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    June 23, 2022

    Migrating from GP to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

    Change to your technology infrastructure is not a decision you make on a whim. As technology advances though, the transition becomes less intense, making the leap not as scary as it was in the past.  

    In today’s tech world, many small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are using the decades old legacy system Microsoft Dynamics GP, formerly known as Microsoft Great Plains. Because the UI and workflows in Dynamics GP have become second nature, teams are hesitant to switch to newer options. 

    Why should SMBs consider moving away from Dynamics GP?  

    Although Microsoft is not sunsetting support for GP, they are scaling back to bug fixes and compliance updates. As a result, they will no longer innovate the platform; they will simply support it. Instead, Microsoft has shifted resources to developing Dynamics 365 Business Central, its Cloud-based solution.

    Business Central offers more robust features for SMBs looking to improve their software functionality and business management. Although Dynamics 365 Business Central and GP share similar characteristics, workflow automation, Cloud back-ups, automatic updates and user-friendly dashboards make Business Central well worth the transition. And many of the third-party tools integrated into your GP system are native in Dynamics 365 Business Central.

    Microsoft Dynamics GP and Business Central: What’s the Difference?    

    Microsoft Dynamics GP was the go-to solution for SMBs when it was first released in 1993 (as Great Plains). It has proven longevity and enables SMBs to manage their day-to-day workflows including accounting, payroll, business intelligence, analytics and resource management. 

    Although some features of GP can be moved to the Cloud, it is primarily an on-premise solution. This means that most companies that utilize Microsoft Dynamics GP have servers on-site with IT teams to upkeep and manage the hardware, database and security.  

    There are several disadvantages to having an on-premise solution like Dynamics GP. For instance, GP does not offer automatic updates. Instead, companies must pay a fee to update their software and IT teams must kick users out of the system to initiate the updates. This process is costly and disruptive to normal operations. SMBs must also spend considerable resources paying IT and security teams to manage assets and upkeep physical hardware.  

    Unlike Microsoft Dynamics GP, Business Central operates in the Cloud and does not require on-premise hosting. Instead, Microsoft’s dynamic team of IT professionals conducts bug fixes and updates remotely, so companies don’t have to hire in-house specialists. Business Central’s monthly subscription also includes security and data backups, so SMBs can rest assured their assets are secure in case of a disaster. 

    Microsoft Dynamics GP also has limited workflow automation functionality and cross-platform synchronicity. Unfortunately, this means that teams must manually update and input data, a process that is both time-consuming and prone to error. Platforms like Business Central automatically sync information via the Cloud so that teams can spend more time on customer-facing activities.  

    Although moving to a new solution may seem intimidating, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers a more robust range of features and add-ons so that SMBs can enhance workflows, productivity and business insights.  

    5 Key Benefits of Dynamics 365 Business Central 

    Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is second to none in functionality and ease of use for small and mid-sized businesses. After migrating to Business Central, Dynamics GP users can still enjoy many of the workflows, add-ons and functions they have come to rely on. In addition, once teams have acclimated to Dynamics 365 Business Central, they will have access to greater automation, connectivity between tools and accounting options.  

    Some key benefits of Business Central include: 

    1. Automatic Updates: Microsoft releases minor updates monthly and major updates twice per year. All updates are included in the monthly subscription. Because changes are automated, companies can tell their systems to update during off-hours to reduce disruption.  
    2. Streamlined Workflows and Automation: Business Central connects Microsoft tools and third-party add-ons to synchronize data automatically and streamline workflows. For instance, teams can automate invoice approval, edit Excel spreadsheets in Business Central or process transactions and quotes directly from Outlook.   
    3. Better Reporting and Analytics: Because platforms and channels are always connected, your team will have greater insight into company-wide sales, marketing and customer analytics. 
    4. Connectivity: Business Central works effortlessly with other Dynamics 365 apps, Office 365, PowerApps, Power Automate and Power BI. It can also integrate with various third-party add-ons, so you can continue to use the custom software solutions you used in GP.  
    5. Integrated Training: Business Central features built-in training modules, so team members can learn how to use each new tool with short videos and walkthroughs. Or, they can hover over a function to trigger an explanatory pop-up. 

    Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is fast, user-friendly and robust. As a result, companies that migrate from Dynamics GP to Business Central often see immediate improvements in their workflows and productivity.  

    What Does a Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central Migration Look Like? 

    The process of migrating from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central may feel overwhelming, but you should take comfort that this type of migration is done regularly with trusted partners. There is a process and a system to set you up for success.  

