Despite advanced features and granular reporting tools, Microsoft GP is held back by its infrastructure. Users miss out on the benefits offered by tools like Power BI, built-in automations, Power Apps, and a unified data ecosystem. Benefits that are readily available in the cloud.
Microsoft Dynamics GP is a specialized accounting suite—not a complete ERP solution like Business Central. As such, many GP users end up relying on a patchwork system, which creates this separation between finance & accounting and the rest of the company.
Here, we’ll explain the process of migrating from your on-prem GP solution to Dynamics 365.
What Are the Benefits of Migrating from Dynamics GP to the Cloud-Based Dynamics 365 Platform?
Upgrading your legacy system to Dynamics 365 unlocks all kinds of game-changing benefits. Think–automatic upgrades, anywhere access, the ability to operationalize valuable data and optimize processes.
Dynamics 365 unifies accounting and finance with the rest of the business. This eliminates many of the challenges and risks that come from using a fragmented ERP solution–and it helps teams avoid costs associated with managing third-party solutions.
It also integrates with familiar Microsoft tools like Excel, Teams, and Outlook and syncs data between all connected modules and apps.
That means users can perform daily tasks in one place rather than switching between windows and tabs. And, at the same time, steer clear of data entry errors and regulatory non-compliance that puts the company–and its customers–at risk. Users also spend less time tracking down files and compiling reports and more time on strategic tasks like analyzing data—in context.
Business Central comes embedded with Power BI, which allows you to build customizable dashboards for monitoring key financial data and create interactive visual reports. The platform’s baked-in intelligence improves sales, cash flow, & inventory forecasting and provides end-to-end visibility into company performance.
Essentially, it becomes much easier to make decisions based on where they stand to have the most impact.
And because D365 is built on the low-code Power Platform, it’s easy for “citizen developers” to create automations, pull custom reports, and build custom solutions.
What Does a Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Migration Actually Entail?
GP only represents a small piece of the ERP–accounting and finance–not sales, service, marketing, HR, and the rest. So, the migration doesn’t just involve moving GP to the cloud–you’re also consolidating all business tools, data, and processes into a single ERP.
In some cases, that might mean merging GP data and processes into a cloud-based system you’re already using. Or, you might be performing multiple migrations at the same time.
Either way, here’s a look at what you’ll need to do to prepare:
Before you start the migration process, you’ll need to get real clear on the game plan.
- Perform an audit. Because you’re starting from a fragmented system, plan on allocating more time and resources to the audit process. Here, your goal is to evaluate the system from a zoomed-out perspective so you can create a map of all the interconnected pieces.
- Analyze business processes. Map & analyze business processes, data flows, and apps. What tools/processes does each team use? What’s working? What’s not working
- Determine business requirements. Work with individual teams to understand how they work, what challenges they face, and what they’d like to see improve post-migration.
- Look for improvement opportunities. Consider how new capabilities can be used to solve problems or capture new opportunities. How might integrating financial data into other business areas (and vice versa) benefit your business?
- Evaluate partners & external solutions. Seek out a certified partner with a background in GP migrations and expertise in your industry. The right partner can also help you identify ISV solutions and external applications that further enhance the value of your D365 investment.
Migrating Data from GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central
GP users can migrate to Business Central using Microsoft’s built-in migration tools to move data into the cloud. The migration wizard can only be used with GP versions 2015 or later. So, if you’re using an older version, you’ll need to upgrade to GP 2015 first–or opt for a full implementation instead.
You’ll also need to ensure that your on-prem system is using a version of SQL Server 2016 or later. And, you’ll need to make sure your current database has a compatibility level of 130 or higher before getting started.
Beyond the system requirements, here’s a look at what’s involved in bringing your GP data into BC:
Using the Data Migration Wizard
This tool simplifies the process of bringing GP data into the new system. It’s designed for a one-time move away from your on-prem system for companies ready to start using BC as their primary solution.
The cloud migration tool brings the following GP data into the cloud:
- Chart of Accounts master records
- Customer records & outstanding transactions from the Receivables module
- Vendor master records & outstanding transactions from the Payables module
- Inventory items
- Checkbook master data
- Historical data from Inventory, Payables, Receivables, PO processing, and Sales Order processing
Do note that this tool doesn’t migrate everything from your on-prem system.
