Answers to Your FAQs | Moving Your On Premise ERP to the Cloud (Video)

Do you have questions about moving from Dynamics GP, NAV, or AX on-premise to a cloud solution like Dynamics 365 Business Central or Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations?

In this recorded webinar, join Tracey Santos, our Account Management Practice Lead, and Patti Schreiber, our Dynamics GP Practice Lead, as they answer the most common questions clients ask us when they’re evaluating moving from on-premise to a cloud ERP solution.

Transcript below:

– [Katie] Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for our webinar, “Answers to Your FAQs: Moving Your On-Premise ERP to the Cloud.” My name is Katie and I’ll be the facilitator today. If you have any questions during the presentation, please type them into the question area in the control panel on the right-hand side of your screen and we’ll answer questions at the end. This session will be recorded and posted on our blog, as well as shared with you later this week.

Now, I would like to introduce our presenters today: Tracey Santos, account management practice lead at Encore, and Patti Schreiber, Dynamics GP practice lead at Encore. Patti, Tracey, I’ll pass it on to you.

– [Tracey] Great. Thanks, Katie.

– [Patti] Thanks, Katie. Good morning, everybody. Jump into the first slide. Thanks for the introduction, Katie. As she mentioned, I’m Patti Schreiber, Dynamics GP practice lead, and my colleague and friend, Tracey Santos, the account management practice lead, are joining you here today to talk about some of the frequently asked questions about moving your on-prem solution, whether it’s Dynamics GP, NAV, or AX to the cloud, sorry, a solution such as Dynamics 365 Business Central or the finance and supply chain management.

So, with that said, let’s jump right in. I thought it would be great to start… Sorry, Tracey.

– That’s okay. Fantastic.

– Yeah. Start with one of the questions on top of everyone’s mind, what are some of the top benefits of having your ERP running on the Microsoft Cloud?

– Awesome. I’m super excited to be here today, Patti. Thank you so much. You know, it’s Tuesday, great day. I hope everyone’s having a fantastic day. But again, talking about the benefits, we could probably talk for an hour about the benefits. We only have a half hour and this is only one of the questions, but definitely comes to mind is less business interruption.

So, traditional upgrades for on-premise solutions could take anywhere from two days to a week. You must also consider whether or not you have access to a test environment, or will the upgrade simply go live? Additionally, hardware updates must be done where there is an associated risk of server outages. Also, there’s potential ransomware and disaster recovery.

Those are all things that can cause business disruption and must be considered while remaining on-premise. You know, when we think about ransomware or cyberattacks, how much that can really impact a business disaster recovery. You know, we had a client just a couple of weeks ago, their entire building burned down. And so, again, those things do happen and we need to prepare for that.

So, again, when we’re in the cloud, all of that goes away. So, that’s definitely a benefit, that enhanced security. You know, you got a team of Microsoft experts always working on security. So, there’s all those multiple layers of that and all of those resources that are dedicated to you, the customer, in the cloud versus an on-premise solution. There’s also this great advantage of all this new technology, which we’re going to talk a little bit about more in this presentation.

But, you know, Copilot and AI, the whole Power platform. So, Power Automate, Azure Data Management. Can you imagine not having to buy a server, not having to go out and source a server and get that all ready? You know, those are the things we think about, you know, being in this world for such a very, very long time.

I’ve been doing this for 30 years. And again, technologies keeps changing and so many advancements and not having to buy on-premise equipment, all those capital costs going away. Those automatic updates versus that formal upgrade which we were talking about, again, that’s getting pushed out to you. You’re always on the latest technology. Integrations, again, those seamless integrations using technology.

You can have more predictable and flexible costs. So, again, that scaling up and scaling down is easier. And again, those great technologies. All right, next slide. So, are there different approaches to a transition to the cloud or is there just one path, Patti?

– That is a great question. It doesn’t matter how many sessions I attend, whether it’d be with Microsoft or another provider. Bottom line is there’s always effort required to transition to the cloud. So, if we talk about the different approaches, we really need to consider, what are you trying to do?

And that is modernize your solution or really just wanting to get up onto the cloud and then do some future modernization. I think about it as modernize versus lift and shift. And really, that will really depend on what it is that you’re looking to achieve.

So, different approaches. Of course, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Same thing with transition. And so we can look at the migration tool, we can discuss scrubbing historical data, determining what you really need, and from there, really go assess what approach is best for you as the customer.

I always think about, when I think about ERP, everyone does the same thing, obviously differently. You know, thinking of debits and credits, GL, AR, AP, you all have unique processes that are determined by both your business needs and history. And so this is really a time when you’re looking at this transition to decide what it is that you want to do.

