Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central has been available since 2018 but to many users and service providers in the Dynamics ERP community, Microsoft’s line of D365 enterprise solutions still feels new. In particular, Microsoft Dynamics GP to Business Central migrations are on a lot of minds.
In this post we’ll explore some of the most important differences between the two products to help you gain some insight into how your processes may change if you make this switch.
Dynamics GP vs Business Central - Big Differences to Note for Migration
You won't have ERP on your servers or on a 3rd party hosting provider's servers anymore. Business Central is a cloud product (like most of your apps you are probably using these days) and lives on Azure. On the other hand, GP has been enabled for cloud use, but is not a true cloud product.
While Dynamics GP is frequently deployed in a hosting environment, including Azure, managed hosting provider or hybrid models, it was created decades ago as an on-premise solution. Since 2016, the Dynamics GP web client version has been built on HTML5 as a browser-based solution. However, Business Central is a cloud-native solution and is therefore cloud-ready out of the box. Business Central requires no significant hardware requirements or up front investment. However, when moving from GP to Business Central, you are implementing a whole new ERP, so you will likely pay some consulting fees to your Microsoft Partner for setup.
Switching from Dynamics GP to Business Central, you will find the user experience similar, but it is a fairly big change. In many ways you will find it to be a UX upgrade.
Obviously there are going to be some differences in your workflow after a migration from Dynamics GP to Business Central. Dynamics GP and Business Central are definitely different products. However, if you are accustomed to using Microsoft solutions for back-office functions, the BC user experience should be relatively simple to adopt. Business Central has more options for personalization for individual users and may provide a smoother user experience, particularly on mobile, compared to GP.
On Premise licenses are still available for GP, along with subscription licensing. Business Central is a monthly subscription only.
There are two main licensing models for Dynamics GP–Perpetual Licensing and Subscription Licensing. Perpetual licensing is the traditional method of licensing software where you purchase the software upfront and own it in perpetuity. If you have a traditionally licensed instance of GP, you likely pay annual renewal fees and possible maintenance fees associated with Perpetual Licensing.
Subscription licensing on the other hand is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model where you pay per user on a monthly basis and maintenance is included. Perpetual licensing is not available for Business Central, meaning it is only available as a SaaS product.
Both GP and Business Central will be supported by Microsoft for years to come, according to Microsoft’s current roadmap.
Since the October 2019 release of GP, Great Plains has switched to Microsoft’s Modern Lifecycle services. This means any version released after GP 2018 is simply known as Dynamics GP with no actual version names being assigned. There will be three GP updates per year, including tax updates, new features, and a year-end update. Users only need to update once per year to stay current. If you are on a legacy or older version of Dynamics GP, like GP 2013 R2 through 2016, support has been extended, but will be ending within the next few years depending on the version you have.
Business Central and GP 18.5 will be supported into the foreseeable future.
Microsoft Development Focus
If you switch from GP do BC you can expect to see more frequent updates to software features.
While Microsoft has assured the Dynamics GP Community that it will continue to support GP, Microsoft is no longer focusing on GP, reserving the majority of its development investments in cloud solutions like D365.
ISV Optimization & Customization
There are more add-on solutions for GP than there are for BC at this point and that means some of your GP integrations might not be available for BC. This is a key point to consider before you switch.
Because Dynamics GP has enjoyed longstanding popularity there is a robust pool of software vendors who offer solutions to expand Dynamics GP’s functionality, including Accounts Payable, HR and Payroll, Business Intelligence and more. Since Business Central is less mature than GP, there are fewer add-on products available, but the roster is growing rapidly and Business Central also includes
The NAV vs. GP Equation
BC and GP really are different products.
In addition to Dynamics GP, Microsoft's line of on-premise ERP solutions includes the large enterprise solution, Dynamics AX and the mid-size business solution Dynamics NAV. Business Central evolved out of NAV which historically has been very popular in Europe, though it has enjoyed great success in North America. While NAV is used in a variety of industries, its functionality has been popular among manufacturing, CPG, transportation, shipping and warehousing companies.
Dynamics GP is designed for a variety of industries with a focus on managing core financials for growing organizations. It’s been very popular in the U.S. and Canada.
The bottom line is that Dynamics GP and D365 Business Central are different, so you can probably make your own inferences about how this will specifically affect your organization's day-to-day. Like any software migration, there will be gains and losses.