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  • Writer's pictureTarana Rana

Dynamics GP vs. Dynamics 365 Business Central: Everything You Need to Know

Which Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solution is the better choice for your small or mid-sized business, GP or Business Central?

An office worker staring inquisitively at a sheet of paper

At first glance, Microsoft's Dynamics Great Plains (GP) and their Dynamics 365 Business Central look pretty similar and share many features and functionality. However, specific critical differences will help determine which ERP solution is a better fit for your organization. Or, if you're already using Dynamics GP, read on to learn whether there are any advantages to making the transition to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

What is Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains)?

Microsoft Dynamics GP is a mid-market ERP solution designed for small and mid-sized businesses, and it's been around for over two decades. It was originally developed as an on-premises solution; however, it can now be hosted on cloud servers.

Dynamics GP Licensing

You can purchase Dynamics GP with a perpetual license where you pay a one-time fee to license the ERP solution upfront, along with year maintenance renewals. You can also opt for the subscription option, where you pay a monthly fee for term-based rights to use Dynamics GP. Both of these options include rapid start tools and have built-in functionality to get you up and running fast.

Dynamics GP Deployment Options

You can use Dynamics GP as an on-premises solution, where you host the software on your internal servers and typically performs best in this environment. You also have the option for cloud hosting, where your servers are hosted through the Infrastructure-as-a-Service model.

Dynamics GP Features & Functionality

Dynamics GP has the following packs to choose from: The Starter Pack offers core financials and distribution modules for three full users. It allows businesses to manage their finances, purchase and sell services and products, and pay and manage employees. It comes with the standard US and Canadian Payroll and Human Resources for an unlimited number of employees.

The Extended Pack includes offerings from the starter pack and modules for manufacturing, project management, and customer relationship management. This pack extends the Starter Pack functionality so you can also manage and bill jobs for professional services, construction, and more as well control the creation of raw materials to finished products.

A Customization Pack and an Extended Human Resources & Payroll Pack are also available for Dynamics GP. As the name suggests, the Customization Pack allows you to customize your Dynamics GP with integrations. The Extended Human Resources & Payroll offers more flexibility in how companies pay and manage their employees in the US.

Dynamics GP Pricing

With perpetual licensing, you'll pay a one-time fee of USD 5,000 (or CAD 6,167) up-front for three full users. After that, you'll pay an annual maintenance/enhancement fee of around USD 900 to Microsoft. If you need to add more full users, there is a one-time fee of USD 3000 (or CAD 3,700.)

What is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central?

Dynamics 365 Business Central is a cloud ERP solution designed for the mid-market. It's Microsoft's latest ERP offering, and it is licensed on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. As a cloud ERP solution, Dynamics 365 Business Central has numerous benefits for small and mid-sized businesses. While there are no plans for Dynamics 365 Business Central to replace Dynamics GP, there's no doubt that Business Central is Microsoft's top priority. It receives more attention and a large share of their future development efforts.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Licensing

Dynamics 365 Business Central is licensed on a SaaS ERP model. This typically means you pay a monthly subscription fee to use the solution, which is hosted in Microsoft's cloud, Azure. This means you don't have to pay a substantial fee up-front to get your solution up and running. There are no up-front costs for hardware and servers, making this a cost-effective solution for businesses who lack dedicated, in-house IT support.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Deployment Options

Designed as a cloud solution, Business Central is most typically hosted on Microsoft Azure, and end-users access the solution via a web browser from any device. If you want more control, you also can host Business Central in a private cloud with the hosting provider of your choice. Finally, you can also deploy Dynamics 365 Business Central on-premises on your local server with a perpetual license.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Features & Functionality

Business Central offers two main subscription licensing options: Essentials and Premium, which cater to slightly different business needs.

As the name suggests, the Essentials subscription consists of essential modules for any business, regardless of industry—for example, financial management, CRM, human resources, and more. The Premium subscription includes everything in the Essentials plan and has additional modules for service management and manufacturing.

For an in-depth review and comparison of these two plans, see our blog post Essentials vs. Premium: Which D365 Business Central Plan Is Right for You?

Dynamics 365 Business Central can also be easily extended through th Microsoft AppSource, a marketplace for custom-made applications that easily integrate with Business Central and extend its functionality.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Pricing

Dynamics 365 Business Central pricing is based on a SaaS model, where customers pay a subscription fee to access the solution. The Essentials plan is set at USD 70 or CAD 89.60 per month, per user, and the Premium plan costs USD 100 or CAD 128 per month, per user.

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

Now that you understand both these solutions let's go ahead and compare them. On the surface, both these Dynamics solutions seem similar, as they are both mid-market ERP solutions and offer similar functionality. But there are some key differences you should keep in mind.

Type of Deployment & Integrations

While both offer multiple deployment options, Dynamics 365 Business Central was specifically designed as a cloud solution, while Dynamics GP was designed for on-premises.

This means that Dynamics 365 Business Central does not need investment in hardware, ongoing costs to upgrade or configure your servers. There are no annual maintenance fees to pay. You don't need dedicated IT support to upgrade your solution as upgrades are done automatically by Microsoft, with no downloads or installation required by the end-users.

Dynamics GP, as an on-premises solution, does require hardware investment. Even if you choose to deploy in the cloud, upgrades do not happen automatically and will need to be scheduled with your Microsoft Partner or managed by your internal IT resources.

Finally, suppose you're looking to integrate your ERP solution with other Microsoft products like Dynamics 365 Sales or CRM. In that case, Business Central makes it a lot easier to do so compared to GP.

Pricing & Total Cost of Ownership

Dynamics 365 Business Central primarily works on a subscription pricing model. It has a lower cost of entry than Dynamics GP, which is typically sold on a perpetual license paid up-front.

In terms of total cost of ownership, cloud ERP solutions typically have lower TCos than on-premises solutions. This is because cloud platforms eliminate the requirement for costly upgrades, annual maintenance fees, and investment and upkeep for hardware and other components. Not to mention dedicated IT resources.

Functionality & Innovation

In terms of features, Business Central's Essential Plan offers more features than Dynamics GP's Starter Pack, as it includes modules for Customer Relationship Management, Project Management, and Warehouse Management. It also has more advanced distribution capabilities, such as multi-warehouse functionality and advanced inventory planning. However, GP has in-built functionality for US and Canadian Payroll, whereas Business Central users will need an add-on application from Microsoft AppSource.

Released in 2018, Business Central is Microsoft's latest offering. As Microsoft continues to focus heavily on the cloud, Business Central does receive the lion's share of their research and development efforts and dollars. They will continue to add cutting-edge enhancements and new functionality. GP, on the other hand, was developed in the 1990s and remains a popular ERP solution. While Microsoft still supports it, it is not the company's primary focus.

Should You Transition from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central?

If you are currently using Dynamics GP, you may wonder if you should upgrade to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Here are some reasons why businesses may decide to upgrade:

  • Dynamics GP is too costly every year

  • You want to leverage the benefits of cloud ERP – such as reduced total cost of ownership, agility, improved security, and more

  • You find that specific critical business processes you use third-party applications have functionality in Business Central right out of the box or as an app on the Microsoft AppSource.

Finding the Right Dynamics 365 Solution

Whether you use GP and are considering your options or are debating between these two Dynamics 365 solutions for your business, reach out to the team at Kwixand Solutions. As a Silver Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner, we specialize in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform solutions and are happy to help you with any questions you may have. Or save your spot for our free 1-day Dynamics 365 Business Central assessment that will help you understand whether Dynamics 365 Business Central is right for your business.

Click to register for a free 1-day assessment to see if Dynamics 365 Business Central is Right for You


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