The nice thing is with the evolution here over the last couple of years, we’ve seen access to more tools available to transition you to the cloud. The latest release of the migration tool provides a lot more functionality to move some of the data, whether it’s master file or history.

There’s tools available to analyze your current setup, the SQL database, and some of the functionality in your ERP. That’s going to help you make some decisions on proactively cleaning up or scrubbing some of the data in order to help you achieve exactly what it is that you’re looking to achieve.

Again, that modernization versus lift and shift. We’ve completed about 25 transitions at Encore. We have a couple in progress. I can tell you that none of them have been the same. Obviously, with the experience that we have, we’re very well positioned to discuss all of the different options with you once we really understand what your goals are.

– Awesome. And, you know, Patti, it’s so true, like, the tools keep evolving. And, you know, when we started doing this six years ago, and not even those examples, but even when you think about when you first decided to choose a Microsoft ERP and your history was in some other system, you couldn’t bring that history.

Well, the great thing for, you know, our community from a Dynamics GP perspective specifically is you can bring all that history if you want to. I mean, you know, a lot of our clients have been with us 25 years, and it’s like you don’t need all that history, but if you want to bring 10 years of history with you, you’ve got it. So, that’s fantastic.

– Absolutely, Tracey.

– So, Patti, how long does the transition take, like, if I was a GP customer and I want to transition to Business Central?

– That is a question, I think, top of almost everybody’s mind. We already have full-time jobs. So, when it comes to implementing a new solution or taking on this transition, it really is important for us to understand how long it might take. So, smaller transitions really can be done relatively quickly. I would say, you know, three months is reasonable, but obviously, if there are larger solutions, more business requirements, that journey might be a bit longer.

And again, leaning on the idea, are we doing a lift and shift? So, really just taking core financials and moving them from on-prem to the cloud, or are we looking at modernization? There’s more technology functionality available as you transition. Are you wanting to implement that as part of your go-live for your transition?

So, it really ranges from anywhere from, I’d say, three months for a smaller, fairly straightforward transition to really somebody who has your core financials with maybe the inventory distribution models, three to six months.

And then some of our larger projects, we’re looking at the 12-month time frame. I think right now, that’s probably the longest one to date. And that was really taking on modernization, adding in some new ISVs. So, hopefully, that gives you a bit of an idea of how you can plan how long it might take.

– Awesome. Well, our community also, obviously on the heels of that question they’ve been asking, you know, I’ve got a lot of customizations, will they just move over? And will my ISV solutions just move over when I transition to Business Central? And what about my integrations?

How are they transitioned?

– Yeah, another great question, Tracey. Bottom line, unfortunately, is no. A lot of these will not just transition over to the cloud. Keep in mind that the underlying technology is very different between these solutions. If we speak specifically about ISV solutions, some are developed for both on-prem and cloud. So, for example, in my world, coming from GP, you’ll have a solution that works in GP and you’ll have a solution, that same solution, that works with Business Central.

The functionality in that ISV solution is the same, but again, it isn’t to unplug from one and plug into another. It’s most likely a re-implementation. The nice thing about selecting a solution that can service you in both your on-prem solution and the future move to the cloud is there’ll be a smaller learning curve for you and your teams.

Speaking of integrations, again, we’ll understand better what you’re trying to achieve, having been your partner for a number of years, but the mappings will need to be redone, most likely using the same tool.

So, something like SmartConnect works for the Microsoft solutions, whether it’d be on-prem or in the cloud. But because the underlying tables, the table structure and the technology underneath are different, they will also have to be redone. Sorry, go ahead.

– Yeah, and something else, for example, like if they have an ISV that they have in GP or a configuration or a customization specifically for their business, that might not be needed when they go to Business Central because GP didn’t have that functionality out of the box, but Business Central could have that functionality out of the box. So, again, that’s part of what we go through with you, is to say, “Hey, you know, you won’t need that anymore because Business Central just does that automatically.”

– Yeah, absolutely. That’s such a great point. A lot of times, customizations were done in the early days of GP because there was a gap in some of the functionality. And what we have found even through an upgrade is sometimes those customizations can be removed because that functionality is now available.

That absolutely is something we consider when we’re implementing or moving you, transitioning you from your on-prem solution to the cloud. Does that functionality exist in the new solution? So, Tracey, do you want to talk to us a little bit about on-prem versus hosting? I hear a lot of customers feel a little bit confused about what does it really mean when you’re in the cloud if you’re being hosted?

