Microsoft Dynamics GP to Business Central Upgrades Thoughts: Consider all of your options

May 13 2020

Editor's Note: This article was co-written with Karen Riordan, VP Sales & Marketing for Menlo Technologies.

As the ERP landscape has shifted over the years, consultants that started in the same place have followed a different paths in terms of the products, industries, and clientelle. For a couple of Great Plains OGs like us, our individual journeys have led to interesting differences in how we view the current ERP upgrade landscape, especially for today's Microsoft Dynamics GP users.

One of us (Peter) has spent the better part of two years deeply immersed in the Microsoft Dynamics AX to D365 F&O conversation, with very little visibility into the effort to migrate from Dynamics GP users to Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC). The other (Karen) has had more of a traditional GP partner career, staying the course and  now helping companies make the transition to BC.

What we both found fascinating since recently re-connecting were the alternative views we brought to the GP-to-BC discussion, and how our individual Dynamics GP histories shaped our thinking in several critical areas:

  • What does the future hold for GP customers and the GP partner channel?
  • What are an organization's critical ERP requirements for the future?
  • What are the critical factors that go into the decision making process for a GP customer planning their future?

The discussion regarding GP to BC upgrades came up casually at first. The tone of the conversation changed as we discussed the considerations and options that we do not see in the current migration marketing push.

Here are our key takeaways, distilled from conversations that spanned several hours:

  • Upgrades from Dynamics GP to BC are not a one size fits all proposition. There are dramatic and nuanced factors that we do not see discussed in the general messaging.
  • GP customers would be best served if educated on a broader set of options presented to them when considering an upgrade.

Our guidance suggests that the first question a Dynamics GP customer should ask is, "why am I upgrading"? The answer could be one or more of the following:

  • I have outgrown my GP software, and it is hindering the growth of my business.
  • I want to move my ERP solution to the cloud.
  • I am following Microsoft's or my GP partner's messaging.

Next, the following are essential upgrade factors to consider:

  • There are no upgrades to a new ERP platform. With today's complex ERP systems, "upgrade" is more of a marketing term than an exact technical definition. Even within product lines themselves, upgrades are now re-implementations. Also, upgrade toolsets are, in reality, often just generic spreadsheets and marketing hype with little technical substance.
  • There are significant functional and technical reasons why companies outgrow GP. If that is the case, then it is critical not to make an incremental ERP move that does not address all of those technical and functional issues.
  • If the primary motivation for a GP upgrade is to move your on-premises implementation to the cloud, then a better solution may be to host your existing GP system. This solution can buy critical time before making a move to a new ERP system or be a permanent solution if the proposed Microsoft life span for GP fits your requirements.

The most important takeaway is that all upgrades are complicated and expensive. The real cost of the upgrade is never the cost of the new software, that is just the tip of the iceberg. In making that decision for your company, consider all of your options carefully and do not base that critical business decision on marketing materials promoting the latest shiny toy.


Karen (Floyd) Riordan, VP Sales & Marketing for Menlo Technologies, a Quisitive Information Technology & Services company.

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humberto.chemas's picture

Microsoft is pushing hard GP customers to move to BC.
The sad thing we found is that not only it is an expensive and time consuming process, but also in some aspects, the customer ends up moving to a software with less capabilities.
A quick example is that BC does not handle negative taxes naturally, and does not have an easy query tool like Smartlist / Smartlist Designer.
If you are a GP customer and your software is working properly it is better, easier and much less expensive, to move your GP to the cloud.

Karen Riordan's picture

Couldn't agree with you more, sometimes moving to BC is NOT the right answer. Moving your GP to a hosted environment requires less resources, both people and dollars. We are planning a podcast focusing on just that topic. Thanks for your feedback.

jefflfrye's picture

For years I have cringed whenever someone would sell me on an "upgrade" to a obviously inferior product with a better funded marketing strategy. BC exists for one simple reason, accelerate and smooth out cash flow to Microsoft without actually having to do things like making upgrades that are worthwhile for customers to move to.

All the platitudes about all Microsoft cloud systems exist to remove value from customer expenditures by choosing to move future useful features development ARBITRARILY from sold systems to the cloud cash cow..

I cannot believe I am saying this, but wow, I miss Ballmer and the Microsoft leadership that did not all come from cloud. Microsoft has gone down the path of strong arm racketeering in order to get the "digital transformation" for its own income statement.

DonPugh's picture

Hosting GP in the cloud is a far better solution than upgrading to BC. All the benefits of the cloud (Backup, secure connection via VPN, expandability, etc) are easily provided by moving the SQL server and application to Term Server on a hosted environment. No retraining or conversion required. RoseASP has been doing this for a number of years, as well as others. The software is tried and proved over the years with full functionality. More capability than BC. Multiple windows active. Mulit-segment GL Accounts, not dimensions. Vast expertise available. RDP is avaiable on all PCs and Macs, so pick your workstation.

We should do a side by side comparison of GP in the cloud (not on premises ) vs BC. GP far outshines BC and will continue to do for a number of years.

The push for BC is nothing more than a bunch of marketing hype.