Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs. Dynamics GP: Which Is Better for Your Business?

By Stoneridge Team | December 4, 2023

If you’re responsible for ensuring that your small to mid-sized company has the right business systems in place for the present and the future, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Microsoft Dynamics GP and the more modern, cloud-based solution, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

As cloud-based platforms continue to gain traction in replacing traditional on-premise information technology (IT) infrastructure, many small and mid-sized businesses are rethinking their long-term plans and asking, “Which is better for my business—Dynamics GP or Dynamics 365 Business Central?”

In this blog, we’ll compare these two solutions side by side.

The Competitors: Dynamics GP and Dynamics 365 Business Central

First, let’s take a look at the background and current status of each of these solutions.

Old School: Dynamics GP

This respected enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution began its long life in the 1980s in a North Dakota–based company called Great Plains; after its acquisition by Microsoft in 2000, the software was eventually rebranded as Dynamics GP.

Although Microsoft’s current focus is on developing its Dynamics 365 platform for ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, the company plans to continue supporting Dynamics GP indefinitely. Versions 2018 and 2018 R2 fall under Microsoft’s fixed lifecycle policy—mainstream support for those versions ended in January 2023, and extended support will end in January 2028. But the current version (18.x) falls under Microsoft’s modern lifecycle policy. Microsoft plans to release Dynamics GP 18.x hotfixes and tax and regulatory updates annually in June, October, and December—indefinitely.

Dynamics GP is most often deployed as an on-premise solution, but it can also be configured to run on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

New School: Dynamics 365 Business Central

In 2016, Microsoft launched the cloud-native Dynamics 365 platform as the successor to its legacy ERP and CRM solutions. Since then, the company has poured massive research and development efforts and investment into expanding its cloud and security infrastructure, artificial intelligence (AI) technology, and business software offerings—including the Dynamics 365 family of applications and the low/no-code tools in Power Platform.

Microsoft offers Dynamics 365 Business Central—released in April 2018—as an ERP solution for small and mid-sized businesses, so it’s a logical landing place for companies upgrading from Dynamics GP and NAV. Many Dynamics GP features map directly to features in Dynamics 365 Business Central, making it an attractive solution for forward-looking SMBs who see the future in the cloud.

Business Central—unlike GP and NAV—is part of Microsoft’s current focus, and, consequently, is where new features will appear going forward. Major updates, including new capabilities, are released in April and October each year; Microsoft rolls out minor updates (e.g., bug fixes, security patches, and regulatory changes) monthly.

Although Business Central is a cloud-native solution, it’s possible to deploy it on-premise or in a hybrid configuration, with some features hosted on-premise and some hosted in the cloud.

Advantage: Business Central

Stoneridge Software has helped many businesses deploy Dynamics GP, and we’ll still help you implement GP or provide support for your GP ERP if you determine that’s the best solution for your company.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you about the substantial benefits of moving to Business Central.

First, let’s consider total cost of ownership (TCO). With an on-premise instance of Dynamics GP, you’re responsible for large up-front licensing costs and upgrade fees. You also need to invest in infrastructure—from real estate (a physical server room and associated utilities) to server and storage hardware (purchase, maintenance, upgrades). Ongoing maintenance, scaling your system, or emergency repairs all come with personnel and hardware costs.

Next, cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) Business Central offers a lower initial investment and predictable ongoing fees. Software upgrades are included in your license subscription fees. You can scale your system with a few mouse clicks and predict the cost of scaling in advance.

With an on-premise solution, you’re responsible for uptime, security (physical and cybersecurity), and system backups. Business Central boasts uptime greater than 99%, is physically secured in Microsoft’s fortress-like data centers, benefits from industry-leading cybersecurity, and is automatically backed up in multiple physical locations.

If you’re running Dynamics GP, updates need to be installed manually. New feature releases and updates to Business Central are applied automatically via the cloud.

With GP, remote access requires virtual private networks (VPNs) and remote desktop protocol (RDP). With Business Central, your users can access the system anywhere, anytime, with any device—all they need is an internet connection and a web browser.

If you have concerns about incorporating independent software vendor (ISV) applications into a Business Central solution, rest easy—we can help you implement any ISV apps you need. Many ISVs have already shifted to developing for Microsoft AppSource, a library of industry-niche integrated solutions to round out your ERP or CRM. That includes integrations to handle payroll—one significant feature that’s native to GP but missing from Business Central.

New Features in Business Central

Because Microsoft is focusing on building the Dynamics 365 platform as the business platform of the future, new functionality and technological innovations are released there—not for legacy solutions like GP and NAV. So, if you want to take advantage of new features and tech, you need to consider a move to Dynamics 365.

Advances in Business Central include the following:

  • Microsoft is building its cloud platform to provide deeper integration among all its business software offerings—Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365 productivity apps like Outlook, Excel, Teams, and Power Platform.
  • The Business Central interface has the familiar look and feel of Office products—a fact that lowers the bar for user adoption and comfort.
  • With your data stored in the cloud, you have access to Microsoft’s AI innovations—like enhanced business insights with Power BI, machine learning, and automation.
  • You can use workflows in both GP and Business Central, but in Business Central, you can use Power Automate to create and automate workflows.
  • Instead of a segmented chart of accounts, Business Central uses a dimensional chart of accounts that greatly reduces the number of natural accounts in your general ledger. This not only enhances your ability to report on any aspect of your business; it also streamlines the reporting process so that you can generate reports in minutes instead of days.

Success Stories: Steffes Group and Agassiz Seed

Agassiz Seed partnered with Stoneridge to migrate from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central. The move enabled them to implement lot tracking for their custom seed blends, track inventory with up-to-the-minute accuracy, boost efficiency, and speed up and improve reporting.

Stoneridge helped the Steffes Group, an auction house, move from Dynamics GP to Business Central, too. The Steffes Group appreciated Stoneridge’s approach to maximizing return on investment by spending time training those who will train the end users. This approach had them up and running quickly, no longer tied to on-site servers. The new dimensional accounting system enabled them to efficiently track and report on their auctions—functionality that had been lacking in their GP system.

Partner With Stoneridge for Your ERP Needs

Stoneridge Software is a certified Microsoft Solutions partner with specialized expertise in moving businesses from Dynamics GP to Business Central. We were also named the 2022 Partner of the Year for Business Central. Although we’re recognized for our work with Dynamics 365, we built our business around legacy Dynamics solutions like GP and NAV. So, no matter what your business needs, we’re ready to partner with you and position your company for success now and into the future.

If you…

Contact the experts at Stoneridge Software today!

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