Long before cloud computing emerged as a de facto software delivery method, organizations rarely thought twice about purchasing the license or a copy of the software, installing the programs on their own servers, and then extracting the longest possible life (and then some) out of those solutions.
The cloud changed all of that. As organizations caught onto the value of the cloud, they began moving their business systems online in droves. The proof is in the numbers: Worldwide, the public cloud computing market reached $257.5 billion in 2020 (up from $145.3 billion in 2017) and is now on track to exceed $362.5 billion by 2022.
It can be overwhelming to think about an entire software overhaul, but when your ERP software becomes more of a burden than an asset for your organization, you know it’s time to make the switch.
Your ERP is Your Business's MVP.
Microsoft Dynamics vs NetSuite
Where NetSuite is an industry-leading, unified cloud ERP solution, Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) has become an aging, legacy accounting system. The differences between the two systems don’t end there. Here are 10 distinct disadvantages that all Dynamics GP users face in trying to run their operations on an old, on-premises system:
1. It wasn't built for the cloud. Dynamics GP isn’t available on the cloud and can only be put there in a private cloud environment. This means you are required to use additional software to modernize your business system and don’t get to realize the benefits of a true cloud application. The Microsoft answer to this problem is their Dynamics Business Central (BC) solution, an old NAV product with a new face that was thrown up onto the cloud to fulfill customer demand for cloud-based systems. The problem is that, unlike NetSuite, the tool sets aren't really there with Dynamics BC; it’s too new to the cloud and was not natively built for that environment.
NetSuite was originally built in the cloud and incorporates advanced technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). “Microsoft doesn't have those capabilities, but it does promote that it’s ‘adding it,’” said David McDonald, ERP Business Development Manager with Eide Bailly. “The bottom line is that if you’re using GP, you’re not getting the full benefit of the cloud or those advanced features. The only way there is to move or migrate.”
2. No remote possibilities. When the global pandemic sent companies scrambling to set up remote work arrangements for their employees, anyone using on-premises software quickly found themselves struggling to meet these new, unprecedented demands. Unless they had some type of remote desktop server in place, Dynamics GP users ran into major challenges during this critical period.
“Companies had to figure out how to get their employees access,” said McDonald. “For most, big changes were in order, followed by major investments in technology to get everyone connected.” And while the company’s Business Central cloud ERP has gone through several iterations since being rolled out four years ago, it’s not truly built for the cloud and doesn’t measure up to the scalability and flexibility offered by NetSuite ERP, which provides anywhere, anytime access to your organization’s critical business information.
3. The platform is nearing end-of-life. Even as their own companies continue to grow and expand, current Dynamics GP users aren’t getting the regular, useful software enhancements that their organizations need. When those “end of life” email alerts come from the vendor—effectively pushing a customer to explore its other products, like Dynamics BC in this case— fear sets in as organizations realize that the vendor they relied is no longer supporting one of their critical business systems. “Dynamics GP users have seen significantly less investment and fewer enhancements in recent years,” said McDonald. “This is bad news for a company that’s in growth mode and has new needs that aren’t being addressed.”
We've outlined four reasons why growing businesses need cloud ERP.
4. The switch requires more than just a license change. A company that’s currently using GP and considering just moving to the “next” Microsoft product (i.e., Business Central) should understand that this requires more than just a simple license change. “It will be an entirely new implementation and data migration process,” McDonald explained, “so it’s in the user’s benefit to take this time to reassess their organization’s long-term ERP and technology needs ." Microsoft GP users are at a crossroads with their business accounting system and should start evaluating their technology roadmap now before GP officially moves into the final stages of the technology lifecycle.
5. No native customer relationship management system. Great Plains has been around for a long time and covers many functional areas, but it has no built-in CRM. In fact, obtaining CRM support requires the purchase and integration of Microsoft Dynamics CRM or a third-party solution. Dynamics CRM was designed with a different code set, which means even the vendor has problems integrating its CRM product with Dynamics GP. NetSuite, on the other hand, provides a single, integrated suite that includes ERP, CRM, and e-commerce, with editions tailored for specific vertical markets. This is one of the reasons why NetSuite has consistently maintained Gartner’s Leader status in their annual ERP Magic Quadrant report.
6. Lack of insightful business dashboards. If you don’t have a 360-degree view of your customer in today’s business environment, you’re basically operating in the stone age. Not only does Dynamics GP lack useful dashboards, but the platform’s cloud option (Business Central) doesn’t offer much of an improvement over any native capabilities that the system may offer.
7. Lack of native e-commerce support. To set up an e-commerce storefront, Dynamics GP users have to purchase and install Microsoft GP eConnect, which allows them to redirect web-based transactions into data entry screens and share inventory, pricing, and other key information via the web. This is not only cumbersome and clunky but Dynamics GP’s business portal also cannot be customized, nor does it provide the expansive selection of key performance indicators (KPIs) that NetSuite ERP offers.
8. Even simple modifications are difficult. Another disadvantage of GP is its lack of easy customization. The system’s existing tables and fields cannot be modified, which means you can’t change a table structure without ruining your data. The workaround is to provide 10 user-defined fields (i.e., a blank space at the end of a record) that users can use any way they want. However, once those 10 fields are spoken for, no more tailoring is allowed.
9. Too many different third-party add-ons to juggle. Nearly all Dynamics GP users need additional applications from multiple third parties, with the average company needing eight or nine different applications to be able to run their businesses. That is a lot to maintain and manage. Business Central users face similar hurdles within a computing environment that wasn’t built for the cloud. As a result, a lot of the third-party application providers don’t work in the cloud yet and are still building out a solution that NetSuite already has. “Why wait for Microsoft to develop a cloud app,” McDonald asks, “when NetSuite is ready to run?”
10. A lot of throats to choke. Because it often requires so many different third-party applications, Dynamics GP gives users a lot of different throats to choke in lieu of a single, responsible provider. “We have one past customer that had 22 third-party applications on the day it went live with Dynamics GP,” said McDonald. “Can you imagine having to track down the vendors for those applications in the event of a problem? It would be a total nightmare.” Not to mention, a huge security risk. By keeping third-party applications to a minimum and providing direct integrations for others, NetSuite gives companies peace of mind knowing that it will be there when its customers’ need it.
Still not convinced that you need to make the switch? Learn the eight ways legacy ERP harms businesses.
Don’t Get Stuck with Old Technology
As companies continue to deal with everyday challenges while also plotting a post-COVID success path, McDonald says those with cloud ERP in place will be best positioned to thrive in the future.
“Any growing company that’s still using Dynamics GP right now should be pretty worried, knowing that any new functionality is going to have to be highly customized and/or provided by a third party in order to operate properly,” McDonald warns. “NetSuite, on the other hand, will continue investing and improving its platform.”
The bottom line is this: If your enterprise software developer stays current, then you can take advantage of the new technologies. If it doesn’t, you’re just going to get stuck with old technology.
We can help.