The evolution of Microsoft Dynamics GP

Published on: January 29, 2019

Discover Microsoft Dynamics ERP And Dynamics GP Add-ons Since 2001

To understand Microsoft Dynamics GP as an ERP, we will review the evolution of the broader Microsoft Dynamics ERP applications since its inception.

Launched in 2001, Microsoft markets Dynamics applications through a network of reselling partners (called Value Added Resellers or VARs) who provide specialized consulting services. Microsoft Dynamics forms part of Microsoft Business Solutions with focus-industries in retail, services, manufacturing, financial services, and in the public sector.

Similar to other ERP systems, Microsoft Dynamics is a suite of integrated applications to collect, store, manage, and interpret data from many business activities – often in real-time.

Microsoft Dynamics enables your organization to manage many core business areas with just one system. The database management system maintains ERP core business processes to track business resources — cash, raw materials, production capacity and the status of business commitments. These applications share data across various departments that provide the data, facilitate information flow between all business functions and manage external connections.

We will focus on Microsoft Dynamics GP for this article.

An ERP Overview of Microsoft Dynamics GP Capabilities

Since 2001, Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains Software) is a mid-market business ERP software package with partner supported localizations. Microsoft Dynamics GP is an on-premise and partial cloud solution. Dynamics GP is an ERP solution that helps small and medium-sized businesses gain greater control over financials, inventory, and operations. The Dynamic GP native integration with Microsoft Office, SharePoint, and Outlook makes it easy for businesses to further centralize their tasks, and collaborate with other departments and other businesses more easily.

The next version of Dynamics GP will incorporate new feature requests and development will continue in 2019, while remaining a standalone product.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Acquisition in 2001 

After a successful partnership, Microsoft purchased Great Plains, and with it, came Solomon Software and Dynamics Release 8.0. Great Plains was renamed Microsoft Dynamics GP as a provider of Microsoft Windows NT client/server financial management software for mid-sized businesses.

Microsoft issued a press release on April 5, 2001 on the acquisition of Great Plains Software Inc., a leading supplier of mid-market business applications with more than 140,000 businesses in 132 countries for approximately $1.1 billion USD in stock.

Mid-Market Success With Dynamics GP Core Modules

Known for its strong financial management, Dynamics GP has continued to be used primarily by larger businesses than Dynamics NAV, appealing largely to companies with a $3 to 5 Million turnover. It’s a particular favorite among distribution companies.

As Microsoft Dynamics GP is aimed at the mid-market, these organizations are often comprised of multiple legal entities. That means these different entities can be set up in Dynamics GP as separate companies and exist in separate databases. If these entities transact with one another, they need to have a way to record inter-company entries. One option is to treat them the same way you would any other transaction with a business partner:

If Entity A pays a portion of a vendor invoice on behalf of Entity B, the portion paid on behalf of Entity B could be recorded as a receivable in Entity A and a payable in Entity B. However, if there are many entities, more automated options exist with Dynamics GP inter-company features.

To implement the inter-company features of Dynamics GP to allow you to set up the relationships between your entities, enter a transaction in one entity (the originating entity) and automatically send transactions to other entities (the destination entities). For each combination of originating and destination companies, enter the: “Due To” and “Due From” accounts to be used on transactions between these companies.

Core Dynamics GP Modules Include:

  • Financial management and accounting to manage your cash, assets, and banking.
  • Inventory management and operations to track and manage your production, inventory, orders, returns, and vendors.
  • Sales and service to manage your contacts, sales opportunities, and service contract.
  • Human resources and payroll for complete employee profiles and evaluation tools.
  • Business intelligence and reporting for real-time visibility and analytics.

Dynamics GP also utilizes full SQL Server technology including the Microsoft SQL Server database, SQL Server Reporting Services, and SQL Server Analysis Services. Dynamics GP is optimized for a SQL database, for better reporting which includes Microsoft PowerBI, a suite of business analytics tools, where end users can create reports and dashboards by themselves.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Add-ons To Improve User Experience

Like other ERP solutions for a broad number of verticals, one Dynamics GP system will never be able to completely fulfill every single need of every single business. Having gaps in the functionality of the Dynamics GP solution is inevitable with growing businesses. This is where Dynamics GP third-party applications can help fill in the gaps for GP user needs. No matter what industry or technical need, there’s probably a Dynamics GP add-on.

