Part 1: The Future of Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL (or lack thereof)

6 minute read

Have you outgrown QuickBooks? Thinking of jumping on the Dynamics GP/SL bandwagon or performing an upgrade? Are there other accounting software solutions you should consider? Why do they give you more buns than hot dogs in a pack? Let's figure it all out together!

Some well-respected and loyal Dynamics experts assert that both products are well-established leaders with more investment on the way:

"GP and SL just had new 2018 versions released! The future is bright!"

Other thought leaders say both products are dead:

"They've been left in maintenance mode to die on the vine."

Both sides have a point. Dynamics GP and SL are market leaders.

Also, they are dead. You should stop investing in them. Microsoft certainly has.

Let’s start with the arguments from the “future is bright!” crowd, then move on to the "dead on the vine" crowd. To close out, we'll add a few of our own nails to the coffin.

 

The Future Is Bright - Top Arguments Given By The Optimists

 

“Dead” products don’t have roadmaps!

You’re 100% right, but let’s take a look at GP’s Roadmap:

GP Roadmap 2018

What you see above is the actual Dynamics GP roadmap. Microsoft's product roadmaps are often cited as proof that future support is assured for a given product. But writing “top features requested by customers” and “ongoing development” isn’t a roadmap; it’s a death certificate. It means they either don’t know the future of the product or don’t have a future for the product.

It’s the roadmap equivalent of, “You can’t get there from here."

 

Microsoft is investing in the cloud. Dynamics GP and SL ARE in the cloud!

You’re half right. Microsoft is investing in the cloud; that’s well documented. Dynamics 365 is in the cloud. SharePoint and Exchange are in the cloud. Microsoft has been making continual investments in these and their other cloud technologies.

Dynamics GP and SL are hosted for you on a GP/SL partner's server. YES, they use the word cloud, but it’s a “private cloud," which means “a server connected to the Internet." THAT isn’t the cloud.

These pretend/pseudo/"private" cloud implementations require the same tedious integration hoops as an on-premise implementation, and all the same care and feeding, too. It’s Infrastructure as a Service. Are we really supposed to be impressed that they went to the trouble of pre-installing Dynamics GP/SL on a server for you?

You want what Microsoft offers in 365 subscriptions: Platform as a Service. It frees you from servers, upgrades, licensing and security concerns. It’s also a deeply interconnected ecosystem of products that all talk to each other. We’ll talk more about that in Part 2 of this series.

 

Dynamics GP and SL are cash cows for Microsoft.

For a group of folks who work with accounting/ERP software, the people making this argument sure are bad at math.

Microsoft’s future lies in the per user monthly fees of the 365 ecosystem, not per server licenses.

Regardless of their size, companies do not consistently upgrade their Dynamics GP and SL implementations. The cost of the new license, hardware, downtime, disruptions and manpower just isn't worth the anemic feature enhancements. It's a poor value proposition. And that remains true whether or not you use the fake cloud vendors cited above.

But we’re sure future release features outlined in the roadmap above (e.g. “ongoing development”) will compel customers to upgrade . . . Not!

 

Dynamics SL’s most touted new features are integration with PowerApps, Power BI, and Flow.

You know you're in trouble when the best thing they can think to say about you is that you play nice with their current star products. So, Microsoft made enhancements to PowerApps, Power BI and Flow. Not SL.

One could argue this is an abandonment of the half-hearted web apps initiative meant to webify Dynamics SL. We won’t do that here, but one certainly could.

If Microsoft was investing in SL, they would actually add compelling new features to SL itself. Hooking up newer products to SL’s existing APIs isn’t an investment.  

 

 Dead On The Vine - The Opposing Opinion

Rumor has it all development for Dynamics GP and SL has been sent offshore.

We have heard this independently from Microsoft insiders. Does that still make it a rumor? We won’t make that call for you, but if it’s true, start playing “Taps” for these solutions. Microsoft doesn’t leave the reputation of its most critical products' development to offshore support teams. Would you?

 

If it isn’t in the cloud, it isn’t part of Microsoft’s long-term strategy.

Exactly.

But if you don't want to take our word for it, read here and here and here and everywhere.

 

 Nails, Meet Coffin - Our Final Observations

Here are a couple observations we'd like to add to the debate:

Marketing Matters and Dynamics GP and SL are MIM (Missing in Marketing)

You know another Microsoft product that’s been around forever? Microsoft SQL Server. Guess how many clicks it takes to get from Microsoft.com to the Microsoft SQL Server product homepage? Two.

Try to find Dynamics 365, Dynamics Business Central, and/or Dynamics for Finance and Operations from Microsoft.com. You can get there in two or three clicks.

You can’t get to Dynamics GP or Dynamics SL’s product pages from Microsoft.com. Nor can you get there from the Dynamics subsite. It’s impossible to browse to either product. They are hidden.

The phrase “you can’t get there from here” literally applies.

When you finally DO get to the GP/SL pages via a search, what do you find? An invitation to learn more about Dynamics Business Central.

MS GP SL Webpage

These marketing sites are the best window into where Microsoft’s priorities lie. Dynamics GP and SL product homepages still exist, but when you finally manage to find them, they encourage you to explore Microsoft’s cloud offerings instead.

If we were trying this case in a court of law, this is the part where we’d grandly pronounce, “The prosecution rests,” drop the mic, and walk out of the courtroom. But that’s probably because we’ve seen too many “Law & Order” reruns.  

 

They can’t get there from here.

Yes, we do intend to use this phrase as many times as possible in one blog post.

Dynamics GP and SL are great enterprise class solutions. They also were developed before the Internet became A Thing. They have old bones. To this day, the momentum required to truly webify them hasn’t materialized, much less the re-architecting required to make them true cloud-based platforms.

Microsoft has placed its bets on AX (Finance and Operations; it was borne from the web) and a perhaps TOO streamlined version of NAV (Business Central). 

Incidentally, Microsoft refers to Business Central as “the next generation of Dynamics Nav." That's the description they wrote on the homepage of Dynamics GP and SL. Ouch.

 

So What Comes Next?

The evidence is conclusive: Dynamics GP & SL are dead. In the second part of this series, we’ll talk about life after Dynamics GP/SL. It’s far more than just upgrading your financial software. For the first time ever, we can break down the finance silo and provide synergies enterprise-wide.

You CAN get there from here . . .

 

Already Panicking?

Please don’t worry. We really will provide you with info on several cloud-based solutions to replace GP & SL in our next post, coming shortly. But if you can’t shake the feeling that your company’s financial system (whatever it may be) is woefully outdated and that anxiety is starting to keep you up at night, you don’t have to wait for the next blog. Reach out now. Our MINDs make a point of knowing the Microsoft product line like the back of our hands. We’ve just learned all the ins and outs of their newest financial offerings. Let us help find the right solution for you while it’s all fresh in our MINDs.