Microsoft Dynamics GP Alternatives for Multi-Entity Companies


If you’re using Microsoft Dynamics GP, you’ve probably already considered switching to another business accounting software because you didn’t think you had a choice.

For the past few years, customers have been asking if Microsoft was discontinuing support for the software formerly known as Great Plains or if Microsoft Dynamics GP is going away. (The question still turns up nearly 700,000 search results on Google and is the subject of countless forum discussions.)

Microsoft has confirmed it will continue to support Dynamics GP until at least 2028 and recently announced the last update for the 2016 version. The company recommends customers begin upgrading to its newer versions, including Microsoft Dynamics GP 18.4.

However, in the latest post, Microsoft support representative Isaac Olson acknowledged some customers may be interested in moving to cloud-based applications in the future.

This is an important consideration, but there are other good reasons to make the switch sooner.

Is Microsoft Dynamics GP cloud-based?

In short, no. While the latest version was designed to operate in the Microsoft Azure Cloud as a hosted system, it’s not a true cloud-based software system. You will still need to use applications like Remote Access to work with GP.

5 reasons to switch from Microsoft Dynamics GP to a cloud-based accounting software

Updates aren’t automatic

In a true cloud-based accounting software solution, the provider rolls out updates frequently and automatically at no additional cost to you. You never have to wonder if your solution is up to date and compatible with other systems you’re already using.

With Microsoft Dynamics GP, your solution is either governed by the Modern Lifecycle Policy, meaning there is continuous support, servicing and bug fixes if you accept one of three yearly planned updates, or the Fixed Lifecycle Policy. If you’re on the Fixed Lifecycle Policy, which applies to older versions of Dynamics GP, your support eventually has an end date.

To get the Modern Lifecycle Policy, you’ll need to upgrade to version 18.2 or later.

This sounds simple (and it should be), but it’s not. Depending on which version you’re using, there may not be a direct upgrade, so you’ll have to move to another old version first and then move up from there, according to Microsoft’s support documents.

There are multiple steps involved, and the costs associated with upgrading can be substantial. One of our customers told us they would have had to pay up to $30,000 to keep their Microsoft accounting software current.

Even after you’ve upgraded to a system with a Modern Lifecycle Policy, it’s up to you to ensure you have the most current update each year.

The software comes with a steeper learning curve

Great Plains Software originally released what we now know as Microsoft Dynamics GP in 1993. Microsoft purchased it in 2000 and later rebranded it.

This Microsoft accounting software system was originally designed to be an all-encompassing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, so it’s not as streamlined or user-friendly as other mid-sized accounting software systems. It’s difficult to navigate, especially for new users who don’t have previous experience using similar systems.

“(It’s) nearly impossible to train someone new in it without them losing interest,” one Microsoft Dynamics GP user wrote in a G2 review. “If you have a lot of turnover or (are) new to (a) CRM written like a textbook for a graduate class, (there is) little to no leeway if you don't happen to know one specific term.”

Other users mention specific issues, such as difficulty finding specific functions, not being able to export spreadsheets to Excel, not easily being able to correct or reverse journal entries and a lack of shortcuts to make the program easier.

It’s more expensive

Along with the high costs that come with upgrading to a newer version of Microsoft Dynamics GP, the total cost of ownership is higher. Usually, you have to work with a consultant and invest in hardware and operating systems to make it function. According to G2, it’s 28% more expensive than comparable mid-market solutions.

That includes the costs of hosting the software because it’s not a true cloud solution, including hardware and IT support.

If your company is growing fast, you can’t easily add additional users the way you can in a true cloud accounting software solution. When your business starts to grow, you will have to change the underlying hardware to accommodate the increased number of users and larger databases.

You’ll also pay more for integrations that should be standard. Instead of being able to choose from a variety of applications — such as billing, data analytics and inventory — you’ll need to purchase integrations from independent software vendors (ISVs). These apps are designed to work with Microsoft accounting software but not necessarily with each other, which can complicate your accounting processes.

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It’s not meant for multi-company accounting

If you’re managing multiple entities in Microsoft Dynamics GP, you have to log in and out of each database to manage transactions and reporting. That means if you’re a franchise with 35 locations and you receive a payment that should be distributed equally across all of them, you’ll have to enter each one separately. This is time-consuming and increases the potential for accounting errors.

You need a developer to build personalized workflows

If you need to add fields or set up multi-step workflows to manage approvals for different types of purchases in Microsoft Dynamics GP, you’ll need to get a developer involved. The software was built with standardized features that are difficult to personalize based on how your company actually works.

Looking for a better Microsoft accounting software?

For years, one of the most common alternatives for users who wanted another Microsoft accounting software was to switch to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. This was formerly Navision, an ERP system built in Denmark and later acquired by Microsoft. However, Business Central has many of the same flaws as Microsoft Dynamics GP. It lacks true multi-entity accounting and makes it difficult to manage multi-entity reporting without logging in and out of separate databases. Additionally, the platform that Business Central runs on is was created in 1987 with proprietary tools.

As an example, you may want to manage cash flow across multiple companies to optimize your assets. In Dynamics 365 BC, this will be a manual process.

Essentially, you’re just moving from one outdated system to another.

Fortunately, you have another option. Gravity is a cloud-based accounting software built on the Microsoft Power Platform. This gives you all the same familiarity and security features you expect from Microsoft products and services with enhanced functionality for multi-entity accounting.

With Gravity’s financials, you can manage all your companies in one database with a shared chart of accounts, eliminating redundant data entry. You can produce consolidated financial reports across all your entities and export them to Excel with just one click.

If you already have an Office 365 account, you can use the same login to access Gravity so you won’t spend your day switching between email, the Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Teams and other apps you use frequently.

With Gravity, you don’t have to pay extra for features that should be standard, like a modern workflow engine or one of the best business intelligence applications.

If you’re facing the prospect of expensive upgrades and workarounds to stay on Microsoft Dynamics GP, it’s time to move to a better Microsoft accounting software. See how Gravity can streamline your multi-company accounting while saving you a lot of time, money and frustration. Schedule an online demo today.

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