Enterprise resource planning is technology at its very finest. From supply chain management to advanced reporting to data analytics and more, ERP solutions leverage digitization, automation, artificial intelligence and internet of things capabilities to improve operations and unify workflows. It’s little wonder why nearly 90% of businesses agree that their ERP implementation has helped them achieve their goals, according to polling data compiled by SelectHub.
But with so many ERP solution options available, you may not know which one is best. In fact, many software providers offer multiple ERP software suites, further complicating the selection process.
We can narrow it down for you, though: Microsoft has the best ERP products on the market, including Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central which are designed for small to medium sized businesses. Here, we’ll focus on each of these ERP solution suites, what applications they feature, how they compare and contrast, and why, if you are a GP customer, it may be in your best interest to transition to Business Central.
What is Microsoft Dynamics GP?
Introduced in the early 2000s, Microsoft Dynamics GP is a full featured, on-premise ERP solution that is geared toward small and mid-sized businesses. Through modules like General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Purchasing, Fixed Assets, Accounts Receivable, Sales Order Management, Inventory Management, Manufacturing, Payroll and Project Management, Microsoft Dynamics GP provides both decision-makers and their staffs with the tools necessary to make their day-to-day tasks easier to accomplish.
Leveraged by thousands of business owners in numerous industries for over 20 years, Microsoft Dynamics GP is a highly intuitive ERP solution proven to increase financial visability and improve outcomes. It also features native integration with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Power BI, and other Microsoft software programs. Additionally, unlike other ERP platforms, which cater to only certain industries or specialties, Microsoft Dynamics GP is used by businesses in many industries including construction, accounting, real estate, retail, wholesale distribution, professional services and hospitality. It also doesn’t take too long to implement, averaging a few months, depending on the size of your business and the number of users.
What is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a more robust, fully cloud enabled ERP solution for midsize organizations. Rolled out in 2018, Business Central is an upgrade to the Microsoft Dynamics NAV (previously known as Navision) application and also integrates with other advanced Microsoft tools, such as Power BI, the Microsoft Power platform, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, Service and Marketing.
Although each application has similar features, the central distinction the ERP solution has from Dynamics GP is deployment. While GP is on-premise, Business Central is designed to be entirely cloud-based although an on premise version is also available. As a software as a service solution that uses Microsoft Azure as its back end, Business Central is basically accessible through any web browser.
The flexibility, security and scalability that the Microsoft cloud provides — as well as eliminating the need for expensive upgrades and always being on the latest version — make up many of the reasons why more business owners are choosing Business Central as their preferred ERP solution. Here are a few of its core features:
- Financial Management and Dimensional Reporting
- Sales and Receivables
- Purchasing and Payables
- Inventory and Manufacturing
- Field Service
- Project Management
Here are a few other ways that 365 Business Central differs from Dynamics GP, which may influence your company’s best choice for an ERP solution:
Automatic updates delivered twice a year
A major advantage that Business Central has over GP is its approach to software upgrades. With on-premise software, users have to perform the updates themselves or through their partner once they receive the appropriate service packs and new versions from their ERP provider. Cloud-based ERP solutions like Business Central get software updates automatically as part of the subscription. With Business Central major updates occur on a biannual basis, usually in the spring and fall.
Minimal maintenance and better disaster recovery
In addition to the initial costs of hardware associated with hosting your own data center, there’s also the matter of server support, maintenance and obsolescence, which can be challenging even when you know what you’re doing and have a background in IT. Since Business Central is delivered on a software-as-a-service model, Microsoft has server and application maintenance and upgrades covered. Because Microsoft is hosting the solution, they also provide the backups of your data in case there is an issue. Database backups are a key component of any disaster recovery plan. Microsoft Business Central includes backups and storage that are repeatedly created and kept up by an Azure SQL service.
