Five Tools that Microsoft Should Quit Charging For in Microsoft Dynamics GP

January 25 2011

Last month I looked at ten ISV products that Microsoft should buy and incorporate into Dynamics GP.  What about products that Microsoft owns but still charges extra for? With Business Ready Licensing, Microsoft has rolled almost all of the possible functionality of Dynamics GP into one of three bundles, Business Essentials, Advanced Management and Advanced Management Enterprise. However, there are still a number of a la carte products that I think Microsoft should quit charging extra for and roll into Business Essentials. So which products fit the bill?

  1. Integration Manager - I've argued that Microsoft should dump Integration Manager in favor of buying SmartConnect, and I like Integration Manager. The problem is that Microsoft keeps reworking the same things without adding additional value or fixing core issues like missing fields.  If Microsoft doesn't replace Integration Manager with SmartConnect they should at least stop charging extra for it. By that I don't mean giving folks a 120 day transitional license, I mean give companies the full product, Financials, Distribution, everything. The ability to regularly integrate from other sources can dramatically improve the efficiency and flexibility of Dynamics GP. Adding Integration Manager as part of Business Essentials would significantly improve the core product.
  2. Professional Service Tools Library - Microsoft offers a set of tools for maintaining Dynamics GP called the Professional Service Tools Library (PSTL or "Pistol" for short). Some of these tools are free, other tools can be purchased individually and the whole suite is available for a fixed price. Curiously, these tools are not part of a company's maintenance renewal; they must be re-purchased each year.   The PSTL tools can do things like renumber vendors and make wholesale changes to the chart of accounts. While most companies don't need these tools regularly, making them available to everyone would let companies take more control of their system.
  3. SmartList Builder - SmartLists in Dynamics GP are incredibly powerful ad hoc reporting lists. But while they are extremely flexible, they do have some limitations. SmartList Builder is available separately and allows users to create their own SmartLists, effectively overcoming most limitations. In Dynamics GP 2010, the SmartList Builder product also includes Navigation List Builder and Excel Report Builder allowing users to address almost any reporting need. It's frustrating that users have to pay extra to get additional reporting flexibility.
  4. Extender - Extender provides customization capabilities to non-programmers. In some usage scenarios there are virtually no limits to Extender's flexibility, but there are some definite boundaries. Still, it's flexible, easy to use and designed for the power user not the programmer. That sounds like a product you would want in every enterprise and charging extra for it creates an unnecessary roadblock to acceptance.
  5. Modifier with VBA - Modifier with VBA allows programmers to change the way Dynamics GP behaves. But it also allows simple modifications such as hiding unused fields or changing the tab sequence on a window. Modifier can present dangers to an enterprise that is cavalier with its use, but plenty of companies that would like to make a few small changes can't see the return on investment compared to Modifier's cost.
  6. Support Debugging Tool - I know that I said five things but Microsoft doesn't actually charge for the Support Debugging Tool - it's free. So why did I include it in this list? Because the Support Debugging Tool is, somewhat ironically, unsupported. This creates tension between customers and support. Customers love the tool but support doesn't have the resources or knowledge to help with troubleshooting. Microsoft should bring the Support Debugging Tool into the family and roll it into Business Essentials as well. It's a great selling point for the product in the sales cycle as well.
There are other a la carte items and I generally understand the rationale for charging extra. Not every company necessarily needs electronic reconciliation or electronic funds transfer. The items in list however, are broad-based and fill a need in almost every Dynamics GP implementation. They should really be part of the core.

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About Mark Polino

Mark Polino is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a former Microsoft MVP (2007-2018) for Business Solutions. He is the author or coauthor of 5 books related to Microsoft Dynamics GP.  Mark also maintains the Dynamics GP focused website He speaks and writes regularly about ERP related topics. Mark has been a controller and CFO for a division of a publicly traded company and he has  worked as a consultant implementing ERP solutions. Mark holds additional certifications including Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) , Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Dynamics Credentialed Professional for Dynamics GP 2015 (Core Install and Core Financials), Xero Certified. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from Rollins College. Mark lives with his family in Florida.

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drc8879's picture

The only item that we use is PSTL and I agree with you that this module should be part of the standard GP. Microsoft of all companies should know how many companies are bought, sold and/or change their names over time. The vendor,/customer name change and vendor or customer merge of PSTL are two parts that annoy me that I had to buy this in order to properly track (ie, search/lookup) our activity. For a mid-market system, we shouldn't have to buy what every company deals with every year as routine parts to their business. Best regards, Dale

MarkRockwell's picture

Changing a customer or vendor ID over time isn't necessary when you have Rockton's SmartFill product, because all the searching is done with what you know, such as the current customer or vendor name. The ID numbers become irrelevant, so PSTL isn't needed to change them. Of course, Microsoft won't buy that product and offer it to GP customers either, despite the many requests to do so.

tmarxy's picture

I couldn't agree more, well put. To have to 'pitch' the price of these products during an implementation many times overshadows their functionality. Almost always, these products can very simply add value for a client. The products listed have become a must have for nearly every GP client we see today.

MikeLupro's picture

Mike Lupro - MCP I would add to the list: When a customer buys the payroll functionality Microsoft should include Direct Deposit at no charge. What good is the payroll module without it? It is a constant jaw-dropping aspect to any presentation of payroll where the customer asks that question and I have no real answer other than another $2,000 increase in SLP.

trsantoro's picture

Agreed these are great ideas. I wish for 2 things. 1. Have a single edition with options. Try explaining to a BE client that their Microsoft ERP system CANNOT susggest PO's unless they spend 2x the price per user for AM or buy an ISV solution. Or to an AM client why they are buying an ERP system that includes MFG and Project accounting, but not payroll unless they buy the employee licenses. 2. Include PO Generator as an option for BE clients like the addition of BOM.

Gloria Braunschweig's picture

Instead of dropping the price, add value to the product. Great ideas Mark and other commenters. Instead of dropping the price to the floor, thereby killing off resellers, Microsoft could do effective promotions and add value to this widely-used product. QuickBooks and Peachtree both have better Integration and Payroll tools than GP BE. We don't quote Payroll without DD and FMM rolled into the base price. A discussion with a client who expects those tools to be part of the core is just not fun.

Erica Holman's picture

I totally agree. Most ERP solutions (including products much less expensive than GP)include these add-ons in the base product and prospective customers expect this functionality at no extra cost.