Dynamics GP (Great Plains) is a piece of business software developed by Microsoft. It is an enterprise resource management—or ERP—program that lets companies handle back-end activities, such as payroll, that keep them working on a daily basis.
Dynamics GP encompasses fields such as business intelligence, warehouse administration, financial management, retail and e-commerce, product management, project management, service management, human resources, manufacturing, and distribution. While it doesn’t have all the characteristics of a true CRM, it does have some sales and support capabilities.
How Was Dynamics GP Developed?
Dynamics GP began as an administrative structure directed towards the US market. Unlike other Dynamics platforms, GP does not have robust multi-language or multi-currency features which have narrowed its potential for growth.
Dynamics GP is often referred to as Great Plains, after the software company which originally developed the product. An independent company headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, Great Plains published the first iteration of what would later become Dynamics GP in 1993. Dynamics Release 1.0, as it was called, was one of the first multi-user accounting systems available in the United States.
In 2001, Microsoft bought Great Plains, which had previously acquired another ERP company called Solomon Software, putting both Solomon IV and Dynamics Release 8.0 under Microsoft’s umbrella. These two products were later renamed Dynamics SL and Dynamics GP.
In November 2016, Microsoft rebranded the Dynamics suite, rolling out most of its CRM and ERP applications under a single new product name; Dynamics 365.
However, Dynamics GP, like Dynamics SL, remains a stand-alone product.
What Does Dynamics GP Offer?
Dynamics GP helps companies to run core processes such as financial operations, business intelligence, and reporting, procurement, inventory, field support management, supply chain management, and project and task accounting.
It provides greater flexibility than entry-level accounting systems and is sufficiently comprehensive to sustain continued long-term development as it can be used to handle several entities or divisions.
It also supports basic production methods, such as kitting or light assembly, and ships with advanced payroll features.
What Are the Main Benefits of Using Dynamics GP?
There are several reasons why companies requiring an ERP can choose Dynamics GP. First, it is an established product and has been in use since the early 2000s. It also benefits from Microsoft’s trustworthy brand and the familiar look and feel of other Microsoft products.
Another advantage of its durability is that GP has built up a large network of partners and experts around it who are available to help companies realize their ERP vision. These collaborators have developed a wide variety of technologies that meet the diverse needs of the industry.
Dynamics GP is a stable framework, and most companies will enjoy comprehensive features right out of the box, with limited customization needed. Many that wish to expand their capability can do so effortlessly, due to a large catalog of third-party add-ons available to GP.
The platform can also be applied in a variety of ways, allowing companies versatility when it comes to how they want to store Dynamics data and how they use the system. GP can be accessed via the web, through a SharePoint app, or from a standard desktop computer, so that both office and remote staff can execute business operations anytime they need to.
The business intelligence capabilities of Dynamics GP help users become proactive when it comes to their financials, allowing businesses to not only fix problems but also prevent them from occurring in the first place.
GP’s native integration with Microsoft Office, and other commonly used business tools like SharePoint and Outlook, makes it easy for businesses to further centralize their tasks, and collaborate with other departments and other businesses more easily.
Who Uses Dynamics GP?
Known for its good financial management, Dynamics GP is employed mainly by firms bigger than Dynamics NAV, making a significant contribution to companies with a turnover of $3-5m. It’s a common favorite of the distribution firms.
Dynamics GP continues to be used by companies that are not IT lead per se, those that are not fast-changing, do not want or require cutting-edge features, and are able to stick to what works for them.
How Can It Help Businesses Grow?
Businesses cannot expand their operations until they are able to better determine the way they operate at the moment. Dynamics GP helps companies to increase visibility internally and to get a complete view of their operations so that they can see clearly where they can perform more.
The real-time analysis enables companies to track patterns in their data so that they can react rapidly to market shifts and produce predictions that ensure that they are constantly ready to satisfy demand.