The manner in which Business Central is priced also makes it different from Dynamics GP. With Microsoft Dynamics GP, there is a one-time licensing fee and an annual enhancement fee that is based on concurrent users, meaning the number of users in the system at one time. Business Central has a named user based approach to pricing, charging $70 per user per month for the Essentials package, which includes the core applications. The Premium edition, which includes Manufacturing and Field Service, is $100 per user per month. There are also Team member licenses available with very basic functionality for $8 per user per month.
Like Business Central, Dynamics GP is sold as a core bundle starting at $5,000 for three concurrent users plus about $900 per year for the enhancement program. For additional users —meaning more than three — Dynamics GP has a one-time price of $3,000 and about $540 per year enhancement program. There are several add-on suites available like the extended pack and customization pack.
Microsoft pricing can be confusing and there are also dozens of add-on solutions from integrated solution providers that may be required for your business needs. The TM Group would be happy to have a call to discuss your new business requirements and give you some ideas of how much Business Central or GP licensing would be as well as implementation services.
Why migrating to the cloud is a smart move
If you’re accustomed to hosting your own data server, you may have gotten used to on-premise infrastructure. But there are now more organizations who are on the cloud than who are not. According to polling done by Turbonomic, 60% of organizations are running at least some of their work processes in a public cloud environment.
There are a variety of advantages that make the cloud as popular as it is. Chief among them is flexibility. Since cloud-based programs are accessible via an internet connection, ERP and other management systems can be used anywhere, on any web-enabled device. This was indispensable for businesses during the COVID-19 lockdown, as the pandemic required offices to work 100% remotely. Those organizations that already migrated in the cloud were better able to manage the transition.
But the benefits of the cloud go further than flexibility: They also include:
Cloud providers use an a la carte approach to pricing. In other words, instead of getting an entire batch of software or hardware —much of which you may not need — cloud-based software is more user based and pay as you go. This means you only pay for the services your company uses.
A goal of your business is likely growth, whether in terms of profits, employees, revenue or even physical size. But as your company grows, so do your data and infrastructure needs. Unlike on-premise infrastructure, the public cloud offers unlimited scalability with on-demand resources that can be adjusted accordingly.
There is no upside to downtime. And when on-premise servers go offline or malfunction, productivity follows suit. And the bigger companies are, the higher the costs tend to be. Over 90% of corporations indicate downtime costs them an average of $300,000 per hour, TechChannel reported from a 2021 survey. Nearly 30% said an hour’s worth of downtime led to $2 million to $5 million in lost productivity.
The public cloud is highly reliable, drawing from a vast network of central servers in a secured environment. In fact, Microsoft spends billions of dollars each year toward shoring up its Microsoft Azure defenses from cyberattacks. As CNBC reported, Microsoft is prepared to spend $20 billion on security over the next five years.
Microsoft Dynamics GP is a fantastic product offering that has stood the test of time. But, the affordability, scalability and functionality that Business Central delivers through the Microsoft cloud make it an ideal solution or upgrade for your supply chain, accounting, human resources and other mission-critical work processes.
Choose TM Group to handle your implementation
ERP solutions from Microsoft can be your most valuable employee that never quits working, but you first need an implementation partner who can get your system up and running smoothly and quickly. The TM Group is uniquely qualified to handle every aspect of the implementation.
From consulting to customization to training and follow-up, The TM Group is an end-to-end Microsoft partner. We successfully address every angle of an ERP project so your business is in a better position to succeed in your short-term and long-term goals. We have won over 65 awards since our partnership with Microsoft began, but have been involved in software application and development since the 1980s, before Microsoft even acquired GP and we became a Microsoft Dynamics GP partner. Thus, we’re the resident experts in ERP platforms and how they’ve developed over the years.
For more information on our approach, our dedication to customer service, our solution partners and the industries we serve, contact us today at our two satellite offices or corporate headquarters in Southeastern Michigan. Also, check out our project profiles, which summarize some of our implementations over the years with clients.