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5 Steps for a Successful Great Plains to Business Central Migration

The 5 steps to take in order to take full advantage of the benefits and features within Dynamics 365 Business Central.

 

For companies that have been relying on Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains (GP) for their enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs, the question arises: Is it time to make the leap to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC)? The answer lies in the numerous advantages BC offers, from enhanced flexibility and scalability to improved functionality and seamless integration with the rest of the Microsoft stack (including Power BI, Dynamics 365 CRM, Microsoft 365, etc.). As businesses strive to keep up with growth, mitigate risks, and streamline operations, a well-executed migration to Business Central becomes a strategic and necessary play.


This blog outlines the essential steps for a successful Great Plains to Business Central migration, ensuring a smooth transition that positions your business for future success.



steps for a successful gp to bc migration

Microsoft Great Plains End-of-life

Before diving into HOW to migrate from Great Plains to Business Central, it’s crucial to understand the WHY. In April of 2023, Microsoft announced Dynamics GP will stop being sold in April of 2025. This underscores the recommendation for businesses currently using Great Plains, to migrate to the online solution offered by Dynamics 365 Business Central. This is due to Business Central continuing to advance with automatic updates, and more comprehensive features and functionalities. Here’s how to get started with this worthwhile migration.


Step 1: Comprehensive Assessment and Planning

The first and crucial step in any migration process is a thorough assessment of your current system and a meticulous planning phase. This involves evaluating your existing Great Plains setup, identifying customizations, integrations, and third-party applications that need to be migrated, resources involved, and understanding the unique requirements of your business.


Who Should be Involved?

Engage key stakeholders, including IT personnel, department heads, and end-users, to gather insights into pain points and expectations. Consider leveraging the expertise of consultants or migration specialists who can provide valuable insights and guidance based on their experience.


What Should the Migration Plan Include?

Create a well-defined project plan that outlines timelines, resources involved, and milestones.


Step 2: Data Migration and Cleansing

A successful migration hinges on the accurate and efficient transfer of data from Great Plains to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Here are the steps for proper data cleansing, to ensure the migration is smooth.


  1. Begin by creating a comprehensive inventory of your data, categorizing it based on relevance, and identifying any redundant or obsolete information.

  2. Then, implement data cleansing practices to ensure that only high-quality, accurate data is migrated, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies in the new system.

  3. Finally, utilize data migration tools and scripts to automate the transfer process, and perform thorough testing to validate the integrity of the migrated data. This step is critical to avoiding disruptions in business operations and ensuring a seamless transition.


What Data Migration Tool is Used?

Since Great Plains is an on-premise tool, you must first move the data to an on premise Business Central, and then online.  The built- in cloud migration tool within Business Central is used for migrating the data, as well as Azure Data Factory. 

 

Step 3: Customization and Configuration

One of the strengths of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central lies in its flexibility and adaptability to diverse business needs. In this step, focus on replicating the customizations and configurations from Great Plains to exist now in Business Central. The current customizations existing in Great Plains can include reports, forms, and workflows, and then need to be mapped to be equivalent features in Business Central. Leverage the extensibility options provided by Business Central, such as extensions and apps, to recreate or enhance the functionality of custom elements. Ensure that key integrations with other systems, such as CRM or e-commerce platforms, are seamlessly maintained. Thoroughly test the customizations in a controlled environment to identify and address any compatibility issues before going fully live with the new system.


Types of Data Moved in the Migration to Business Central:


  • Outstanding business transactions

  • Purchase orders

  • Inventory lists

  • Receivables, Sales Orders

 


great plains to business central migration

Migration Step 4: User Training and Adoption

The success of any ERP system depends on the buy-in and proficiency of its users. As you migrate from Great Plains to Dynamics 365 Business Central, invest time and resources in comprehensive user training programs. Develop training materials and conduct hands-on sessions to familiarize users with the new interface, features, and workflows. Highlight the benefits and improvements Business Central brings, emphasizing how it will enhance their day-to-day tasks and decision-making. Encourage questions and address concerns during the training phase to ensure a smooth transition. Proactive communication is key to managing expectations and fosters an extremely worthwhile investment with the new system.


In 2021, Microsoft stated, “While Microsoft continues to support their NAV, GP, and SL deployments, these customers can choose when they want to transition to Dynamics 365 Business Central, as a perfect match for their businesses. Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL will continue to receive product improvements and updates, but the most benefit to these customers comes from upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central.”


Migration Step 5: Go-Live and Continuous Improvement

Execute the migration in stages or phases, allowing for real-time monitoring and issue resolution. Establish a support system to address any post-migration challenges promptly. As the system becomes live and in use, gather feedback from users and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement. Implement a continuous improvement strategy, leveraging the agility of Business Central to make iterative enhancements and optimizations. Regularly update and refine processes, incorporating user insights and staying attuned to evolving business needs. This step ensures that your investment in the migration continues to deliver value over the long term.

 

Note: Microsoft offers continued support agreements with their technologies and solutions, with their solutions updating automatically when updates are released. Determine if you only require the level of support from Microsoft, or if working with a technology partner would be beneficial to ensure adoption.


The Benefits of a Business Central Migration

The value and outcomes your business stands to gain from this migration include enhanced flexibility, improved functionality, and the ability to seamlessly integrate with other Microsoft technologies.


Microsoft Technology partners have experience migrating data, customizing Business Central, and working with end-users to optimize long-term adoption. Read more about the features available within Dynamics 365 Business Central.  

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