For example, the wizard doesn’t migrate data related to closed transactions, POP, SOP, & Manufacturing transactions. It also doesn’t migrate the breakdowns of the accounts. In that case, totals are recorded in the account number. So, if you want to distribute them across different segments, you’ll need to create journal entries.
Migrating the Rest of Your Data to Business Central
Here’s a look at some of the other ways you can move critical financial data to the cloud:
Migrate with RapidStart. The RapidStart service allows you to import transactional data not covered by the wizard. Users can create Configuration Packages in Excel to migrate transactions, batch create journal entries, and create quick-start templates to help you set up the new system faster.
Move the GP database to Azure Data Lake. When you upgrade from GP to the cloud, you’ll need to make a decision about what happens with your historical data. Moving your database to Azure Data Lake allows you to securely store data in the cloud for later review/use. You don’t necessarily have to use a data lake, but it allows you to access historical data that wasn’t migrated with the wizard.
You can then set up Azure Data Factory to rehost data in the cloud and use Azure’s pre-built connectors to automate the process of integrating data from ISV solutions with Dynamics 365.
Replicate GP data with the intelligent cloud. The replication process allows you to store GP data in the BC tenant in the cloud. This allows you to access GP data from Business Central, but you’ll still need to perform data entry in the on-prem system and update the system manually or by scheduling them in advance. It’s better to look at this solution as temporary–it allows you to start using financial data in the cloud as you finish up the migration process/figure out what you want to do with your historical data.
Finally, it’s worth noting that you can still keep GP data on-prem to maintain historical records.
Challenges You Might Experience During Migration
While moving to the cloud represents a significant step toward business transformation, it’s not a straightforward path–and there’s a lot that can go wrong.
Here are some of the biggest challenges you can expect to face during Microsoft GP to Dynamics 365 migration journey:
You May Need Workarounds to Replace GP Functionality
GP relies on 3rd-party integrations and customizations that introduce many layers of complexity to the ERP system.
Business Central has largely eliminated the challenges that come with managing multiple solutions at a time–though automation, streamlined customization development, and a more robust suite of tools out-of-the-box.
However, you won’t reap those benefits until you deal with your legacy system. In the short term, that complexity adds extra time and resources to updates and upgrades.
The big challenge here is, you’ll need to untangle existing customizations and integrations and figure out which have been replaced with BC features and where gaps still exist.
While Dynamics 365 covers most of the basic functionalities you’ll find in GP out-of-the-box, you may find that some core features are missing.
For example, BC doesn’t include payroll processing out-of-the-box and the Account Schedules tool is not as robust as GP’s Management Reporter. If core GP features aren’t included in the new system, you may need to invest in an ISV solution or 3rd-party apps to fill in those gaps.
Adapting to New Functionality
One of the key advantages of Dynamics 365 is that it makes it easier for all users to pull reports and customize individual apps. For example, its “dimensional accounting” capabilities and embedded intelligence simplify the process of managing and analyzing financial data.
Essentially, Dimensions allow you to look at the full picture and make more informed decisions about how to allocate resources, purchase inventory, and course-correct the parts of the strategy that just aren’t working.
At the same time, those changes might still be hard to get used to–especially for GP users with decades of experience. If your team is overwhelmed by these changes, you may want to take a phased approach to migration, and transition them one process at a time.
Converting GP Financial Records to Dynamics 365
Moving data from GP to D365 isn’t a one-off event, it’s a multi-step process that often takes place over the course of several smaller migrations. The process is clunky, in part, because it’s not a true upgrade. You’re working with two separate systems.
Which means, the data migration wizard can only do so much when it comes to bringing financial records into the cloud.
Again, it only migrates open transactions and master records and leaves out a lot of critical information that you’ll need to implement through other means. Luckily, solutions like Azure Data Lake & Data Factory and the intelligent cloud make this a bit easier. But, you’re still looking at a complicated process you’ll need to start mapping out from the very beginning.
Unlike SL, AX, and NAV, Microsoft will continue support for GP users through 2024. This means you’ll have time to develop a strategic plan and allocate resources for bringing your business into the future.
While it’s tempting to do what you can to keep your legacy system alive for a few more years, that choice can cause long-term damage. GP users are looking at migrating many systems to the new ERP and will face some unique challenges because of this. But ultimately, the biggest risk comes from inaction.
Velosio experts can help you navigate the upgrade process and take advantage of rapid implementation options–so you can start reaping the benefits of Business Central ASAP.
Get in touch to learn more about how Velosio can help you set the stage for long-term success in the cloud.