– Absolutely, and we do get that. Clients will be like, “Yeah, I’m on Dynamics GP and I’m in the cloud,” and it’s like, “Yeah, no, that’s not happening.” Maybe that’s in our, you know, wildest dreams, but Dynamics GP will never be a cloud solution. And again, there’s a variety of reasons about that and we can certainly have a conversation about that as well.

But when we think about an on-prem solution being hosted in the cloud, so instead of it being software as a service, it’s infrastructure as a service. So, that’s up in a cloud server. So, for example, Azure. So, again, you know, that will provide you another layer of security, but it’s not a cloud-enabled solution. So, on-premise is a technology and what that means is that if you’re being hosted in the cloud, you’re really moving that on-premise technology off of your physical server in your four walls into a server in the cloud.

So, again, that gives you that extra layer of security, but everything behind that is still the same. So, it’s still GP. So, again, we want to be in software as a service, so we have those automatic updates, not that we’re using IaaS, infrastructure as a service. So, again, all of the D365 family are all SaaS, so software as a service. It’s not just a server, it’s a URL that takes you to your solution.

Updates are done on a regular basis, and rarely, if ever, downtime. So, again, what we talked about earlier is that removal of that business disruption. So, we’ve got that ability to have that extra security and you never are having to do that upgrade, you’re never having to replace your servers, etc.

So, again, hosted could mean, yes, a virtual server up in the cloud somewhere, up on Azure, but we’re talking about true SaaS technology. So, again, working anywhere, accessible anywhere.

– Yeah, agreed. It is definitely a common topic for discussion and some of the customers see being hosted as kind of a step one of their migration to the cloud. But definitely it is not a SaaS solution. That kind of leads me to the next question, Tracey.

Can you talk a little bit about why on-premise solutions are less secure than a cloud solution?

– Absolutely, absolutely. Again, we hear about this all the time and we see this all the time, the cost of when there’s a, you know, ransomware or a cyber attack, and when we think about, “Great, I’m on-prem but I’ve taken some security measures around that,” is that those individuals, those businesses, those companies, they are working tirelessly to get at your system, at your application.

So, when we think about Microsoft as a business and all of the thousands of people they have just working on security to protect you. So, again, I look at it that way as like, “Great, let’s let the people who are expert in that area to provide that security layer for me take care of that so that I can focus on my business.”

So, again, even though, you know, you have great resources internally that are super smart, you know, way above my average knowledge on security, that they’re doing their best. But again, we hear every day about someone being attacked and money being…having to be delivered to people who hold their information at ransom.

And again, we want to avoid that and it can happen so innocently. And all of the Microsoft products, when we think about, you know, M365 and D365 is that it’s all of that information and how it is architected to protect you and make sure that you don’t have that attack because we don’t want that.

We want our customers to feel secure and have that security layer and be able to conduct business in a way that makes them feel comfortable. So, again, we don’t want you to have those blind spots, we want you to be protective. So, the cloud utilizes multilayered built-in security controls and have unique threat intelligence powered within Azure to help identify and protect against rapidly evolving threats that is top of the…state-of-the-art and physical data centers and infrastructure.

So, again, all of that effort, and we think about… People say, “Okay, great. When I think about the cloud, there is actually obviously at the end of the line, there’s somewhere there’s some physical infrastructure where that is being held.” And so it’s very interesting when you read about how many people actually have access to that physical location.

And again, there are so many layers of security so that those physical data centers are protected. So, there’s over 3,500 global security experts working together to safeguard your business assets and data. So, again, I feel pretty comfortable with that. And there’s lots and lots of papers if you go on to Microsoft Learn that explain the background about how the evolution of that security layer and constantly monitoring to protect you and protect you in your business and your information.

– Isn’t that the truth? What I find interesting is I’ve been working with Dynamics GP for more years than I like to share with our friends here on the call on the webinar. But until about 24 months ago, I really wasn’t seeing projects being put on hold or customers calling us to tell us that they’ve had a cyberattack or, you know, being held ransom.

I would say in the last six months, there’s probably been three or four customers that have said, “Hey, we have to deal with this. We have to put our current project on hold.” So, it’s definitely becoming more and more prevalent, unfortunately, but it is really the way of the world.

– Awesome. So, Patti, if our community moves to Dynamics 365 Business Central, is there AI built in?

– In the latest release of D365 BC, they have introduced AI. Absolutely. So, we have Copilot as basically an assistant in D365 Business Central, allowing you to have conversational chat, marketing text suggestions.

So, for example, if you integrate to an online store and you want to be able to put together a description of some of the products, the Copilot will help with text suggestions, putting in, you know, wording that’s similar to the style of business that you have.

