Dynamics GP - Fear and Loathing in the Dynamics 365 World

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The advent of the Dynamics 365 product line fundamentally changes the business landscape for Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) clients and partners alike.

This change will create opportunities for select customers and partners to benefit from the Dynamics 365 product line, but I believe that there will also be confusion and disruption for the majority of clients and partners alike.

After years of trying to kill off the Dynamics GP product line and partner channel mainly by neglect and focusing on other ERP and CRM product lines, the introduction of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 suite of products looks like another big nail in the coffin, if not the final stake through the heart.

Anyone that would like to argue the fact that Microsoft has disastrously impacted the Dynamics GP product line, and in turn the Dynamics GP implementation channel, should spend some time talking to:

* Any Dynamics GP VAR

* Partner recruiters for Acumatica, NetSuite, etc.

I believe that the executive teams at a company like Acumatica should publically thank Microsoft for helping them build their partner channel because I am willing to bet that they must be doing so privately.

Let’s be clear, publically Microsoft has to come out and strongly support the Dynamics GP product line and publish very clear guidelines on how long they will support the product. I also believe that those commitments will be honored, but the fact is that there is no good logical position for the Dynamics GP product line in the Microsoft Cloud world of Dynamics 365.

Of course, Dynamics hosting partners that are moving their Dynamics GP environments to Azure might dispute that fact, but is that a great long-term business or a short-term fix? I lean towards it being more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, after hitting the iceberg.

Let’s look at some facts:

Over recent years, the Dynamics GP partner community has felt like the ugly stepchild in the Dynamics family, prettier only than the Dynamics SOL (formerly Solomon) folks that have been relegated to punch line status. This ignominy exists because of the emphasis placed on the Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta), and to a lesser extent (until recent events!), the NAV (formerly Navision) product lines.

Before the introduction of Project Madeira (aka Dynamics 365 for Financials), the Dynamics NAV folks also felt like second-class citizens as Microsoft trumpeted Dynamics AX as their enterprise solution and Dynamics NAV, GP and SOL were lumped together in an SMB designation. (Long term, I now believe that the NAV folks see themselves as the future kings of the Dynamics ERP hill but more about that in another post).

With the introduction of Dynamics 365 everything changed dramatically and most likely permanently. To understand the future of Dynamics GP you have to step back and take a look at the bigger Microsoft picture.

Industry analysts say that Satya has bet the ranch and his legacy on pivoting Microsoft to a cloud company. Does anyone remember how much he was willing to overpay to buy Salesforce? Only Benioff’s record attempt at greed killed that deal.

As Carl Sagan would say, why spend “literally billions and billions” buying a CRM package when Microsoft already has a CRM solution of their own? Because it is a cloud product and Microsoft has to show growth in their cloud business to make stock analysts happy. That in turn makes the board happy and so on down the line in regards to executive compensation and employment.

No one has ever gone too far off track “following the money trail.”

Cue the bagpipes for the Microsoft Dynamics GP funeral. Truly sad because at one point the Dynamics GP partner community was arguably the best in the mid-market by far.

In retrospect, the "Great Plains” acquisition by Microsoft was doomed from the outset by the natural cycle of software obsolescence; its once revolutionary, but now aging technology. Anyone know of any recent college graduates with a Dexterity major?

The release of the Dynamics 365 product lines creates two cloud-based solutions:

For the SMB Market:

Dynamics 365 for Financials is currently positioned as a “QuickBooks” alternative built on a scaled-back set of Microsoft Dynamics NAV functionality.

However, the promise is for that functionality to keep expanding until it encompasses all of the capabilities of Dynamics NAV available today and more as it is integrated into the Dynamics 365 family.

For the Enterprise Market:

Dynamics 365 for Operations is basically the latest release of Microsoft Dynamics AX “optimized to run in the cloud”.

Recent announcements lay out the plan for an “on premise” version of Dynamics AX. Amazingly, at first look, this “on premise” version will still create cloud revenue. More on that in a subsequent post.

In this environment what are the viable options for Microsoft Dynamics GP clients and partners?

A roadmap in my next post.


Peter Joeckel has thirty years of experience in the ERP world. He heads a unique team of highly experienced ERP and CRM professionals uniquely qualified and positioned to help Microsoft Dynamics GP clients and partners transition into the Microsoft Dynamics 365 world.

This new world of Microsoft Dynamics 365 requires a different type of skillset and partner for GP customers.

With a focus on complex implementations and specialized skills in the manufacturing and distribution industries we have extensive experience successfully guiding Dynamics GP customers that have outgrown their partner or their software.

For more information or to contact us regarding your existing or planned system, please visit: TurnOnDynamics where we are thinking about Dynamics 365...24/7.

2 thoughts on “Dynamics GP - Fear and Loathing in the Dynamics 365 World”

  1. Yes, it's a tough road for Dynamics GP partners. Not so much for customers. There are many thousands of customers who are successfully and comfortably deployed on Dynamics GP. These customers have no need or incentive to switch ERP systems unless GP goes away or their business changes significantly. Over time, Dynamics 365 customers certainly will become the largest Dynamics user base. That does not mean that Dynamics GP users will suddenly see the light and convert. News of the death of Dynamics GP is greatly exaggerated.

    1. Lou, great points. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I agree that GP is not going away anytime soon, just look at the number of Novel users that still exist today, my focus is on the customers that are outgrowing their GP software. What do they do? We have successfully helped several of those and as you will see in a future blog the current partner structure may not be ideal to address the particular issues of that GP market segment.

      And what about the folks looking at GP for the first time? The competition is going to kill us with their "dead-end" messaging. Anyone remember the NetSuite "Hairball"?

      Let's anticipate so that we don't lose existing or potential clients in those two scenarios.

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