Common Needs for Dynamics GP Users Include:

  • Consolidating multiple GP entities
  • Outgrowing current GP chart of accounts
  • Combining multiple companies in Dynamics GP
  • Re-formatting your GP account framework
  • Maintaining your GP Analytical Accounting Module
  • Dynamics GP Add-ons From ISVs To Solve Specific GP Functions

Although Microsoft Dynamics GP provides core financial functionality, Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) products are required if there is a process that could be done better or faster with an ISV module. Every business is different with unique needs and some of these requirements are specific to the industry, location or size. Dynamics GP ISVs can provide solutions to solve these specific problems.

In addition to out-of-the-box Dynamics GP modules, ISVs have developed a number of GP add-ons and verticals, to complement or enhance the existing Dynamics GP standard modules.

GP Add-ons or third party applications are like apps for a smart phone. The smart phone has great functionality, but sometimes you want more. The fact that there are so many apps to choose from means that smart phones are well-accepted products with a large community to support it. Strategically using ISV modules can sometimes lower the cost of your total ERP system with Dynamics GP.

An example of a specialized ISV Dynamics GP add-on is Binary Stream Multi-Entity Management (MEM) that enables different entities be set up in Dynamics GP as separate companies on a single database. This eliminates the need to log in and out of multiple databases within Dynamics GP, saving lost time and reducing costly data entry errors.

Instead of creating multiple companies in Microsoft Dynamics GP, MEM allows multiple entities and locations to share items, vendors, and customers in a single company database, creating a multi‑entity processing environment.

With Binary Stream’s Multi-Entity Management, you can do the following:

  • Restrict access to transactions by user or by entity
  • Process transactions and distributions that are associated with an entity and department
  • Track associated entity and department transactions in batches
  • Update distributions based on percentage allocations
  • Apply intercompany distributions in the same database
  • You can use MEM in many Microsoft Dynamics GP modules. Binary Stream is the exclusive ISV-provider for the Multi-Entity Management add-on.

Microsoft Dynamics ERP Product Evolution Today

Today, Microsoft Dynamics offers services for small, medium, and large organization with a line of ERP products to fit their needs:

  • Dynamics 365 Finance & Operation (formerly called Microsoft Dynamics AX) are for mid-sized and large enterprises.
  • The Dynamics AX brand name was retired in July 2017.
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly called Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Navison) is for small and mid-sized businesses, is a multi-language, multi-currency business management solution. NAV 2018 was the last version to carry the NAV title.
  • Dynamics GP is most popular in North America and Australia. It has little presence in Europe due to its limited multi-currency functionality, but can be used with partner-supported localizations for multi-currencies.
    In addition, many Dynamic GP users continue to be loyal to the product in general. Switching ERP systems or products is not easy in larger companies where users of the products have to be trained and internal systems have to be modified to accommodate changes. Attrition is typically low for ERP.

About Binary Stream Award-Winning ISV for Microsoft Dynamics

Founded in 1999, and headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., Binary Stream is an award-winning ISV with regular recognition in the Microsoft Dynamics President’s Club, an award honoring the top 5 percent of Microsoft Dynamics partners worldwide. Binary Stream has also received many other notable awards such as: Business in Vancouver’s BC’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies, PROFIT 200’s list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, CDN Channel Elite’s Best Mid-Market Solution finalist.

Since 2001, Binary Stream is an award-winning, Microsoft Gold certified partner that develops enterprise-grade, add-on software to enhance Microsoft Dynamics GP, D365 for Finance & Operations, and D365 Business Central. Binary Stream offers two series of add-ons.

Enterprise Series Add-ons are enterprise-grade Microsoft ERP functionalities for extending the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics GP:

  • Multi-Entity Management
  • Intercompany Bridge
  • Healthcare Materials Management
  • Property Management
  • Subscription Billing

Manager Series Add-ons are fully-functional out-of-the-box solutions geared to enhance the standard functionality of Microsoft Dynamics GP:

  • eMailer Manager
  • National Accounts for Payables
  • Sales Document Consolidation
  • Serial & Lot Number Processing
  • SOP Apply by Line
  • Vendor Contract Pricing & Rebates

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