When Dynamics GP customers are considering a transition to Dynamics 365 Business Central, a frequent question we receive is “What will happen to my Dynamics GP add-on solutions?”. This blog and video will answer those questions about Dynamics GP add-ons, options in Dynamics 365 Business Central, the Microsoft AppSource, and other reporting tools.
I’ve been in the Dynamics GP world for about 24 years and during that time there’s been a lot of add-on products come to light. When we think about add-on solutions/ISV solutions early on in the history of Dynamics GP, they were created to help users extend and enhance the capabilities of their GP system. Dynamics GP was a horizontal application that suited many industries and many companies, but did not go deep into certain areas, so Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) took on developing the add-ons to bridge the gaps. A lot of add-on tools came out of a world of needing those requirements. For example, we needed AP automation, so there was an add-on was built to meet that need.
There are different types of add-ons, some that are seamlessly integrated so when you’re in Dynamics GP you might not even be aware that you’re using an add-on product, and there are some that are outside of the product itself. Some users may not be aware that the Canadian and US payroll were separate products and then were brought into GP. The not-for-profit suite was originally developed as add on solutions and was brought into GP (actually developed by Encore’s development team and sold to Microsoft in 2004). There were also applications that were part of core GP that got spliced out and separated and are now add-on products. For example, with a requisition solution you don’t need all of your users going into GP, so instead they do their requisitions or expenses outside of it and then it integrates into GP.
Integration tools are the number one add-on solution that our Dynamics GP clients have. When clients want to automate and increase productivity, those integration tools like Smart Connect come in handy. Some other popular integration tools include Auditor, SmartList Builder, Collections Management, Smart Connect, and Scribe.
Reporting tools are another add-on solution, and many clients will be familiar with Jet Reports, Prophix, or using Excel refreshable reports. Before data visualization came along and in different products like Power BI, we used Excel to create dashboards and some might still use Excel to connect to Dynamics GP data.
Options for Moving Forward
Microsoft is working closely with the ISV community to learn how their solutions fit into Dynamics 365 Business Central. There are applications that work with Dynamics GP that will also work when you transition to Dynamics 365 Business Central and some of those ISV companies have transition offers available. This means that some add-ons are ERP agnostic, so it doesn’t matter what ERP you’re on, you can still use that application. In some cases, the solution may no longer be needed anymore! There might have been a gap in Dynamics GP, but there isn’t that same gap in Business Central. If there is a gap that needs to be filled in Business Central, then there may be an App available through AppSource. AppSource will be discussed in more detail further in this blog.
We recommend reaching out to your Account Manager at Encore so that together you can review your add-on solutions and decide what is needed and what is not needed if you transition to Business Central.
Dynamics 365 Business Central
Dynamics 365 Business Central has financial management, project management, operations management, and many more capabilities. Some of these components might have been missing in Dynamics GP, but they are readily available out of the box in Business Central, so you do not need an add-on in many cases. For example, we can change a master record in Business Central. In Dynamics GP we would use a tool to do that, but with the proper security permissions in Business Central, if I created a Customer ID, I could go and change that right on that same screen without needing an extra tool. Another example could be with a GL account, where someone goes and creates the wrong number or a wrong dimension, you can go override and change that right in Business Central.
Functionality such as an EFT, bank reconciliation, AP automation, document exchange service, and opportunity management are all available out of the box in Business Central. There is a lot of rich functionality that comes out the box, which eliminates the need for add-ons in many cases. Below is a screenshot of some of the core capabilities in Dynamics 365 Business Central:
Please see our Dynamics 365 Business Central Licensing and Pricing blog for more information about what is available out of the box with Business Central Essentials licenses.
AppSource is like an app store for your Microsoft solutions. When AppSource first started a few years ago, there weren’t as many apps available, but now many of the traditional ISV solutions are available in AppSource. There are over a thousand apps to choose from and they range from simple to quite complex. Some apps are free, and some have a free trial so you can try them out to see if they meet your needs. When you choose to purchase from AppSource, you pay for the app as a software as a service. This is beneficial because you can try a solution and if it doesn’t meet your needs, you can cancel it for the following month. If the app does meet your needs, then you’ll continue to pay on a monthly basis like you would do with any app that you subscribe to. Another possibility to fill a gap is to create your own app using Power Apps.
Searching AppSource is available online or within Dynamics 365 Business Central. Inside Business Central, there is a connection to AppSource which allows you to type in what you’re looking for, such as “budgeting solution”, and it will take you directly to the app that will fill that need. If you visit AppSource online, you will need to specify the product that you need an add-on solution for, or you can search by industry or functionality.
Encore can help recommend the best apps from AppSource that will suit your business’ needs. From looking at those that are highly recommended, working closely with the ISVs, and understanding what has and has not worked for our customers in the past, we’ll help recommend the apps that could suit your businesses requirements. Encore wants to make sure that you’re feeling supported and that you’ve got all of the functionality and productivity available to you.
When discussing your roadmap forward with your Account Manager, we can discuss your add-on solutions and determine if you will need the add-on going forward, if it’s ERP agnostic, or if the ISV has a transition offer. There are a lot of choices and opportunities for you and your path going forward.
Dynamics 365 Business Central has its own out of the box reporting tools. It has account schedules, which is comparable to a management reporter tool. There is full flexibility on how to look at the information. It has the cubing ability where you can change the parameters that are across the top and down the side and flip the data around the way you want to see it. There are also Excel reports, which are more familiar to Dynamics GP users. In Business Central, there are some income statements and balance sheets built into the Excel reports and those come out of the box. There are Excel templates in Business Central as well as the familiar Word templates for invoices and purchase orders. Power BI can be used for doing your data visualizations and those dashboards can be right in your homepage in Business Central.
Dynamics 365 Business Central has very strong sorting, searching, and filtering capabilities right out of the box. If you’re familiar with using SmartList where you can do ad hoc reporting, sorting, searching, and filtering, then you have that ability in Business Central. There is discussion of SmartList coming to Business Central soon which is great news for Dynamics GP users. Some Dynamics GP users might use Jet Reports and you can continue to use Jet Reports in Business Central.
When Dynamics 365 Business Central (formally called Dynamics NAV) was being developed, they looked at Dynamics GP and some of its awesome features. When a Dynamics GP user is in Business Central, they’ll see that some areas are just like it is in GP.
If you’re considering a transition from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central, there are options for your add-on solutions. Some add-ons will transition, and some will go away as that functionality can be found out of the box in Business Central. It’s important to have a discussion with your Account Manager about your add-ons products to determine what is needed going forward.
To view a 3-minute video summarizing this blog article, please see this video.
For a presentation about what will happen to your Dynamics GP add-ons in a transition to Dynamics 365 Business Central, please see the video below:
Contact us if you have questions about your Dynamics GP add-on solutions in your path of transitioning to Dynamics 365 Business Central.
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