At the most simple level, having an insightful ERP such as GP increases record consistency, ensuring that any person has access to the same records first time, which not only saves time but also improves the efficiency of a company’s commitment to its consumers and customers, helping to enhance consumer retention and long-term loyalty.
Using a central repository for operating data allows companies to have a consistent, complete view of factors like production costs and outputs, meaning that expenditures can be measured and reassessed on a daily basis to keep expenditure as minimal as possible.
GP is also flexible and can be stretched to meet higher demands without losing efficiency or incurring large changes in the initial expenditure.
GP gives consumers a creative, versatile platform so that they can be constructive and effective, which means that workers can invest their time doing items that can help them move forward and keep their businesses ahead of the competition.
In addition, the RapidStart deployment tools of Dynamics GP help to make the solution quick and easy to deploy. The solution is also relatively simple to understand and implement, meaning that companies can quickly incorporate and operate the system with minimum disruption to operations.
Does Dynamics GP Offer Integration Options?
The platform also naturally integrates with another popular Microsoft utility, Power BI. Power BI, Microsoft’s efficient, state-of-the-art business intelligence tool, will help GP users get more out of their business data, help envision key details, and provide AI-driven feedback on next steps and places where performance may be increased.
Support is also guaranteed; whichever version users want, Microsoft will provide patches and improvements for up to 10 years after release.
What License Types Are Available for Dynamics GP?
Dynamics GP licenses are offered on a user-by-user basis, so the first step in buying Dynamics GP is to figure out how many user licenses will be available and what level of access these users will need.
There are three different GP licenses available at three different price points. Each of them provides a different degree of access to the device and its features. Some users will need to use all GP functionality, while some may only need limited read and write privileges.
1. Self-Serve User
The Self-Service User license helps users to retrieve, edit, update or enter their own customized data in GP only.
Each of these licenses is either a Concurrent Client Access License (aka CALs) or a User CAL. Concurrent CALs apply to the maximum number of users permitted in GP at one time. Both the Full User and the Limited User are Concurrent CALs. Usage CALs are user-specific and can not be shared with another GP user. The User Self-Serve User is a User CAL.
2. Limited User License
Limited User Licenses offer the user limited access to GP features. This license is normally reserved for users who have to execute such functions within GP, such as sales, purchase, or payroll tasks but do not require complete features.
The limited user does not have full write but has full read capabilities that enable them to run reports or view current transactions and journals. This license helps a corporation to manage expenses for those workers who require access to GP but do not have complete capabilities.
3. Full User License
With a full user license, users have unlimited access to Dynamics GP with full read and write capability throughout the system. This is the most popular form of license in a business, as well as the most costly.
What Does the Future of GP Look Like for Users?
Most users of GP are committed to the product over the Dynamics brand in general and have no intention of transitioning to Dynamics 365.
Such is the expense and the difficulty of switching from Dynamics GP to another Dynamics ERP product, those customers who have outgrown GP prefer to switch to another retailer, such as SAP or NetSuite, instead of sticking to Dynamics.
Now that Microsoft has recognized that most GP customers would not be tempted to migrate to Dynamics 365, it is adding some new resources to GP, such as the option to use the Common Data Service.
There is a limit to this, however; Microsoft has no intentions to render a SaaS version of GP like the way it did with CRM, NAV, and AX; because of its geographical constraints, and because of its most technologically conservative user base, it’s just not worth it.
The product will be updated—recently, Dynamics GP 2018 has seen enhancements in its analytics and data visibility functionality—and capabilities will be improved to keep up with developments in regulations such as GDPR and Rapkay, but basically, new features will not be added; with GP, Microsoft is simply keeping the lights on.
Most of the work to keep GP afloat and customers serviced is being performed and will continue to be done, by GP partners.
A key challenge facing consumers who plan to stay with GP would be seeking resources: the pool of partners and the Dynamics experts who work within them are likely to decline as GP pros retire, or switch to brands with a longer shelf life.
No new blood is coming into the GP talent pool, and so experienced Dynamics GP practitioners will become harder to obtain, and will therefore become even more valuable in the near future.