Dynamics 365 Business Central vs Dynamics GP

Two ERP solutions. Both made by the same company, both part of the Dynamics Suite, and both meant to serve similar sizes of organizations – small and medium-sized businesses. To take things even further, both also seem to serve similar purposes – managing finances. Making the choice can seem quite confusing.

However, there are some important differences to bear in mind before you commit to one or the other. In this article, we explore the relevant features of each that will help you make the right choice for your business. We take a look at the licensing options available, the key features of the two solutions, and make a head to head comparison that will make the important differences clear.

What is Dynamics GP?

This software (first named Great Plains) was originally designed to be an accounting solution that supported multiple users. Microsoft acquired the software and added it to its catalog of intelligent business applications under the Microsoft Dynamics umbrella. Dynamics GP is, today, an accounting/ERP package written in the Dexterity language and supported by the Microsoft SQL Server backend.

Dynamics GP Licensing

Dynamics GP lets you choose whether to own a license permanently, or lease the software on a subscription basis month by month. 

Dynamics GP Key Features

Dynamics GP is meant to be a complete ERP solution for most needs. It therefore provides supports for most of the essential business functions:

Finance

There are tools to help you track finances, with reports and analytics covering the assets of your business, money, and other data that is relevant to helping you manage your company’s finances. 

Business Intelligence

You can take advantage of the dashboards that come with the natively integrated Power BI to support decision-making in your organization, and keep your management informed. By helping you organize your company data, the Business Intelligence module lets you also draw insights from it. You can group your clients based on certain traits and draw conclusions based on the data you see.

Inventory

Tools to help you stay on top of supply, orders, your warehouse and other inventory-related tasks help you ensure that you are always able to serve your customers what they need, when they need it. Track what has been sold, what is in your catalog and not actually available, and record all relevant transactions to ensure your system is constantly up to date.

Sales And Service

With features that help you automate tasks within the sales, and customer service departments, you can also enhance the experience for your customers, improve your efficiency, and in this way, help to lower your spend on things like shipping and labor. Recurring orders or invoices can be automatically made, for example. You can also monitor service calls and close them.

Projects

You can link entire systems into projects, complete with the inventory, finance and accounting functions, and other aspects that enable you to manage and easily manage and track information related to different projects. You can schedule jobs and resources, track employee time sheets, and ensure that your projects run like a well-oiled machine.

HR

Take advantage of tools that help you manage your payroll, on-board new team members, and help you stay on top of employee performance. It is a module that helps you manage confidential employee data, including things like their contracts. You can store and manage qualifications. You can track things like leave, absences, and so on.

What is Dynamics 365 Business Central?

Dynamics 365 Business Central has a history dating all the way back to 1984 with the release of a single-user accounting program called Personal Computing and Consulting. Three years later, its successor, Navigator 1.0, turned it into a multi-user application. This growth continued all the way up to the year 2000, with various iterations of the product. It eventually caught Microsoft’s attention, and the giant acquired it, and rebranded it Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It is this software that Dynamics 365 Business Central is built upon. 

Dynamics 365 Business Central Licensing

Dynamics 365 Business Central is licensed as SaaS. The platform is cloud-based – hosted on Microsoft’s Azure service. This represents significant cost and labor savings that arise from running your own servers and hosting the solution locally. You can optionally choose to host the solution yourself locally, but that means you lose the benefits and guarantees that come with a trusted cloud service, and you take on the risks and complexities of running your own servers and ensuring the integrity and security of your data. That said, the platform comes with different licensing tiers. There is Essentials and Premium, with limited functionality in the Essentials version.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Key Features

The features you get depend on whether you choose the Premium or Essentials package. With Essentials, you get the following:

Financial Management

This functionality enables you to take control of account schedules, manage bank accounts and carry out reconciliations automatically (based on paid invoices, for example), make forecasts, manage assets, make payments, and so on. You can even get reminders to pay suppliers to avoid penalties, or make the most of special offers.

Supply Chain Management

With this module, you can stay abreast of payables and receivables, manage shipments, budgets, orders, locations, carry out invoicing, forecast and prepare for demand, and perform other supply chain management-related tasks. 

Human Resources Management

Take care of HR functions in this module – payroll, performance evaluation, employee data – everything related to the management of your staff.

Project Management

Project management gives you features that help you track project-related costs, manage allocated resources, track times, and generally gives you clear visibility into your ongoing projects.

Warehouse Management

You can automate the capture of data, manage consignments, link your systems to delivery company platforms, track your different locations, integrate all of this with e-commerce systems to create one cohesive process, and manage your stocks.

Premium additionally includes the following:

Service Order Management

This feature is meant to help you ensure customer needs are efficiently met and satisfied. You can manage service prices, individual orders, items, contracts, and can allocate and dispatch service representatives in a streamlined manner.

Manufacturing

You can also support your manufacturing processes with tools for tracking production orders, predicting future demand so that you can adjust production, managing the supply of materials to reliably support your manufacturing, planning capacity, and much more.

Dynamics GP vs. Dynamics 365 Business Central – What’s the Difference?

Dynamics GP & Business Central Comparison Table

 

Dynamics GP Dynamics 365 Business Central
Cloud hosting Only local hosting or IaaS options. Cloud-hosted by default. You can also opt to host it locally.
Pricing Opt for a monthly fee starting from $65 per user, or a perpetual license from $5000 for three users. Monthly fee starting from $70 for each user
Program Updates Free updates only for versions after 2019 Free and automated
Power BI Integration Can be complicated to achieve Seamless integration
Capabilities for budgeting Native capabilities limited to spreadsheet budgets. Additional functionality available using third party software. Extensive support for various budgetary tasks as well as dimensional reporting
Features for Financial Reporting Includes Management Reporter and Jet Reports Supports Jet Reports but typically utilizes account schedules and analysis overviews
Produces purchase order requisitions Yes No
General Ledger A/C structure  Segments Dimensional chart
Support for both US and Canada payrolls Native Requires 3rd party vendors

 

Dynamics 365 Business Central vs GP: Which Solution to Choose?

As you are no doubt aware, the answer to this question depends on your organizational needs. The two share a lot of characteristics, but Business Central offers the cloud option, which for many is reason enough to make the switch. 

Should You Transition from Dynamics GP to Business Central?

In most cases, the choice comes down to a few main reasons. 

  • The total cost of a monthly subscription is burdensome and the business would like to switch to a perpetual license.
  • Having your ERP hosted on the cloud is an attractive option and brings your business operational benefits like guaranteed security and product updates, accessibility across devices and geographical location.
  • Additional functionality in Business Central. For example, dimensional charts, greater synergy between finance and operations using Business Central’s project accounting feature.

Conclusion

There is no right or wrong choice between the two options. It all depends on what is best for the business. Dynamics GP is a robust, powerful solution that is easy to use, is great for reporting and scales fairly easily. However, its UI elements are not easily customizable, unlike those in Business Central. It is also missing some of the more advanced features that Business Central has. Things like AI and certain data visualizations. However, even though this is changing, GP is easier for 3rd party vendors to build add-ons for. This means that there is already an extensive library of add-ons that will cater to most needs you might find you have.

The pricing also plays a huge role in the decision that the business will make. The annual fee Microsoft requires for Dynamics GP adds up over time and becomes a stumbling block for some business.