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  • Writer's picturePeter Joeckel

Essential Microsoft GP (Great Plains) Customer ERP Upgrade Plan

Updated: Apr 1

Great Plains upgrade to Business Central Software

Authors Note: While focused on manufacturing companies, the following advice will be successful for any company planning to move from Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) to a modern cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) platform, considering Microsoft Dynamics BC (Business Central) as an option. 


I have been hearing troubling messages from Microsoft Dynamics GP manufacturing customers concerning their evaluation of modern cloud-based ERP platforms, specifically: 

  • Our GP to Business Central (BC) project is going poorly. 

  • During our evaluation of BC, we were unaware that a more feature-rich ERP solution is available from Microsoft Dynamics FSCM (Finance and Supply Chain Management). 

Working with GP manufacturing companies to evaluate, implement, and fix ERP software projects has given me unique insights into the common problems associated with these projects. Historically, there is a unique set of issues related to GP manufacturing implementations: 

  • GP was not initially designed as a manufacturing solution. At best, the bolted-on manufacturing functionality fits a specific and narrow range of manufacturing companies. 

  • Manufacturing knowledge in the broader GP implementation partner channel varies wildly. 

  • More sophisticated and enterprise-ready manufacturing companies choose BC without evaluating or, in some cases, even being aware of Microsoft Dynamics FSCM, a more feature-rich solution for enterprise manufacturing. 

Now that Microsoft and Microsoft partners are heavily marketing to GP customers that they should upgrade to BC, I am seeing similar issues emerge: 

  • BC has better manufacturing capabilities than GP but is still woefully short on critical functionality for many manufacturing companies. 

  • BC is being force-fed to GP manufacturing customers by partners that do not have the manufacturing expertise to differentiate nuanced or significant differences between manufacturing companies. 

Since 2002, when Microsoft acquired Axapta, I have advised multiple GP manufacturing clients on how to move to Microsoft Dynamics Axapta (AX), Finance and Operations (F&O), and now Finance and Supply Chain Management (FSCM). 

In every instance, I had to overcome fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) on the prospects' side because of the cost and complexity of moving from GP to a proper enterprise manufacturing solution such as AX, F&O, or FSCM instead of a less complex, cheaper solution. 

As an aside, I have also steered startup companies away from GP or QuickBooks because of the cost of implementing a “startup” ERP solution missing critical functionality. My favorite quote from a startup client that I guided away from a QuickBooks implementation to F&O was, “We decided to go in this direction because of who we want to be, not who we are today.” 

How did I overcome the clients' fear of implementing enterprise-sized manufacturing ERP solutions for a fraction of the time and cost quoted by “Big Important Microsoft Partners (BIMPs)? 

Utilizing my implementation shortcuts, I learned over thirty-plus years of selecting, implementing, and fixing ERP projects. With a degree in Industrial Engineering, Operations Research (IEOR), I focus on constant process improvement. Implementing ERP is a process where historically little thought has been given to how to cut time and costs and improve productivity. 

So, how did I advise GP manufacturing companies to implement enterprise-level manufacturing software fastest and most cost-effectively? 

Here was my essential advice for an accelerated implementation methodology that helped deliver those projects successfully:  

  • Primarily, tell me the two to three things that make your company unique. I understand that every company is special, but the convoluted business process workarounds you have developed over the years are not “special;” they are just unproductive. 

  • Second, list everything your current system does that you need to run your business effectively and successfully. This describes the functionality required for a minimally viable system. Building this list takes a fraction of the time explaining the ideal system, which weighs down many traditional requirements-gathering processes. 

  • Third, I need a list of the reports you need to run the business daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual and how they are created. Then, I want a list of the aspirational reports you always wanted to be more efficient but deemed too complex or impossible to develop on a timely basis. 

  • Finally, organize an “ERP SWAT Team” to run your business with a vanilla version of the targeted ERP software as quickly as possible. The SWAT team can comprise as little as one to two corporate experts from the business and a true software architect. In a six-to-eight-week period, the knowledge gained by the ERP SWAT Team speeds up the project's implementation. The details of this approach are the subject of a separate post. 

I used these steps to replace the tried and failed methodologies for endless requirements gathering, design of the perfect system, and change management plan detailing in painful detail how to move from your current system to ERP nirvana. 

Question: how much time and budget did those classic steps waste in your last ERP project? My guess is 40 to 60 percent before any user has seen what the new software looks like. A real-life example of the time and money spent by a recent single-location engineer-to-order (ETO) FSCM project implementation project. The client spent over a year and seven hundred thousand dollars on a detailed requirements study. The project is currently in the classic “search for the guilty” phase because multiple critical requirements were missed and not uncovered until late in the project. 