    Remember that Dynamics GP is not a complete ERP system as it only encompasses accounting and finance. Your migration to Dynamics 365 Business Central involves both a Cloud migration and the centralization of other functions that you’re managing through other software and tools so that they’re in one location - your ERP. Regardless of your current infrastructure, there is a general path that everyone will need to get to the Dynamics 365 Business Central destination. 

    Audit Your Current System 

    Audits of any kind are tedious, but they are time well spent at the front end of the process. Take stock of what systems you use, their processes, the data the systems use and the overlap of departments that use the same data. Mapping all of this out will clearly identify how your systems and business processes are intertwined. 

    Analyze the Audit 

    As you know from doing business, it’s not enough to just gather data. You need to read into what the data is telling you. Where are the redundancies? What can be made more efficient and what problems can be fixed with technology? And which ones need more than that to improve processes? 

    Talk to the Teams 

    No matter how well you map and analyze your current systems, inevitably there are details you are missing. Talk to each team that will be affected by migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Find out what their current pain points are, their concerns about migrating to a new system and what is on their “wish list” to make their jobs more efficient with fewer headaches. We guarantee you will discover details about your process you were unaware of by going directly to your employees. 

    Find an ERP Partner You can Trust 

    There are a lot of Microsoft partners out there, but it takes some searching to find an experienced partner who is the right fit for your business. Make sure you are asking the right questions of potential partners who really know your industry. You don’t want to work with someone who promises you the world and underdelivers, you want someone who is going to answer the hard questions and tell you, realistically what you are up against and how they can help you overcome unavoidable obstacles in the migration process. 

    Greater Assessment of Your Data and Technology 

    The first step to beginning a Business Central migration will be to request an assessment from our technology experts. Part of the assessment process is to run a straightforward and easy to use assessment tool. It reviews your current infrastructure, technology requirements, and business conditions within minutes by analyzing your metadata. A Microsoft Power user who has read access to your company’s SQL database can conduct the assessment, so you won’t need an IT team to use the tool. The goal of the assessment is to layout requirements, processes and goals in order to map out a Business Central migration that will best fit your business needs. 

    This GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central assessment tool was developed by the team at Enavate. Because of the success and ease of use, Microsoft will soon be making this tool available to other Microsoft partners. Although others will be offering this tool, as the developers of the assessment Enavate has the experience and history of knowledge behind each step of the process.  

    Migration to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central 

    Enavate’s team of professionals can then use the information gathered through our GP to Dynamics 365 BC assessment tool to determine a step-by-step plan to move your company to Business Central. Enavate offers complete migration services, including technical and change management support, so that SMBs can move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central with minimal disruption to operations.  

    Enavate teamed up with Microsoft to develop the Data Migration Wizard, a built-in migration tool to simplify the process of moving your data from GP into the Cloud. Be advised that this tool only works on versions of GP 2015 or later. If you are on an older GP version, then you will have an additional step of upgrading GP prior to migrating to the Cloud or choose to complete a full migration from the start. 

    Other requirements of using the Data Migration Wizard involve your on-premise system. This system needs to be using a version of SQL Server 2016 or later and your database needs a compatibility level of 130 or more.  

    Once your system requirements are ready, you will be able to migrate data into the Cloud so you can operate fully off of Business Central. This includes data related to inventory, customers, vendors, finance and more.  the following data into the Cloud to be ready for Dynamics 365 Business Central to be your primary ERP: 

    • Chart of Accounts master records 
    • Customer records & outstanding transactions from the Receivables module 
    • Vendor master records & outstanding transactions from the Payables module 
    • Inventory items 
    • Checkbook master data 
    • Historical data from Inventory, Payables, Receivables, PO processing, and Sales Order processing 

    You’ll likely encounter additional information that must be migrated manually. Your partner can help you plan for migrating this data.  

    Migration to Dynamics 365 Business Central is More Than a Push of a Button 

    Enavate can also help you determine the best timeline for your Dynamics 365 migration. For instance, you may want to begin your transition right away or decide to test certain Business Central functions for a few months before leaping into a complete migration. Remember that although change is coming, you don’t have to be fearful of it. Regardless of which path you choose, Enavate will be there for you every step of the way.  

    Continue the migration conversation by contacting one of our experts to learn more about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can help you achieve your business goals.  

    Sandy Williams

    Sandy Williams is Sr. Leader of Client Experience Strategy at Enavate. She has spent the past 20 years in the Microsoft SMB and Enterprise space optimizing technology, experience, and implementation methodologies to ensure the delivery of a smooth, frictionless and consistent experience to clients. Sandy has worked in various industries with the Microsoft solution stack to architect, re-design business processes and implement customer success through business needs and industry best practices.

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