There’s new functionality around enhanced bank rec with matching transactions. As most of you know, the electronic bank rec works fairly well, but AI just takes it up to the next level, increasing the number of transactions it will reconcile for you.

Inventory forecasting, there’s some AI built around that. Looking at previous sales data and lead times around inventory, and then late payment predictions, I found that quite interesting when I looked at a demo of this. You can look up a customer and it can tell you in the last 12 months, payments have never been late. So, that allows you to make good business decisions when working with those different customers.

And then cash flow analysis, who doesn’t want to automate that a little bit? Really looking at ways to enhance kind of the decisions that are being made within the organization. As part of our follow-up today, we’re going to include a great demo of some of the new AI that’s been released in Dynamics 365 Business Central.

There’ll be a link in the webinar follow-up for you to take a quick peek. I know I was excited and impressed when I saw it. So, hoping that you will be as well. That takes me kind of to the next question. More of something that you’re more familiar with is, does Copilot or AI cost extra?

– Yeah. So, currently right now, Microsoft Copilot for Dynamics 365 Business Central is included in the Business Central essentials and premium licenses. So, there’s two different types of users in Business Central at no extra cost. So, that AI companion enhances workplace efficiency, automates mundane tasks, which Patti was talking about, and unlocks your creativity.

So, again, you can really get into that and see how you can leverage it. I mean, who doesn’t want all those repetitive tasks to be just automated and make that happen? I’m talking faster, Patti, because I’m realizing that we thought we were going to be fast, and we’re already at 23 after the hour.

– That’s funny. I was just thinking the same thing. Scalability, Tracey.

– Yes. And now my mouse went and went funny, and now I’m trying to go to the next slide. Oh my goodness. There we go. Awesome, scalability. Great. So, again, you know, when you buy GP, you buy 6 users, 7 users, 10 users, whatever you want.

And let’s say, you know, maybe in the beginning, you had 20 users, and you’re realizing, “Well, I don’t really need that many users anymore.” Well, it’s a sunk cost. So, with the scalability in the cloud means, great, I can easily add users, add more processing power, accommodate for more data and integrations.

So, that ability to say, “Okay, great, I’m going to go and leverage the data lake for a whole bunch of data that I dumped out from all of our other proprietary systems or other systems, bring that in here, and I want to go and I’m going to need more power for that.” Or, “I want to make another sandbox.” Again, that ability to add more, you know, whether it’d be users or space or power, you’ve got that scalability.

So, again, your ability to move. Maybe you’ve got a cyclical business, you know, it’s seasonal, and you need more at one time of the year than the other. And so they can accommodate that.

– Well, and I think the other great thing about scalability when it comes to a cloud solution is really, we’re looking at subscription pricing. So, we’re not sending you a quote per se, waiting for a PO, looking for payment. Really, you’re going online through your admin center and you’re adding your user, and then your subscription billing is just really adjusted accordingly, correct?

– Yes, absolutely. So, Patti, why is the cloud solution more accessible? Everyone’s talking about this accessibility. What’s that about?

– Well, I found it interesting during the pandemic. It probably highlighted for us that it’s not easy to send everyone home without a lot of behind-the-scenes work for your team members. And I say that because it isn’t like I can sit at home and through the internet, log into my on-prem server at the office.

There’s a lot of technology, a lot of things that need to be put in place for that, not just to be secure, but to actually happen. What we saw is that those who didn’t have remote access in place already, by the time they could secure the solutions that they needed, and if in fact they needed a new server or something to host some of that remote software, they were weeks out due to some of the supply chain issues.

And so a cloud solution just allows the access from anywhere anytime. I always joke that if I want to go to Mexico for two weeks and I have a cloud solution, I can work from the beach simply because anywhere, anytime, there’s very little restrictions or downtime. Realistically, it’s access to the internet, which is…

– For sure, and I was just thinking too, any device. You know, you don’t have your users saying, “Well, I’ve got this PC,” or, “I’ve got that PC,” or, “I’m using this phone,” or, “I’m using this tablet.” Like, it doesn’t matter, right? It’s product-agnostic.

– Absolutely.

– Awesome. So, can I adopt new technologies easier if I’m in the cloud?

– Bottom line is yes. So, in April of ’23, Microsoft made a big announcement that they were going to focus all of their major investments in innovation really around the cloud offerings. So, whether you’re Business Central or finance and supply chain management. Now, that did not in any way, shape, or form mean that they were going to stop investing in their on-prem solutions as far as features and functionality.

