Microsoft purchased Great Plains in 2000. The day of the announcement, my firm was being visited by the new-partner recruiter for Great Plains. We were ready to sign up and the Microsoft purchase just iced the cake. It was an interesting day – in one day, Microsoft added Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta to their stable!!
About 2007, Microsoft rebranded Great Plains to Microsoft Dynamics GP. If you have been in this business a long time, Project Green will sound familiar. This was an early idea to bring all the Microsoft accounting solutions into one Uber solution. It’s hard to know what killed it, but it seemed like development tools were in flux and anything developed at the time would be out of date quickly. But the bigger issue was that each of Microsoft’s four accounting products fit a niche that the others did not. Any single solution would leave customers holding the bag.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials
Microsoft has recreated project Green only now it’s called Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials. It seems to be based on the Dynamics NAV product and built for the Azure cloud, but it’s not NAV, so we all waiting to see what it eventually blossoms into. Will it have the projects capability of Dynamics SL or the US payroll and US accounting features of Dynamics GP? Will it have the huge ISV third-party add on products available today for the traditional products? When looking at AppSource, the shelves are bare.
Will it have the channel of partners that support GP today? Research has shown that most businesses want a local partner to implement their accounting software. The partner becomes almost an extension of the firm’s staff and since they end up knowing how the business runs inside and out, they become a trusted advisor or at least someone the business comes to trust with their most sensitive data.
Great Plains had the best partner channel when Microsoft purchased them. They offered business and product training and thousands of attendees came to their conferences. A now defunct conference was the Business Building Conference, aimed at helping partners build and grow their businesses. This was an annual must attend event. Microsoft kept it going a few years, then bailed and now doesn’t remember what it was for. But the answer is that it built a delivery channel.
Accounting is different!! You can’t attend a week-long class and come out an accounting software professional. It generally takes a degree in accounting and a year or two showing customers how to use the software successfully, to create a good GP (or any accounting software) professional. Assembling a team of these people with longevity and experience is the work of a decade, or a big part of a decade. The Business Building Conference didn’t teach accounting, but it taught owners how to build a successful practice, and that was good for the customers of those firms.
Great Partners, Great Product
If you want a GREAT partner, look at the Microsoft Dynamics GP channel. If you want a GREAT product, Dynamics GP is there today. That’s why it’s the number one accounting product in the US, by a huge margin!! It’s Microsoft’s underappreciated sales engine. Let’s hope they figure out how to get that same energy behind the new kid on the block – Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Are you a Microsoft Dynamics GP partner? If so, let me know your vision of the future. I’d love to hear from you.
Bill Aiton, President