consultant
T3 Information Systems

At the annual Dynamics User Group Summit this past October 13th through 18th, hosted by the Dynamics User Group Community, there was surprisingly very little additional information about the new features that came with the latest release of Dynamics GP. I realized that the release came out just one week prior to the start of the conference, so that probably did not leave enough time for organizers and presenters to add details about these new features to their presentations.

Here at T3, we are in the process of testing out the new release of Dynamics GP and will continually provide additional insights as we move along with that process.

One of the hot topics at the User Group conference was the question of whether or not Dynamics GP users should migrate to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Presentations at Summit ranged from sessions on how and why to move to Dynamics 365 Business Central, to why Dynamics GP is still the better product - and how you can move GP to the cloud to get a similar experience to that of Dynamics 365 Business Central.

While Business Central is seen as the future by Microsoft, there are some things Dynamics GP users need to be aware of:

1. Microsoft is investing a lot of development and marketing into Business Central and are planning for BC to be their next generation ERP product. They have changed the coding language of Dynamics NAV to create Dynamics 365 Business Central as a cloud application. This move to the cloud has limited the number of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) add-on products that are available for Dynamics 365, as these vendors struggle to keep up.

2. The documentation for Business Central has not yet been updated from NAV. In many cases, users still utilize Dynamics NAV documentation and then must find the corresponding feature in Business Central.

3. Business Central has an Account and Dimension Structure which can help limit the number of records in your chart of accounts. However, you need to set up rules to limit the combinations that users can use for posting transactions.

4. Business Central has bidirectional data flows, which can take some time to become comfortable with if you are familiar with the unidirectional data flow in GP. For example, in GP, Payables checks always flow from Accounts Payable to Bank Reconciliation and then to the General Ledger

Dynamics GP users have three options regarding migrating to Business Central.

1. You can migrate using the tool that Microsoft has released; however, it only migrates your natural account and not your additional segments. They anticipate mapping segments to dimensions will be available next year.

2. You can do a fresh implementation of Business Central and convert your data to the new structure outside of Business Central and then import it in.

3. You can wait for Business Central and the migration process to mature before you decide how to proceed.

I am recommending to my clients that unless there is a feature or function in Business Central that is necessary for their business process, to stay on Dynamics GP for now. While we are waiting for Business Central and the migration options to become clearer, we can do a few things to prepare for the future:

1. Stay current on your annual enhancement for Dynamics GP. When you decide to migrate to Business Central you will get credit for this investment.

2. Upgrade your Dynamics GP to the latest release of GP and SQL server. The migration tools to Business Central are going to require that you be on the latest version.

3. Clean up your data (Chart of Accounts, Vendors, Customer) using Professional Services Tools so that your data is ready when you decide the time is right for migration.

4. If your current on-premise server is getting old, move Dynamics GP to the Azure Cloud to lessen the cost of maintaining a server in the office and having to update the software on workstations.

While Business Central is the newest offering from Microsoft, they have committed to three updates a year for Dynamics GP until at least December 2024, and to support these releases for five years from the release date. So, Microsoft (and T3!) plan on supporting Dynamics GP until at least 2029.

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