Companies that rely on Dynamics GP are steadily moving to Dynamics 365 Business Central. With any business system change, it’s important to understand the financial implications and expected ROI.
What to Consider – Budgeting for Services During GP Upgrade
There is no “one” way – Companies switching from GP to D365 Business Central are not locked into one option. Now is the time to analyze which data and customizations add value to your business and plan accordingly.
Planning, planning, planning – Many businesses with GP have used the same system for years. Planning is an essential part of transitioning to Business Central.
Business Central is a new product – While core functionality is similar, Business Central and GP are not the same product and differ in my ways. Read about the differences between the systems in this blog series by Deb Schaffer.
Business Central has more functionality – This offers an opportunity to engage with customers in a different, more effective way.
Decide on your approach – Consider how satisfied you are with your current system and what changes would be worth implementing. Remember – there is no one way to go about transitioning from GP to Business Central.
Finding the Right Approach
Two approaches for moving from GP to Business Central are lift and shift and transform. Lift and shift is typically the best option for businesses that have the functionality they need in GP, have minimal customizations, or know exactly which customizations they will need in Business Central. Companies who use the lift and shift approach often have a minimal number of ISV’s or have similar ISV’s compared to what is available in Business Central. This approach is the simpler and quicker option, getting your company to Business Central faster. Lift and shift allow companies to keep customizations while doing minimal analysis. Data migration is light and uncomplicated.
The transform approach offers the opportunity to change how functions are performed within a system. This allows for data clean-up, the ability to implement new functionality, and more effective customer engagement. This option includes more analysis up-front, including process reviews, fit-gap analysis, and a review of new app offerings. Businesses interested in adding a new module to their system generally prefer the transform option.
The service factors listed below impact costs associated with moving from GP to Business Central.
Process analysis – Processes will be analyzed to determine advantageous implementations on the Business Central side. Process analysis occurs with both the lift and shift and transforms approaches.
Modules used & number of companies – Both of these factors will impact the scale and hence the cost of Business Central implementation.
Data migration – Data migration is an important topic when planning a move to Business Central and will be discussed more thoroughly later.
Customizations and Integrations – The number and type of customizations or integrations currently in place on your GP system are both factors to consider.
ISV applications – Consider the best options for replacing current functionalities. Many ISVs have built solutions that can integrate with Business Central while other functionality may now come standard out of the box.
Reporting requirements – The system you are currently using to provide your reports will impact your budget. Management Reporter is not compatible with Business Central, so many GP users will transition to Jet Reports or Power BI for their reporting needs.
Training – When Business Central is new to your organization, users must be trained on its functionality. Training is involved in both the lift and shift and transforms approaches.
Steps in the Analysis Process
Moving to Business Central is a great opportunity to evaluate and transform your business systems.
1: Business process review – This step may involve a full business process review in which processes are discussed with users to discover pain points in your current solution.
2: Finding current pain points in GP – Using the insight from the business process review, analyze how Business Central could minimize pain points.
3: Fit-gap analysis – This is derived from the business process review and can be done internally or in conjunction with your partner.
4: Evaluate Business Central functionality – Determine which functionalities your company should take advantage of.
5: Leverage stronger capabilities within Business Central – Business Central offers strong capabilities for distribution and manufacturing around warehousing, inventory tracking, and inventory receiving.
6: Office 365 integration opportunities – Business Central is strongly integrated into Office 365, which allows information to flow seamlessly between the two applications. For example, invoices can automatically be converted to a Word or PDF document and attached to an Outlook message.
7: Power Platform utilization – Data from Dynamics 365 and any other number of sources is compiled within Power BI for powerful dashboards that display real-time data, allowing you to understand your KPIs and make key business decisions. Power Apps and Power Automate can extend your solution to further automate processes and empower users.
8: Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement – The final functionality to consider utilizing is Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. This integration connects the front office with the back office.
Dynamics GP Data Migration
Data migration can have a minimal or significant impact on the cost of services involved in moving to Business Central. Consider what information you may need out of an end system to determine a data migration strategy.
Companies that have used GP for years may be storing data they no longer need. Transitioning to Business Central is an opportunity to clean up this unnecessary data. Historical data that is deemed valuable is typically stored in a Data Lake for a monthly charge or kept in the GP legacy system rather than transferred into Business Central.
Business Central offers more flexible reporting options as compared to GP. Accordingly, some companies choose to make a GL chart of accounts change. Another common adjustment new Business Central users make is the numbering of master records. For example, an alpha master record scheme may be changed to an all numeric one.
The data migration process may seem overwhelming, but tools are available to assist. The Microsoft Migration Tool offers a simple way to move data. The RapidStart tool allows users to export and clean up data in excel before pulling that information back into Business Central.
Customizations, Integrations, and ISV’s
Custom code analysis is the first step companies take when evaluating customizations. Many business decision-makers are unsure of exactly which customizations and integrations their system has. This is not a problem, as a customization inventory and integration review are often a joint effort between Stoneridge Software and clients. After an analysis, it is determined which customizations are still relevant.
Features that require customization in GP may be included in Business Central’s out-of-the-box functionality. In other cases, add-ins similar to ISV’s in the GP world are now called apps and can be downloaded from AppSource. This makes customizations easier to implement.
AppSource also has options for integrations. If integrating with an outside purchase order system, the Business Central module functionality can be used.
Businesses should identify ISV’s currently in use and evaluate replacement options. Some GP ISV’s are available as Business Central apps. Options to replace Key2Act should also be considered. We recommend FieldPoint.
Reporting and Information
Management Reporter is not available in Business Central, and Account Schedules are used instead. New tools, such as Jet Reports and Power BI, are available. As a dashboarding tool, Power BI allows businesses to build more dashboards instead of building more reports.
For companies with customized reports in GP, ask if those custom reports are still needed. Questions such as “what do we need out of this system?” and “what do we need to run our business?” help business leaders make difficult decisions about which customizations are necessary.
Don’t make your transition to the cloud alone. Reach out to the experts at Stoneridge Software. We’re one of the top Business Central partners and have helped countless businesses transition from their on-premises solution to Dynamics 365. Contact us to start the conversation and read a few of our success stories here.