The roadmap for GP specifically suggests we’ll continue to see enhancements into 2028 and beyond. The challenge we have is really around technology. And so if you’re wanting to adopt new technologies, you’re going to find those solutions in the cloud and not in your on-prem solution.

When we talk about regulatory compliance, is there different expectations between the cloud solutions and on-prem solutions, Tracey?

– Absolutely. This kind of goes hand in hand with the security slide that we were talking about earlier, is that again at Microsoft, we’ve got a team of experts that just are working on regulatory compliance. So, again, you know, whether it’d be PCI, DSS, or SAS 70, Microsoft, you know, they’re working on your behalf to make sure that all of their solutions are compliant with whatever regulatory issues are from a global perspective.

When you’re on-prem, you’re really tied to the fact that, okay, will your provider include that, like, specifically for you as whatever territory you happen to be in as opposed to someone else? What do you need? You know, whether it’d be from a payroll tax perspective or a state or a provincial tax, it’s great to know that, you know, Microsoft’s working on behalf of that.

I mean, I remember a horror story years ago when there was a business and they were using…I think it was SAP, if I’m allowed to say that out loud. And, you know, tax changed. Well, it took them forever to get the change done. And in the meantime, you know, they’re having to manually manipulate what the taxes were being charged.

So, again, we want to be able to say, “Okay, great, I know that Microsoft is working. They’ve got a whole sector of people that work on that. And that I know that when I’m using those applications, I’m going to be compliant and not only from a regional perspective, from a global perspective.”

– Yeah, absolutely. I’m going to hurry us along here. We wanted to talk a little bit about the cost of moving to the cloud, Tracey, in 30 seconds or less with 1 minute left.

– So, again, you’re going to have to take this for your own example. But again, keeping in mind when you think about that, what are all the costs that you have right now? So, for example, your upgrades, your annual maintenance, if you’re going to buy new users, what about your infrastructure replacing your infrastructure, all those resources internally that are dedicated and there’s so many costs that we don’t really think about that on a year-to-year or month-to-month basis goes on that on-premise?

So, this is an example that we’re showing you. Again, it’s not going to be your example, but you can take all those variables and say, “Okay, what would this look like?” So again, you know, we can provide this for you in a template that you can go in and put your own variables in. Most of the time, I like to say, “Hey, I’m in sales.” That basically to move from your on-premise to cloud at the end of the day costs you nothing because of the money that you’re going to save over time.

– I would agree with that. You’re not talking servers, you’re not talking upgrades. And so those costs right out of the gate are removed.

– Correct.

– I’m going to skip over modern lifecycle, Tracey, because what I really would like you to do is spend a minute or two on the AIM program and then we can wrap up. Sorry to keep everybody a few minutes late today.

– Awesome. So, AIM program, we’re in partnership with Microsoft to do this AIM program, which is Accelerate, Innovate, Move. AIM assessment is a complementary assessment that we would do with you so that you can have an understanding of what it would be for you specifically as a business to move from on-prem to the cloud. So, again, we have a workshop and we go through with you and we provide you all sorts of great information and it’s something that we’re offering out to all our customers.

So, if you want to connect with your account manager, they’d be happy to get you started on that. Again, you’re going to be working with a team of experts here at Encore to go through that, and it’ll just kind of prepare you. Like, when we think about, you know, regardless of how long our on-prem solutions are going to be around, you’re not able to take advantage of all the things that we’ve got to offer by staying on the on-prem solution.

So, that’s why we’re offering this, to work with you and get you prepared to make that plan to move to the cloud.

– And just to add, any on-prem solutions. So, we’re not talking just about GP, it’s all on-prem solutions. Microsoft has a big push to support you the best way possible in educating you and giving you some clear direction in moving that way. So, thank you everybody for your time today.

I’ll hand this back to Katie. I’m not sure if we have time for questions or if there were any questions.

– We do have a few questions, but unfortunately, we are at time for today. So, for anybody that has asked a question, we will get back to you by email later today. I want to say thank you, Patti and Tracey, that was a great presentation. For everybody, I’m going to add the link to our events page in the chat if you’d like to register for upcoming webinar sessions.

I’m also going to be adding the link where you can set your preferences and opt into our monthly and quarterly emails so that you can stay in the know about upcoming events and see our latest blog articles.That’s all for today. Thank you.

– Fantastic. Thank you, Katie. Yeah, thank you.

– Yeah, thank you.

– And we’ll be sending you a follow-up email with that video. Please take a look at that video. One of our teammates made it and it’s very, very interesting. It’s great to watch. So, I hope you guys all get a chance to look at it.

– Thanks for your time, everybody. Have an amazing Tuesday and a great rest of the week.

– Thank you.

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