What is Business Central and why should we consider it?
Dynamics 365 Business Central is a mid-market ERP system from Microsoft that is the upgraded version of the venerable Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Business Central versions 13 and 14 actually ran in the NAV client software, because it was in fact the same product.
For those customers who have GP or Great Plains, they may recognize the name Dynamics NAV as a sister product of Dynamics GP. Once referred to as Navision, the NAV system is a good ERP system for small and medium business (SMB). Microsoft defines this as companies of up to 250 computers.
Microsoft often compared the two products as being sold into the same market. They considered them as mid-tier sister products. The reality is that sometimes GP was sold into businesses where the sophistication of the accounting needs exceeded what NAV could do. The reverse was true in supply chain and manufacturing.
Dynamics GP to Business Central? It depends on your business
Our experience is with Dynamics NAV or Dynamics 365 Business Central in manufacturing and supply chain. It is our belief that moving from Great Plains to Dynamics NAV/Business Central makes a lot of sense for these businesses.
The distribution and manufacturing capabilities of Dynamics Business Central are (in our opinion) just a bit better than Great Plains. This is especially true once the addon products for BC are factored in. Companies in this space that choose to migrate from Dynamics GP to Business Central are going to be pretty happy with their decision. The system capabilities are better suited to their needs.
If you are running Dynamics GP in a more financially complex environment things get more complicated. The core functionality in accounting is much stronger if you need the multi-layered approval processes that are out of the box in Great Plains. If you have plant level controllers who are supervised by division level controllers and maybe this rolls up to a corporate team – GP supports that.
The ability to post to subledgers and leave final General Ledger posting to review and approval is not at all available in NAV/Business Central.
The fact is, we have never seen this as a desirable feature of GP. That is probably because our expertise is so limited in the pure financial space.
3 Reasons Dynamics 365 Business Central is the Upgrade Path for GP
For those companies that are in the right space, we would say that the migration from GP to Business Central is extremely logical and probably the right way to go.
- Business Central is ultra modern and is being heavily invested in by Microsoft. Dynamics GP will be supported, but even the investments in it often are to make migration to BC easier.
- There is no chance that Microsoft will invest in making GP a cloud ready solution, and no plans to create the same AppSource (Microsoft ERP addon store) capabilities in GP. GP addon vendors are flocking to Business Central. Unfortunately, GP is a dead end technology if it won’t move to the cloud.
- Microsoft and partners are making a real effort to cut costs and make the migration easy. In addition, this might be a great chance to revisit those problem areas in your business that the GP system isn’t handling.
If you are in manufacturing or distribution, unless you approve of my complex accounting needs description, you are a great candidate for Business Central.
Maybe we need Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations?
If you do need the complex accounting approval and controls that I discuss above, then you probably need to look at the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations product. This product is a lot more sophisticated and advanced than Business Central. It comes with a price tag that matches, but generally those very complex needs are going to be met with F&O and not Business Central.
There is a lot more we can say about this process, including discussing the costs of this upgrade; some of the automated tools that Microsoft is developing to help; and the opportunity for business process re-engineering that this can create.
We will leave that for another time.
In general, it is absolutely worth looking at the upgrade to Business Central from GP.