It can be a little confusing to sort out the different versions of Microsoft Dynamics. As Dynamics customers migrate to the cloud, they want to know what the future holds for their particular edition of Dynamics. We have worked with Dynamics for years, so we can offer some clarifying comments.
First, the reason Dynamics can be puzzling has to do with the fact that Dynamics is a brand, not a product. Each Dynamics product is different, but they’re under the same brand. A Ford Mustang and a Ford Escape are totally different cars, but both are Fords. It’s the same with Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV. They are different pieces of software under the same brand.
To understand how this came to be, it’s worth reviewing a little bit of Microsoft history. About 20 years ago, Microsoft acquired Great Plains, then one of the leading makers of accounting software. This is the origin of Dynamics GP, for “Great Plains.” Microsoft then bought Navision, another accounting software company, in 2002. Navision is the source of the “NAV” in Dynamics NAV. Great Plains also acquired Solomon Software in 2000. That’s the “SL” in Dynamics SL.
Here’s a brief rundown on the different Dynamics products:
- Microsoft Dynamics GP—Dynamics GP was created in 1993 to serve the accounting needs of small-to-medium-sized businesses. It is now a mid-market ERP software package. Microsoft is developing a new version of GP called “GP Next.” According to Microsoft, GP will offer standard support through January, 2023. Extended support will be available through the beginning of 2028.
- Microsoft Dynamics SL—This is an ERP solution that’s project-based. It connects with Microsoft Office Project Server, helping users stay on top of complex project requirements and customer demands. It merges project management and accounting functions. It’s suitable for project-based businesses. Dynamics SL also has capabilities for managing manufacturing, field services, and supply chain as well as analytics and e-commerce. The 2018 version of SL may be the last one to be released by Microsoft. If that is the case, it will be necessary to think about next steps, perhaps migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central.
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV—This is a complete ERP solution which has been rebranded as Dynamics 365 Business Central. If you are running Business Central on-premises, you’re basically running Dynamics NAV. Conversely, if you’re running the latest edition of NAV, you’re using Business Central under a different name. (Told you it could get confusing…) However, you can get extended support for the on-premises versions through January 2028.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central—As just mentioned, Dynamics 365 Business Central is the updated, rebranded version of NAV. It’s a cloud-based, connected solution combining financial and operational management. It comprises five main functional areas: Financial Management, Inventory Management, Project Management, Purchasing and Sales. A mobile app is available. It connects with Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft products such as Microsoft BI for data analytics.
At Innovative Cloud Solutions, we encourage our customers to bear in mind is that while the cloud has many attractive characteristics, there is no rush to go there. You have seven years to figure out what you want to do with legacy versions of Dynamics. That should be enough time to think through your requirements and evolving business needs. We can help. We have worked with many Dynamics customers in the assessment of Dynamics current and future states. To learn more, visit our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.