Why Upgrade Dynamics GP?
Many people ask us, “why upgrade Dynamics GP, when my current version seems to be working still?” The temptation to try and remain on the same version of Dynamics GP for as long as possible is understandable. However, taking this shortsighted view is a dangerous trap to fall in because you’re not allowing the software to serve you to the best of its ability.
When to upgrade?
The answer to this question varies depending on your unique needs. But the quick answer that applies to everyone is, “before Microsoft mainstream support for your version of GP ends.” In case you need a reminder, for GP 2013 that date was 4/10/18, as for Dynamics GP 2015, it was 4/14/20 and for GP 2016, it’s 7/13/21.
There are, of course, other factors which may affect your decision to update. A few of them include the need to:
- Implement a new module, feature, and/or third-party tool.
- Replace failing or out-of-date hardware.
- Move to the cloud.
- Play catch up before you move to the latest version (because Microsoft only allows users to skip one version while upgrading).
Why upgrade Dynamics GP regularly?
Complete Microsoft Support
Since the beginning, Microsoft has maintained a regular support schedule for retiring outdated versions. If you are on any version released prior to October 2019, you’re familiar with the terms “mainstream support” and “extended support.” Mainstream support is full support, which you receive for the first five years of the version’s life cycle. In the second five years, you move into what’s known as extended support. Once your software reaches this point in its life, Microsoft downgrades the level of support you receive a bit. You can no longer request feature improvements and must pay out-of-pocket for some support tickets.
Once the five-year period of extended support expires, a version of Dynamics GP is no longer supported at all, meaning you can’t get feature updates, critical security updates, year-end updates, etc. This not only puts your data security at risk, but it can also be a drain on your productivity. When all your other software stays up to date while Dynamics GP sits frozen in time, you’ll often have to improvise workarounds, which never allow you to be as efficient as you could be if the two solutions were both up to date.
Why does Microsoft end support after 10 years?
There are a couple reasons for this. One, after 10 years of updates and fixes, they have likely worked out any bugs in the version. Second, 10 years is a long useful life for any software. With the speed at which today’s technology moves, it’s likely many advances have occurred in the decade since the version’s release, and the best way to take advantage of those is to move to the newer version.
New ‘Modern Policy’ Lifecycle
As we mentioned earlier, only Dynamics GP 2018 and older are subject to the fixed lifecycle. Beginning with the October 2019 release of Dynamics GP, Microsoft moved GP to the modern lifecycle, which has governed many of its products for the last few years.
Under the modern lifecycle, you can expect Microsoft to release minor updates three times a year. First, tax and Payroll table updates, and bug fixes will come in June, followed by feature improvements in October and another round of tax updates and bug fixes in November or December.
Since there are three updates per year, each one will offer small, yet meaningful tweaks that can make an enormous difference in your productivity. For example, the October 2019 release of Dynamics GP brought with it several workflow improvements, meaning there are lots of opportunities to save time and increase productivity without a great deal of effort or retraining.
Before you get a headache thinking about updating Dynamics GP three times a year, keep this in mind. Microsoft does not require you to take all three updates each calendar year. If you implement one of the three, Microsoft considers you to be current and therefore you’re fully supported.
Also, it’s important to note, thanks to changes in Dynamics GP’s underlying structure and data set up, upgrades have become faster and simpler. By working with your Dynamics GP consultant and third-party software vendors regularly, your upgrades should be less burdensome than in the past.
Every time Microsoft releases a new Dynamics GP upgrade, it brings functionality improvements. With the last few releases in particular, Microsoft has worked hard to take the ideas of its Dynamics GP users and bring them to fruition, making the software incrementally easier to use with each release.
Some of the most notable features (many from user requests) added in the latest release:
- Automate full General Ledger Reconcile
- Copy and Paste Purchasing Transactions and Distributions
- Import Credit Card Transactions
- Support for Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
- Export/Import stock counts to Excel
- Mask SSN on Human Resource Reports
Current Payroll Tax Updates
Each year, the IRS releases new Payroll tax tables. If you are one of the many users who count on Dynamics GP to run your payroll, keeping these up to date is critical. Without them, you won’t be able to pay your employees accurately. And many people forget Microsoft only provides this benefit in the first five years of a GP version’s life cycle. If your software is in extended support, you’ll have to look for other ways to update your payroll tax tables, which will involve help from your GP partner and added out-of-pocket expense.
Shorter, Less Expensive Updates
We get it. You depend on your Dynamics GP software and can’t afford to be without it for long. So, skipping a Dynamics GP upgrade might seem like the less disruptive option. And sure, it is possible to skip a version and do a double upgrade when the next version is available. But doing so is almost always more expensive and more and more time consuming. A large, multi-step upgrade means more downtime to perform the upgrade itself and then to train users on how to use the additional features. By sticking to a predictable schedule for Dynamics GP upgrades, you ensure they will cause minimal disruption to your staff.
And, because they’re less time-consuming, smaller, more incremental Dynamics GP upgrades are also less expensive in the long run. It might sound contradictory, but there’s a simple reason for this. Smaller upgrades require fewer consulting hours. But reduced upfront expenses are just one way continual Dynamics GP upgrades can help your bottom line. Because smaller upgrades are faster, with fewer changes for users to adapt to, your staff can get back to their critical tasks sooner, with less training required.
Just as every version of Dynamics GP gets added functionality, they also get a variety of bug fixes. Think of it as doing a little spring cleaning to make sure your system is working at peak performance. Each time you do a Dynamics GP upgrade, you free your business from troublesome bugs, which could threaten your productivity, or possibly allow a hacker to gain access to your critical data.
Ready to discuss your upgrade options?
As a leading Microsoft Partner, we have been working with Dynamics GP since 1991. In that time, we have helped hundreds of organizations make the most of their Dynamics GP investment, boost productivity and streamline operations. Let us help you!