As the ERP landscape has shifted over the years, consultants that started in the same place have followed a different paths in terms of the products, industries, and clientelle. For a couple of Great Plains OGs like us, our individual journeys have led to interesting differences in how we view the current ERP upgrade landscape, especially for today’s Microsoft Dynamics GP users.

One of us (Peter) has spent the better part of two years deeply immersed in the Microsoft Dynamics AX to D365 F&O conversation, with very little visibility into the effort to migrate from Dynamics GP users to Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC). The other (Karen) has had more of a traditional GP partner career, staying the course and  now helping companies make the transition to BC.

What we both found fascinating since recently re-connecting were the alternative views we brought to the GP-to-BC discussion, and how our individual Dynamics GP histories shaped our thinking in several critical areas:

  • What does the future hold for GP customers and the GP partner channel?
  • What are an organization’s critical ERP requirements for the future?
  • What are the critical factors that go into the decision making process for a GP customer planning their future?

The discussion regarding GP to BC upgrades came up casually at first. The tone of the conversation changed as we discussed the considerations and options that we do not see in the current migration marketing push.

Here are our key takeaways, distilled from conversations that spanned several hours:

  • Upgrades from Dynamics GP to BC are not a one size fits all proposition. There are dramatic and nuanced factors that we do not see discussed in the general messaging.
  • GP customers would be best served if educated on a broader set of options presented to them when considering an upgrade.

Why am I upgrading?

Our guidance suggests that the first question a Dynamics GP customer should ask is, “why am I upgrading”? The answer could be one or more of the following:

  • I have outgrown my GP software, and it is hindering the growth of my business.
  • I want to move my ERP solution to the cloud.
  • I am following Microsoft’s or my GP partner’s messaging.

Next, the following are essential upgrade factors to consider:

  • There are no upgrades to a new ERP platform. With today’s complex ERP systems, “upgrade” is more of a marketing term than an exact technical definition. Even within product lines themselves, upgrades are now re-implementations. Also, upgrade toolsets are, in reality, often just generic spreadsheets and marketing hype with little technical substance.
  • There are significant functional and technical reasons why companies outgrow GP. If that is the case, then it is critical not to make an incremental ERP move that does not address all of those technical and functional issues.
  • If the primary motivation for a GP upgrade is to move your on-premises implementation to the cloud, then a better solution may be to host your existing GP system. This solution can buy critical time before making a move to a new ERP system or be a permanent solution if the proposed Microsoft life span for GP fits your requirements.

The most important takeaway is that all upgrades are complicated and expensive. The real cost of the upgrade is never the cost of the new software, that is just the tip of the iceberg. In making that decision for your company, consider all of your options carefully and do not base that critical business decision on marketing materials promoting the latest shiny toy.

Listen to the first podcast and watch for upcoming podcasts and blogs that will delve into the specifics behind each decision and provide valuable insights to help you make a more informed choice.

Editor’s Note: This article was co-written by Karen Riordan , VP Sales & Marketing for Menlo Technologies and Peter Joeckel , President & Founder for TurnOnDynamics. This article appeared in Microsoftdynamicsworld.com