What is the future of Dynamics GP?

In recent years, it has become clear that Microsoft is shifting its investment away from Dynamics GP and focusing on Dynamics 365.

This has left a lot of companies using GP fearing that it is going to stop working one day soon. That is not true, but that is also not the right question to ask. Instead, it’s important to ask yourself whether your business can operate on software that is not going to be continually invested in and evolved over time. 

As a former Dynamics GP consultant, I can tell you that while Dynamics GP is not going to disappear, it will become increasingly difficult and costly to maintain. If you decide to stay on the platform, review what this blog post mentions.

Before going any further, what is happening with GP is not unique. We are seeing this trend across the industry. It is impossible to predict the future but “the writing is on the wall”.

Price Increases and Mixed Messages

After speaking at Community Summit in 2022, one of the ERP leaders at Microsoft posted the below on LinkedIn. The TLDR? Microsoft is not going to take GP off life support.

View the post on LinkedIn here.

Shortly after the LinkedIn post, Microsoft made the following announcements:

  • On October 1, 2023, Dynamics GP (and NAV) subscription license pricing is set to increase by 9%.
  • On October 1, 2023, Enhancement Plans and Advantage Plans will increase by 1%.
  • Starting April 1, 2026, sales to new Dynamics GP customers will be discontinued (existing customers who are current on enhancements can still add new licenses).

Based on the above LinkedIn post, we can be sure the additional revenue these increases generate are not being invested in new GP features and modules.

Functionality and Support

In terms of product functionality, there have also been some telling changes in recent history that I predict we will see more of.

  • On March 1, 2022, Microsoft discontinued the Extended Human Resources and Payroll modules. This product was sold to a channel partner who now supports it. This happened in the 2010s too, with SmartList Builder, Extender, Collections Management and Audit Trails.
  • Parts of the product are no longer tested for compatibility with Office 365 and Windows updates, namely VBA customizations. This change forced many customers to undergo costly projects to convert VBA customizations to Dexterity (a programming language that is not widely known).
  • When Microsoft began forcing its customers to enable modern authentication, any customers wishing to send emails (e.g., vendor remittance, workflow, etc.) were forced to upgrade to avoid losing email functionality. There was a period when the web client was not compatible with modern authentication, and any customer who had web client users that used the system to send emails had to find a workaround or upgrade again.
  • In September 2020, some customers received an Office 365 update that broke GP Word templates. The only solution was to roll back the update or wait for a service pack and be without Word templates.
  • Many notable ISVs are shifting focus away from GP. Binary Stream, Greenshades, Integrity Data, eOne, Rockton, Kwiktag and more have all invested heavily in porting their GP products to Dynamics 365 Business Central.
  • There is a large network of firms that provide Dynamics GP implementation and support services, however many of those firms are also shifting their focus to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Notes from the Field

There are also some anecdotes that I can share about compatibility and stability.

  • The issue of “stuck batches” has not been addressed in the nearly 15 years since I first encountered the platform. A simple stuck batch can take 15-20 minutes to fix, but more complex ones could take upwards of an hour to fix. The solution sometimes requires changing transactional data via SQL which can cause corrupt data and impact your audit trail. 
  • The solution for many of the compatibility issues (VBA, MFA, O365) has been to upgrade to the latest release of GP, which can be extremely labor-intensive and require a lot of planning.  I have seen upgrades take upwards of 60 hours to complete.
  • I have seen many connectivity issues between the GP client and server. These issues are always extremely difficult to diagnose, require a lot of time to troubleshoot and resolve, and impact end-user productivity.
  • GP does not play well with anti-virus software, especially if it is deployed on a terminal server. These issues are well documented. The processes that interact with the %temp% folder are foundational to how GP is designed, so it is unlikely that this will be resolved in a future release.

A Path Forward

As a Microsoft partner, we have the knowledge to successfully plan for and execute migrations from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central. 

Modern ERP platforms like Business Central are designed to be deployed in a cloud environment where many of the common issues that users experience with legacy platforms are non-existent. Technology is woven into our everyday lives, and we expect ERP to “just work” the same way apps like Amazon and Instagram work. To that end, antivirus does not interfere with Business Central, and the concept of stuck batches does not exist. The only obstacle to connectivity is internet access, which can be easily remedied with backup internet devices. Modern platforms also make self-service reporting much less complicated and thus considerably reduce the burden on IT and consulting resources required to maintain the platform.

One common misconception about the cloud is that it translates to a costlier IT stack. In many cases, maintaining a Dynamics GP deployment over a 5-year period does not make financial sense. Below is an example comparing the cost to maintain an on-premises Dynamics GP deployment to a SaaS Business Central deployment.

Company A and B have the exact same licensing requirements, except company A uses Dynamics GP and company B uses Dynamics 365 Business Central. Both companies have 15 licensed users and use the core financials and distribution modules in the system. The comparison below assumes two hosted GP servers, a total GP purchase price of $41,000, one annual GP upgrade, and $3,000 in costs to fix stuck batches and deal with connectivity issues throughout the year. The backup internet price is based on published Verizon wireless pricing available online and may vary depending on your location. 

I will grant that things are missing from this analysis, namely costs associated with securing the environment, one-time setup costs, and end-user support issues unrelated to connectivity or stuck batches. Those types of issues will occur regardless of the system.

Among many other technology services, Schneider Downs also provides ERP implementation and support services for Dynamics 365 Business Central. Contact us today to determine whether Business Central is right for you.

About the Author

Mike Scalamogna is a Technology Advisory Manager with Schneider Downs Consulting Practice, who specializes in ERP Advisory services. If you are interested in speaking with him about your cloud strategy, please contact him at [email protected].

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