This reminds me of a famous rant by Lewis Black, one of my favorite comedians, “Seven hundred thousand!? What were they planning? Their own space program”? 

But here is the irony of this successful approach that I have used to move companies from GP to AX, F&O, and now FSCM at a fraction of the time and budget quoted by traditional ERP partners. For many companies that have used conventional project methodologies for moving to a new ERP platform, the simplicity of my approach seems too risky and, therefore, this approach is a complicated and sometimes impossible sell. 

That hard sell no longer exists for me with the introduction of GYDE365 by SEER365. 

GYDE365 is a cloud-based platform that speeds the process of selecting and implementing a new ERP platform by as much as thirty percent, and that can be incorporated into the accelerated implementation methodology that I have had so much success with. 

Finally, a tool is available to me that allows me to guide customers in their ERP selection and implementation efficiently and cost-effectively while giving them the comfort needed to embrace my approach. 

Here is a quick example of how the GYDE365 platform aligns with my methodology for delivering faster, better, and more cost-effective ERP selection, upgrade, and implementation projects. A GYDE365-Discover Session is a fast and straightforward way to gather your company’s business requirements, which are the basis for any successful ERP project. 

GYDE365-Discover Sessions have been found to save up to sixty percent of the time and money spent on standard requirements-gathering projects. I can attest to instances where it would have saved up to ninety percent. 

A GYDE365-Discover Session allows customers to rank their requirements utilizing a “Moscow Rating” system that classifies requirements as: 

  • M – Must have. These are top-priority requirements. A ‘must have’ feature is a non-negotiable requirement that a business solution must have. Software customization for a must-have would require careful analysis and approval. 

  • S – Should have. These could add significant value but are not vital. They differ from ‘must-haves’ by the availability of a workaround; for example, it may be something that you do not currently do, or it may be achieved through a change in process. Depending on time and budget, a should-have customization would require careful analysis and approval. 

  • C – Could have. A ‘could have’ requirement is a 'nice to have' that would have a negligible impact if left out. It is this lower impact that differentiates it from the ‘should-haves.’ This would include a feature that you would like to consider for the future. It is unlikely that a customization would be approved in this area. 

  • W – Will not have. A’ will not have’ feature is not a priority or a current requirement. ‘Will not have’ does not mean a complete rejection of something; it is not required in a solution based on your current business needs and those for the near future. 

A sharp eye will recognize that the Must-Have requirements translate into a minimally viable system needed to run your business successfully. This corresponds precisely with the second step outlined in my accelerated implementation strategy. 

While most traditional requirements-gathering projects are based on questionnaires resulting in a static report, a GYDE365-Discover Session is the foundation for starting an ERP project that has multiple benefits that a piece of static information does not: 

  • Requirement Capture - Provides a structured process to determine your business application requirements. This can be across single or multiple entities. 

  • Project Estimation - Delivers an informed estimate for your Dynamics 365 deployment, covering software subscriptions, external implementation costs, and internal resource requirements. 

  • Scope Definition - Defines your project scope, key business objectives, KPIs, and functional requirements. 

  • Evaluate Solution Fit - Analyze the fit of standard Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs business requirements; identify areas where additional investigation should be undertaken and recommend alternative solutions for gaps. 

  • Build a Business Case - This provides the key elements to help you confidently build a business case. 

This additional information, generated automatically from the fast, easy, and efficient GYDE365-Discover Session, would cost significant extra time and dollars in a consultant-driven requirements-gathering project. 

Most importantly, the GYDE365-Discover Session will give you unbiased, data-driven information that can be used to evaluate your requirements regarding BC, FSCM, and any other ERP software you desire to consider. 

For more details on how a GYDE365-Discover Session will save you time and money, sign up to have Microsoft fund your GYDE365-Discover Session by clicking the link below – time is limited, so do not miss this incredible value.  Microsoft-Funded GYDE365-Discover Session for GP Customers

HandsFree ERP  

We are dedicated to ERP project excellence with experienced people, innovative processes, and innovative productivity tools like GYDE365-Discover.  

Experience - over one hundred years of combined experience selecting and implementing strategic ERP platforms.  

Peter Joeckel, CEO of HandsFree

With an IE/OR engineering degree and enterprise software implementation experience starting at Price Waterhouse, Peter Joeckel has been in the business application selection, implementation, and challenged project turn-around business for over thirty years. He credits his industrial engineering degree with his search for better processes and tools to implement complex business application platforms.  

Most recently, he was the lead HandsFree client advisor in the Circle of ERP Excellence lounge and speaker at the Community Summit North America.  

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