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Navigating Your Dynamics GP Future: Why today’s details matter

by MSDW Reporter
Editorial Team,

This article is sponsored by Enavate.

Roadmap to Success: Navigating your Dynamics GP Future

Dynamics GP customers are trying to understand how to optimize their existing ERP system while building a roadmap for the future, whatever that may be.

“Where do they want to be in 6 or 12 months, two years? Really, where do they want to be?” asked Kasey Metzger, a product manager at Enavate, in a recent panel event on the future of GP hosted by MSDW.

Enavate’s ERP service team typically starts a GP roadmap discussion with a GP Health Check, Metzger said. That involves gathering information to have a dialogue with customers about what processes they are using or underutilizing, data anomalies, and the use of ISV solutions today in their GP system. By deploying a quick and non-intrusive diagnostic Assessment Tool, Enavate gathers this data about the databases, the SQL and GP versions in use, the number of journal entries, and other high-level metrics. Leveraging this data, Enavate can work with the customer to identify areas of optimization.

Sometimes the optimizations available to customers aren’t obvious. For example, Enavate worked with one GP client that had a mismatch between the number of decimal places in its database and the number of decimal places visible in the user interface. As a result, they were suffering from unintended financial management issues like residual amounts outstanding on fully paid customer invoices due to rounding errors. They were able to discover this issue and resolve it through a GP Health Check.

On-premises servers remain expensive, which today’s GP customers must consider if they continue to stay on premises. Looking across data from IDC and Gartner, the cost comes to around $1,476 a month, estimates Bill Moore, Enavate’s Client Executive for Cloud Services. Although many GP customers express comfort with their backups and disaster recovery plans, the reality is that there isn’t much transparency related to the costs of maintaining backups or confirming their reliability and usefulness. Even if a backup is running properly, customers may not be doing enough to leverage an operating expense model rather than a capital expense model.

For many Dynamics GP customers, IT salaries and professional development alone can be a limiting factor. With two or three IT personnel and 20 servers, an on-premises organization cannot offer too many opportunities for teams to learn and expand their skills. Lack of these opportunities can mean high IT turnover and risks related to maintaining the latest skills and knowledge in areas like ransomware attacks.

“It's tough to calculate, but we see a lot of studies where an organization is a victim of a ransomware attack or a significant outage and the loss or damage to their reputation is significant,” Moore explained.

Microsoft’s role as a cybersecurity company, with thousands of cybersecurity engineers specializing in Azure, means companies using Azure for their ERP applications also gain fundamental IT protections like security updates to servers, anomaly monitoring, and protection against cyberattacks. Many breaches are due to inadequate patching for legacy servers, a problem that can be overcome by using technology such as Azure SSDs.

A recent report found that 78 percent of data breaches happen in companies with under $100 million in annual revenue, Moore noted.

“Smaller companies don't have that luxury [of security investment],” he said. “You don't have the budget; you don't have the tools and processes to protect data. And so today, [attackers] go after the smaller companies. One hacker actually said, it's easier to get a dollar a day from a thousand different companies than it is to get one thousand dollars from one company.” Moore said. Although Microsoft invests billions of dollars in R&D for areas like Azure and AI each year, for GP customers the lack of investment has been notable, the panelists acknowledged.

“They stop mainstream support, that's Microsoft's term, after a certain period of time. And then they stop extended support, which is ... primarily security patches, after another period of time. Things like Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2012 are out of mainstream support,” Moore said.

In some cases, GP customers can gain three years of additional support by moving their GP workloads to Azure, with managed services options like those offered by Enavate that include added ERP-specific system administration support in areas like SQL administration and backups. Panelist and Enavate solution architect Carolyn Newell-Robbins noted some GP users are seeing advantages in planning a transition to Dynamics 365 Business Central. As a SaaS solution, Business Central offers customers the benefit of running their ERP in Microsoft’s Public Cloud, which can eliminate costs like physical server support and security.

Traditionally, GP updates are issued once every two years, often requiring work stoppages and significant disruption. By contrast, Business Central (BC) provides smaller, more incremental updates, Newell-Robbins noted. Compared with GP, BC is easily accessed from anywhere with an internet browser. It provides comparatively seamless integration with Office 365 products, outputting reports rapidly to Excel. In fact, edits in Excel can be back-applied to Business Central through a secure Azure tenant.

For Dynamics GP customers, future ERP options abound despite the reductions in support for GP announced by Microsoft. Careful assessment and planning may mean that some companies stay the course, while others migrate GP to Azure or pivot to Business Central.

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